Cathy Tyson

Nellie Tandoh Chats to Acclaimed Actress Cathy Tyson About New Marie Curie Play

With the UK premiere of Alan Alda’s ‘Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie’ taking place at the Tabard Theatre from the 4th February, I spoke to acclaimed actress Cathy Tyson about her starring role as the first female Nobel prize winner, her own career and her return to the theatre ...

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Kedar Williams-Stirling

Tammy Speaks to Kedar Williams-Stirling, Star of CBBC's Wolfblood & Upcoming History Boys UK Tour

Kedar Williams-Stirling has gone from strength to strength in his acting career, from his breakout lead role in British director Mo Ali’s first feature ‘Shank’ (2010) to landing lead roles in numerous projects across TV, Theatre and film including currently starring in CBBC’s ‘Wolfblood’. Now Kedar is taking his talents back ...

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I was honoured to get the chance to speak with Janet Kay, acclaimed “Queen of Lover’s Rock”, who will be back in theatre alongside Victor Romero Evans and Carroll Thompson for the production of “Lover’s Rock Monologues”, which opens at the Tricycle Theatre from 2nd February 2015. Janet, for those that ...

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(l-r) Noel McKoy, Kunga Dred, Don-e, Junior

Photo Credit: Winstan Witter

The British Blacklist's Kunga Dred Speaks to UK Soul Foundation 'The British Collective'...

I was truly blessed to meet just a few of the newly formed British Collective - a soul super group of men who, with their love of music have not only changed the musical culture of Britain, but who throughout the 80s and 90s created a unique Black British brand which ...

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Inside Afrofuturism at the BFI 2014 by @DescantDeb

Inside Afrofuturism at the BFI 2014 by @DescantDeb

Ashley Clark is a journalist by trade, but he also does an interesting sideline in programming for the BFI. This year, he curated the Inside Afrofuturism long weekend - 28th November – 1st December. This was a sci fi experience to close the sci fi experience that was the “Days ...

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TBB Discusses Science Fiction: The Undiscovered Country with Dr Lez Henry

Dr William ‘Lez’ Henry and Brother Hakim are a couple of heroes, doing their bit to raise self-awareness and situational awareness; and they do it through their own passionate love of film. I can relate! Back in September, Madame TBB sent me an advert for an evening lecture south of ...

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Nora Denis Takes a Look At The Best of Online Black British Talent for 2014

Nora Denis Takes a Look At The Best of Online Black British Talent for 2014

Now that we’ve survived Christmas and are comfortably sat clutching the biscuit tin, half-heartedly eating the digestives without chocolate (the ones nobody else wanted) we can move on to more pressing matters such as checking our social networks for amusing photo collages of what 2014 had to offer. Of course, ...

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Kush Founder, Marlon Palmer Talks The Power of Self-Determination in the Business of Film.

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#TBBSUNDAYcatchupWATCH Status London

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The British Blacklist Meets the Real Brothers With No Game (Except They Have Quite A lot)

The British Blacklist Meets the Real Brothers With No Game (Except They Have Quite A lot)

...But are there really women sitting there saying Mary Jane is a bad gyal because of her situation? H: Nah, women are sitting there thinking that side chicks are actually winning. WHO! Which woman has specifically said that? H: The other day we were at dinner with three girls and they were like ...

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Optical Illusions of Black Characters on Film: Part 3 Fantasy and Science Fiction

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Both science fiction and fantasy genres are considered to be excellent vehicles to air and discuss contemporaneous social issues of inequality like race, gender, sexuality, religion, physical ability, psychological state. The use of an alternate setting of time, species or place (including planet or galaxy) is thought to make candid ...

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Optical Illusions of Black Characters on Film: Part 2

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Nellie Tandoh Chats to Acclaimed Actress Cathy Tyson About New Marie Curie Play

Cathy Tyson

Cathy Tyson

With the UK premiere of Alan Alda’s ‘Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie’ taking place at the Tabard Theatre from the 4th February, I spoke to acclaimed actress Cathy Tyson about her starring role as the first female Nobel prize winner, her own career and her return to the theatre scene…

Marie Curie is well-known for her career as a physicist/chemist and being one of the most famous scientists of her time – could you tell us about your take on her once you had read the script?

