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Friday 4 December, 11.30am – 2pm
STUN Studio at Z-arts, 335 Stretford Road, M15 5ZA


Benji Reid and Sustained Theatre Up North (STUN) invite you to a rare critical dialogue,
A Question of Black Physical Theatre & Dance.

Over the past 30 years Black Physical Theatre & Dance has been delivered through the vision and politics of some of the world’s most interesting theatre makers, such as Denise Wong, Amani Naphtali, and Benji Reid. Whilst some archives exist, less has been documented about what one might call the engineering behind the art form, namely the energies and ideas motivating works in the Black Theatre & Dance canon such as Ragamuffin and Super Heroes.

Does a distinctive art form exist that is sufficiently unique and nuanced to be called Black Physical Theatre or Dance? What are its processes and products? Who are its champions and challengers?

Speakers include leading physical theatre practitioner Benji Reid; founder of the influential Black Mime Woman’s Trope, Denise Wong; and dramatist, writer (Ragamuffin), director and film maker Amani Naphtali. There will also be a film screening featuring artists Juliet Ellis, Amani Naphtali, Victor Romero, Robert Hilton, Diane Morgan (Nitro), Vicki Amedume (UpSwing), DeCypher (Auden Allen), and a live performance-in-progress by Michelle Scally Clarke, STUN’s Appetite commissioned artist.

11.30am Welcome: Garfield Allen, STUN
11.45 – 12.00pm Starter, Discussion: Masterclass
12.00 – 12.10pm Speaker, Benji Reid: Background to the project
12.10 – 12.30pm Performance-in-progress: Michelle Scally Clarke
12.30 – 12.45pm Round Table discussion
12.45 – 12.55pm Speaker: Denise Wong – Black Mime
12.55 – 1.15pm 
Round Table discussion
1.15 – 1.30pm Film screening
1.30 – 1.40pm Speaker: Amani Naphtali
1.40 – 2pm Round Table discussion
2pm Conclusion and Networking

Speaker Biographies
Benji Reid | benjireid.com | @benjireid
Benji Reid is a singular talent. His vision as Performer and Creative Director has made him an Award Winning and senior contributor to the Black Physical Theatre canon over the last 30 years. Having produced & performed over 30 cultural works for leading international cultural institutions led by The National Theatre, Birmingham Rep, PS122 (New York), + Sydney Opera House, Reid is without a doubt one of the most compelling cultural makers in contemporary British theatre.

“It’s director Benji Reid’s choreography and stage-pictures that are the real stars here. Inspired seemingly by everything from basketball itself to computer games, slow-motion replays, via architecture, geometry, and probably some abstruse sport theory of which I know nothing”.  – Andrew Haydon, Theatre Critic

Amani Naphtali | @Brixton_inc
Amani Naphtali is a trained dramatist, writer, director and filmmaker.  He was the founder member and Director of the groundbreaking Double Edge Theatre co and is currently Artistic Director of Brixton Inclusive. He is a dedicated exponent of the African Ritualistic genre and a pioneer of Multi Genre interdisciplinary practice. He has directed musicals, films and dance productions.

His plays include The Remnant, Valley of the Blind, Song of Songs, a multi art form, rap musical inspired by the Last Poets entitled Vibes from the Scribes and The Word Temple, a visionary performance piece inspired by Poetic Spoken Word. He also wrote and directed the experimental film, The Black Bohemians (1990) and a fiction film Circles of Fire (1997) which opened at The British Short Film Festival. His productions also include Ragamuffin (1988) Oval House, (1990) Hackney Empire (2002) Contact, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Birmingham Rep. Ragamuffin was one of the 80’s / 90’s most successful and groundbreaking theatre productions.

Denise Wong
Denise Wong joined Black Mime Theatre Company when it was founded in 1984, becoming Director in 1986. She directed all 16 of the theatre’s productions between then and 1997, including Mourning Song, Forgotten Heroes, E.D.R. and HEART. In 1990, she formed the Black Mime Women’s Troupe. She was instrumental in presenting notions of a Black British Mime Aesthetic. She has run the Streets Alive company since June 2001, directing the plays of the Main Company, and co-directing with Pippa Bailey The Little Match Girl, a site specific piece using pyrotechniques created by the World Famous.

Other work by Denise includes directing Driving Force for Union Dance Company and for Adzido Pan African Dance Ensemble, Oya’s Choice in 1994, Thand ‘Abantwana in 1995 and Shango The God of Thunder in 1996. Before moving on to Streets Alive, Denise was Trainee Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre.

Live performance-in-progress: Michelle Scally Clarke / Appetite Commission
Michelle Scally-Clarke is a Leeds-born writer and performer. She is a published poet with two novels I Am and She Is currently in print. Michelle has performed with some of the UK’s most recognised poets such as Linton Kwesi Johnson, Benjamin Zephaniah, Lemn Sissay and Simon Armitage, and has toured as a solo performer throughout the UK and internationally including America, Europe, Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. Michelle has also performed in theatre including productions Word Temple and Carnival Messiah in which she played the lead role Mama God.

Appetite was an open call for artists to respond viscerally, in ways that explore emotional and physical longing for an idea, place or thing, with a small commission and a week of mentoring with Benji Reid attached. This performance-in-progress is the result.

A Question of Black Physical Theatre
brings together a creative team led by Benji Reid and Sustained Theatre Up North (STUN) to offer a selection of opportunities.

Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

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