‘We’re living in a time now where theatre, especially UK theatre, can be quite polite and beige. But if theatre’s not provoking people, what’s the point of it? For me, the theatre’s a place not only to be inspired, but to call people to arms. Black Lives Matter is one of the hugest movements of our time: I can’t imagine surviving this political climate without it. But I’d also like to say that I think we look to America generally for a lot of stories of Afro-Caribbean experiences, because of the hugeness that is Hollywood, when the history over there is hugely different. We cannot solely use their stories to reflect our experiences – we need to tell our own.’
‘I was the first black female writer to have a play at the National Theatre. Thirty years later, I’m still one of the only black females who’s been produced there, and that’s nothing short of shameful. If you think women writers are under-represented in theatre, then my God, black women writers are severely under-represented. They don’t get the nurturing they need to grow. And if you’re not programming these women, you’re not being bold enough to tell their stories – stories which might even indirectly criticise you. Integration is incredibly successful, but there’s another story of continuing inequality, and I think that’s one that needs to be told.’
‘My piece is a transcript of the roadside interrogation of Sandra Bland [an African-American activist who died in police custody] – I couldn’t write anything more powerful. It’s an act of solidarity: by reading her words aloud, the whole room steps into her shoes. London is the most diverse city in Europe, so it’s about recognising that we are all in this space together, and all our voices need to be heard.’
© Portraits by Andy Parsons
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