12 October 2020 / Events

New Events for your STR calendar!

It has been a staggeringly difficult few months for everyone in theatre research – whether academic, practitioner, arts venue manager – or STR events co-ordinator.  However, we are delighted to announce that Valerie Kaneko-Lucas has put together, with enormous imagination and application, some wonderful events which have something for everyone. These events will be streamed online using various channels – keep us bookmarked as exact details will be released soon.

First up on Tuesday 27th October is her own lecture The Fatal Drop, on Body, Race and Gender in Boucicault’s The Octoroon and Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon.

The Fatal Drop”: Dion Boucicault’s The Octoroon opened in 1859 at The Winter Garden Theatre, New York City.  This melodrama proved immensely popular, with performances in the USA and Britain.  Set in antebellum Louisiana with exotic events such as a slave auction, its depiction of race focuses on Zoe, the tragic mulatta tainted by black blood.  In 2017, African-American playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon received its European premiere at the Orange Tree Theatre.  Here, Jacobs-Jenkins queries the racial binary or black or white through audacious casting and dialogue which challenge the concept of the tragic “racialised body.”

Speaker’s biography:
Dr. Valerie Kaneko-Lucas is a scholar-practitioner, connecting theatre-making and performance theories.  Her research interests include representations of race, gender and culture in the post-Empire diaspora.  As a director and scenographer, her work explores the interface between text and scenographic practices. She is a contributor to the Oxford Encyclopaedia of Theatre and Performance, Alternatives Within the Mainstream: British Black and British Asian Theatre, Reconstructing Hybridity, ‘Black’ British Aesthetics Today and Design and the Postmodern Stage.

Dr. Kaneko-Lucas created the BA Acting and World Theatre at Regent’s University,  She is currently Academic Leader of Performance Preparation Academy and Annual Events Coordinator for the Society for Theatre Research.


In November (date to be confirmed) writer and performer SuAndi is scheduled to talk to us, speaking about her work as a theatre-maker, solo artist and performance poet.  Born of a British mother and Nigerian father in Hulme, Manchester, her work speaks to both mixed-race and Black British concerns.

Speaker’s biography:
SuAndi began her professional writing life in 1985 as a staff member at Culturewood, working alongside Lemn Sissay. At the same time SuAndi joined Manchester’s first Black women’s poetry collective, Blackscribe. Since then, SuAndi has made invaluable contributions to the artistic presence of Black Britain. Her written work ranges from plays to poetry to librettos, and she is a staunch advocate of Black artists, currently serving as Freelance Cultural Director of the Black Arts Alliance. In 1999, SuAndi was awarded an OBE for her contributions to the Black Arts sector.  She has received honorary doctorates from the University of Lancaster (in 2015) and from Manchester Metropolitan University (D. Art in 2018). Her play, The Story of M, has been performed around the world.  It has been recently published as a single edition by Oberon.

December’s event is still being finalised – but the Maggie Collins Christmas Lecture will certainly live up to its reputation for seasonal fun, even if the mulled wine and mince pies alas will be merely virtual this year.

Then in the New Year, on January 7th at 7.30pm, we have a remarkable and important event: Staging Afghan Women’s Lives.

Behind the Blast Wall, photo by Joël van Houdt

In 2017 London based Palindrome Productions began working with Afghan women journalists in adapting their work for the theatre.  This project — Sahar Speaks: Voices of Women from Afghanistan – has six one-act plays, four performed in London and two in Columbus, Ohio. In addition to the journalists, six playwrights and six directors—all women—took part. The talk includes the rationale for the project and the impact that the plays have had on those who have seen them and those who have read them. There are future plans for further performances in London.

Speaker biographies
Lesley Ferris, Artistic Director of Palindrome Productions, is an Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Theatre at The Ohio State University. Current research includes Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Playwrighting by Women: The Early Twenty-First Century co-edited by Penny Farfan (University of Calgary) and Lesley Ferris forthcoming 2021 University of Michigan Press.

The journalist Amie Ferris-Rotman has worked for Reuters, Washington Post, amongst other news outlets. She founded Sahar Speaks in 2015 to respond to the lack of Afghan women’s voices in English language foreign media. The women she trained have published in Huffington Post and the Guardian amongst other news media.

These events will appear in full detail just as soon as we have everything in place – keep an eye on the website and our social media for announcements soon.