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Back to black: school children recreate Black History

Posted on 12/11/2009

Kwame Kwei-Armah, with student volunteers and school pupils

Award-winning playwright and director Kwame Kwei-Armah joined school children at Royal Holloway, University of London, to make history this week.

As part of Royal Holloway′s celebration of Black History Month, Kwame ran a series of interactive workshops to inspire young people and introduce them to something close to his heart - the Black Theatre Archive project.

He was joined by Simeilia Hodge Dallaway who is leading the project. Together they have discovered more than 340 plays written by black playwrights in England over the last 60 years and are involved in an extraordinary mission of archiving them all. Through the workshops students were given the chance to become part of black history by being recorded as they recreated scenes from the plays to form part of the archive.

Kwame and Simeilia have been working to select a scene from each of the plays they have unearthed which will be archived as 10-minute audio clips, while 12 will become video productions. The full archive will open in spring next year, at the National Theatre Studio.

Kwame, whose award-winning play 'Elimina′s Kitchen' made him the first Black Briton to have a play staged in the West End, said: "It's great to see new generations come here to Royal Holloway to attend these workshops to find out more about the work of many influential Black playwrights."

Tanya Popeau, Royal Holloway’s Senior Outreach and Widening Participation Officer, said: “We were delighted to host such an exciting range of sessions for schools and colleges. This event provided students with a great opportunity to explore the rich cultural fabric of our society and celebrate our heritage.”


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