A Declaration “What is Diversity in Theatre?” by Hannah Lad

Fio Theatre company at the frontline, in the fight for diversity and equality in the Welsh arts industry, opened its doors to fifteen performers, playwrights and directors in February for a week of masterclasses delivered by some excellent industry professionals followed by a creation week, a Declaration to the arts in Wales.

The first workshop was led by Abdul Shayek and Shane Nickels giving us a warm welcome into the Fio family. Before this masterclass we were set tasks based on our chosen practice, we explored different text and styles. Creating conversations between the groups about what is theatre and who should it effect. The biggest question being “What is Diversity in Theatre?”

As the week progressed masterclasses were delivered by Eric Ngalle Charles, Lisa Zahra, Cathy Tyson and Ryan Romain. All these masterclasses were invaluable to me, each one gave me something that would improve my learning as a performer. For me as an actor, I personally really enjoyed Lisa’s workshop, helping me tackle Shakespeare, unlocking my emotions simply and giving me exercises to have under my belt to help me at auditions.

After this week of masterclasses it was time to get into groups and create! I was lucky enough to have a splendid group made up of, Connor Allan as our incredible writer, Othniel Smith as our Director. I was lucky enough to perform alongside Kama Roberts and Aly Cruickshank. Connor’s play was a pleasure to explore during this week, an honest and resonating piece of writing written incredibly well for the performers in the piece. Our group spent a week exploring this text to create a final piece. The extract was called ‘3 Lost Souls. ‘ The final sharing of this work was incredibly successful for our group.

The aim of Declaration was to give diverse professionals a platform to create, I cannot stress how important that is! As a working class performer just breaking into the industry projects like this are a lifesaver.

Our theatre industry in Wales is very hard to access for someone who doesn’t fit certain criteria. Actors not getting paid, writers not having a platform to share their work, and audiences being of consistently one class. I believe it is time to change so, I think that everyone should ask them self “What is Diversity in Theatre?” It needs thought!

Hannah Lad

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