Mona Hammond OBE
Co-Founder of Talawa Theatre Company
We are devastated to hear of the passing of Mona Hammond OBE. Known and loved by many as ‘Blossom’ in Eastenders and ‘Aunty SuSu’ in Desmond’s, we knew Mona as the co-founder of Talawa Theatre Company - she was our National Treasure. As one of the founders of Talawa Theatre Company, Mona’s passion and vision have been fundamental to all we do to create Black theatre and make theatre more accessible for Black people in the UK.
Her prominent roles in theatre, TV and film, allow others to stand on her shoulders. Mona Hammond inspired and continues to inspire so many who will always be indebted directly or indirectly by her great body of work.
Mona was in the very first Talawa production in 1986, a dramatization of The Black Jacobins by CLR James - the story of Toussaint Louverture, who led the Haitian revolution.
At a time when it was believed that Black actors could not play British classics, Mona redefined classic roles such as ‘Lady Bracknell’ in Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest in 1989.
Mona’s repertoire also included ‘Madam Love’ in the Jamaican classic An Echo in the Bone by Dennis Scott in 1986, described by The Caribbean Times as ‘drama which touches the human soul’, the musical O Babylon! in 1988, and her reimaging of the Fool in Talawa’s 1994 production of King Lear.
Talawa would not exist without Mona and her fellow co-founders Yvonne Brewster, Carmen Munroe, and Inigo Espejel; she was instrumental in pushing forward the Black Theatre movement in the UK. Mona was an integral and beloved member of the Talawa family, and we will miss her greatly.
Artistic Director Michael Buffong shares: ‘Throughout her extensive career, Mona has been a trailblazer in the arts and her incredible legacy will continue; she embodies Talawa - ‘small but mighty.’’
A tribute for Mona Hammond OBE, to celebrate her contribution to theatre, as well as the wider industry, will be held in September.