Thursday, 13 November 2014

Norman Beaton Fellowship

Are you a professional actor who didn’t train at an accredited drama school?
Do you have a versatile voice?
Would you like to work in radio drama?

The Norman Beaton Fellowship is an excellent opportunity for any actor who wants to find their voice and be heard.”
Shaheen Khan, actor (BBC NBF Judge, 2014)

Each year the BBC Norman Beaton Fellowship seeks to find a broad range of new acting talent, particularly from those who may not have easy access to conventional routes into radio drama.

How to enter:
Audition workshops take place at theatres across the UK between November 2014 and January 2015, leading to semi-finals in February and Finals in March in London.

To apply for a place at one of these workshops you must:
1.    Not have attended a full-time drama course at a Drama UK or Conservatoires   UK accredited drama college.*
2.     Have professional credits in theatre, television or film.
3.     Have a versatile voice and an interest in working in radio drama.
 *Please see website for full terms and conditions.
This event is open to anyone who meets these criteria, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or disability.
The winners receive a five-month contract with the BBC Radio Drama Company and the runners up, a freelance engagement with BBC Radio Drama.
For details of participating theatres and dates of events, please visit:
To express an interest in taking part, please email: Clare Ewing
“NBF is fantastic opportunity for actors to learn and experience one of the most enjoyable mediums in our profession:  radio. I remember an actor saying: 'I’ve never had a bad day on a radio play' and this is true of my own experience in all the years I've been an actor.”
Ray Fearon, actor (Judge, 2014)

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Talawa Theatre Company announces UK tour of All My Sons

Talawa Theatre Company today announces a national UK tour of its hugely successful production of Arthur Miller's All My Sons, alongside the launch of the Talawa Writers’ Programme – a new year-long development opportunity for three Black British writers and a new short film, Sweet Taboo.
Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa said:
I’m really pleased to be able to take Arthur Miller’s All My Sons on tour, after last year’s success. Reviving this classic play enables us to explore the themes and ideas, which have a relevance to all our lives: family, loyalty, guilt, and betrayal. – universal concepts which make us who we are.
“And after months of planning, I’m very happy to finally announce the new Talawa Writers’ Programme. We’ve brought together the BBC Writersoom, The Bush and Soho Theatres to create a unique opportunity that will not only provide writers with the ongoing training and knowledge to develop their craft, but will expand their experiences across a range of disciplines and truly open doors in their careers. 

"In 2013 I saw TYPT’s Sweet Taboo in rehearsal and have loved it ever since. It was funny, irreverent and relevant and I am delighted that we have the opportunity to develop it into a short film.”


Talawa’s critically acclaimed production of Arthur Miller’s ALL MY SONS, directed by Artistic Director Michael Buffong will set out on a UK tour in February 2015, in the centenary year of Miller’s birth.
The production played to full houses and standing ovations when it opened in a co-production with Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester last year and will now open at the New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich on Thursday 12 February 2015 then tour to Cambridge Arts Theatre, Salisbury Playhouse, Watford Palace Theatre, Oxford Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Richmond Theatre, Mercury Theatre Colchester and Malvern Theatres.
Ray Shell and Doña Croll lead the cast in this searing investigation of honesty, guilt and the corrupting power of greed. One hundred years after Arthur Miller’s birth, it is still very clear why All My Sons, Miller’s first major success, established him as one of the greatest dramatists of the 20th Century.
1947. Joe and Kate Keller, an all-American couple, are living with the ghosts of World War II.
Joe is successful, a self-made businessman, loving family man and pillar of the community. He is a partner in a machine shop building fighter plane parts. Joe and Kate’s happiness is clouded by one thing – their son is missing in action, presumed dead by all but his mother …
a flawless production that succeeds in seeing the play in terms that are neither specifically black nor white, but ultimately honours Miller's ability to see things human.”
***** The Guardian
Artistic Director of Talawa Michael Buffong directs. His credits at Talawa include God’s Property with Soho Theatre and The Albany and The Serpent’s Tooth with the Almeida Theatre. Further credits include Moon On A Rainbow Shawl at the National Theatre and the multi-award winning A Raisin In The Sun at the Royal Exchange Manchester.
Doña Croll returns to Talawa to play the role of Kate Keller. Her credits include Twelfth Night at Sheffield Crucible, The American Plan at Bath Theatre Royal & St. James Theatre, Heresy Of Love at Royal Shakespeare Company and The Riots at the Tricycle. On screen, she is best known for her roles in Gimme Gimme Gimme, Doctors, Family Affairs, Casualty and most recently the ITV series The Ice Cream Girls.
Ray Shell’s most recent credits include The Bodyguard, Perseverance Drive at the Bush Theatre, and Driving Miss Daisy at the Wyndhams Theatre. He also originated the role of Rusty in the original West End production of Starlight Express. A published novelist alongside his theatre career, his books include Iced, The Devil Has Quentin’s Heart, Spike Lee: The Eternal Maverick and his new novel, Feedin' Miranda will be published early next year. His musical White Folks was produced in concert at The Cochrane Theatre and at The Pleasance Theatre, London.
Talawa Theatre Company is the UK's primary Black-led theatre company. Led by Artistic Director Michael Buffong, Talawa aims to create work informed by the wealth and diversity of the Black British experience, invest in talent, build audiences and inspire dialogue with and within communities across Britain.
The production is designed by Ellen Cairns, with lighting by Johanna Town and sound by Emma Laxton.
The full cast includes Kemi Bo-Jacobs (Ann Deever), Doña Croll (Kate Keller), Andrea Davy (Sue Bayliss), Ashley Gerlach (George Deever), Bethan Mary James (Lydia Lubey), Leemore Marrett Jr (Chris Keller), Ray Shell (Joe Keller) and Chinna Wodu (Frank Lubey).

