Black British Theatre Today: A Roundtable

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This roundtable event brings an exciting range of established and early-career theatre-makers and researchers into conversation to discuss the following questions:

 

  • What are the most exciting new developments in contemporary Black British theatre and scholarship? What new opportunities have appeared?
  • What are the challenges that face Black British theatre-makers and scholars today?
  • How far have other identity markers such as gender, sexual orientation and class shaped the development of Black British theatre?
  • What has new historical and archival research revealed about Black British theatre? And how might we best engage with Black British theatre history to inform and support contemporary practice?
  • How can current research in Black British theatre support contemporary industry practice? And what can theatre-makers and scholars learn from each other?

 

We are delighted to welcome the following speakers in conversation:

 

Winsome Pinnock, award-winning playwright of works including Rockets and Blue Lights (National Theatre), Leave Taking (Bush Theatre), and Mules (Royal Court and Young Vic).

Adjoa Andoh, actor, writer, director, producer, and Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre, St Catherine’s College. Theatre credits include Richard II (Globe), Troilus and Cressida (RSC), Great Expectations (Bristol Old Vic), Julius Caesar (Bridge), and Stuff Happens and His Dark Materials (National). She currently appears in Bridgerton and The Witcher on Netflix. 

Lynette Goddard, Professor of Black Theatre and Performance at Royal Holloway, and author of Staging Black Feminisms: Identity, Politics, Performance (2007), Contemporary Black British Playwrights: Margins to Mainstream (2015) and Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (2017).

David Gilbert, New Work Projects at Talawa Theatre, and freelance director and theatre maker.

Deirdre Osborne, Reader in English Literature and Drama, co-founder of the Black British Literature MA (Goldsmiths). Editor of The Cambridge Companion to British Black and Asian Literature (2016), author of Lorraine Hansberry: A Raisin in the Sun (2011), co-author of This is the Canon: Decolonize Your Bookshelf in Fifty Books (2021).

 

Nicola Abram, Lecturer in Literature in English at Reading University, and author of Black British Women’s Theatre: Intersectionality, Archives, Aesthetics (2020), which won the Theatre Book Prize 2021.

Nadine Deller, PhD scholar at Royal Central and the National Theatre, and the creator and co-host of That Black Theatre Podcast.


Participant Bios

 

Winsome Pinnock is an award-winning writer for stage, radio, film and television. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. Alongside radio and television work for the BBC, her theatre work includes: Rockets and Blue Lights (National Theatre, Manchester Royal Exchange & BBC Radio 3); One Under (Graeae Theatre Company/ UK Tour, Kiln Theatre); Leave Taking (Bush Theatre, Liverpool Playhouse & National Theatre); Glutathione (Young Vic Theatre); The Principles of Cartography (Bush Theatre); Tituba (Hampstead Theatre); Cleaning Up (Clean Break); Taken (Soho Theatre); IDP (Kiln Theatre); The Stowaway (Plymouth Theatre); Water (Kiln Theatre); Mules (Royal Court, Young Vic, Ahmanson Theatre LA, Magic Theatre San Francisco); Can You Keep a Secret (National Theatre); Talking in Tongues (Royal Court); A Hero’s Welcome (Royal Court) and Rock in Water (Royal Court).

Adjoa Andoh is an actor, writer, director and producer, and the Cameron Mackintosh Visiting Professor of Contemporary Theatre, St Catherine’s College. Adjoa is a Senior Associate Artist at the Bush Theatre, Associate Artist at RSC and a visiting director and teacher at RADA and Rose Bruford, where she is also an honorary fellow. Last Autumn, she was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by The British Shakespeare Association. In 2019 Adjoa conceived, co-directed, and played Richard II at Shakespeare’s Globe; it was the first ever company of women of colour in a Shakespeare play on a major UK stage. Further theatre highlights include playing Ulysses in Greg Doran’s Troilus and Cressida at the RSC, Miss Haversham in Neil Bartlett’s Great Expectations at Bristol Old Vic, Casca in Julius Caesar, Condoleezza Rice in Stuff Happens and Serafina Pekkala in His Dark Materials directed by Nicholas Hytner at The National Theatre. Adjoa can currently be seen playing Lady Danbury in Shondaland / Netflix’s Bridgerton, as well as Nenneke in series two of Netflix’s The Witcher, also for Netflix. She will soon start filming on Shondaland / Netflix’s new limited series Queen Charlotte, a spin-off of Bridgerton.

