This post was first published by My London on 26/02/2019.
One of the UK’s best known black theatre companies will make Croydon’s Fairfield Halls its new home
‘This building will provide a home for black artists,’ says the boss of Talawa Theatre Company.
Talawa Theatre Company will take up a residence when the venue reopens in September.
It closed to the public in July 2016 and is currently undergoing a £30 million makeover.
It will be the first time since 1995 Talawa has had an on-site performance space.
The new spaces, opening to the public on September 16, will be a hub for black artists, develop a community outreach programme, and allow the company to create, develop and show new work.
The company will run an artist development programme known as MAKE as well as training young black artists in technical and creative theatre roles.
Who are Talawa?
Talawa was formed in 1986 and has built a great reputation for performing traditional plays from the likes of Shakespeare to Oscar Wilde in a new way, which celebrates black culture.
It also produces its own plays about the Black African community in Britain and the spread of African culture around the world.
Its MAKE programme is designed to help young artists get started and be successful in the business.
Talawa produces a major touring production every year.
Everyone is delighted at the news
Talawa’s artistic director Michael Buffong said: “This building provides a home for black artists, enabling them to make outstanding work which will truly diversify and shape the cultural life of the whole country.”
The company has been running for 30 years and is currently based at Rich Mix in Shoreditch.
Fairfield Halls venue director Neil Chandler said the announcement comes after months of discussions and described it as a “fantastic accolade” for the venue.
“Our combined commitment to aspiring young artists, the borough of Croydon and inspirational programming will no doubt make for some exciting projects in the years ahead,” he added.
Croydon Council’s cabinet member for culture, leisure and sport praised the “vision and ambition” of the company.
Councillor Oliver Lewis said: “We are absolutely delighted to welcome Talawa and incredibly proud that they have chosen Croydon as their new home.
“Their vision and ambition in changing the face of theatre, attracting diverse audiences and creating platforms for the work of Black artists, is internationally renowned, and we are excited by the conversations we have already had with them about the potential for them being based here.”
A programme of events for the studio is expected to be announced in the autumn.