Founded in 1997, our journey mirrors that of the British Africans we seek to serve; from early productions telling stories of emigration and diaspora (tickets and ties) to, under second artistic director Lucian Msamati, reflecting on the relationship Britain and British-Africans have with Africa (Olivier Award-winning Bola Agbaje’s belong).
In 2014, Natalie Ibu became tiata fahodzi’s third Artistic Director and with her came a question: what does it mean to be of African heritage but of mixed experience? In 2014 and beyond, we continue to reflect the changing and developing diaspora with a particular interest in the dual and the in-between, in those who straddle worlds, cultures, languages, classes, heritages, races and struggles. It’s in this – the messy, the multiple and the complicated identity politics – that tiata fahodzi sits, acknowledging that our audiences are more complex and contrasting than ever. Our work starts with the contemporary British African experience but reaches beyond to ask us all, what does it mean to live here, today?
We produce theatre that is fearless. We want our work to look around and look forward – contemporary stories told in modern and innovative ways – and to embrace the multiple in all ways – narrative, form, experience, identity, perspective, scale. We celebrate characters defined not by their diversity, but by their humanity: in Natalie Ibu’s i know all the secrets in my world we went on a journey of sound and movement, through grief, to meditate on the intimacies of black masculinity and black fatherhood. In Charlene James’ bricks and pieces – a thoughtful portrait about family and fresh starts – we met characters struggling to survive as well as being black, not because they are black. In it, we were a gay – but not fully out – teacher grieving a partner, a young woman launching a startup and a new single life, a lad exploring Christianity and chatting up girls, an architect into hip-hop and geeking out over Lego – we are all of that and so much more. In Arinzé Kene’s good dog we met the people and places that make you who you are and, most recently, in Nathan Bryon’s mixed brain we asked if you live in the middle, does anywhere feel like home?
We are an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.