 

Lynette Goddard (they/them) is Professor of Black Theatre and Performance at Royal Holloway, University of London. Their teaching and research focuses on contemporary Black British playwriting through the intersectional politics of race, gender, and sexuality. Their book publications include Staging Black Feminisms: Identity, Politics, Performance (2007), Contemporary Black British Playwrights: Margins to Mainstream (2015) and Errol John’s Moon on a Rainbow Shawl (2017). They are currently working on two research projects: one about Black British theatre directors’ processes and productions, and a project about how race is portrayed in contemporary plays through such themes as race, immigration and asylum, race, Black communities and the police, race and religion, race and the legacies of slavery, and race and the rise of right-wing politicians. They are also co-editing The Cambridge History of Black British Theatre and Performance, the two volume Routledge Companion to Twentieth Century British Theatre and Black British Queer Plays and Performance Practitioners: An Anthology of Afriquia Theatre

 

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David Gilbert looks after the development of Talawa’s New Work division, finding and nurturing new and emerging artists and writers, providing dramaturgy support, and enabling theatre-makers to develop new work. Recent work with Talawa includes supporting and organising online directing workshops during the pandemic, film directing as part of Talawa’s acclaimed 2020 Tales from the Front Line series, and producing Talawa Firsts, a 2021 festival of New Work which springboards some of the most exciting Black writers and creative talents of tomorrow. Alongside working at Talawa, David is a freelance director and theatre maker, and work with theatre including Kiln, National Theatre, Trafalgar and the Young Vic. 

 

Deirdre Osborne grew up on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung people, the traditional custodians, and she pays respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Elders, past, present and emerging. A Reader at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Visiting Professor at the Research Centre for Transnational Art, Identity, Nation (University of the Arts), she is dedicated to decolonising the literary canon and decolonial pedagogy. In 2014 she co-founded the award-winning MA Black British Literature, the only degree globally in this field. Her critical writing spans late-Victorian literature to contemporary culture through three conceptual models: ‘Landmark Poetics’ (commissioning Grace Nichols’ poem ‘Breath’ in 2020), ‘Mothertext’ and ‘Didactic Poetics’. Associate Editor, Women's Writing (Taylor and Francis) and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, her current project with David Dibosa, Exhibiting Embarrassment: Museums, Public Culture and Consequentialist Aesthetics explores how the legacies of imperial-colonial acquisition ecologies have become barometers of change in (re)thinking about Britain’s cultural institutions.

 

 

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Nicola Abram is Lecturer in Literatures in English at the University of Reading, UK. Her monograph Black British Women’s Theatre: Intersectionality, Archives, Aesthetics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2020) won the 2021 Society for Theatre Research Book Prize. It collates a previously fragmented history of Black women playwrights and performers in Britain, profiling Theatre of Black Women, Munirah Theatre Company, Black Mime Theatre Women’s Troop, Zindika, and SuAndi. The book centres unpublished materials held in archives of various kinds, from public institutions to specialist collections to individuals’ personal papers. Nicola has also published journal articles and book chapters analysing plays by debbie tucker green, Helen Oyeyemi, and Winsome Pinnock, and tracing the histories of Black and Asian arts collectives in Britain.

 

Nadine Deller is a PhD researcher and lecturer undertaking a Collaborative Doctoral Award between the Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and the National Theatre. The aim of her research is to shed light on the different positions of Black women playwrights in the Black Plays Archive and to critique the ways that the Black Plays Archive preserves Black women’s theatre, which she has written about in Contemporary Theatre Review. Nadine has also worked with GuildHE and the Young Foundation on amplifying the experiences of global majority postgraduate researchers in Higher Education. In September 2020, Nadine released a podcast on Black theatre history, That Black Theatre Podcast, in collaboration with the National Theatre, Central, and LAHP. Nadine also writes for the international film magazine, Sight & Sound.


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Please do not attend this event if you are experience a fever or any flu like symptoms or have tested positive for COVID19.