The UK’s first all Black, all female Shakespeare company has been launched.
Mawa Theatre Company has been founded by actresses Maisey Bawden, Gabrielle Brooks, Danielle Kassaraté and Jade Samuels.
They aim to address how Black and Black Mixed Race Women are represented in classical text and explore how Shakespeare translates to Black audiences, producing content that focuses on themes within his works that correlate with the Black community.
Mawa’s first project will launch at the end of August with a series of short videos of Shakespeare content that will be available to watch online for free. The initiative will bring together some of theatre’s most prominent Black talent and feature collaboration with Talawa Theatre Company.
The new theatre company is being supported by Arts Council England, BAFTA Award Winner Amma Asante, The Young Vic, The Arcola, Chichester Festival Theatre, The Citizens Glasgow, Queens Theatre Hornchurch, The Mercury Colchester, Royal & Derngate, Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and Arts Educational Schools.
Mawa’s Ambassador is Sharon D Clarke who said said: “Mawa! The UK’s first all Black, all Female Shakespeare Company! I am thrilled to be associated with Mawa Theatre Company. We have waited a long time for a company like this and I’m excited to see them produce some ground-breaking, thought provoking, innovative work. The industry desperately needs more Black led female companies and I cannot wait to see Mawa break and slay new ground.”
Amma Asante commented: “This is such an inspiring initiative, and one that reminds us, once again, that the Shakespearean works belong to all. I can’t wait to see what the women of MAWA will bring to the plays and sonnets, and I’m excited for the performances that will emerge through their creativity and their gaze. There are a million different ways to relate to these timeless works. So, it’s brilliant that Mawa has been formed to allow us one more avenue that I know will add a unique take on the compelling characters and narratives we’ve all grown to love, placing Mawa’s inspirational stamp on the Shakespearean brand.”
Artistic Director Maisey Bawden added: “After the collective grief and trauma felt by the Black community in 2020 and in response to the resurgence of the Black Lives Matter movement, we recognised the need for drastic action in terms of how marginalised groups are represented on our screens and stages. Shakespeare is a staple of British Art and continues to be a political voice so it must be continually reimagined and reinvented. We believe it is vital for our audiences to see themselves represented as multi-faceted human beings and not be bound by conformity and the long standing exclusionary perception of Shakespeare. Mawa will uplift and amplify the voices of Black and Black Mixed Race Women to create a new era of classical theatre and inspire future theatre makers.”