Black Arts in the UK
n.b. while the main focus of this website is theatre, there will be occasional content about Black literature, TV, and film.
Links to jobs, opportunities, and development programmes for emerging Black theatre-makers, artists, and practitioners.
Fancy a quick history lesson?
Click on the links below…
National Theatre: Black Play Archive
British Library: Black British theatre: 1950–1979
BBC Sounds: Raising the Bar: 100 Years of Black British Theatre and Screen
Google Arts and Culture: Black Plays at the National Theatre
The Mancunion: The History of Black Theatre in Britain
There is a rich history of Black contributions to British theatre and the landscape, which I’ve created an overview of in the gallery of pictures above.
From left to right:
- An engraving by William Hogarth from 1783 entitled ‘Strolling Actresses Dressing in a Barn’, which depicts a Black actress – one of the first pieces of evidence of Black actors during this time period
- A picture from 1854 of Ira Aldridge dressed in character – Aldridge was the first Black actor to play this titular role in the UK
- A production photograph of the National Theatre’s 2009 staging of Wole Soyinka’s 1975 Death and the King’s Horseman – the first Black play to be performed on the main stage of the National Theatre
Now, in the 21st century, we are no longer witnessing ‘firsts’ when it comes to Black performances in the UK (thankfully!). However, there still is a fight to combat the systemic racism in British theatre that continues to excludes and marginalise diverse Black voices, theatre-makers, theatre-goers, and critics. I intend this website to be part of this fight.
This website explores Blackness on the English stage, and includes a directory of different resources for Black people pursuing careers in theatre, a catalogue of current productions, and reviews.
To the left, you’ll find a few articles and resources which take you through the history of Black theatre in the UK. Don’t forget to come back here once you’ve finished reading them though!
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