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Arinze Kene: Black Panther’s success could lead to a more diverse West End

Arinze Kene. Photo: Bronwen Sharp
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Misty creator Arinze Kene has said the commercial success of Hollywood blockbusters such as Black Panther and Crazy Rich Asians will pave the way for more diverse theatre in the West End.

He also said he hoped his own play, Misty, would encourage the West End to stage more plays that appeal to a non-white audience.

The actor and writer said big-budget films such as Black Panther had proved that work led by black, Asian and minority ethnic casts is not a box-office risk.

“We are at an interesting time right now with things like Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and Get Out. With these films doing so well, it shatters those taboos [that diverse work won’t sell],” Kene told The Stage.

Black Panther made box-office history when it was released earlier this year, becoming the highest-grossing superhero film of all time, while Crazy Rich Asians is the most successful romantic comedy in 10 years.

Kene said he “absolutely” hoped theatre would experience the trickle-down effect from these films, and more work like his own play Misty would be seen on large stages and in the West End.

The production recently completed a run at Trafalgar Studios the West End, where Kene said the diversity of the audiences had been a “dream”.

“I would look out into the audience and it looked like London, the London I know, and that’s a major thing. It’s very rare for a West End theatre. If anything it’s shown that work like Misty can make it to the West End and do well, so I hope this changes things,” he said.

Kene was speaking at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards, where he was nominated for best musical performance for Misty.

Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2018: the winners in full

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