When Will Theatre Come Black?

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2020121520210101 (R4)As the sector rebuilds in the wake of Covid-19, theatre critic and poet Bridget Minamore imagines a new future for Black British theatre.

Setting out her vision, Bridget asks if the confluence of the Black Lives Matter movement and the devastating impact of the pandemic on the theatre industry might be an opportunity to build a more egalitarian theatre sector with greater opportunity for black makers, performers, backstage workers, and audiences - and, as a consequence, for other marginalised groups.

For over 100 years, Black theatre groups have worked on the periphery of the industry, while making work that moved the conversation around race and representation forward. What can this history of creating in the face of adversity tell us now about the future of theatre?

Talking to those working on the frontiers of the contemporary scene, Bridget explores whether black theatre workers could be empowered to build alternatives to the establishment, and end the uneasy and often gestural culture of diversity schemes that many feel stand in place of genuine change and opportunity.

Right now, the fear in the industry is that the panic to save venues and companies will lead to a new conservatism, and risk-averse programming (for 'safe' read 'white'), reversing some of the hard won gains made by black and minority ethnic professionals in theatre in recent years - not to mention those from queer, disabled and other identities deemed peripheral.

So - Bridget asks - could this response be countered with a fresh attitude to what is 'safe' to attract audiences?

With reflections from voices across theatre including, Tobi Kyeremateng, Kwame Kwei Armah, Lynette Gordon, Paulette Randall MBE and Roy Alexander Weise MBE, Jasmine Lee Jones and more.

A Boom Shakalaka production for BBC Radio 4

As the sector rebuilds, Bridget Minamore imagines a new future for Black British theatre.

With reflections from voices across theatre including, Tobi Kyeremateng, Lynette Linton, Winsome Pinnock and more.