Arts of the UK 2020: Fuelling new opportunities for Black women writers through Burn Bright
LONDON – Following the success of Burn Bright’s digitally commissioned pilot, Better In Person, the empowering not-for-profit led by Tori Allen-Martin and Sarah Henley, is continuing the series with the next instalment which will amplify Black women’s voices and stories, alongside launching a new initiative, Connect. In response to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and the struggles of the Black community, the company are keen to provide a platform in keeping with their ethos of equality and diversity in the arts. The new plays will be showcased on Bank Holiday Monday, 31st August at 8pm.
Better In Person will once again be directed by Abigail Sewell (I AM [NOT] KANYE WEST, Bunker Theatre), and hosted by Tori Allen-Martin, inviting audiences to be an online fly-on-the-wall witnessing these intimate, hilarious, and always very human conversations. Burn Bright are looking to commission five talented Black writers, to have their work shared via Zoom. Short extracts of existing works will be welcomed for submission until the closing date, Tuesday 14th July. A recording of the pilot event, which aired live on Monday 25th May, will also be made available for pay per view via the Burn Bright website.
Abigail comments: “These uncertain times have been a challenge for so many of us; we are social beings that desire connection. I think that’s what makes Better In Person so special. Theatre and live performance connect us in a really unique way – those who are present get to share a once in a lifetime experience. Amidst this period of isolation, over 200 households came together to experience the pilot; a timely series of conversations that so many of us can relate to right now. Heart-warming exchanges that reassure us that we are connected because of our shared isolation. We’re so excited to be sharing five more brilliant stories with you all.”
Building on their portfolio of initiatives for writers who identify as women, Burn Bright are also launching Connect, a series of online panel discussions over the summer, including a peer-topeer networking event for writers co-hosted by playwrights Dawn King (Foxfinder, West End) and Matilda Ibini (Little Miss Burden, The Bunker), a session on understanding your rights run by the Writers Guild, and an exclusive Q&A with three amazing industry professionals, including casting director Annelie Powell. Seeking to continually provide opportunities for women writers, these events are designed to be an invaluable tool for personal development.”
Burn Bright’s original networking initiative, Time Bank, has also seen huge success since their launch, with 35 industry advisors offering up over 150 sessions (more than 100 hours of free advice to writers who identify as women). However, this is only the beginning and to pave the way for a fairer industry the company want to see more high-level experts donating their time – in particular, male gatekeepers. In an industry dominated by (White) men in leadership positions, to enact change and challenge gender inequality, Burn Bright are actively calling out for men to step up and offer their services and mentorship.
Sarah and Tori comment: “We are super excited to announce our newest initiative Connect, providing new ways for writers to engage with each other and industry experts, and we are beyond thrilled by the success of our first networking scheme, the Time Bank. We’re so grateful to those who have offered their time to help so many writers – and we’re delighted that a number of people reached out in response to Black Lives Matter and have used our platform for their own activism. Our whole raison d’etre is to fight for equal opportunities for women in theatre, and we commit to amplifying and supporting the voices of those within that community that are further marginalised due to their race, sexual orientation, socio-economic background or any other reason. We are thrilled to commission and platform the work of five Black women for our next Better In Person event and can’t wait to read the submissions.”