Fortunately the script has allowed for her emotional life as well as her scientific life. I’m a mother, she’s a working woman and she’s passionate about what she does and a trailblazer really. She’s confident, but she also loses her power because of certain things that happen to her in the play. I’m just having a whale of a time taking on this extraordinary responsibility as the lead character within an ensemble cast and engaging with those members in each team developing relationships; how we’re going to flesh this out. She’s an extraordinary human being and she’s vulnerable…that’s what I love about the play.

So my take is that you are always feeling as a woman, the need to prove yourself, and the importance of your reputation. She’s from Poland and she lived in France, so she’s away from her home and her culture and also being judged on that. At times she’s an outsider, so there are things I can relate to. I did my research. I’m nearly most of the way through Susan Quinn’s book Marie Curie: A Life, and some children’s books; though I have to watch it with the research because we have to learn lines. I’ve sensed that she was a very passionate woman about literature…it’s been lovely getting to know this fascinating woman.

So how will this particular production portray such a story about her career and personal life?

That’s what Alan Alda’s script is about. As I say, her story is fascinating. Double Nobel Prize winner, scandal attached to her name and tragedy…Just the details of her life, the form in which Alan Alda has done this, it moves at a pace. There’s drama, there’s scandal…The different colours that they go through [with] romance. There’s love and intrigue. You see her character develop, you see her at home with her husband, the life that she has with her lover…I don’t want to give the whole story away, but just the trials and tribulations that she went through, that’s how it’s done.

Why do you think her story is important to present to today’s modern audience?

Her story is important, because of the history of women during that time, a, because it’s an interesting story and b, because if they could achieve it then, what could we achieve now? These people inspired legions of women after them to go into work. On a personal level, it’s a good story and its funny – science. It’s interesting, this world of intensity. Alan Alda is a funny man. I find the scenes with Pierre, especially one of them and the way that he does it, is eccentric.

Cathy in rehearsal with Mark Giesser (Director of Radiance) and Clive Moore (plays Pierre, seated) Credit: Richard Davenport


Cathy in rehearsal with Mark Giesser (Director of Radiance) and Clive Moore (plays Pierre, seated)
Credit: Richard Davenport

How have rehearsals been and have you encountered any challenges?

We encounter challenges all the time, but it’s a lovely ensemble company. We walk into that room and I feel, hopefully, that other people feel free to do what they want. There is no hierarchy, we work in a smallish room, but when you’re enjoying yourself and having a good time it doesn’t matter. What we’ve got in the room, amongst us, that warmth – I wouldn’t trade that for anything else. Also if you can get along with people in a small room, that’s really good. It’s been tiring, I’ve been in everyday, but…the last play I did, I was in everyday and I was playing a miniscule role. We were called in because the director didn’t know what scene he wanted to do, but because he was very, very good, you didn’t mind; you were around creativity. So coming in everyday, this is normal to me. But this is coming in as the main part and I’m just grateful that I’ve got the strength. Maybe Marie Curie is hovering over me!

Does it make rehearsal more intense due to spending literally every moment with each other?

Well some of us do and some of us don’t. I’m there; I’m with Kristina (stage manager), Ruby (intern) and the director (Mark Giesser). We’re working intensively. Rehearsals are a very special period. We know we won’t have this period when we open, so this is gold dust. It’s a joy to come into work. Ruby, she’s got to go and fill out application forms for university and she didn’t want to do it, she wanted to come into work…but this is what happens when you’re enjoying yourself. It’s a privilege to do it.

You started your acting career at a very young age – what was it about acting and drama that drew you in?

It was an emotional outlet. The first thing I read was a speech by Shakespeare in Merchant of Venice. Shylocks ‘to bait fish withal: If it will feed nothing else, it will feed my revenge…’ When my mother handed me that speech for a college audition, I couldn’t believe it. It was like a moment for me, an awakening of my God, this man is speaking about how I feel. It just came at the right time. Prior to that, we had three hours of drama in St Winifred’s R.C School, I was in a play and as soon as I opened my mouth on stage, all the unruly girls – as soon as the play began, shut up! And I just thought this has the power to keep those girls quiet, when teachers in the classroom couldn’t even do that. So that was another awakening. I thought there is something in this, because they had never listened to me before and here I am speaking and all these girls are quiet. So it was a need for me, because I was very quiet and I got to talk about how I felt…it was very therapeutic.

