The #WeAreVisible photoshoot took place on Thursday 25 July at Shakespeare’s Globe in Southwark. This exciting event captured an epic moment, shining a spotlight on over 250 magnificent Black Womxn who work in theatre. Inspired by the iconic Great Day in Harlem image by Art Kane of living jazz legends, #WeAreVisible was an opportunity to celebrate the contributions of Black Womxn in the theatre sector. ‘Womxn’ is written as an inclusive word that recognises non-binary people and trans women.
As well as Afridiziak Theatre News founder Sophia A Jackson, the photo included broadcaster and journalist Brenda Emmanus, Natstaha Gordon (writer, Nine Night); actresses Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Judith Jacobs, Jocelyn Jee Esien, Sapphire Joy, Suzette Llewellyn, Josephine Melville, Cherelle Skeete and former artistic director of Talawa Theatre Patricia Cumper MBE. Photo credit Sharron Wallace Photography.
Black Womxn in Theatre (BWIT) developed from a conversation that brought womxn closer together. Inspired by generations of talent and trailblazers, and a new generation of theatre makers, the events have been devised to create a space that encourages womxn to share and celebrate their experiences.
BWIT was originally billed as an intimate networking event for inspirational and intergenerational conversations between some of the great theatre giants. As the events became increasingly popular, it was clear that these important conversations need to take place.
Black Womxn in Theatre is less than a year old, with three events, 20 panel members and six guest speakers; the events were the brainchild of Stella Kanu supported by Monique Baptiste-Brown, Annika Brown and Titilola Dawudu.
Stella Kanu approached Dr Farah Karim-Cooper after participating in an event on Women and leadership, working with Dr Farah Karim-Cooper, the Globe’s Head of Higher Education & Research. Karim-Cooper researches Shakespeare, Race, women and performance. The Globe is committed to this research work and kindly donated their iconic outdoor theatre for the #WeAreVisible photoshoot.
‘WeAreVisible is something to celebrate, its unprecedented. We wanted to bring together all theatre staff and creatives across generations because we need to see each other, so many of us are experiencing isolation in our organisations and venues where we are usually just one or two. To be together in one moment in time is powerful for us and for our sector. We aim to drive a new conversation that celebrates and acknowledges the important role black womxn have played and continue to play in Theatre and its diversity’ Stella Kanu
The campaign intends to reclaim and takeover spaces where Black Womxn might otherwise not be seen and to celebrate black womxn who run venues. The next event will be this autumn at the Bush Theatre in celebration of Lynette Linton’s appointment as artistic director. Future events will take over theatre spaces across the country.
#WeAreVisible is a self-funded initiative that aims to bring Black Womxn together. If you are a venue interested in holding conversations or a donor to invest, please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLECTIVE NAMES OF ALL BLACK WOMXN WHO ATTENDED THE #WEAREVISIBLE PHOTO SHOOT
Abigail Sewell Abiola Ogunbiyi; Adanna Oji ; Aisha Toussaint; Alaa Taha; Alexandra Afryea; Aliyah Forde ; Alma Eno; Alysha Laviniere (Production Manager); Amanda Huxtable; Amba Rose Mendy; Amina Koroma ; Anastasia Osei-Kuffour; Andrea Wright; Anita-Joy Uwajeh +2; Ann Akin ; Annika Brown; Arianne Carless; Ashlee Elizabeth Lolo (Playwright, Dramatrug); Belinda Clarke ; Cairo Aibangbee ; Caroline King-Gadekah; Carolyn Forsyth; Charelle Griffith ; Cherrelle Skeete; Cheryl Ndione; Cleo Lake; Constance Oak; Coral Messen; Courtney Caton; Danielle Marshall; Darcy Charles (Actress); Dare Aiyegbayo; Dawn Hope ; Deborah Sawyerr; Diane Alison-Mitchel; Eileen Bellot; Elise Palmer (Actress, Singer); Erica Campayne (ACE relationship manager, producer); Erica Kouassi; Femi Keeling; Gail Babb; Heather Apyepong ; Heather Benson; Heather Clark Charrington ; Helena Morais ; Hive City Legacy Azara Meghie, Dorcas A Stevens, Elsabet Yonas, Farrell Cox, Koko Brown, Krystal Dorcas, Rebecca Solomon, Shakaiah Perez; Ibinabo Jack ; Jacqui Beckford; Jade Lewis ; Jade Maxah; Jayne Aguire ; Jennifer Farmer; Jennifer-Jane Benjamin; Jessica Mensah; Jocelyn Jee Eisen; Joana Borja ; Joanna Francis; Josephine Melville; Judd Batchelor; Judith Jacobs +3; Juliet Gilkes Romero; Kaleya Baxe; Karena Johnson; Karla Williams ; Kat Francois; Kehyrse Johnson-Fraser; Keisha Amponsa Banson; Kelly Nicholas ; Kudzai Sitima ; Leah Magoye; Leanne Henlon; Lekhani Chirwa; Lisa Kennedy ; Liz Daramola ; Lola May; Max Kolary; Melissa Saint ; Mimi Findlay ; Monique Baptiste-Brown; Naomi Knox; Nassy Maureen Konan; Natalie Ibu; Natalie Pryce ; Natalie Pryce; Natasha Gordon; Nataylia; Nataylia Roni; Nicole Als; Nicole