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British Black and Asian Shakespeare

British Black and Asian Shakespeare

Shakespeare’s comedies, histories and tragedies are an integral part of British tradition and cultural life. For more than a century, British Black and Asian artists have shaped the way that these plays are performed. Warwick’s British Black and Asian Shakespeare Database documents performances by BAME Shakespearean actors since 1930, to create a record of their work and to track casting patterns.

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Documenting casting patterns

The British Black and Asian Shakespeare Database emphasises the legacy of actors of colour, and also highlights the need for increased diversity in performance today. Previously, this statistical work had not been attempted and most of the practitioners’ testimonies had not been collated. Actress Noma Dumezweni described the database as a reminder of “where we’ve been, what more we can do, and how much further we can go in sharing the art of storytelling.” The roles of the seminal actors Ira Aldridge and Paul Robeson, as well as the post-Windrush generations, also forms part of this research

Understanding the contribution and experiences of black British actors

Researchers collaborated across the performance industries, particularly with BAME practitioners and communities. This resulted in events celebrating the role of Ira Aldridge at the Coventry Theatre as the first known theatre manager of colour in the UK. The project has been instrumental in changing the way we understand the contribution and experiences of black and Asian British actors, uncovering an often under-appreciated history and inspiring the next generation. During the project, the researchers were asked: “Why has no-one done this before?” Read more...


Explore our research and find out how it is making a difference...