20 March 2024 / Events

In Conversation: The Conundrum of the Black Female Theatre Director (JOIN ONLINE)

Karen Tomlin’s research explores how both wider social histories and the structures of institutions have shaped perceptions of female black British directors’ skills, knowledge, expertise and interests within the field of theatre-making.  Deep-rooted perceptions of the black female body, identifiable in nineteenth-century discourses on feminine pathologies have informed not only the cultural othering of black women within society but within the institutional spaces of the creative industries.

This talk considers the significance of factors such as point of entry into the creative industries, influences, training, mentors and allyships, as well as the challenges of attempting to assimilate and sustain the performances and affectations often associated with the theatre director, as generated through the prism of whiteness. Tomlin proposes that black directors seek to become ordinary and through this, they will become extraordinary, retaining their own distinct and unique identities of not only being black but also British.

In Conversation events are informal sharings with theatre-makers and practitioners. Director Karen Tomlin will discuss her experiences and recent doctoral research on Black female directors.


Photos: Natalie Ibu & Amanda Huxtable


The Speaker

Karen Tomlin has worked as a Theatre Practitioner and Artist for over twenty five years. She initially trained as an actor, studying at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. Working for theatre companies such as The Globe and The National Theatre. As a theatre director making work for theatre companies such as Paines Plough, Clean Break, The Gate, and Ovalhouse Theatre and the Theatre Royal Stratford East. 

She has extensive experience working within actor training conservatoires; these include Royal Central school of Speech and Drama, Arts Educational, Rose Bruford, RADA. Guildhall Drama School and currently at LAMDA. 

She is a qualified teacher in Post Compulsory Education ( University College London, Institute of Education) and has a Masters in Applied from ( Royal Central School of Speech and Drama). She recently submitted her doctoral research at Queen Mary University of London entitled The ‘Body Out of Place: The Conundrum of the Black Female Theatre Director.


BOOKINGS: STR lectures are free and open to the public. You don’t have to be a member, but it is essential to book to let us know if you wish to watch via the zoom livestream. Links to the livestream will be emailed to those who have booked just before the event and also added to the event before it starts.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 512 824 1873
Passcode: 979940



20 March 2024