Black Theatre Looks for First Permanent HomeDate: 8 July 2002
The campaign for a permanent home for Black theatre in the UK began last night, Sunday 7 July 2002 with a Gala Raising the Roof evening in the West End. Black actors and directors met at London's Palace Theatre, home of Les Miserables to support the planning of the project. EastEnders director Michael Buffong brought together the evening of music and performance with the line up including Ruby Turner, comedian Felix Dexter and London Community Gospel Choir.
The eventual aim of the campaign is to rebuild a new space on the site of the Westminster Theatre in Victoria. The development will provide a 270-seat flexible theatre with a café, rehearsal rooms and an archive - all of which will go towards supporting known and up and coming black writers and professionals. Four major productions would go ahead each year with the rest of the season being made up of touring work.
Talawa Theatre Company are behind the project and will run the theatre if the plans get off the ground. Talawa has been established for over 16 years and, during that time, has produced a variety of work and started the careers of many of Britain's black actors and writers.
Talawa's new home will be the first major Black-led arts institution in Central London. The project marks the concern of a serious lack of Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities within the theatre profession - recent surveys showed 96% of English theatre staff and managers were white.
The next fundraising event is to be announced shortly.
- by Sarah Beaumont