Welcome to the British Black and Asian Shakespeare Database
The BBAS database demonstrates, through the prism of Shakespeare, the growing contribution of black and Asian performers to the UK’s theatrical life, from 1930 to 2015. It draws on performance archives, production reviews, documentary evidence and personal interviews with practitioners and other members of BAME communities.
The primary creators of this database are Steve Ranford, who built the Drupal infrastructure; Hafiz Hanif who designed the way it looks; and, above all, Dr Jami Rogers who almost single-handedly populated it with content and ensured that it works.
We must also thank the following for supplying images: the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, especially Helen Hargest; Shakespeare’s Globe; V&A Theatre and Performance Department, especially Kate Dorney; Donald Cooper; and Dr Christie Carson’s Designing Shakespeare project (http://www.ahds.rhul.ac.uk/ahdscollections/).
You can find information in the Database about…
People: Black and Asian practitioners who have been involved in creating Shakespearean productions in the UK. For reference, details of the directors are included, of all ethnicities.
Plays: Performances of Shakespeare's plays (or plays related to Shakespeare's) in which black and Asian practitioners have taken part.
Companies: Theatre companies that have staged Shakespearean productions involving black and Asian practitioners.
Roles: Characters in Shakespearean (and related) plays, played by black and Asian performers.
Scope and content
This database was originally conceived as an historical record, acknowledging, documenting and celebrating the contribution of Black and Asian artists - especially performers - to the development of Shakespearean production in modern Britain. It would span the years 1930 to 2012. As the project has developed, however, it has developed into an ongoing record of contemporary casting practices. We hope this latter function will continue beyond the database’s launch in Autumn 2015.
The database documents developing casting patterns as they affect BAME performers. Its construction has coincided with increasingly urgent calls for greater diversity within Britain’s entertainment industries. We hope that the raw material collected here will support the case for change.
For the purposes of our database, ethnic origin is identified from published biographies authorised by the subjects and/or their agents. We define the scope of BBAS as Black (British, African, African American, Caribbean) and Asian (British East Asian, British South Asian).
In amassing data the production programme has been the primary source of authority.
When a production entry begins with “PRINCIPAL CAST”, it indicates that the programme has been located and the first-night casting details are complete. Other entries come from secondary sources such as Theatre Record, the World Shakespeare Bibliography and press reviews. Sources are noted where possible, but there will be gaps due to the evolving nature of the process. The information contained here is as accurate as can be verified at the time of writing, but there will inevitably be omissions and inaccuracies.
Unavoidably, the availability of information has tended to foreground productions by major national and regional theatres, larger touring companies, and some smaller venues and companies which have served as training grounds for emerging talent. We stress very strongly that the database welcomes corrections and new information – especially concerning smaller professional companies.