Cathy Tyson as 'Simone' in 'Mona Lisa' (1986)

Cathy Tyson as ‘Simone’ in ‘Mona Lisa’ (1986)

Your first film debut was British classic ‘Mona Lisa’ – what was it about the script that sparked your interest and how did you deal with the positive yet critical reactions?

I mean it was nice to get that attention, but also I thought I didn’t deserve it because I hadn’t learnt my craft. It was a bit bizarre – two years into acting professionally and then I couldn’t understand it. But then you don’t have to understand everything about life. It was overwhelming, but it was also nice – I just felt under confident. They said I was good, but I didn’t feel it, so you just go along with what other people say.

Whilst away from the drama scene, you studied English and Drama at Brunel University – what made you decide to return to education and was it what you expected?

It wasn’t what I expected. Some parts of it were better, some parts of it were agonising. I went because I felt jaded, but I’m glad I did it, even with the essay writing, I came out with a good mark. The beginning I was absolutely flummoxed. I built myself up through the years and got better and better, which was hard, lonely grafting in the library, but worth it and it made me read widely. But I felt jaded so I thought; I need to go somewhere so I can study. I love reading and it was brilliant. I’m indebted to my university and I’m part of the Board of Humanities, which I’m honoured.

As a mixed race actor playing a Polish figure, do you feel that there is a need for more colour-blind casting and opportunities within the industry for actors of colour?

I hope so and if not, let’s hope this encourages other black actresses to go and play Elizabeth I and to do all sorts of things like that. It’s opened up my doors to thinking ‘oh right! I can play white historical figures now!’ and that’s what other people need to be thinking too.

What is that ‘special’ thing about acting that motivates you to continue working in the industry?

It’s that passion…the passion that you have to keep that flame alive; sometimes it’s going to flicker low. But that flame of passion is very precious within dark days, because it’s that that’ll keep you going. Read and be inspired by other people’s work, plays…these things have fanned my flames and I feel very grateful to be an artist.

 

Cathy will appear in Radiance: The Passion of Marie Curie by Alan Alda from 4th – 28th February 2015 at the Tabard Theatre
For enquiries / to book tickets go to: Box office: 0208 995 6035 / Website: tabardweb.co.uk

 

interview with Cathy Tyson for the british blacklist by @Nellie_Ville

Tammy Speaks to Kedar Williams-Stirling, Star of CBBC’s Wolfblood & Upcoming History Boys UK Tour

Kedar Williams-Stirling

Kedar Williams-Stirling

Kedar Williams-Stirling has gone from strength to strength in his acting career, from his breakout lead role in British director Mo Ali’s first feature ‘Shank’ (2010) to landing lead roles in numerous projects across TV, Theatre and film including currently starring in CBBC’s ‘Wolfblood’. Now Kedar is taking his talents back to the stage as he prepares to tour the UK in ‘The History Boys’ alongside some great British talent. I got a chance to speak to him in between rehearsals to discuss his career thus far, and get perspective from a young male actor in the UK acting industry…

Hey, so I have been following your career for a while now, but for our readers who may not know you, could you tell them a little about yourself?

Yeah, I was born in East London in Plaistow and then moved down to South Londonish/Croydon after a while, and now live a bit further out than Croydon. I started my first performing arts school at Sylvia Young, then in year 7 I went to Barbara Speake for a couple of years and finished training at Italia Conti in September just gone – also went there for college.

When did you first get into acting?

I first started acting in primary school I guess – school plays etc. Then my mum kind of persuaded me to audition for Sylvia’s; I unexpectedly got in and have been lucky enough to have kept the ball rolling since.

Was acting something you always wanted to do?

Not really I was into sports when I was quite young but when I got into Sylvia’s my first job was Lion King and that was sort of the stimulus for everything.

Well it definitely is your calling. You act in film, TV and theatre do you have a preference, if so why?

I’ve started appreciating the process of theatre again a lot more; being involved with film and TV for the past few years I’d say I maybe lost the passion for theatre a bit. I wouldn’t say ‘preference’ as qualities definitely differ with all three, but if anything I feel theatre’s a bit more challenging (which I enjoy) but then again, it depends on the project. But then I think the arc and journey you get in theatre is a bit easier as it’s in order, so I don’t know…

You are currently getting ready to go on tour for the play The History Boys, can you tell us what it’s about?

