Is theatre Culturally diverse, and does it matter?

Gavin Porter, 15 September 2012

The reason that I asked this question was because when we sat in a cirlce at the beggining start of the day, when I looked at everyone in the room the first thing I noticed was that there are where no black people in the room. I wanted to ask this but then thought does it matter.

I decided to be brave and ask the question.

The session was well attended and from the off it was clear that this was a very complcated and by no means new question.

The main points that I got from the session are:

That theatre, unlike film or televsion, is actually in a good position to address its own cultural diversity and cultural divisity in the arts, that perhaps theatre is able to play with or go against conventions, streotype and type casting. The example used was that you could cast a black man and white man as brothers and the audience wouldn't question the validity of this but would except this as a given, where as, perhaps in TV you would have to explain this with a backstory. It wsa also suggested that the tapping into new audiences that are under represented in other artforms could provide a major lifeline for theatre in the future.

It seems that the lack of diversity is also linked to class and the perceptions of who

theatre is for? It was widley felt that people from working class backgrounds don't feel an onwership of theatre.

That diversity needs the be across the board inorder for barriers to be broken down. There is an obligation for large organisations to recruit for diverse backgrounds. That we need to see a more culturally diverse office, producion crew, cast and audience.

That perhaps there should be a more conscious effort by directors to cast from more diverse backgrounds and that they should be more clear with agents etc that when casting they are open to seeing people from all backgrounds.

That more work needs to be done in schools and colleges to encouage people from diverse backgrounds that all aspects of theatre are viable careear options.


Theatre, bme, Diversity, diversity, BME, theatre