UK’s primary black-led theatre company is moving to Croydon

run it back, talawa
Run It Back – Talawa’s inaugural show at Fairfield Halls, Croydon
Banner: Talawa Theatre Company

The UK’s primary black-led touring theatre company is moving to a theatre hall in Croydon, as their new art rehearsal and growth centre and will inaugurate their arrival by presenting a show casting Black British culture. 

Talawa Theatre Company was founded in response to the lack of creative opportunities for black actors and playwrights and the marginalisation of black people from cultural experiences and processes.

Marketing and Communications Manager at Talawa, Sanjit Chudha said: “With our move to Croydon’s Fairfield Halls, we now have a 200-seat state-of-the-art rehearsal and development theatre which will undoubtedly accelerate our artist development and community engagement activity.

It will also enable us to produce and premiere more new work, as well as revived classics, giving Londoners greater access to our nationally touring work. It’s a really exciting time for us and for theatre in the UK.”

In more than 30 years, Talawa Theatre Company has produced more than 50 nationally touring shows. Many of these shows played on the main stages at The National Theatre, Royal Exchange in Manchester, and other major venues. 

In recent past years, Talawa put on a production of King Lear at The Royal Exchange Theatre with Don Warrington in the title role. The play was filmed and then screened free-of-charge in cinemas across the country, including at Curzon Goldsmiths. Also, at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Talawa produced the most successful musical in the venue’s history. 

Don Warrington as King Lear, a Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Exchange co-production in association with Brimingham Repertory Theatre. Pic: Jonathan Keenan

Chudha said: “Black people have been historically marginalised from creating cultural experiences and participating in cultural processes – that’s an indisputable fact and a legacy of colonialism and exploitation, and it is wrong. Talawa was set up to address that by creating a pipeline of talent on stage and off stage.” 

“And when we say off stage, we mean playwrights, producers, directors, set designers, soundscape artists, lighting designers and technicians, make-up artists … it’s a never-ending list of roles without whom high quality theatre couldn’t be made. And it’s important because those people become the decision makers, the gatekeepers able to influence and shape change so that UK theatre begins to reflect the true diversity of this nation, rather than a rarefied ideal that never really existed for most people.”

At the time Talawa was created, there were more Black and Asian theatre companies around. However, since 1986, many have closed down. With that, Talawa says to have been seeing Black and Asian artistic directors heading a variety of theatre companies, and change is happening slowly.

Now, the theatre company has more than 50 award-winning touring productions ranging from African classics to Oscar Wilde inspired shows. The company has produced over 80 productions since the creation of Talawa.

Find details about Talawa’s inaugural show Run it Back in Fairfield Halls, Croydon, here, playing from 26 March to 4 April. Click Here for the trailer.

Chudha said: “Run it Back is a high energy, high impact story which features music as one of the characters driving the story. With movement and music driving the narrative, Run it Back brings rave to theatre.”

Fairfield Halls, Croydon

Talawa is currently recruiting Black people interested in theatre and aged 18 to 25 to join Talawa’s flagship programme, TYPT.

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