Thursday, November 26, 2009

Not Black and White: Three black London Theatre makers

An interesting story about three black theatre makers in London. Kwame Kwei-Armah(left) wrote the play 'Seize The Day'.

Artistic director Nicolas Kent describes the Tricycle Theatre's new trilogy, Not Black and White, as a “stock-take” of multicultural Britain.

He gave three writers — Roy Williams (right), Kwame Kwei-Armah (left) and Bola Agbaje (middle), all London-based — free rein to choose their themes; respectively, the prison service, politics and immigration.

“Here we are in a culturally diverse capital and yet we seem to have very few black people involved in the governance of it; there's a power deficit for black and Asian people,” Kent says. “This seemed a good time to do an audit of cosmopolitan London and British society and I thought it would be good to take three leading black playwrights to open up the debate. Kwame and Roy [who are both in their early forties] are probably the two most senior black writers today and Bola [28] is a very interesting new voice.

“I think people like big ideas and these are three writers at the top of their game. What they don't do is reference white society, or place black people in relation to it, and certainly not in an oppositional way, as so many black writers feel they have to. They are much more about black people's relationships with each other. We're looking at things in a more mature way — at the shifts in society that move us away from simple black/white debates.”

Under Kent, for the past 25 years, the small but influential Tricycle in Kilburn has not only altered the landscape of British theatre but has also helped change how the Establishment operates. The theatre has pioneered verbatim work with its tribunal plays about enquiries into events such as Bloody Sunday, arms sales to Iraq and the Srebrenica massacre. Their Stephen Lawrence drama, The Colour of Justice (1999), is now used by a number of British police forces to educate officers about institutionalised racism. Read the full story here


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