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UK’s all-black, all-female theatre group aims to make Shakespeare ‘accessible for new generation’

The company has been launched by actors Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels

By: Lifestyle Desk | New Delhi |
June 14, 2021 1:20:14 pm
UK, shakespeareThe Mawa Theatre Company was launched by actors Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels. (Source: Mokake Photography/Mawa Theatre Company/ Instagram)

The UK’s all-black, all-female group — Mawa Theatre Company — is all set to throw new light on Shakespeare‘s plays. The actors representing Black and Black Mixed Race Women of the African diaspora say they aim to “redress the imbalance within the theatre industry, be a beacon for Black female creativity, and an agent for change”, in an Instagram post.

The company, launched by actors Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels, promises to “address how black and black mixed race women are represented in classical text”. The company, which also aims to “explore how Shakespeare translates to Black audiences, producing content that focuses on themes within his works that correlate with the Black community”, has received funding from the Arts Council.

As part of their venture, they will re-examine Bard’s most famous works from a black female perspective and make him “accessible for a new generation”.

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“Shakespeare remains a staple of British theatre,” Brooks told The Guardian. “He’s still the most produced playwright in the world and I think if we want to tackle diversity, representation and inclusion, then why not start with the Bard himself?” she added.

The first project, in August 2021, would be a series of videos inspired by Shakespeare in collaboration with Talawa Theatre Company, that will be posted online for free. Brooks said the company was in talks to put on work around the country.

The publication reported that Mawa, which means “tomorrow” in Chichewa (a Bantu language spoken in parts of Malawi, Zambia and Mozambique), is a continuation of the black theatre tradition in the UK that was started by companies including Tara Arts, Eclipse and Tamasha Theatre.

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