It’s a play set in the early 80′s, up in Yorkshire, about a group of boys that attend a grammar school and are all going in for their Oxbridge exam. Amongst these are the teachers who all have very different personalities; their favourite teacher being the colourful Mr. Hector, a substitute teacher who gets appointed teaching us history and everything basically kicks off from there. It’s a play that focuses on the transition of adolescence; sexually, academically and emotionally.

Kedar Williams-Stirling in rehearsal for The History Boys.

Kedar Williams-Stirling in rehearsal for The History Boys.

How are rehearsals going?

Amazing. One of the most challenging roles I’ve had in my career so far, but if it wasn’t I wouldn’t be enjoying it as much!

You play the character Dakin can you tell us a little about him. Are there any similarities between you and the character?

I wouldn’t say similarities personality wise. He’s quite a cocky, arrogant, crude little shit who gets what he wants how and whenever he wants it, although he’s very clever. He’s pretty funny though, and I’ve been at school too so in some respects I can relate. If anything he’s someone who I’m enjoying playing, a lot.

What’s your interpretation of Dakin and how have you made the character your own?

I’ve just developed him over time with research on various subjects and physicality’s, along with Kate’s (Saxon) direction.

The play was performed at the National theatre in London in 2004, ran internationally and has also been adapted into a successful film, do you feel any pressure from its previous success?

Not really no, I actually didn’t see the play itself, only the film, but regardless we’re not – Kate isn’t trying to replicate the same play /film, so it’s all good. We’re just taking the play and using the amazing language Alan Bennett has given us for what it is.

Are there any challenges you have to deal with in theatre that you don’t have to deal with in TV and film?

I’d say mainly volume, and because of the accent making sure I’m being extra clear, so all in all probably speech. Especially with the writing being so elaborate.

Kedar Williams-Stirling alongside his Wolfblood co-star Sarah Anne Connolly-Burnham.

Kedar Williams-Stirling alongside his Wolfblood co-star Sarah Anne Connolly-Burnham.

You have been doing quite well recently; you also play Tom Okinawe in Wolfblood on CBBC how did this part come about?

Ahh thanks. I literally just went for the audition in my first year of college at Conti and yeah, it kicked off from then.

Were you surprised by how popular the show became?

Yeah. I think we all were to be fair. None of us really expected it to be so well received, massively proud of it and the fan base seems to be growing every day. Plus being with those guys was some of the best times I’ve had in my life.

You starred in Mo Ali’s ‘Shank’ in 2010 as Junior, this was a standout role for you, how important was this film to your career?

I was so young. I filmed it when I was 14, as you can probably hear from my voice, but it was a fun experience. Not really knowing what I was part of at the time looking back on it is funny. Working with Mo was amazing; he’s such a good person in general. I was so young though, my mum and dad were just as involved with it as me, chaperoning me, my dad’s actually in a scene. But yeah, I gained a few friendships from it that I hope to keep for the rest of my life and am sure it has had an impact in some way on my career.

You have worked with some amazing talents, in ‘Drink Drugs and KFC’ you worked with Aml Ameen how was it working with him and is he someone you look up to?

Inspiring. He was also in Silent Witness and Shank with me. I will always respect Aml for what he’s doing and for what he’s done in the past.

In the past few years there has been an ongoing debate about the lack of roles for Black actors in the UK, has it been hard for you as a young black actor to make a name for yourself in the industry?

history_boys_poster

Growing up in the performing arts education system, I have always wondered why hardly any of my peers were black. I always found this odd and in some respects a bit disheartening. I doubt this had anything to do with the schools being racially selective but more a case of a lack of black kids coming forward to audition for performing arts schools, so the majority of my peers whilst growing up were either white or from another race.
I don’t see myself as a ‘black’ actor I see myself as an actor, who is black and I’m extremely proud to be black, but to focus on race jeopardises certain situations. If ‘making a name’ for oneself means being a household name – there aren’t nearly enough actors who are black given recognition in that respect, which is a great shame because there is amazing talent out there. I aim to keep growing and achieving but on a path that I feel is unique to me as a person. The angle that I’m aiming for in my career is different and it might take a while but I’m in it for the long run, there’s no rush.I don’t think it helps that quite a few of the actors in the UK, who are black, are continuously cast in these gang/“urban” affiliated roles that can sometimes hinder the progression of actors getting roles in other genres. It feeds the ignorance some people have towards our race. There are actors who are black that are more than willing and able to take on the roles outside of this ‘box’.

