Siana Bangura and Christina Nicole, in partnership with English Touring Theatre, today announce a new podcast series Behind the Curtains, spotlighting Black creatives in the theatre industry. The series, hosted by Siana Bangura and Christina Nicole and co-produced by ETT, Bangura, and Nicole, will feature conversations with Black theatre-makers and creatives about their career experiences and navigating the current creative landscape.
The first episode, released on 22 October 2020, will feature a discussion with Zodwa Nyoni and Corey Bovell focusing on Black British theatre history, as well as being a writer and adapting to working in the context of a pandemic.
Behind the Curtains is a series spotlighting the off-stage, behind the curtains roles that are the backbone of theatre. How are writers, directors, sound designers, producers, production managers, movement directors and voice and dialect coaches weathering the storms of uncertainty? How did they get to where they are now? What’s race got to do with it?
Upcoming episodes will include conversations with Munotida Chinyanga, Hazel Holder, Alison Holder, Natalie Ibu, Madeleine Kludje, Toni Kyeremateng, Alysha Laviniere, Ingrid Mackinnon, and Shelley Maxwell. Episodes will be released fortnightly and are available via iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and Acast.
Siana Bangura said today, “The idea for this podcast came to me in 2018 but 2020 has provided fruitful soil for conversations like this to flourish. In such uncertain, challenging and emotionally testing times for us all, particularly if you are of a marginalised identity, centring the stories of our lives, told on our terms, is part of the work. Each person featuring in Behind the Curtains is brilliant in their own right and we hope their journeys, lessons, and reflections on the question of ‘What next?’ serve to inspire, encourage and lift the veil – or rather pull the curtain – on the business of making theatre, reminding us that the world still needs artists, creative people, and the people in the background, offstage, who are our much-needed backbone.”
Christina Nicole also said, “Black creatives are our unsung heroes of the arts. From writers to dialect coaches, they are full of passion, talent, and determination to make a change. Behind the Curtains allows these superstar creatives to have the spotlight on them. They can finally shout about their achievements, dreams, and journeys whilst they inspire you to follow your own dreams. I am thrilled to be working with ETT and co-hosting this podcast with the wonderful Siana Bangura and our amazing guests. There will be lots of laughter, flavour, and culture as we discover what is next for the world of Theatre and its amazing Black creatives.”
Richard Twyman, Artistic Director and Sophie Scull, Executive Producer of ETT, added “We are delighted to announce the Behind the Curtains podcast, led by two brilliant creatives, Siana Bangura and Christina Nicole. With pathways into theatre being harder to access than ever, Behind the Curtains shines a much needed spotlight on some of the least visible roles in the theatre industry. Full of essential conversations, brilliant advice and inspiring role models, Behind the Curtains is a compelling new podcast and we’d like to thank Siana and Christina for bringing such a brilliant project to us.”
For further information, please visit https://ett.org.uk/journal/
Siana Bangura is a writer, producer, performer and community organiser. She is the founder and former editor of Black British Feminist platform, No Fly on the WALL. Her recent writing works include the poetry collection Elephant, the short film Denim, and the play Layila!. Bangura also produced 1500 & Counting, a documentary film investigating deaths in custody and police brutality in the UK. Bangura works and campaigns on issues of race, class, and gender and their intersections, and is currently working on projects focusing on climate change, the arms trade, and state violence. She was an artist-in-residence at the Birmingham Rep throughout 2019 and is a Jerwood supported artist throughout 2020.
Christina Nicole has worked for theatres such as the Royal Court, ETT, English Touring Opera and Polka Theatre. She currently works for a factual documentary channel and is a theatre critic for Afridiziak. Her passion is in writing and she will be publishing a set of children’s books in the new year.
Episode 1: Corey Bovell & Zodwa Nyoni
Corey Bovell is an actor/writer/producer and the founder of Oisel productions. He produced the first Oisel show The Last of Her Days in 2015.
Zodwa Nyoni is a Zimbabwean born screenwriter, director, playwright and poet. She has toured nationally and internationally, performing at venues such as British Museum, Venezuelan Embassy, Latitude Festival, Southbank Centre, eKhaya Multi Arts Centre (Durban), National Gallery Bulawayo (Zimbabwe), Nuyorican Poets Café (New York, USA) and Historic Hampton House (Miami, USA).
Episode 2: Maddi Kludje & Tobi Kyeremateng
Madeleine Kludje is currently the associate director at The Birmingham Repertory Theatre and is an alumni of the Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme. Previous work includes director of Grimeboy (Birmingham Rep), and associate director and dramaturg on City of a Thousand Trades (partnership with Birmingham Rep and Birmingham Royal Ballet).
Tobi Kyeremateng FRSA is a cultural producer, writer and social entrepreneur. She has worked with the likes of gal-dem, Institute of Contemporary Art, Nike, Roundhouse, Samsung, and Tate Modern, and has had work featured in Complex, NOWNESS, Vinyl Factory and 180 The Strand. Kyeremateng is the founder of award-winning initiative Black Ticket Project.
Episode 3: Ingrid Mackinnon & Shelley Maxwell
Ingrid Mackinnon is a movement director, choreographer, teacher and dancer. Her extensive movement direction and choreography credits include The Merchant of Venice (RSC), Cacophony (Almeida Theatre), and The Headwrap Diaries (Uchenna Dance). Mackinnon is currently a tutor at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, among other institutions, and holds an MA in Movement: Directing & Teaching from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. She is the co-founder of MoveSpace.
Shelley Maxwell is a writer, award-winning movement director and choreographer. Her portfolio is extensive, with credits including Antony and Cleopatra, Twelfth Night, Nine Night (Trafalgar Studios, National Theatre), and Equus (ETT, Theatre Royal Stratford East). She is the co-founder of Black-led production company Bennu Creative House alongside colleagues Clement Ishmael and Celise Hickes.
Episode 4: Munotida Chinyanga & Alysha Laviniere
Alysha Laviniere has recently joined Mountview Academy as their resident Production Manager, and is currently developing a Production Management Mentorship Scheme with ETT, to provide an accessible opportunity for people of colour. Laviniere has previously worked with Shakespeare’s Globe, the Royal Court and Young Vic.
Munotida Chinyanga is a multidisciplinary artist creating work through direction and sound design. Her practice explores challenging form by restructuring and experimenting with text, redefining performance spaces, and challenging the presence and role of the audience. Chinyanga has a MA in Theatre Arts majoring in multidisciplinary practises, international collaboration and sonic art.
Episode 5: Alison Holder & Hazel Holder
Alison Holder is an independent producer currently working as interim producer for Talawa Theatre Company, company producer for Helen Chadwick Song Theatre and producer for The Mono Box. Previously, Holder was an ETT Forge Associate and producing coordinator at the Bush Theatre. Through her audio platform LunAH Productions work includes Bar nar do’s Black History, Una Marson Speaks (LunAH), and Single (BBCR4).
Hazel Holder is an actor and singer, and retrained in 2014 as a voice and dialect coach at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. As an actor, her television credits include Small Axe, The Power, Sitting in Limbo, and Noughts + Crosses. As a coach, she has worked closely with Letitia Wright, John Boyega, and Paapa Essiedu.
Episode 6: Natalie Ibu
Natalie Ibu is the Artistic Director of Northern Stage. Previously she was the Artistic Director and CEO of tiata fahodzi, and Creative Producer for In Good Company, launching the regional artist development programme in the East Midlands for Derby Theatre, Embrace Arts Leicester and Create Mansfield.