The All My Sons tour is supported by Arts Council England.

Talawa Writers’ Programme is announced today – a new year-long development programme for three Black British writers at different stages in their career to write a new play and build networks across the entertainment industry.
Inua Ellams, Theresa Ikoko and Somalia Seaton are the three writers selected to take part in the scheme which aims to create lasting relationships between Black writers and mid to large scale producing organisations, thereby opening meaningful networks and routes to sustained careers.
Supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, Talawa will work together with the Bush and Soho Theatres and BBC Writersroom to provide new and varied opportunities to develop their skills and enhance their careers.
Each writer will be on attachment to Talawa and the partner organisations for a 12 month period where they will work on a full length commission destined for one of the partner theatres, with Inua Ellams at Soho Theatre, Somalia Seaton at the Bush Theatre and Theresa Ikoko at Talawa Theatre Company. All three will be supported by the BBC Writersroom.
Alongside their commissions, writers will take part in monthly workshops sessions with inspiring practitioners, with theatre makers at Talawa or at the BBC Writersroom with TV, radio and film practitioners. Each writer will also be supported to undertake a special project during their time, tailor-made with the writer, depending on their particular interests.
Michael Buffong, Artistic Director of Talawa said:
“Developing writers is absolutely integral to our work here at Talawa and I have wanted to create a bespoke writers programme for some time.

“I believe Black writers will receive far greater value and career longevity if a number of organisations commit to developing the writer jointly in a participatory process. The writers then benefit from a wide variety of various organisations’ practises, opportunities and support. I look forward to working with our partners at the Bush, Soho and BBC Writersroom and welcome the change it will bring.”

Madani Younis, Artistic Director, Bush Theatre said:
Talawa’s long standing commitment to developing new and emerging writers and artists is getting a huge boost with the launch of Talawa Writers’ Programme. We’re honoured to have been asked to be part of the programme and are looking forward to working with Talawa and Somalia Seaton. The year-long investment by Talawa Theatre Company, The Bush Theatre, Soho Theatre and BBC Writersroom represents a commitment to developing an enduring and sustained diversity in theatre. The partnership principle which underlies Talawa Writers’ Programme is a positive move. Together we can do it.”
Nina Steiger, Associate Director, Soho Theatre said:“Soho Theatre is delighted to be part of the inaugural Talawa Writers’ Programme and we look forward to fruitful collaborations with our resident writer, Inua Ellams and partners, Talawa, the Bush Theatre and BBC Writersroom.  As organisations, we share a commitment to nurturing new talent and promoting playwriting in all its diversity.  One of the most special things about this scheme is that it brings together a range of talent and skills, experience and approaches to new writing.  We are thrilled to be part of it.”
Abigail Gonda, Development Producer, BBC Writersroom said:“The BBC Writersroom is thrilled to continue building our relationship with Talawa Theatre Company through the exciting and necessary Talawa Writers’ Programme.  We relish the opportunity to work with one of the UK’s most highly regarded theatre companies to nurture diversity in drama. The BBC is committed to developing stories by new and emerging BAME talent. To work with all three TWP writers, Theresa Ikoko, Inua Ellams and Somalia Seaton is a positive move toward untold stories being heard in new and dynamic ways.”

