WhatsOnStage Logo
Home link
Features

Black Lives Matter: Plays, books and documentaries that are essential material

We list only a fraction of the incredible material on offer

Petra Letang in Random
© Manuel Harlan

A wave of vital protests and campaigns have occurred over the last week and, while this energy has been incredible, we want to make sure that this isn't a passing moment and instead the beginning of a wider change.

We've created a number of articles and a custom guide to provide you with long-term resources and links.

This is a rolling list so if you want to add something please email [email protected]




A comprehensive guide to anti-racism resources has been created

The guide features resources for children, videos, podcasts, books, films and more.

It also provides links to key social media accounts that can provide up-to-date information about rallies and plans for the future.

Check it out here.


Reading, watching and listening

A list of documentaries to watch is available here.

You can also check out this list of films and collectives available in the UK, how much they might cost and where you can access them here.

There is a great article here on how venues can avoid resorting to tokenism.

Jade Anouka's TEDTalk, about being Black, being a Woman, being 'Other', is here in full.

The New York Times has compiled a reading list full of anti-racist books and more.

This Fractured Atlas article also gives white people tips regarding learning and talking about race and racism.

An article in The Stage has highlighted the treatment of drama school students.

This is a top-line introduction to the ideas and themes behind the ongoing protests from Gary Younge.

Here's an open letter written by Royal Opera House technical director Mark Dakin.

Broadway stars will be holding a Black Lives Matter Forum from 10 to 12 June.

Shakespeare's Globe has compiled a list of useful books and more here, with a particular focus on race within the playwright's works.

As has Northern Stage.

Museum of Colour is a very useful and well wrought online tool.

Jemma Desai's vital article "The arts are in The Sunken Place - how do we Get Out?" can be read here.


Actress Marisha Wallace compiled a great list of easily accessible media:


A novice's list of 30 plays to read or watch

Antoinette Nwandu's Pass Over, which recently had its UK premiere at the Kiln Theatre and was adapted into a film.

A lot of Anna Deavere Smith's work including Notes from the Field and Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 is directly relevant to the ongoing protests and unnecessary killings.

debbie tucker green's work, including ear for eye (available to read for free), random, generations, hang and more.

Braden Jacobs Jenkins' An Octoroon, recently having its UK premiere.

Award-winning writer Jeremy O Harris has created waves with a number of new works in recent years, including Slave Play and Daddy.

Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which is being performed online on Wednesday 10 June.

Daniel Ward's The Canary and the Crow explores identity within both private education and, pertinently, UK drama schools.

Inua Ellams' Barber Shop Chronicles, which was recently streamed for free online.

Dael Orlandersmith's Until the Flood, based on the interviews she conducted in St Louis, in spring 2015, six months after the death of an 18 year-old African American black man Michael Brown who was shot down by a white police officer.

Jennifer Kidwell and Scott R Sheppard's devised Underground Railroad Game, which is about the legacy of slavery.

Lynn Nottage is the first (and remains the only) woman to have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama twice, and her plays are a magnificent proof of what theatre can achieve to inform others. Intimate Apparel, Ruined, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and Sweat are each worth pouring over.

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm's Emilia explores the supposed "Dark Lady" of Shakespeare's sonnets. Its final speech is shatteringly good.

Nouveau Riché's award-winning piece Queens of Sheba is excellent.

Janice Okoh's new play The Gift uses the real-life story of Sarah Bonetta Davies to explore the legacy of imperialism and race.

Jackie Sibblies Drury's Fairview is a Pulitzer Prize-winner of supreme excellence, exposing prejudices within both society and the arts community. She also explores the impact of European genocides in We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Südwestafrika, Between the Years 1884–1915.

Lorraine Hansberry's Les Blancs. Now 50 years old, the play's relevance has never wavered.

Ishmael Reed's The Haunting of Lin-Manuel Miranda deconstructs the ideas within Hamilton, offering an alternative perspective on the founding fathers as slave-owners and their attitudes towards Native Americans.

Jeff Stetson's The Meeting imagines a meeting between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X during the civil rights movement.

Malcolm X also reappears in Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami, which imagines the conversation during a real meeting between the activist, Jim Brown, Cassius Clay and Sam Cooke.

Michael R Jackson's musical A Strange Loop won the Pulitzer Prize following its run last year. It charts the life of "a gay, black writer" and the cast recording is special.

Selina Thompson's salt. had a number of runs and continues to be very relevant.

Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong and Simone Ibbett-Brown lambast the presence of racism in the arts industries in Shuck 'n' Jive.

Loading...