This section of the exhibition explores the legacy of the African Slave Trade through narratives and aesthetics of resistance represented on the British stage in theatre and dance performances.
Using material from selected archives held at the V&A Theatre Collections and Future Histories, including the newly catalogued Talawa Theatre Company archive, this section of the exhibition is limited in its scope as the archives mostly reflect activities that took place on the London stage. However, we hope this can be a starting point in the recollection of memories of the Transatlantic Slave Trade from early 1800 abolitionist plays and musicals produced by white impresarios and directors to more recent productions by Black British artists and companies.
To accompany the narrative section, seven aesthetic legacy rooms have been designed to initiate a dialogue with some of the artistic forms originating on the African continent and practiced by their descendants in the Caribbean, South America, USA and the UK. Their performances are often manifestations of what is known as 'total theatre' and 'dance drama', which defy any rigid genre classification. Therefore, the selection of archive items in the seven aesthetic rooms should be regarded as a way of pointing to some aspects of the rich aesthetic legacy from the African continent, rather than an indication of the artists' intentions.