Last month, we launched a call-out for black and minority ethnic writers who’d like to join Exeunt as a paid columnist. Theatre criticism is currently overwhelmingly white, and we want to help change that – especially as debates ignite about the theatre industry’s often-dismal track record on diversity and reaching new audiences. We were overwhelmed with the response. The entrants’ ideas for opinion pieces were hugely varied and exciting, tackling every aspect of the industry: from the nitty gritty of arts funding, to how UK theatre can reimagine its whiter-than-white history, and onto wider social questions, like how theatres are filling the gaps left by closing libraries and youth clubs.
Nicole Acquah, a spoken word performer who’s full of original perspectives on how black actors experience the theatre industry, from constraints on how they wear their hair, to how their presence in a performance is politicised by onlookers.
Nemo Martin, who impressed us with ideas on how theatre is intersecting with online culture. We’ve commissioned Nemo to write a piece about how Les Miserables fandoms are fusing the show’s revolutionary spirit with contemporary activism ideas from the Black Lives Matter movement.
Chama Kay, who built on his experience working in marketing and PR to explore how theatres can reach wider audiences. We hope to get him onboard to write about the future of selling shows.
We’re thrilled to announce that our new columnists are Ifeyinwa Frederick and Aniqah Choudhri – they’ll each be writing four opinion pieces over the coming months.
Ifeyinwa (pictured left) is currently working on her first full-length play. She’ll use her columns to think about an eclectic range of burning theatre questions. She’ll make the case for a one-year Shakespeare ban, to spur on UK playwrights who’ve grown up in his shadow. She’ll talk about why it’s important to see people like you on stage. And she’ll argue that, post-Hamilton, it’s high time UK grime took the West End by storm.
Aniqah (pictured right) is an NCTJ-trained journalist who wants to make the move into writing about theatre. She’ll use her columns to look to TV, and ask why the BBC hasn’t followed theatre’s lead in casting Black and Asian actors in historical dramas. She’ll also talk about the ballet world’s reluctance to cast non-white dancers in principal roles. And she’ll explore mental health in the arts, talking about why it’s time we put the romanticised myth of the ‘Mad Artist’ to bed.
Exeunt’s Columnist call-out was made possible by the generous support of our Friends. Join them here.