Founded in 1986 by Yvonne Brewster, Carmen Munroe, Mona Hammond and Inigo Espejel, Talawa Theatre Company is Britain's foremost Black-led theatre company. Talawa's Artistic Director is Michael Buffong.
Talawa was created in direct response to the lack of creative opportunities for actors from minority ethnic backgrounds and the marginalisation of Black peoples from cultural processes prevalent at the time of the Company's inception.
Since 1986, Talawa has grown to become one of the most successful Black theatre companies in the UK. It has mounted more than forty productions - many of which are award-winning - taking in everything from Shakespeare to African classics, Oscar Wilde to new Black British work and Nobel-prize winning playwrights to high-voltage musicals. The Company has performed the work of writers such as C.L.R. James, Derek Walcott, Michael Abbensetts, Wole Soyinka, Patricia Cumper, Mustapha Matura, Roy Williams, Derek Walcott, Jackie Kay, Kwami Kwei-Armah, Trish Cooke, Malorie Blackman and Michael Bhim.
A number of Britain's finest actors, many of whom have gone on to successful careers in film, radio, theatre and television, have worked with Talawa including Norman Beaton, Cathy Tyson, Don Warrington, Danny John-Jules, Kobna Holdbrook-Smith, Doña Croll and Mona Hammond. In addition Talawa writers, directors and personnel now work in all areas of British theatre. These achievements demonstrate the Company's continually growing status, influence and contribution to contemporary British theatre and the cultural life of the UK.
The Company is led by Artistic Director, Michael Buffong. Over the years as more Black work is produced by mainstream theatres and more Black practitioners make successful careers, Talawa has continued to refine its vision and purpose and its mission statement now is:
Talawa is Britain's primary Black led theatre company. We create outstanding work informed by the wealth and diversity of the Black British experience. We invest in talent, build audiences and inspire dialogue with and within communities across Britain, by doing so we enrich British cultural life.
In addition to its productions the Company broadens the spectrum of work created by Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) artists through commissioning new writing, and the development of ideas through seed commissions. The Company runs an annual season of playreadings showcasing strong BAME plays that are looking for full production at Talawa Firsts in Talawa's studio.
The Company runs an extensive Participation and Education programme that includes TYPT, our annual summer school for new and emerging theatre makers, and a range of outreach activities that include bespoke workshops for all ages and abilities. These workshops are usually curriculum-based, artistic or related to participants' personal and social development.
Talawa also boosts the writing skills of emerging and established writers, strengthening and ensuring their career growth and position within the industry, through initiatives such as its Script Reading service, script development and Talawa Firsts.