In February 2017, the Marlowe Society’s first BME Shakespeare show (Macbeth, dir. Sam Crerar) was staged in an effort to break down the perception that Shakespeare can only be staged and performed by an exclusive group of people for a specific audience.
By dispelling this persistent narrative, the Society aims to rightly claim our place in a space that has systematically excluded people of colour, such as the theatre collective and the University of Cambridge itself.
The huge popularity of the BME Shakespeare Show amongst the self-identifying people of colour and the general student body ensured that the initiative has become an annual fixture in the Cambridge Theatre calendar. The theatrical and commercial success of subsequent productions, 'The Taming of the Stew’, dir. Denicia Bernard (2018), Romeo and Juliet, dir. Hannah Shury-Smith (2019), and 'King Lear', dir.Rianna Davis and Toyin Folasade (2020) have paved the way.
Take a look at the below trailer for 'King Lear', credit: Howard Chae:
(L-R) Rianna Davis & Toyin Folasade, Directors of the Marlowe Society's BME Shakespeare: LEAR, 2020
(L-R) Elise Liu, Malcolm Ebose, Amaya Nagpal, Photoshoot for the Marlowe Society's BME Shakespeare: Macbeth, 2017. Photo: Johannes Hjorth