Do black lives matter in Britain today? Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway



BLACK LIVES MATTER is an essential mantra that has become an international plea for the media, institutions, government, and community to recognise the inequality, brutality and injustice subjected to the Black community in comparison to their white counterparts.

Last year, I was fortunate to be carrying out research across America, including Chicago, to source material for my forthcoming monologue anthology for Black, South Asian and Middle Eastern Actors (published by Bloomsbury in 2016). This was a time of angst and frustration, where the community was taking to the streets to protest about Michael Brown and Eric Gardner. It was in Chicago that I met the award-winning playwright Reginald Edmund and discovered his initiative titled Black Lives, Black Words in response to the recent events. Reginald began the initiative in Chicago offering the local artistic community the opportunity to speak out about the reported incidents and the larger community free access to watch and join in the discussion. During the lead up to the premiere of Black Lives, Black Words in Chicago, I decided to partner with Reginald Edmund in order to produce a UK response.

As the Artistic Director of the ADF (Artistic Directors of the Future: an initiative dedicated to increase the amount of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Artistic Directors in mainstream producing theatres), I felt that by producing the London response I could unite the Black British artistic community, bringing together Black and Asian British directors with Black British writers (an artistic community who are frequently overlooked in Britain), asking the question DO BLACK LIVES MATTER IN BRITAIN TODAY?

Before the emergence of the Black Lives Matter campaign and siege of reported incidents in America, many cases of social injustice remain hidden under the stiffer top lip of British culture. But over the last two years, as I took to the streets to protest in London with the Black Revs and Stand Up to Racism campaigns, I heard the many silenced voices of unreported or falsely reported incidents and felt that this was a moment for the artistic community to come together and speak out in this way.

I would like to thank the Bush Theatre for hosting this event and to WAC Arts and Theatre Royal Stratford East for their support. A special thank you to all the Black Lives, Black Words directors, writers, actors and assistance producers.

Find out how you can take part in Black Lives, Black Words here.