Here’s something to look forward to. Next week from 23 to 25 August Talawa Young People’s Theatre presents the culmination of its annual summer school. The piece is called Enter and you can see it at the Embassy Theatre at CSSD near Swiss Cottage.
Thirteen 18 to 25 year olds applied in May for places on this summer school run by Talawa Theatre Company. They’ve been working intensively - digging into issues which concern them - since 30 July - with theatre professionals and director Anthony Ekundayo Lennon, to devise a piece of theatre.
Now in its seventeenth year, 2011’s TYPT show, I Am England, explored what it meant to be Black and British, looking at the last 25 years of Black British history. It drew inspiration from last year’s riots, which took place during rehearsals and influenced the final show. Previous TYPT shows have been presented at Sadler’s Wells, the National Maritime Museum, Drill Hall and the Bernie Grant Arts Centre.
This year’s participants come from a variety of backgrounds and are at differing stages in their acting careers. TYPT:12 includes graduates from Rose Bruford College, Guildford School of Acting, Identity School of Drama, Manchester Metropolitan University and Brunel University as well as participants with no formal training.
Anthony Ekundayo Lennon recently completed his work as assistant and staff director of the acclaimed National Theatre Production of Moon on a Rainbow Shawl, which was directed by Talawa Artistic Director Michael Buffong. Whilst at the National Theatre he directed readings as part of the Exploring Black British Plays event and the National’s Platform of Trinidadian Writings. He was Assistant & Resident Director for the West End production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Novello Theatre 2009/10) directed by Debbie Allen. He directed Winsome’s Daughter as part of Talawa Theatre Company’s Flipping the Script season at the Young Vic and was Assistant Director to Michael Buffong at the Almeida Theatre for Crawling in the Dark (2011).
Graduates from TYPT have gone on to work in theatre, film and TV. Nonso Anozie appeared in Death and the King’s Horseman at the National Theatre, played the youngest-ever Lear in the RSC production of King Lear and appeared in the film Atonement. Femi Oguns is a founder of Identity Drama School which specialises in training actors from a variety of ethnic backgrounds. Peter Bakare is a co-writer for Channel 4’s Unseen Skins. Shaun Blackstock recently appeared in Hollyoaks; and Shanika Warren-Markland was in Noel Clarke’s films Adulthood and 22.214.171.124.
Talawa was founded in 1986 by Yvonne Brewster, Carmen Munroe, Mona Hammond and Inigo Espejel to counter the lack of creative opportunities for actors from minority ethnic backgrounds and the general marginalisation of Black people from culture at-large.
Since then it has worked hard, with a lot of success, to readdress the balance and support the development of Black theatre. Over the past 25 years, Talawa has presented more than forty stage productions ranging from African classics, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, new Black British work, plays from Nobel-prize winning playwrights and high-voltage musicals - as well as nurturing talent in all areas of British theatre, including actors, writers, directors and other practitioners.