Get our free email newsletter with just one click

Theatre awards to celebrate black performers and offstage talent

Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, Or Change, which closes in the West End on March 2. Photo: Marc Brenner
by -

A theatre awards ceremony to honour black performers and creative talent in UK theatre is to launch this year.

The first Black British Theatre Awards will take place in October, organised by Solange Urdang, the principal of the Urdang Academy in London.

The Black British Theatre Awards will have 24 categories, including best male and female actors and supporting actors, best musical or play and and prizes to recognise backstage talent.

Urdang said she was creating the awards because the industry needed a “concerted effort to raise awareness of the imbalance of talent”.

Highlighting that two major West End productions featuring predominantly black performers, including Caroline, Or Change, are due to close this month, she said they would be replaced by shows featuring mainly white performers.

“It highlights a real need to keep raising awareness of black talent and black productions,” she added.

The Black British Theatre Awards will be officially announced at an event in London on March 4.

Co-director of the awards Omar Okai said there had been “positive change in the approach to black talent in the past decade”, but claimed most of this had been in film.

“All that hard-fought effort to raise awareness is really paying off. Hamilton, In the Heights, Nine Night and the work of people such as Kwame Kwei-Armah and Sharon D Clarke have made a massive difference. We are seeing all-black or predominantly black casts attracting audiences and fans from every walk of life. This is really closing the divisions,” he added.

The BBTA will also have an award to honour people who “recognise budding talent, nurture it and develop it through the stage school process”.

Kwame Kwei-Armah: ‘Theatre’s new artistic leaders show an industry that is moving forward’

We need your help…

When you subscribe to The Stage, you’re investing in our journalism. And our journalism is invested in supporting theatre and the performing arts.

The Stage is a family business, operated by the same family since we were founded in 1880. We do not receive government funding. We are not owned by a large corporation. Our editorial is not dictated by ticket sales.

We are fully independent, but this means we rely on revenue from readers to survive.

Help us continue to report on great work across the UK, champion new talent and keep up our investigative journalism that holds the powerful to account. Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue.