October is Black History Month. And this Black History Month, in the year marking two major UK milestones – the centenary of women’s suffrage and the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the Windrush generation – Ovalhouse launches a new annual event for Black Women in Theatre.
Ovalhouse presents the first Women Move: Black Women in Theatre on Monday 22 October 2018. This free evening is a celebration of the contribution of dynamic black women in British Theatre.
Hosted by Executive Producer Stella Kanu (pictured above), Buildings Project Manager Annika Brown and Learning and Participation Manager Titi Dawudu of Ovalhouse, the evening is inspired by the 100-year anniversary of Votes for Women and 70-year anniversary of the Windrush Generation.
Women Move: Black Women in Theatre is a chance to celebrate the extraordinary achievements of women behind the scenes and on stage in British theatre.
The event starts with three esteemed speakers: director Paulette Randall MBE, executive leader Deborah Sawyerr and actress Judith Jacob will share their experiences over many years in the theatre industry. The speakers will then be joined by the next generation of black British female talent – including performer/writer Yolanda Mercy (Quarter Life Crisis, On the Edge of Me), director/playwright Lynette Linton (soon to co-direct Richard II at the Globe, the first all women of colour Shakespeare company on a major UK stage) and actress Cherrelle Skeete (currently in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child) – for a panel discussion. This will be followed by an audience Q&A session, networking opportunities and refreshments.
Stella Kanu commented:
“We decided to hold this event to bring together black female theatre-makers and shakers past and present. Being visible together in one space is a powerful moment in a month that holds so much significance about Black achievements.”
The evening is a unique opportunity for women in theatre and the general public to celebrate and be inspired by female arts professionals. This is the first event of its kind and it is hoped it will become an annual celebration.
Women Move: Black Women in Theatre takes place on Monday 22 October 2018 from 6.30pm at Ovalhouse, 52-54 Kennington Oval, London SE11 5SW. This is a FREE event for everyone. Book in advance at Ovalhouse website www.ovalhouse.com or call the box office on 020 7582 7680.
Paulette Randall MBE recently directed River City and Dr Faustus for The Globe Theatre. She was Associate Director to Danny Boyle on the Olympics 2012 Ceremony; Paulette has directed at many of the UK’s leading theatres and was formerly Artistic Director of Talawa. Paulette was the first female black director in the West End with Fences in 2013. She has also directed extensively in television, most recently Holby City and produced Desmond’s, Porkpie and The Crouches.
Executive Leader Deborah Sawyerr, recently announced as joint Deputy Executive Director at Mercury Theatre in Colchester, Deborah has held roles at the Bush Theatre, Theatre Royal Stratford East, Talawa Theatre Company, Nottingham Playhouse, Graeae, as well as teaching roles at LAMDA. She is a Board of Independent Theatre Council, Shape and Upswing.
Judith Jacob is an established British actor, having starred on TV in Eastenders, Holby City, Black Books, My Family and Doctors. She is a co-founder of Black Theatre Co-op (BCT). Judith has performed at many London theatres including Hackney Empire and Ovalhouse, and iconic British comedy shows No Problem! and The Real McCoy.
Stella Kanu has 25+ years’ experience of producing theatre, festivals and activities in a variety of settings, including large-scale, international, national and community arts. Stella is currently Executive Producer at Ovalhouse, overseeing the artistic activities of the company as they build a new theatre and merge with the artistic and local community of Brixton. Previously she was CEO at Soundwave Cumbria. Other cultural, arts and regeneration sectors work include Southampton New Arts Complex, Bernie Grants Arts Centre, Turner Contemporary, Theatre Royal Workington, Cardboard Citizens, Harlem Stage, Chelsea Theatre, Theatre Royal Margate and Clean Break Theatre. As a creative writer and performer, Stella created Africa Centre’s first Children’s Literature Festival; A List Performing Arts Festival and Southampton Live Street Arts Festival. Stella also mentors and coaches women leaders.
Titilola Dawudu is a writer and producer and is the Learning and Participation Manager at Ovalhouse theatre. She worked for GMTV and was an Outreach Journalist for Headliners, before supporting the setup of Reaching Higher, a youth charity based in Croydon. She was the Head of Operations and Development and also ran mentoring and arts-based events and programmes. She founded STAGES, an all-girls theatre project. She is an Associate Writer for Beyond Face, a theatre company based in Plymouth. Her monologues have been performed at Soho Theatre, the Bush Theatre, and the Arcola. She is a mentor for young women and has been recently shortlisted for the Women of the Future Awards. She has edited a collection of monologues for Actors of Colour in partnership with Tamasha theatre and published by Oberon Books.
Annika Brown is PRINCE2 qualified Project Manager for Ovalhouse. A graduate of the Fast Track Programme ran by ITC in 2007, Annika has risen through the ranks of Ovalhouse to Acting General Manager, and now in her current role is managing the Capital development team overseeing the development of a new £14m purpose-built theatre in Brixton with 2 theatre spaces, 7 rehearsal rooms, Working in a complex and diverse stakeholder partnership with The London Borough of Lambeth, Arts Council England, Capita, Galliford Try and architects Foster Wilson.