Closure of theatres leads Talisman to reaffirm its commitment to diversity - The Leamington Observer

Closure of theatres leads Talisman to reaffirm its commitment to diversity

Leamington Editorial 2nd Feb, 2021   0

THE ENFORCED closure of theatres due to covid has led the Talisman to reaffirm its commitment to diversity.

The Kenilworth-based theatre says during the prolonged closure it realised it is a ‘white’ organisation, with few black actors, staff or regular audience members.

It also follows the Black Lives Matter movement, and has led to the theatre writing a statement and action plan.

It includes improving its approach to casting by being more welcoming to all and seeking a wider range of plays which will appeal to a more diverse audience.

A spokesman said: “The killing of George Floyd by police in America and the subsequent resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement has woken us all up to acknowledge that we have a responsibility to reach out to all our local communities much more actively than we have traditionally done and to be inclusive rather than exclusive. This is not just a ‘personal’ matter – we need to reject institutional racism.

“The Talisman is a theatre with a very white membership, choosing plays mainly about white people, by white authors, presented to a mainly white audience. We can do better than that in a world where that limited world view is no longer acceptable.

“Ironically, Talisman Theatre members have always thought of ourselves as very friendly and welcoming, new audience members often tell us this. We also have a record of staging plays reflecting diversity, we have mounted shows with strong gay themes.

“Actors from the Talisman were founding members of Side by Side, a theatre company for both disabled and non-disabled performers.

“However, even a casual glance at our roster of actors, technical staff, and our audience profile reveals an appalling absence of black people – referring to all those who consider themselves ‘of colour’ or ‘not white’.

“Just because we have occasionally cast black actors doesn’t exonerate us.

“The action plan is The Talisman Theatre’s commitment to becoming a diverse organisation that seeks to change the status quo.”

The commitment will see the theatre collaborate with the African Women’s Playwrights Network, hosted by Warwick University.

The first is a short story called Little Black Sandals by Philisiwe Twijnstra.

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