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#Connect: Black Women in Theatre Spring 2019

hosted by Stella Kanu and Titilola Dawudu, and curated by Winsome Pinnock

An opportunity to Celebrate, Congregate and Chat. Everyone is invited, as Black women in Theatre take centre stage, come to the table or simply step up to the mic. This evening of Desert Island Discs style interviews is curated by award winning playwright, fellow and professor Winsome Pinnock. Followed by a Q&A.

  • Wed 6 Mar, 6:00pm

Running time: 2 hours

Venue: Café Bar

Part of Ovalhouse’s #CONNECT, a series of regular of industry focused networking and support events, Black Women in Theatre once again celebrates the contribution of black women in British theatre.

This season, Black Women in Theatre is curated by award winning playwright, fellow and professor Winsome Pinnock.

Taking inspiration from Desert Island Discs, Winsome Pinnock will ask her chosen guests - what are the things that nurture them? There will also be an exploration of self-care, intergenerational compassion and sharing the secrets to staying 'well'.

Followed by a panel discussion and Q&A with Karena Johnson (Artistic Director, Hoxton Hall) and Director Ola Ince (The Convert Young Vic; Poet in da Corner Royal Court Theatre).


Questions for debate include:

  • What does the recent ground-breaking number of BAME artistic appointments mean for black women artists/ leaders?
  • Does experience matter?
  • What does it mean to celebrate black women’s contribution to theatre?
  • What is the future for black women in theatre?
  • How do women overcome the gatekeepers and those that do not want to see progress?
  • Does visibility count?

Last year’s event was an inspirational and intergenerational conversation between some of the great theatre giants, Paulette Randall and Judith Jacob, and trailblazing new talent Lynette Linton, Cherrelle Skeete and Yolanda Mercy.

A complimentary Caribbean buffet will be served alongside the event.

  • Wed 6 Mar, 6:00pm


Winsome Pinnock is currently Associate Professor in Drama at Kingston University, having previous taught at creative writing at Kingston University, Cambridge Univerity [Sidney Sussex] and Royal Holloway, London. A recipient of the George Devine Award, Unity Theatre Award and The Pearson Plays on Stage Award, she was winner of the prestigious Alfred Fagon Award in 2018. Most recently a revival of her 1987 play Leave Taking played at the Bush Theatre to critical and commercial success. Her award-winning plays include The Wind of Change (Half Moon Theatre), Leave Taking (Liverpool Playhouse Studio, National Theatre, Bush Theatre), Picture Palace (Women's Theatre Group), A Hero's Welcome (Women's Playhouse Trust at the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs), A Rock in Water (Royal Court Young People's Theatre at Royal Court Theatre Upstairs), Talking in Tongues (Royal Court Theatre Upstairs), Mules (Clean Break Theatre Company) and One Under (Tricycle Theatre). Winsome has also written for radio and television. She is a Fellow of Hedgebrook, a global community of women writers and has mentored, supported and worked with many early career playwrights who have gone on to achieve productions.



Karena Johnson
Karena is currently Artistic Director/ CEO Hoxton Hall. She has worked for many years as a director, producer and facilitator of emerging artists and commentator. Recently Chair at Eclipse Theatre (Princess & the Hustler; Black Men Walking; A Raisin in the Sun) she is founder of Loud Talkin’ (Sacred Mountain; 4Women, Underneath - Nothing As Silent As Snow). Her pioneering career includes roles as Acting Artistic Director of Contact Theatre in Manchester, Artistic Director of touring theatre company Kushite, Head of Theatre Programming at Ovalhouse and Associate at Theatre Royal Stratford East, Nottingham Playhouse and NOW festival.
Karena is an award winning practitioner (Person of the Year; Diversity Arts & Business) and was a nomination for a special TMA award “for theatre with cojones”

Ola Ince
Ola is a Theatre Director and Dramaturg, most recently directing The Convert (Young Vic) and assisting at Tina: The Tina Turner Musical (Aldwych Theatre); other work includes Poet In Da Corner (Royal Court) and Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (Gate Theatre). She graduated from Rose Bruford College with a First Class Honors BA in Theatre Directing in 2010.  Since graduating Ola has worked at a number of prestigious Theatres such as Lyric Hammersmith, Donmar Warehouse, National Theatre and Bush Theatre.
Ola was the Finborough Theatre’s Resident Assistant Director and Senior Reader, as well as recipient of the Genesis Future Director Award and became Artistic Associate at Lyric Hammersmith and Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Seraphina Beh is an actor, best known for EastEnders (BBC 1); The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East) and Leave Taking (Bush Theatre) Due to unforeseen circumstances unfortunately Seraphina can no longer attend this event.



Stella Kanu has over 26 years’ experience of producing theatre, festivals and activities in a variety of settings, including large scale, international, national and community arts. Stella is currently Executive Producer at Ovalhouse, overseeing the artistic activities of the company as they build a new theatre and merge with the artistic and local community of Brixton. Previously she was CEO at Soundwave Cumbria. Other cultural, arts and regeneration sectors work include Southampton New Arts Complex, Bernie Grants Arts Centre, Turner Contemporary, Theatre Royal Workington, Cardboard Citizens, Harlem Stage, Chelsea Theatre, Theatre Royal Margate and Clean Break Theatre. As a creative writer and performer Stella created Africa Centre’s first Children’s Literature Festival; A List Performing Arts Festival and Southampton Live Street Arts Festival. Stella also mentors and coaches women leaders.

Titilola Dawudu is a writer and producer and is the Learning and Participation Manager at Ovalhouse. She has worked for GMTV and was an Outreach Journalist for Headliners, before supporting the setup of Reaching Higher, a youth charity based in Croydon. She was the Head of Operations and Development and also ran mentoring and arts-based events and programmes. She founded STAGES, an all-girls theatre project. She is an Associate Writer for Beyond Face, a theatre company based in Plymouth. Her monologues have been performed at Soho Theatre, Bush Theatre, and the Arcola. She is a mentor for young women and has been recently shortlisted for the Women of the Future Awards. In 2018 Hear Me Now, her collection of monologues for Actors of Colour in partnership with Tamasha Theatre and published by Oberon Books, became the publishers' fasting selling book ever.

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