Do you intend on heading to the US to ‘make it big’ Aml Ameen, John Boyega, David Oyelowo, Idris and others?

If the right project comes up then we shall see. I enjoy living and working in England though, and am willing to develop here before I jump ship.

Who are your inspirations from the acting world?

That’s such a hard question, if I don’t name like 20 people I’m not satisfied. I’ll say the last performance in a film that inspired me – Leslie Manville in Another Year, by Mike Leigh. A person that inspires me in general is probably my mum, and she’s the reason I started this whole thing so I guess she’s my main inspiration.

What are your plans for the coming year?

History Boys till July and who knows after that.

 

The History Boys tour has kicked off in Southend and will continue around the UK until July for more information about tickets, venues and dates please go to the official website: www.historyboysuk.com

 

interview with Kedar Williams-Stirling for the british blacklist by @Tammyvm

Aspiring Journalists APPLY For BBC Bilingual Training Scheme. Deadline 15th Feb 2015

bbc_journalist_world_service

The BBC World Service is on the hunt for aspiring bilingual journalists from all over the UK to apply for a new training scheme – Future Voices – being launched this year.
Budding reporters who are fluent in English and one of 28 other BBC World Service languages will have the opportunity of a month’s training and work experience placement with the BBC in New Broadcasting House in London. This is the first time the World Service has offered training courses directly targeted at potential journalists in the UK.

Liliane Landor, Controller of World Service Languages for the BBC, says: “The BBC World Service reaches hundreds of millions of people a week, on TV, online, mobile and radio too, in 28 different languages as well as English. For the first time ever, we’re offering a training placement to bilingual aspiring journalists in Britain.

“We know there are millions of bilingual people in the UK and we’re looking for fresh new voices with the potential to become BBC reporters. You don’t need any qualifications – you just need to be over 18, fluent in English and another language and, most importantly, have demonstrated your passion for international news.”

The World Service is a key part of BBC News and bilingual reporters will work with one of the BBC’s UK news programmes in English as well as with a BBC language service. This will follow a week of training. Each trainee will be assigned a mentor throughout.

The BBC is keen to encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and from all corners of the UK. The first wave of training will be in March this year.

Candidates should apply online at: http://careerssearch.bbc.co.uk/jobs/job/World-Service-Future-Voices/10454

Applications for Richard Toeman 2015 Music Publishers Award Now Open. Deadline 26 March 2015

mpa

The MPA Richard Toeman Scholarship Scheme is designed to support the progress of outstanding individuals within the music publishing industry; to encourage potential, or new, recruits to the industry to develop their skills and experience through study; and to encourage each year’s recipient to achieve an enhanced preparedness for a successful career in the music publishing industry.

The Scholarship is named in memory of Richard Toeman who died suddenly in March 2005 following a very successful 40-year career at Josef Weinberger Ltd. Throughout his career Richard gave generously of his time and expertise to the MPA and to the music publishing business as a whole.

Each year applications are accepted from individuals who are permanently resident in the UK and:

  • have been working within the music publishing business for FIVE years or less;
  • are in their FINAL year of a music or music business degree course, who have ideally (but not necessarily) studied music publishing as part of that degree and who are intending to pursue a career in music publishing;
  • graduated from a music or music business degree course the previous year and who are intending to pursue a career in music publishing.
  • Applications must be supported by a reference either from the applicant’s line manager or, in the case of students or recent graduates, the applicant’s Head of Department or equivalent.

The Award takes the form of packages of support designed to meet the needs of either existing music publishing employees who are new to the business, or final year students/recent graduates. Two winners are chosen each year. The package awarded to the winner in the respective categories is as follows:

Music publishing employee - A place on the following courses during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016:

  • MPA Induction Course
  • MPA/MMF Music Publishing Professional Development Course – all modules
  • Two MPA specialist training seminars

Final year student / recent graduate

  • A place on the MPA Induction Course during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016.
  • Assistance in securing a relevant and paid work placement, plus contribution of £450 towards employer’s cost of hosting the placement, to take place during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016.

