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Talawa Theatre Company announces Make…

Heather Agyepong rehearsing for TYPT 2016.
Heather Agyepong rehearsing for TYPT 2016. Photo by Lidia Crisafulli

MAKE is a UK wide community of Black artists, empowered to create their own path through a range of development activity. MAKE provides key support at each stage of a Black artist’s career. With diversity issues in theatre remaining frequently discussed but slow-changing, Talawa Theatre Company begins their 31st year with a meaningful and sustained response to the needs of Black artists.

Diversity projects tend to be just that – projects – and as a quick fix approach, they are not building an infrastructure. What we need is sustained engagement that provides artists with a pathway into the industry, and the footholds to keep them there.” Gail Babb, Talawa Producer for Participation & Learning.

MAKE aims to create bespoke talent development to provide for the future diversity of British theatre. Talawa is the UK’s primary Black-led touring theatre company. Their work is informed by the wealth and diversity of the Black British experience, and they create outstanding work by cultivating the best in emerging and established Black artists.

MAKE will be delivered in four stages.
ENGAGE will reach new people, who are not currently engaged with Talawa or with theatre. Offering grassroots workshops, networking events and a script reading service, ENGAGE will increase Black participation in theatre by reaching new participants across the UK.

GROW will provide opportunities for artists to develop their skills and generate new work. Artists will be encouraged to access existing Talawa schemes including the Talawa Writers’ Programme (commission and attachment for emerging writers); TYPT (devising project for emerging theatre makers); Talawa Firsts (festival of work in progress); Creating Routes (a facilitator training programme) and Studio Firsts (time, space and support to create new work).

COLLABORATE will create the space for artists to take risks with peers, meet, play and build a lasting network. This will be achieved by creating a series of encounters for artists to collaborate and take a risk in a supportive environment.

SUSTAIN will provide advice and support to ensure Black artists thrive in the industry.
Talawa will address drop off points experienced by mid-career Black artists and practitioners by offering: meet and greets with industry professionals, Talawa staff support and mentoring, free office space and rehearsal space.

MAKE is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, and every year will work with partner organisations across the UK. 2017s partners are Royal Exchange Theatre, Camden People’s Theatre, Voyage Youth and Sustained Theatre Up North.

“We have been working closely with Talawa on many engagement projects (All My Sons and King Lear) with communities, groups and individuals from BAME backgrounds, including asylum seekers, refugees and displaced people. We are thrilled to be developing a more sustained partnership that continues to support and further develop this work.

To support these activities, we have prioritised working with BAME artists who are skilled facilitators, and through MAKE we will collaborate with Talawa to train even more artists in facilitation and creative practice.” Sarah Lovell, Head of Participation & Learning, Royal Exchange Theatre

MAKE will also be supported from Summer 2017 by MAKE Online: an online platform, which will allow artists to:
• Discover activities and opportunities with Talawa and other organisations
• Post jobs and advertise events
• Post and respond to questions/requests for help
• Engage in dialogue with other artists
• Build a lasting network by devising and implementing potential Talawa workshops or activities



  • Neil Cheesman

    First becoming involved in an online theatre business in 2005 and launching londontheatre1.com in September 2013. Neil writes reviews and news articles, and has interviewed over 150 actors and actresses from the West End, Broadway, film, television, and theatre. Follow Neil on Twitter @LondonTheatre1

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