Black Theatre Making and Censorship in the Archive

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Date / time: 6 July, 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm

The British Library Knowledge Centre

Black Theatre Making and Censorship in the Archive


Black theatre making in the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays collection.

This event will take place at the British Library on Wednesday 6 July, 19.00-20.30 BST. It will be simultaneously live streamed on the British Library platform. Tickets may be booked either to attend in person (physical), or to watch on our platform (online) either live or within 48 hours on catch up. Viewing links will be sent out shortly before the event.

Book your free ticket here:

Black theatre making is often written out of the archive, credited to white theatre practitioners, or catalogued in ways that make it hard to find. But because Black theatre makers were frequently at the forefront of movements for change, their work was regularly subject to censorship and surveillance and collected in state archives on both sides of the Atlantic.

This panel discussion and performance explores African American and Black British theatre making in the Lord Chamberlain’s Plays Collection, an archive which owes its existence to British theatre censorship laws requiring theatre managers to obtain a license to stage a new play up until 1968.

Come and find out how Black theatre practitioners are talking back to archives of censorship to recover the rich heritage of transatlantic Black theatre making.

The event will feature a panel of theatre practitioners and scholars, staged readings from theatre manuscripts and censored reports held in the Lord Chamberlain’s collection and a chance for audience members to consider what they would censor if these plays were performed today.

This event is supported by the Independent Social Research Foundation as part of the ‘Archives of Cultural Surveillance and the Making of Black Histories’ project.

The event is organised by the Eccles Centre for American Studies at the British Library. The Eccles Centre exists to support and promote creative research and lifelong learning about the Americas, through the world-class collections of the British Library.

For more information about the project please contact