Scene changers: the theatre-makers with radical ideas to combat racism

Scene changers: the theatre-makers with radical ideas to combat racismAugust 3, 2020

Many black theatre-makers say they feel unwelcome in major venues. Are some performances for black-only audiences the answer? And how can a play spur white audiences to confront their own biases?

Ola Ince is a young British director in demand. This summer, she was due to stage Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe, after directing a UK tour of the hit Royal Court show Poet in Da Corner. A leading light among a new generation of talented theatre-makers, Ince has directed productions around the world. Yet she has not always felt welcome in some British venues. She says she has experienced suspicion, condescension and prejudiced assumptions from audience members, even while attending shows she has directed herself.

“I’m young, female and black, and no one ever thinks I could be in the industry. Some people are really encouraging, as if to say, ‘Well done, little black girl’, but there are others who behave as if they’re thinking, ‘What’s she doing here? I hope she behaves.’ I can’t imagine what it must feel like if you’re a newcomer.”

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