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Lucy Basaba is bringing black theatre to the forefront


THE THEATRE world has become incredibly diverse over the past few years. From the success of 2016’s The Bubbly Black Girl to Michaela Coel’s rise to fame following her 2014 play ‘Chewing Gum Dreams,’ BME talent in UK theatre seems to be on the up and up.

One of the women championing diversity in theatre is Lucy Basaba, the founder of Theatrefullstop – a blog, which covers a broad spectrum of shows from BAME talent within London and the UK.

“I’ve always had a passion for theatre and an interest in drama from a very young age. So much so, that I ended up going to drama school as a teen,” says Basaba. “Alongside acting, I realised that I loved reviewing theatre as well, and my friends really encouraged me to create a platform to share my interests in theatre – and there, Theatrefullstop was born.”

The online platform celebrates its forth anniversary this year, and has resulted in some great opportunities for the theatre enthusiast. Since it’s launch, Basaba has begun to host a bi-weekly podcast on Shoreditch Radio, was awarded the Young Person’s Award at the UK Blog Awards, and is preparing to host the upcoming Pub Theatre Festival, which will take over the Lion and Unicorn and Etcetera Theatre for 2 weekends and looks to celebrate the UK's pub theatre culture.

“I’m preparing to host the festival now, and I have to say it’s been educational,” shares the 26-year-old blogger. “I’ve never hosted a festival for this length of time so it’s been very interesting, a lot of fun, and it’s amazing to see the amount of support there's been.”

“I think people should really expect fresh talent, emerging artists, and really great content when attending the Pub Theatre Festival this year.”

Emerging talent is something that Basaba is passionate about, and is the crux of why she began Theatrefullstop. “When I think about content I like to share on the site, I’m definitely all about emerging talent,” enthuses Basbaba. “I like to expose the world to young voices, or voices that perhaps don’t get heard and seen as much.”

Some of the talent that Basaba is currently into includes Gbemisola Ikumelo and Urbain Hayo, along with the meteoric rise of Chewing Gum’s Michaela Coel. “I was able to see Michaela Coel when she did Chewing Gum Dreams at the National Theatre, and to see what she’s become now is amazing,” says the theatre maven. “I also really like Gbemisola Ikumelo, who starred in the New Nigeria at the Arcola Theatre. She was in a play called Hopelessly Devoted years ago that I got to see, and I managed to interview her too.”

Basaba’s selection of black theatre darlings speak volumes about the shift in diversity within the British theatre world – a shift that she thinks will continue to progress. “The whole diversity conversation is something that is working out and giving hope to people that they can go out there and create their very own role,” she says. “I think we are on the cusp of becoming more involved; from actors, producers, directors – you name it.”

While there has been significant progress, she is keen to show that work can still be done. “I’d say there has been a progression, but there are definitely things that could improve,” she suggests.

“I think there’s been an acknowledgement that it needs to become a lot more diverse – not just race, but through gender and disabilities too. “

For now, Basaba continues to do her part by sharing as much diverse representations of theatre as she can and has even bigger plans for the future. “I'm very interested in establishing an international audience, so right now I’m in talks with a Canadian theatre company, and we’ve agreed to have this exchange going on,” she reveals.

“So I’m going to feature some Canadian writers and artists, which is great because theatre isn’t just a UK and US thing. It’s everywhere.”

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