Black History Month was originally founded to recognise the contributions that people of African and Caribbean backgrounds have made to this country for many generations.
Now, it has expanded to include the history of Asian people and their contributions too.
To celebrate #BlackHistoryMonth we are creating a Wall of BAME which will celebrate those from BAME backgrounds who have made an impact in the theatre industry. From theatremakers to Actors, Producers to Choreographers, this is a celebration for all!
Our Black History Month celebration begins with award-winning Actor Jamal Ajala who won best Actor in a play at The Stage Debut Awards 2019 for his role in Ear for Eye at the Royal Court Theatre. Jamal is the first deaf person to win an award at The Stage Debut Awards.
"I'm flabbergasted, I don't know what to say, I'm so happy. It shows that people can do wonderful things in the arts regardless of their disability. It means so much to me."
Do you want to follow in Jamal's footsteps? Take a look at our opportunities for Actors and Performers here.
The next name on our Wall of BAME is Tobi Kyeremateng the Producer who launched Black Ticket Project, an initiative providing free or discounted theatre tickets for young black people in London. Her main objective is to get more black people seeing theatre.
"If I've given someone a ticket and they've gone to see that show, I have achieved what I have set out to do. They could have gone to their mates and said: 'Let's see this show.' Or they could have said: 'I didn't really like that.' One of those responses is a good outcome to justify the existence of the project."
Natasha Cox is an Olivier award-winning Actor and has previously worked as Creative Learning Director at theatre company Selladoor. Natasha has recently launched an annual platform called Actively Seeking... This initiative puts the spotlight on men's mental health in the arts with the aim of providing "professional, personal and emotional development" to people in the arts who are seeking employment or training. This initiative will run various events and workshops throughout the year.
"As Performers, we are always actively seeking work. We're always looking for the next opportunity. That's where the vision and the name for the company came from. We will use the platform of the creative arts to provide opportunities for personal, professional and emotional development for those within the creative industries."
Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. Take a look at our blog 'What support is there for mental health in theatre?' for more information.
Lebo M is a Grammy-winning Musician, Producer and Composer from South Africa. Alongside world-renowned Composer Hans Zimmer, the score Composer for both adaptations of The Lion King, Lebo formed and conducted the African choir that sang for the films. His voice is the first heard at the beginning of the film, singing a chant over the opening sequence.
His journey to success was not easy. Lebo faced a poverty-stricken childhood, and left school at the age of 9. However, after returning to education to study music for three years and graduating he worked at McDonald's and a local car wash. He is now recognised internationally as a Singer, Composer, Producer and Arranger working on productions of The Lion King all over the world.
Coming from a low income household shouldn't affect your chances of pursuing a successful career in theatre. Take a look at our funding opportunities to support your journey to the career of your dreams.
Yvette Griffith is the Executive Director of new music organisation Jazz Re:freshed. This initiative is a Black Arts Philanthropy Project created to encourage donations to black-led arts organisations. As part of the initiative, Yvette aims to hold forums with existing black Philanthropists and to educate potential new supporters of the arts.
"I'd like to see a more level playing field artistically, I'd like to see black arts organisations being given more opportunities to grow and more money to compete with the institutions."
Atri Banerjee recently won The Stage Debut Award 2019 for Best Director for his directorial debut of Tanika Gupta's adaptation of Hobson's Choice at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. After winning his award Atri revealed that he was subject to a racially motivated attack at his grandmother's house the night before starting rehearsals for the show. Atri did not let this stop him from directing the ★★★★ production, ultimately winning him the 2019 award for Best Director.
"In a time when that very diversity is threatened by xenophobia (dislike or prejudice against people from other countries) and violence, it's important to keep telling stories of different culture."
You can find opportunities in directing here. Don't forget to tick the BAME box if you're from a BAME background.
Brenda Edwards is a British Singer and West End Actress. Brenda rose to fame on the X Factor in 2005 and has since starred in a number of West End productions. Brenda is included on our Wall of BAME due to her casting in the upcoming reworked production of Sister Act where she will play the main character, Deloris Van Cartier. Brenda auditioned for the show when it first came to the UK in 2009 but didn't get the part because she was 'too old'. Whoopi Goldberg has reworked the production for a slightly older Actor as they 'can be more irreverent when you're older than you can be when you're in your twenties and thirties' and she had one woman in mind.
Brenda did not let this knock back rain on her parade and has gone on to have a rewarding career which has come full circle with Sister Act. Brenda will star in the musical which will open at Curve in Leicester in April 2020.
If you'd like to pursue a career in acting take a look at the opportunities that are available to you. Or if you have any upcoming auditions or interviews, take a look at our tips to get you through it and how to tackle nerves and anxiety here.
Alex Chang is a Director, Writer and Producer. He leads a new project alongside campaign group British East Asians in Theatre and Screen (BEATS). The project is an online directory to give more visibility to British East Asian Directors and Writers.
'Something that came up as a productive, positive, actionable thing we could do, is to provide a list of British East Asian Theatre Directors and Playwrights who have experience and are talented.'
There are a number of different opportunities in various areas of theatre for people of East Asian heritage but the big problem is where to find them. Take a look at our opportunities here. Remember to tick the BAME box if this applies to you to see more specific opportunities.
