British theatre is in the process of a massive change. More far-reaching than any I have seen in more than 20 years as the Observer’s drama critic. Accelerating. Overdue. Irrevocable. Welcome. There used to be a template for the artistic directors of theatres. A template about as restricted as candidates for the Tory party leadership. White and male. Obviously. This was so continuous with the default position for power in Britain that for ages it went unremarked. Not any more. At the press conference to announce his opening season as artistic director of the Donmar in April, Michael Longhurst was asked if, as a white man, he now found himself in a minority among new appointees. Yes, he said. “Quite rightly.” The shift from all-maleness has come in spurts, since the beginning of the 2000s, when Gemma Bodinetz took over at Liverpool, and Vicky Featherstone headed up the new National Theatre of Scotland. The end of the whitewashing of British theatre (or, rather, the beginning of the end) came later – but is moving more decisively. Last year was crucial: a series of appointments of people of colour reordered the alphabet of artistic directorships. From Justin Audibert to Matthew Xia…. Read full this story
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