The history, theatrical performance work and achievements of Talawa Theatre Company 1986-2001
The central aims of this thesis is to provide a work that may be used to start a serious archive that documents the contemporary theatrical work of Britain's individuals and companies that have an Afro-Caribbean cultural background. Such an archive will allow later writers on aspects of modern British theatre the opportunity to move ahead where past generations have had to spend time reinventing themselves as documented resources have been lacking. The thesis documents and discusses the history and achievements of Talawa Theatre Company. Prior to this discussion the main theories, original research and methodologies used to complete this study are presented in Chapter One. The historical aspect of the work is divided into two sections. The first section is Chapter Two and provides a historical context for Talawa's performance work. This is done by presenting a chronology of Talawa's performance roots that are shown to begin in Africa, develop in Jamaica, and end in England. The second section is Chapter Three and looks at Talawa's history between 1986 and 2001. Analysis includes discussion of definitions of black British theatre, Talawa's mission statement and the company's residency in the West End. Talawa's achievements are discussed in the body of the thesis. The notion of achievement is understood within the contemporary British theatrical context highlighting the originality of Talawa's work, and by extension the company's commitment to its mission statement. To this end aspects of Talawa's performance work are discussed thematically in the following three chapters: Chapter Four: Caribbean Plays; Chapter Five: American Plays; Chapter Six: English Plays. Although Talawa has also performed African plays these performances are not part of the present study. The decision to omit this genre was due to the lack of archival evidence in this area.