Event: Palimpsest •Symposium & Talk in Celebration of Black Actresses


Palimpsest: An object or a place whose older layers or aspects are apparent beneath its surface.

Palimpsest talk and symposium at the National Theatre: Chaired by Martina Laird

A celebration of many generations of black actresses, their experiences and their contributions to British Theatre.

Recent years have seen urgent cries and concerted efforts to diversify the Acting industry. Equity has just launched its new Casting Manifesto outlining its vision for equality. New collectives such as SAct for Change and Equal Representation for Actresses have been formed to campaign within the industry and highlight where disparity still exists. Organisations like Triforce are successfully addressing the discovery and promotion of young diverse talent.

What can get lost in all these initiatives is a sense of history and the legacy that we are handed by generations of actors that have gone before and by whose lives and steadfastness our presence has been secured. It is the blight of Black Theatre in this country to spend too much time starting again from zero rather than developing through the years to something more solid and secure. The appreciation of such a legacy is essential to forming the solid foundation that all these new developments will need to find stability and to flourish.

Martina Laird

I am concerned that not only is there very little connection between the generations of black actors but also that the newer generations are often unaware of the names and faces of the on whose shoulders they stand. I am saddened by the lost opportunity for sharing in the pride and empowerment that such knowledge could bring. From my interaction with others in the industry I know that this loss most acutely affects black women. I have heard many unhappy tales of isolation, invisibility, and spiritual crisis. My desire is to assemble, share and celebrate stories of success (and frustration) and themes that unite us across generations of black actresses. My hope is to inspire the new generations with the knowledge of their own history and to encourage pride and confidence in their legacy. My urgency is to get to the stories before their valuable sources are lost.

” Clearly older women and especially older women who have led an active life or elder women who successfully manoeuvre through their own family life have so much to teach us about sharing, patience, and wisdom.”

Alice Walker

Palimpsest Symposium: Explores the history of black women in theatre and performance in the UK. Facilitated by Martina Laird and Natasha Bonnelame. The event will invite contributions from and celebrate the many generations of black actresses and their experiences within British Theatre. From the most seasoned professionals, to students and emerging creatives.Taking place at The National Theatre Close Learning Centre; Saturday 2 December 1.30-3.30pm Tickets £10 (7.50 concessions) Book tickets  HERE  

Palimpsest Talk: A Celebration of Black Women in Theatre. Dorfman Theatre Saturday 2 December 4.30pm Running Time 1Hr Tickets £7 (£5 concessions) Buy tickets HERE

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