guest blog: stewart’s call to action
A letter from our trustee Stewart…
‘Hello. My name’s Stewart and I am proud to co-chair the board of tiata fahodzi.
I was incredibly moved and honoured to be invited to join the board. tiata fahodzi has a very special place in my affections. For I owe the company a deep and unpayable debt of gratitude.
Many (too many) years ago I was desperate to make a life in theatre but had no idea how. I was making no progress at all and came very close to giving up. But then tiata fahodzi founder Femi Elufowoju Jnr. and his cast agreed to meet me after a performance of Medea, giving me their time and encouragement when no-one else would. Their kindness and advice gave me the strength to persist. It is thanks to TF’s founders that I now work in the art form I love.
tiata fahodzi for me has never just been about its beautiful, inspiring and challenging productions, but about that feeling of being welcomed. Included. Embraced as a friend, as family. And invited to see, through the rich, multi-faceted lens of the African diaspora experience, all our lives and experiences reflected.
Which theatre peers might do well to take note of. You don’t need me to point out that for an art form obsessed with representing, our theatrical institutions are hardly representative.
How can our theatre truthfully mirror the world onstage if it does not truly mirror our world off the stage too? How can our theatre embrace diverse audiences if it does not embrace a diverse workforce? That means not only actors, writers and directors of colour, but producers, curators and, above all, artistic directors too.
Change is coming – but slowly. Too slowly. So let’s help it on its way.
On Sunday 9 July, I am running the Westminster British 10k (my first competitive 10k in 10 years) to raise money for tiata fahodzi’s Artistic Director Leadership Programme. This brilliant scheme – the brainchild of our own Artistic Director Natalie Ibu – offers training and pathways for outstanding artists of colour to become future theatre leaders. With our support, they will change the face of theatre – and with it how we understand ourselves and each other.
If you care (as I know you do) about a theatre enriched with the brilliance of all of our communities, please show you care by visiting my JustGiving page, donating whatever you can spare and spreading the word far and wide.
Thanks for reading. I hope to welcome you at a tiata fahodzi show soon.
Stewart Melton is a playwright and one of #tfhq’s most treasured trustees. If you’d like to see change in the theatre world and help us achieve it, donate – you have until 9 July.