Sunday, November 13, 2011

Black British theatre company Talawa celebrates its 25th anniversary

Picture of satire The Colored Museum
Ask Yvonne Brewster how much the theatre industry has changed in 60 years, and the founder of Britain's most high-profile black theatre company says: "Darling, when I started out, people would rub my skin to see if the colour came off."

Rose Bruford, the influential drama tutor, told Brewster (her first black female student) that she should "never expect to work". She did, of course, and in 1972 put on a London production of CLR James's The Black Jacobins, a play about Haiti in the 18th century, only to find her sold-out venue burnt down. [Yvonne Brewster misremembered the play in the venue that burnt down. It was, in fact, a production of Smile Orange.]

Over the next 12 months, as part of its 25th anniversary celebrations, Talawa will be staging George C Wolfe's 1986 political satire The Colored Museum, at the V&A; early next year, a reimagined Waiting for Godot with an all-black cast ("three years in discussion," says Cumper) will premiere at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. Meanwhile, the company's annual showcase of new writing, Flipping the Script, has a summer residency at the Young Vic. Reviving a lost classic, reinventing an existing one, looking for the voices of tomorrow: it's a neat illustration of what the company does best.

read the full interview at the Guardian

Talawa Theatre Company at


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