Open discussion: Mainstreaming ESEA British Theatremakers

Friday 3rd March 2013
2.30pm-5.30pm (doors 2.15pm, 7.00pm-9.00pm (doors 6.30pm, playreading)
Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building,
10 Thornhaugh St, London WC1H 0XG

In 2001, The Eclipse Report, commissioned by Arts Council England, examined the underrepresentation of Black and Asian British theatremakers by shining a light on institutional racism in mainstream British Theatre, and developing strategies to address this injustice. This has led to some impressive changes in the industry, with visibility both onstage and backstage having increased significantly over the years, though there is still some way to go.

In particular, East & South East Asian (ESEA) British theatremakers continue to be absent on our mid- to large-scale theatre stages, particularly behind-the-scenes, e.g. producers, writers, directors & artistic directors, dramaturgs & literary managers, composers & MDs, movement directors, designers etc. From this talent, where are the large-scale shows, the long-running musicals and the voices of the ESEA British on our main stages?

In light of this, members of Equity, the trade union for performing arts professionals, and The Meridian Society, a community champion for ESEA culture, aim to bring together academics from Higher Education institutions & other partners to undertake a research project to investigate the causes of and challenges to this situation.

With a view to producing a report advocating for support for ESEA British theatre-making talent, a series of events, a survey, and a research process will take place over the coming year, leading up to a final report with recommendations to be distributed to key industry stakeholders.

For the first of these events, we invite theatremakers, academics, and cultural organisations to join us in an initial open discussion on the theatre landscape and key challenges facing the sector around ESEA behind-the-scenes* theatre-making talent.

There will be opening remarks to help frame the session from Wenlan Peng – The Meridian Society, Ian Manborde – Equity, An-Ting Chang – Kakilang, and Kumiko Mendl, New Earth theatre.

This session will be followed, as entertainment, by an evening play reading of This Is Not A True Story, presented by the student SOAS Chinese Culture Society, followed by an informal Q&A.

This Is Not A True Story, by Preston Choi, imagines what might happen if Madame Butterfly and Miss Saigon finally do not meet with the recurrent trope of their tragic ends, but instead had agency and lived on.


2.30pm–5.30pm: Open discussion

dinner break

7.00pm–9.00pm: Play reading of This Is Not A True Story

These events are free and open to industry professionals and to stakeholders from the general public. For those not able to attend in-person, there will also be a discussion & listening session on Zoom the previous evening, Thursday 2nd March at 7-9pm.

To reserve places for any of these sessions, please book via

Eventbrite here.

*Note, a follow up session is being planned regarding onstage ESEA theatre talent such as actors, singers, dancers etc and their potential role in mainstreaming ESEA British theatre. Watch this space.

Book On Eventbrite