From our long and proud history of programming Black work to the countless plays and projects we make today, Theatre Royal Stratford East is built on the legacy of providing a voice to Black creatives and marginalised communities.
Amongst many of our landmark productions includes shows like The Big Life, which became the West End’s first Black British musical in 2005. From the works of Mustapha Matura and Errol John in the ‘70s and ‘80s, Funny Black Women and The Posse in the ‘90s, right up to Janice Okoh and Katori Hall, we’ve been fortunate enough to work with a huge range of Black artists both on and off stage. Whilst we celebrate and showcase Black creativity throughout the year, Black History Month allows us to further champion and highlight the contribution of Black artists.
As stated in our response to the Black Lives Matter movement, we are committed to ensuring that diversity is upheld and celebrated every step of the way: in our art, in our workforce, in our participation work with young people, community and with our audiences. Through conversations within our team, we have established Closing The Gap; a task force designed to level the playing field between people of colour* and white people at Stratford East and within the wider industry. This group, led by people of colour, meets monthly to discuss and implement ways to ensure that people of colour have opportunities to develop both personally and professionally, so that they can continue to progress in the industry and into senior roles. We want to work towards making the industry a safer place for people of colour .
This Black History Month, we will be sharing exciting and informative information through our social media channels as well as podcasts and interviews exploring Black creativity within the arts sector.
*'People of colour' is a working phrase that is currently under review by the task force.
Photo: Shebeen (2018) Richard Hubert Smith.