Kwame steps up at the Young Vic

Kwame Kwei-Armah, the actor turned award-winning British playwright was appointed last year as the new artistic director of the Young Vic in London, marking a major step forward for diversity in British theatre.

Kwei-Armah wrote his first play Bitter Herb in 1998 and went on to be only the second black British playwright to have his work performed on the West End, with his play Elmina’s Kitchen. It grappled with families and crime in Hackney’s so-called murder mile at a time when the stories of black communities rarely made it on to London’s stages.

His appointment came at a pivotal moment in the push to increase diversity in British theatre, which was once described as “hideously white” by top theatre producer and composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Kwei-Armah joins only three black or Asian artistic directors of major UK theatres: Madani Younis at the Bush theatreIndhu Rubasingham at the Tricycle and Kully Thiarai at National Theatre Wales.

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