Both winners

  • Attendance at either an MPA Classical Social or MPA Pop Social – a great networking opportunity – during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016.
  • £500 towards further relevant training of the applicant’s choosing (subject to the advance approval of the MPA Education and Training Group)
  • A substantial discounted price for all MPA training events taking place during the period 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2018.
  • Each year both winners will also be invited to meet previous winners, members of the MPA Education & Training Group and other invited guests at a small networking event.

To find out more / apply go to: www.mpaonline.org.uk/mpa-richard-toeman-scholarship

Cathy Tyson to Star in Black Theatre Live Tour of ‘She Call Me Mother’ by Michelle Inniss

she_call_me_mother_cathy_tyson

The Black Theatre Live national consortium of eight regional venues is delighted to announce their second tour in 2015.

Black Theatre Live reveals that their second touring show will be Michelle Inniss’s play ‘She Called Me Mother’ starring Cathy Tyson which is about an elderly, Afro-Caribbean homeless woman.

Following a tour of Tara Arts’ Macbeth which begins in February, a new work by Pitch Lake Productions founded by actress Cathy Tyson, writer Michelle Inniss and director Cara Nolan will tour during Autumn 2015. She Called me Mother will be the second production from the national consortium dedicated to touring inventive BAME theatre to venues across the country.

Starring respected actor and Pitch Lake Productions co-founder Cathy Tyson, She Called Me Mother invites the audience into the life of Evangeline Gardner – a homeless, 70 year old Afri-Caribbean woman, who finds herself living on the streets. The play brings together Evangeline and her estranged daughter Shirley and is written in poetic Trinidadian vernacular rarely heard on our stages.

Sarah Brigham, Artistic Director Derby Theatre said “I’m delighted that our consortium have selected such an exciting prospect for our first commission – the combination of experienced artists such as Cathy Tyson and Michelle Innes, with an emerging director like Cara Nolan, signals the combination of quality and innovation which Black Theatre Live is all about. The poetry of the script blew me away and I’m looking forward to bringing our audiences an unheard voice and story told through powerful and engaging drama.”

Actor and Pitch Lake Productions co-founder Cathy Tyson is a BAFTA and Golden Globe nominated actress with over three decades of experience in the industry. She began her career at the Liverpool Everyman at the age of 17, before joining the RSC in 1984, and achieved widespread renown for her role in Mona Lisa alongside Bob Hoskins in 1986. Recent credits include Bright Phoenix (Liverpool Everyman), Stand (Oxford Playhouse) and Monkey Bars (Traverse and touring).

Cathy Tyson

Cathy Tyson

Michelle Inniss is a writer and Spanish teacher. She will be published this Spring in ‘Closure: an anthology of short stories’, Peepal Tree. She has been longlisted for Angle at The Bush Theatre 2011, shortlisted for The Fish Short Story Prize 2010, and in 2006 was awarded a runner up for the Penguin Decibel Prize.Cara Nolan is a director and writer, who has worked across the UK and Europe and has recently completed an MA in Theatre Directing at RADA.

Cathy Tyson said “I believe She Called Me Mother has the potential to be a modern classic. We are going into territory that hasn’t been explored on our stages before; an elderly black female homeless person searching for her estranged daughter. The emotional potential of the play is boundless. I hope this play will be a rewarding experience for our audience and all those with creative involvement.”

She Called Me Mother is announced as the second production from Black Theatre Live, a pioneering consortium of 8 regional theatres committed to increasing the amount of Black and Ethnic Minority theatre on the touring circuit.

Cast Includes Cathy Tyson, written by Michelle Inniss, directed by Cara Nolan, dramaturg Winsome Pinnock.

Through a 3-year programme, Black Theatre Live will bring high quality performances from culturally diverse perspectives to venues across the country. The initiative is a partnership of Tara Arts, Derby Theatre, Queens Hall (Hexham), the Lighthouse (Poole), Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds, Theatre Royal Margate, Stratford Circus (London) & Key Theatre (Peterborough).

To find out more go to: http://blacktheatrelive.co.uk

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