Black Womxn in Theatre aims to takeover spaces where they might not otherwise be seen. More than 250 black women, trans women and non-binary people who work in theatre came together at Shakespeare's Globe to celebrate their contribution to the industry with a photoshoot entitled #wearevisible to "share and celebrate their experiences."
Womxn included in the image above are:
Abigail Sewell Abiola Ogunbiyi; Adanna Oji ;Aisha Toussaint; Alaa Taha; Alexandra Afryea; Aliyah Forde ; Alma Eno; Alysha Laviniere (Production Manager); Amanda Huxtable; Amba Rose Mendy; Amina Koroma ; Anastasia Osei-Kuffour; Andrea Wright; Anita-Joy Uwajeh +2; Ann Akin ; Annika Brown; Arianne Carless; Ashlee Elizabeth Lolo (Playwright, Dramatrug); Belinda Clarke ; Cairo Aibangbee ; Caroline King-Gadekah ; Carolyn Forsyth; Charelle Griffith ; Cherrelle Skeete; Cheryl Ndione; Cleo Lake; Constance Oak; Coral Messen; Courtney Caton; Danielle Marshall; Darcy Charles (Actress); Dare Aiyegbayo; Dawn Hope ; Deborah Sawyerr; Diane Alison-Mitchel; Eileen Bellot; Elise Palmer (Actress, Singer); Erica Campayne (ACE relationship manager, producer); Erica Kouassi; Femi Keeling ; Gail Babb; Heather Apyepong ; Heather Benson; Heather Clark Charrington ; Helena Morais ; Hive City Legacy Azara Meghie, Dorcas A Stevens, Elsabet Yonas, Farrell Cox, Koko Brown, Krystal Dorcas, Rebecca Solomon, Shakaiah Perez; Ibinabo Jack ; Jacqui Beckford; Jade Lewis ; Jade Maxah; Jayne Aguire ; Jennifer Farmer; Jennifer-Jane Benjamin; Jessica Mensah; Jocelyn Jee Eisen; Joana Borja ; Joanna Francis; Josephine Melville; Judd Batchelor; Judith Jacobs +3; Juliet Gilkes Romero; Kaleya Baxe; Karena Johnson; Karla Williams ; Kat Francois; Kehyrse Johnson-Fraser; Keisha Amponsa Banson; Kelly Nicholas ; Kudzai Sitima ; Leah Magoye; Leanne Henlon; Lekhani Chirwa; Lisa Kennedy ; Liz Daramola ; Lola May; Max Kolary; Melissa Saint ; Mimi Findlay ; Monique Baptiste-Brown; Naomi Knox; Nassy Maureen Konan; Natalie Ibu; Natalie Pryce ; Natalie Pryce; Natasha Gordon; Nataylia; Nataylia Roni; Nicole Als; Nicole Jacobs ; Nicole L Jae; Nicole May; Odera Ndujiuba; Olivia Nakintu Oluwatoyin/ Isis Brown; Oneness Sankara; Patricia Cumper; Paula B Stanic; Pauline Walker; Perola Congo; Raidene Carter ; Rakie Ayola; Roberta Livingston; Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo; Rosemary Laryea; Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey; Samina Beckford (Mira); Sandra Falase; Sapphire Joy; Sarudzayi Maurufu; Selina Jones; Selma Nicholls; Semsem Kuherhi; Severine Howell-Meri ; Sharon Duncan Brewster ; Sharon Wallace; Shayde Sinclair ; Shelley Maxwell; Sheraya Ikutiyinu; Shereen Jasmin Phillips; Shiloh Coke ; Shirley May; Simone Watson; Sophia A Jackson ; Sophie London; Stella Kanu; Suzanne Alleyne; Suzette Llewellyn; Sydney Silvah ; Tanika Yearwood ; Tara Alexis ; Titilola Dawudu; Tolu Agbelusi; Toyin Ayedun-Alase; Tricia Wey; Valerie Synmoie; Victoria Evaristo; Wunmi Ibrironke ; Xana ; Xanthus I-Peters; Yolanda Mercy; Yvette Grifith
If you would like to get involved in any area of theatre, on and offstage then search our opportunities now to find something for you.
Emily Lim is a Director and the driving force behind the National Theatre's community engagement programme. When someone told her "you can either make community theatre or you can make work at the National" Emily set out to prove that person wrong. Emily is contributing to the changing times and changing attitudes of the theatre industry as she is now an associate at the National Theatre where she leads its Public Acts programme. This programme explores how community engagement can sit right at the very heart of the National Theatre's mission and practice.
Find out more about this programme and other opportunities at the National Theatre here.
Global Voices Theatre aims to bring international stories to our stages. Curated by Poet and Journalist Bridget Minamore - who contributes to The Stage - the event lined up six excerpts from plays, never staged in the UK before, by black writers from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Haita and the US. Many of the plays looks at queer/LGBT+ black stories and at women's stories and feminist issues.
“Instead, I think the industry should want diversity, and should want things like Global Black Voices to thrive. We should want black stories from across the diaspora, as well as want black British stories to be told on our stages."