Jacobs; Nicole L Jae; Nicole May; Odera Ndujiuba; Olivia Nakintu Oluwatoyin/ Isis Brown; Oneness Sankara; Patricia Cumper; Paula B Stanic; Pauline Walker; Perola Congo; Raidene Carter; Rakie Ayola; Roberta Livingston; Ronkẹ Adékoluẹjo; Rosemary Laryea; Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey; Samina Beckford (Mira); Sandra Falase; Sapphire Joy; Sarudzayi Maurufu; Selina Jones; Selma Nicholls; Semsem Kuherhi; Severine Howell-Meri; Sharon Duncan Brewster ; Sharon Wallace; Shayde Sinclair; Shelley Maxwell; Sheraya Ikutiyinu; Shereen Jasmin Phillips; Shiloh Coke ; Shirley May; Simone Watson; Sophia A Jackson; Sophie London; Stella Kanu; Suzanne Alleyne; Suzette Llewellyn; Sydney Silvah; Tanika Yearwood; Tara Alexis; Titilola Dawudu; Tolu Agbelusi; Toyin Ayedun-Alase; Tricia Wey; Valerie Synmoie; Victoria Evaristo; Wunmi Ibrironke; Xana; Xanthus I-Peters; Yolanda Mercy; Yvette Grifith
Many more Black Womxn expressed their support and solidarity but were unable to attend. We THANK YOU too for all your kind words and encouragement along the way!
NEED TO KNOW: Images and further information on Black Womxn in Theatre and #WeAreVisble can be found at www.blackwomxnintheatre.com you can also find out about future events on the website.
MEET THE BLACK WOMXN IN THEATRE TEAM
Stella Kanu is currently Executive Director at LIFT (London International Festival of Theatre) and Chair at Eclipse Theatre. She has worked in the theatre and cultural sector for over 27 years shaping ideas, events, people and organisations for great shifts. Stella created The Pivotal Place to coach and mentor emerging, mid-career and established leaders across multiple sectors and over the last 15 years fine- tuned a methodology that instantly empowers, celebrates strengths and inspires personal change. Stella is a former Powerbrokers International Leadership Fellow (Cultural Leadership Programme), she is a sought-after speaker and trainer on topics including Inspired leadership, ‘Artivism’ and women & power.
Monique Baptiste-Brown is arts marketer, academic and researcher. She has worked extensively in the arts for over a decade with an emphasis on audience development and working with communities. She has led campaigns such as the Broadway musical Fela! at the National Theatre, West End productions as well as fringe theatre, co-curated and produced #BCAFilmFest promoting the archives of Black British film and the opening of the Black Cultural Archives – the UK’s first Black heritage centre. Her research spans across investigating cultural policy to the British education system. She is currently the Head of Audience Development at Ovalhouse.
Annika Brown is the current General Manager of Theatre Royal Stratford East, and was recently, PRINCE2 qualified Buildings’ Project Manager at Ovalhouse, overseeing the development of the £13m move of Ovalhouse to the new, purpose built, fully accessible theatre in Brixton, due to open in 2020. Annika is the Treasurer of Carnival Mas Band, Sunshine International Arts, and has over 12 years of experience in theatre administration.
Titilola Dawudu is a writer and editor. She is a trustee for Theatre Centre and is an Associate Writer for Beyond Face, Plymouth. She was the Learning and Participation Manager at Ovalhouse and is currently Programme Manager for Young People and Youthfulness for Coventry City of Culture. Her work has been performed at Theatre Royal Plymouth, Theatre Royal Arojah, Nigeria, Soho, the Bush, and the Arcola, with a recent commission with Theatre Peckham. She co-created and edited ‘Hear Me Now Audition Monologues for Actors of Colour’ in partnership with Tamasha, published by Oberon Books with Volume Two in development.
Dr Farah Karim-Cooper oversees the Higher Education programme and leads research and scholarship at Shakespeare’s Globe. She is Visiting Research Fellow, King’s College London and directs the Globe component of the King’s/Globe joint MA in Shakespeare Studies. She was the 2013 Lloyd Davis Visiting Professor at the University of Queensland. Farah is also Chair of the Architecture Research Group and led the research into the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. She is a Trustee of the Shakespeare Association of America and frequently a keynote speaker and panellist at national and international conferences on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama, early modern culture and theatre practice.
Performance and education take place throughout the year inspired and informed by The Globe Theatre and Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. In addition, there are theatre tours, as well as retail, catering and events spaces. A registered charity (No. 266916), the Shakespeare Globe Trust does not receive regular public subsidy. Three quarters of income comes from over one million visitors annually who buy tickets to performances, events, exhibition and tours, and educational activities.