The Talawa Writers’ Programme is supported by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


Talawa is working with Campbell X, Mojisola Adebayo and 12 talented emerging theatre-makers to create Sweet Taboo. The short film will be launched with an accompanying resource pack for schools, colleges and youth groups in February 2015.
Directed by Campbell X of BlackmanVision and set at a speed dating event, Sweet Taboo is a fast and playful film aimed at young people that tackles gender and sexuality; confronting prejudice and preconceptions head on with humour.
The Sweet Taboo screenplay has been adapted by Mojisola Adebayo from a play of the same name that was devised by Talawa's TYPT participants under her direction in 2013. TYPT is Talawa's flagship programme for emerging theatre makers, aged 18 to 25 years old. Set up in 1995, it provides a truly unique stepping-stone for emerging theatre makers, including actors, stage managers and designers at the beginning of their careers.
Every year, Talawa puts emerging practitioners into a rehearsal room with a professional multi-disciplinary team, to devise and produce an original piece of theatre.
In 2013, over four weeks of intensive rehearsals the TYPT company worked together to develop their practice, test ideas and explore new ways of working. Out of this came Sweet Taboo, a fast-paced rude and irreverent play which re-writes the old sex, gender and race rules. Talawa has brought back this original cast of some of London's freshest new performers to create the film.
"I will never look at heels the same way ever again...or any of those sweet taboos! Wonderful energy, vibrant young performers taking us to places I never knew I wanted to go! I laughed and laughed – thank you for an evening of taboo!"
Audience member, Sweet Taboo (the play)

Past TYPT participants have gone on to have successful careers in theatre; working as performers, producers and writers for a range of organisations, including The Bush Theatre, Oval House, Theatre Centre and StoneCrabs Theatre Company. Alumni include: Femi Oguns (Director of Identity Drama School), Nonso Anozie (Dracula, Game of Thrones and Death of a King’s Horsemen), Sandra Thompson-Quartey (Artistic Director of Writers Avenue), Michaela Coel (Chewing Gum Dreams - National Theatre and Channel 4) and Shanika Warren-Markland (Adulthood, 4321, Victim).
Notes to Editors:
For further information, images and interviews, please contact: Anna Evans at Target Live: (e) (t) 020 3372 0956
Talawa Theatre Company
Talawa is Britain's primary Black led theatre company. We create outstanding work informed by the wealth and diversity of the Black British experience. We invest in talent, build audiences and inspire dialogue with and within communities across Britain, by doing so we enrich British cultural life


Thursday 12 – Saturday 21 February
New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich
Box Office: 01473 295 900
PRESS NIGHT: Tuesday 17 February at 7.45pm

Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 February
Cambridge Arts Theatre
Box Office: 01223 503 333

Tuesday 3 March – Saturday 7 March
Salisbury Playhouse
Box Office: 01722 320 333

Tuesday 10 – Saturday 14 March
Watford Palace Theatre
Box Office: 01923 225 671

Tuesday 17 – Saturday 21 March
Oxford Playhouse 
Box Office: 01865 305 305

Tuesday 24 – Saturday 28 March
Birmingham Rep 
Box Office: 0121 236 4455

Tuesday 31 March – Saturday 5 April
Richmond Theatre
Box Office: 0844 871 7615

Tuesday 14 – Saturday 18 April
Mercury, Colchester
Box Office: 01206 573 948

Tuesday 21 – Saturday 25 April
Malvern Theatres (Festival Theatre)
Box Office: 01684 892 277

Talawa Writers’ Programme Biographies
Born in Nigeria, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer and graphic artists and designer. His first play The 14th Tale (a one-man show which he performed) was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, Black T-Shirt Collection ran at the National Theatre.
Theresa was born and raised in Hackney. In August 2013, Theresa completed her first full length play Normal debuted at Talawa Firsts’ 2014 season. Normal was also chosen for Tricycle Theatre's young writers' programme and was selected for Critical Mass at Belgrade Theatre. Her play Visiting Hours was chosen for Belgrade Theatre's The New Black Showcase in 2014. 
Somalia Seaton is a writer and actor born and raised in South East London. Her debut play Crowning Glory scheduled for UK tour in Spring 2015, opened its run at Theatre Royal Stratford East in October 2013. Her work has also been staged at venues such at The Bush, The Drill Hall, Brockley Jack and The Unicorn. Somalia is the Founder and Artistic director of No Ball Games Allowed, an arts in education and production company.
Sweet Taboo Biographies
Campbell X is the filmmaker behind BlackmanVision and writer/director of the award-winning feature fim Stud Life. Campbell constantly pushes boundaries in visual aesthetics and content in moving image. Campbell started out making films for UK television and titles include Ragga Gyal D'Bout! about female fans of Ragga Music and the award-winning films BD Women and Legacy.
Mojisola Adebayo is a British born, Nigerian / Danish performer, playwright, director, producer, workshop leader and teacher. She recently co-created, co-directed and wrote I Stand Corrected, a collaboration with Mamela Nyamza, which has played to sell-out audiences in London and internationally. She is committed to publishing her works which include the four play collection Mojisola Adebayo: Plays One (Oberon Books), 48 Minutes for Palestine, edited by Anna Furse in Theatre in Pieces (Methuen) and The Theatre for Development Handbook (Pan) co-written with John Martin and Manisha Mehta.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

