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Published on Mar 29, 2012
Margins to Mainstream: The story of Black Theatre in Britain is the latest documentary film produced by Nu Century Arts, Birmingham in partnership with the Octavia Foundation with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Don Kinch, Director of Nu Century Arts says "The 1978 publication of "The Arts Britain Ignores" by Naseem Khan lifted the lid to reveal a hive of theatrical activity taking place across Black Communities. The 1990 production of Amani Napthali's "Ragamuffin" was another seminal moment when a confident black theatre found the courage to tell its' story in its' own way. I hope that the making and sharing of Margins to Mainstream will be another such moment".
The cross-city project allowed young people in London and Birmingham to learn and develop skills in media, research and film-making in a practical hands-on way and follows previous youth-led film and heritage projects from Octavia Foundation including Grove Roots and Hidden Herstories.
The groundbreaking film builds on previous theatre heritage projects delivered by Nu Century Arts as it explores the history and heritage of black theatre in Britain, examines the different interpretations of 'Black British Theatre' as a label and genre and catalogues the incredible contribution of black actors, producers and playwrights to the UK theatre tradition. Featuring previously unseen footage of seminal plays, fascinating interviews with theatre heavyweights, 'Margins to Mainstream' tells the story of a dynamic art.
Historians, playwrights, producers and actors that contributed and appear in the film include writer and playwright Courttia Newland, actor Javone Prince, actor, playwright and broadcaster Kwame Kwei-Armah and Pat Cumper, Director of the Talawa Arts Centre. The film was shot at locations including Theatre Royal East, London Southbank Centre, Royal Court Theatre, Old Vic and The Tabernacle.
From Ira Aldridge playing Othello in Covent Garden in the 1830s, to Bashy playing Markus the Sadist in a 'rap opera' in 2010; the richness of this story is in its diversity. The film looks at the forgotten treasures and the landmark performances in the huge canon of work that exists. The film is pioneering in its subject and approach, highlighting the battles and the triumphs of Black British Theatre, on its journey from the margins, into the mainstream.
MARGINS TO MAINSTREAM: THE STORY OF BLACK THEATRE IN BRITAIN WILL PREMIERE ON MAY 10th MAY AT THE DRUM, BIRMINGHAM, AND 11TH MAYAT THE ROYAL COURT, LONDON. FOR MORE INFORMATION AND SCREENING DATES, PLEASE VISIT WWW.OCTAVIAFOUNDATION.ORG.UK