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Rare chance to explore the history of black theatre – University of Reading

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Rare chance to explore the history of black theatre

Release Date 23 October 2012

A groundbreaking film exploring the history and heritage of black theatre in Britain is to be shown at the University of Reading on Monday 29 October at 6.45pm.

‘Margins to Mainstream' examines the different interpretations of ‘Black British Theatre' as a label and genre, and catalogues the incredible contribution of black actors, producers and playwrights to UK theatre. It features previously unseen footage of seminal plays and fascinating interviews with theatre heavyweights such as playwright and literary activist Courttia Newland, and comedian and actor Javone Prince.

The film has been shown throughout the UK during 2012 but comes to Reading during Black History Month. This free event has been organised by University of Reading PhD student Nicola Abram, who is researching the representation of race, gender and nationality in experimental theatre by black British women.

Nicola Abram said: "I'm delighted to invite the local community to watch this fascinating film. It's a social history full of positive stories and inspirational people, as well as a documentary about an important art form. The University's new state-of-the-art Minghella Cinema is the perfect venue to welcome the community onto campus."

From Ira Aldridge playing Othello in Covent Garden in the 1830s, to Bashy playing Markus the Sadist in a ‘rap opera' in 2010, the richness of black British theatre is in its diversity. Historians, playwrights, producers and actors that contributed to and appear in the film include actor, playwright and broadcaster Kwame Kwei-Armah, and Patricia Cumper, former Artistic Director of Britain's foremost Black-led theatre company, Talawa.

Expanding on her PhD project Nicola, originally from Salisbury, said: "Reading is a wonderfully vibrant and culturally diverse place to live, so I hope my research will connect with people in the local area.

"From the 1980s to the present day, black British women have created innovative theatre that challenges the categories we use to describe people's identity. These playwrights and performers show us that the way we see an individual's body, such as 'black' or 'white', shouldn't be thought of as meaningful. Instead, they create characters who get their identity from their relationships with others.' 

Margins to Mainstream: The Story of Black Theatre in Britain will be shown in the Minghella Cinema on the Whiteknights Campus on Monday 29th October at 6.45pm. Please arrive for 6.30pm. A drinks reception will follow the film.

This event is free of charge. To register, contact Nicola Abram:

The screening is sponsored by the University's Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science research theme, Minority Identities: Rights and Representation. More information is available here:


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