Four actors have created Mawa Theatre Company, the UK’s first all-Black, all-female Shakespeare company.
Mawa’s creators—Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels—hope to make the Bard’s work more accessible and “address how black and black mixed race women are represented in classical text”.
A major part of this endeavor is re-evaluating Shakespeare’s text through the eyes of Black women.
“Shakespeare remains a staple of British theatre,” Brooks said in an interview with the Guardian. “He’s still the most produced playwright in the world and I think if we want to tackle diversity, representation and inclusion, then why not start with the Bard himself?”
“If we can, as Black British women, embed ourselves into the history of classical texts, then I think we can bring about real change. This idea of white ownership over Britishness and over British art needs to be debunked.”
The new theatre company hopes to start discussions about the themes of race, class, female friendships, and colonisation within Shakespeare’s work. It has support from organisations such as Arts Council England, The Young Vic, and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts.
Mawa’s first project will be a Shakespeare-inspired video series released in August that will be free to the public, making these works of theatre more accessible. For this project, Mawa teamed up with Talawa Theatre Company to highlight Black female actors and the experiences of Black British women.
Words by Elizabeth Karpen
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