OUR BRAND NEW SERIES published by Desert Hearts Books:
What Now? Beyond Diversity and Inclusion
Series editors: Nick Awde & Isabel Appio 


Equal Stages

Standing Up for Identity and Integrity in the Performing Arts, Volume 1

By Nick Awde

402pp | paperback | £24.99 | ISBN: 9781908755384

Published in association with the International Theatre Institute, Equal Stages focuses on diversity, representation and inclusion in the live performing arts, particularly theatre. It’s a book of interviews with 42 people who work across a wide spectrum in the industry, from performance to venue management, from writing to marketing, from fringe to regional theatres. These are people of all ages, backgrounds and locations who are today constantly breaking new ground to find ways using culture to make a difference in society.

But this isn’t a feelgood diversity manual or Arts Council-friendly handbook. Yes, it is a book about diversity and inclusion, but the focus is on the reality of those who do it rather than talk about the theory. It’s a platform of voices from around the British Isles – England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and Ireland – who offer their opinions on how the performing arts fit with their worldviews.

The insights in this book will therefore have resonance and relevance beyond the performing arts world. In practical terms, Equal Stages is a snapshot of how our particular corner of the globe has both succeeded and failed to meet the momentous one-step-forward/two-steps-back changes in contemporary society, culture, economy and politics that shape the arts and cultural world of today. Across the chapters, this diverse cast of practitioners show how they have moulded the performing arts into launchpads for a wider conversation on issues like prejudice and class that affect all of society – and exclude so many parts of it.

Interviews include:

Dan Allum (writer, director, composer & artistic director of Romany Theatre Company)

Gavin Barlow (director of the Albany, Deptford)

Julia Barry (executive director of the Sherman Theatre)

Yvonne Brewster (director, teacher, writer & co-founder of Talawa Theatre Company)

John Byrne (writer, broadcaster & careers advisor/columnist for The Stage newspaper)

Sanjit Chudha (marketing & communications manager of Talawa Theatre Company)

Jo Clifford (writer, performer & transgender activist)

Stephen Davidson (improviser, writer, performer, transgender activist & director)

Sharlit Deyzac (co-artistic director of Voila! Europe Festival)

Seán Doran (founder & co-director with Liam Browne of Arts Over Borders)

Susan Elkin (theatre in education writer & critic)

Christopher Green (writer, theatre-maker & performer)

Jackie Hagan (poet, comedian, theatre-maker & disability activist)

John-David Henshaw (director, writer & artistic director of Sweet Venues)

Anna Herrmann (joint artistic director of Clean Break)

Thelma Holt (producer)

Lucy Hopkins (clown, director, workshop leader & co-director with Bob Slayer of Heroes of Fringe)

Sophia A Jackson (editor of Afridiziak Theatre News, the UK’s only website dedicated to African-Caribbean theatre)

Rosemary Jenkinson (playwright, poet & short fiction writer)

Lora Krasteva (cultural producer & artistic director of Global Voices Theatre)

Tobi Kyeremateng (cultural producer & founder of the Black Ticket Project)

Alan Lane (artistic director of Slung Low & The Holbeck working men’s club)

Betsan Llwyd (artistic director of Theatr Bara Caws)

Brian Merriman (founder & artistic director of International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival)

Guleraana Mir (writer, theatremaker & executive director of The Thelmas)

Will Nelson (fringe director & lecturer at the Arden School of Theatre)

Gbolahan Obisesan (writer, director & artistic director of Brixton House)

Miguel Oyarzun (co-director with Isla Aguilar of BE Festival)

Francesca Peschier (dramaturg, writer, lecturer & head of new works at the Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse theatres)

Tim Renkow (comedian & writer)

Paul Ricketts (comedian, writer & musician)

Barrie Rutter (actor, director, producer & founder of Northern Broadsides)

Faz Shah (musician, actor & composer)

David Slater (director of Entelechy Arts)

Bob Slayer (comedian, producer & co-director with Lucy Hopkins of Heroes of Fringe)

Chris Sonnex (artistic director of the Bunker Theatre)

Cleo Sylvestre (actor, writer & musician)

Amy Clare Tasker (co-artistic director of Voila! Europe Festival)

David K S Tse (actor, writer, director; former artistic director of Yellow Earth Theatre & ex-creative director of Chinese Arts Space)

Lola Williams (agent & director of New Wonder Management Talent Agency).

Kate Wood (executive director of Activate & co-artistic director with Bill Gee of Inside Out Dorset)

Kat Woods (writer & director)

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Also available from all online/bricks & mortar book stores, released May 1, 2020.


Orders/press inquiries: Nick Awde / +44 (0)7961 154590

NICK AWDE is international editor for The Stage newspaper and co-founder of TheatreGuide London. He worked for many years for The Voice Newspaper Group. He is also co-director of the UK Centre of the International Theatre Institute (Unesco), and of the Other National Theatre at Morecambe’s Alhambra Theatre, where he created the Morecambe Goth Passion Play. He has written, illustrated or edited more than 50 books including: Women in Islam, Mellotron: The Machine and the Musicians That Revolutionised Rock, Singer-Songwriters Volume 1, and the forthcoming volumes Finnish Rock, Avant-Hard in the UK, Electric Guitarists/Bassists: Electrification of the Nation Vol 1. As a playwright, dramatic works include Pete and Dud Come Again (with Chris Bartlett), Andrew Lloyd Webber: The Musical (book, lyrics & music), Noddy Holder’s Christmas Carol Unplugged, The Europeans (Parts 1-3). As Nick Awde & Desert Hearts, music includes the albums Blues for Blighty (Vols 1-3), Swimming in a Fish Bowl, Mellotronic Belgium Blues, avant-garde opera Belgium-737, and the EPs Selling England by the Pound, Close to the Edge b/w Meryl Streep/Rocket Man, and the single ‘European Man (I Do What I Can)’.

ISABEL APPIO is an established journalist and publisher with a focus on social inclusion in education and the workplace, primarily for under-represented young people, women and those with diverse abilities. As chief editorial director of The Voice Newspaper Group during its campaigning heydays, Isabel founded the Guide to International Women’s Month, Guide to Black History Month and Britain’s first black broadsheet, the award-winning Weekly Journal. Isabel was a music editor of Time Out magazine and is the founder of Thrive 4.0 (Where Talent Meets Opportunity) which promotes inclusion and self-empowerment of marginalised groups in the new economy, the fourth Industrial Revolution. Isabel’s extensive range of high profile private and public sector clients has included top corporates & self enterprises, local and central government departments, universities & colleges, and leading charities.