King Lear: Talawa & Shakespeare

Talawa Theatre Company has produced and presented numerous pieces by William Shakespeare, or inspired by him.   

Our track record of involvement and performance of Shakespeare plays includes Antony & Cleopatra [1991], King Lear [1994], Othello [1997] and most recently The Serpent’s Tooth. The Serpent's Tooth is set in the aftermath of the death of King Lear and his family and was co-produced with the AlmeidaTheatre in 2012.

This post will focus on King Lear, which played at the Cochrane Theatre (off West End).   

The cast and crew included Yvone Brewster (who directed) Mona Hammond, Cathy Tyson, Lolita Chakrabarti and David Harewood among many other notable names (see below).   The play was noted for its innovative play on Shaespeare's use of metre by introducing rap monologue.   You can contact the National Art Library at the V&A to view a video of the performance which ran for a month from 16th March to 16th April 1994.

Diane ParishCordelia
David PrescottDuke of Albany
Karl CollinsDuke of Burgundy/Oswald
Jeff DiamondDuke of Cornwall
David FielderEarl of Gloucester
David WebberEarl of Kent
David HarewoodEdmund
Mona HammondFool
Lolita ChakrabartiGoneril
Evroy DeerKing of France/Doctor
Ben ThomasLear
Cathy TysonRegan
Greta Mendezchoreography
Ellen Cairnsdesigner
Yvonne Brewsterdirector
Ace McCarronlighting

The Guardian's Robin Thornber wrote "Ellen Cairns's set is a bare, raked disc with red ropes suspending a huge petunia trumpet of white, shiny fabric - a courtly canopy that becomes mist on the heath and a tented hovel. Costumes are stylish black leather-look trench coats, boots and gloves with blunts of ethnic and Berber headgear. It could be any militarist society of warring clans." Robin Thornber, Guardian 4.3.94.

Monday, 3 November 2014

The Black Jacobins: A Short History

Talawa Theatre Company started life in 1986, thanks to the efforts of Yvonne Brewster, Mona Hammond, Carmen Munroe and Inigo Espejel. 

Talawa Theatre Company: The Black Jacobins by CLR James
Yvonne Brewster and the other founders were galvanised by the existence of other black and minority ethinic (BAME) theatre companies such as Temba, Black Theatre Cooperative (later Nitro) and Tara Arts to apply for a grant from the Greater London Council's (GLC) Race Equality Unit.   The £80,000 they received from the GLC covered the cost of Talawa's first production, The Black Jacobins by C. L. R. James.   The Black Jacobins had not been performed in England for fifty years, and never before with an all-black cast.   This was a first in more ways than one.

Then as now, Talawa Theatre Company did not have a fixed venue.   The Black Jacobins was performed at Riverside Studios in 1986.   Today Talawa has a Studio space which we hope in time to be able to enhance so that it can accomodate more performances.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014


Kwame Kwei-Armah is a long standing supporter of Talawa and the work we do. He commented on Talawa's Unzipped 08, a showcase of readings by some of the UK’s emerging BAME playwrights, "... the most encouraging thing for me was hearing many young writers articulating ideas that really chimed. No longer the old idea: 'I'm a writer, not a Black writer.' Instead, many ... are proud to write from their cultural 'lens', not seeing Black as something you needed to drop in order to succeed or not be ghettoised. Indeed, many saw their cultural specificity as an avenue to absolute universality." 
Kwame Kwei-Armah on Unzipped 08 

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Shanika Warren-Markland in Gone too Far!

Gone Too Far! follows two estranged teenage brothers, Yemi and Ikudayisi, over the course of a single day as they meet for the first time and struggle to accept each other for who they are.

The film stars Shanika Warren-Markland, a TYPT participant (Krunch 2011), as Armani.  

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Casting Call

KATE RHODES JAMES CASTING is currently looking for the following: 
  • 16-18 year old male actor
  • MUST be of Indian origin and ideally able to do an Indian accent
  • Can be based anywhere in the UK, experience not necessary