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Diary: Sweet taste of payback

Check the Label at the Bristol Old Vic
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There is nothing, absolutely nothing that Tabard likes better than a good “told you so”. And this one is among the best.

Imagine you’re accepted on to a theatre degree at university. Bursting with excitement, you start the course only to discover, with dismay, that you aren’t studying any plays by or about people that look like you.

That was the problem facing Eno Mfon, a young black woman who has now graduated from a degree programme at Bristol University.

Sharing her story in a post on social media that made Tabard punch the air with joy – we’ll get to the joy – she explained that she was the only black person on her course, and that there were no black theatremakers being studied.

When she asked one of the senior lecturers if work by black playwrights could be included, she was told there was “no space” for them on the curriculum. Understandably appalled, she set out to carve her own path.

“So you spend three years learning about Chekhov and Carol Ann Duffy,” Mfon wrote, “but then realise that you can write your own stuff for lil’ black girls and so you do that, and sell out the Bristol Old Vic.”

And indeed, in February this year a play she wrote and performed, Check the Label, ran at the Bristol Old Vic for three nights. But that’s not the best part.

That lecturer who told her there was no space for voices like hers on the curriculum? He came to the show and paid to watch it.

Delicious. Tabard salutes Mfon, and is glad to hear the university has apologised and is making changes to the course.

Send stories to tabard@thestage.co.uk

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