The Upsetters stage short plays written, directed and performed by artists of colour. Our aim is to increase the representation of emerging BAMER creatives in theatre.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Why The Upsetters?
We want to upset and disrupt theatre as we see it. At the moment, we feel that theatre has an unconscious bias which we want to overcome by creating opportunities for those from underrepresented groups to have their work seen and performed.
Plus, we love Lee “Scratch” Perry, the original upsetter and dub legend. The Upsetters (photo credit; Test Pressing) was the name of his house band and it feels fitting to name our scratch night after Scratch Perry.
How does the process work?
We put out a call to writers of colour for scripts that run between 15-20 minutes in length. Once we’ve read every script, we will select five to be staged. All writers will be contacted by email to let them know the outcome, even if not selected.
We will assign directors to each piece and the directors will cast the plays. 100% subsidised rehearsal space is being provided through our partnership with Theatre Deli London. We will liaise with each director to arrange rehearsal times for their company. We ask that directors cast actors of colour in all roles, unless the script specifies otherwise.
If writers have a preferred director they wish to work with, then they are more than welcome to let us know. And if directors need assistance with casting, we can help out there too.
We really want this to be a writer-led event that celebrates representation on and off the stage.
Do you only accept work from writers of colour?
Yes. While we fully appreciate that other groups including disabled, neurodivergent, D/deaf or LGBTQ+ are also underrepresented, our focus is on BAMER artists. However, we 100% welcome, encourage and would love intersectional creatives of colour to send us their work.
We will always aim to assign directors of colour and actors of colour, and once again, we aim to be as representative as possible.
Can white artists apply?
We respectfully ask that white creatives do not submit work to us. While we fully appreciate the support and would love to see them in our audiences, we really want to bring artists of colour front and centre.
Will artists get paid for their work?
We will pay £50.00 to every writer, director and actor involved. We know it’s not much but, at the moment, we’re unfunded. However, we believe if you’re putting in the work then you should be paid for your time. In our experience, very few new writing nights pay those involved but we want to do things differently. We want to be accessible, and that means at the very least making sure people aren’t out of pocket for their involvement which is especially important for working-class creatives.
What do you mean by accessible?
We’re not just talking about creating an accessible entry point into the industry for artists of colour. To us, accessibility has to be built into the plan from the very beginning. It cannot be an afterthought. With that in mind, here’s what we’re doing towards accessibility:
Captioning events using The Difference Engine for D/deaf and hard of hearing audiences.
100% subsidised rehearsal space through our partnership with Theatre Deli London.
Relaxed performances for neurodivergent audiences.
10% of all tickets go to the Black Ticket Project.
Wheelchair accessible venue.
We’re exploring options to provide audio description for blind audiences as well.
How are you funding this?
Through ticket sales. It means we will be charging £15 per ticket. That’s more than we would like but we hope you’ll understand what we’re trying to do. We will also be holding two performances, a matinee and an evening performance, partly to generate additional funds to ensure everyone gets paid, but also to showcase all of the brilliant work involved.
The £15 goes towards ensuring people are paid and the event is accessible. But we also appreciate that it needs to be affordable. That’s part of accessibility too. With that in mind, we will be providing a number of discounted tickets to under 30s, concessions tickets as well as 10% of tickets to the Black Ticket Project which provides free theatre tickets to young black people.
Where will the night be held?
Our night is going to be at the Bunker Theatre in London Bridge. We will have a 4pm matinee performance followed by a 7.30pm evening performance.
Rehearsal space will be provided by Theatre Deli London near Liverpool Street.
Do writers have to write about race and racism?
Part of the reason we are putting this on is that we feel that too often actors of colour are only cast when race is at the focal point of the play. We invite writers to write about whatever subject they want, if that happens to be race, then great. But if writers want to pen a space opera, then go ahead, the world needs a new Lieutenant Nyota Uhura to look up to.
Are there any limitations?
We do have a few limitations on the scripts. We ask that casts are kept to no more than four people. We also ask that writers be considerate with the props and staging. Unfortunately, we’re not the National Theatre, we have a very limited budget..
Finally, if writers submit an extract from a full length piece, it should stand on its own as an outstanding piece of theatre.
How can people get involved?
Anyone from any background can register their interest, as an artist or an audience member, using the Get Involved form. We will put out a callout for writers of colour to submit scripts soon.
Please follow us on Twitter to keep up to date.
MARCUS BERNARD, ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
Marcus is a playwright and producer born in London, raised in a working-class, multi-racial family. His father is half Jamaican, half English and his mother is Indian.
After a 16 year career in tech, Marcus left the world of startups behind to pursue a lifelong ambition to write. Since then he has had plays staged at Theatre503, the White Bear Theatre, Space Arts Centre and other venues around London. He is part of the Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab 2018/19 and is an Associate Artist for the Lion and Unicorn Theatre.
We have a small team of script readers from diverse backgrounds who read every submission. Each reader is asked to give feedback on the scripts and helps us to pick a shortlist which eventually becomes the final five pieces which are staged..
Want to help out? Get in touch by emailing email@example.com.
Our first event will be at the Bunker Theatre on Sunday, 9th June 2019. To be kept up to date with the latest news, please fill out the form below. We promise not to spam you.
Once we’re up and running, we will contact you with more information. If you join our database as a writer, director or actor of colour, we will be in touch to get you involved in our future shows.
Thank you for joining us on our journey!