Founder of Talawa, Carib and Barn Theatre companies, OBE
Yvonne Brewster is a founder member of three theatre companies, Talawa and Carib in the UK and the Barn in Jamaica. She has undertaken a vast variety of directorial work nationally and internationally in theatre, television, film and radio. In 1993 she was given the Order of the British Empire for her contribution to the arts in Great Britain
When and where are you happiest?
When? I am happiest when I have a deadline. As for where? When I touch down in Jamaica…to be in London with its great ever-changing vibe…and I’m blissfully happy where we live in Florence just now. So maybe I’m too easily pleased, or just lucky
What is your greatest ambition?
My parents always accused me of lack of ambition. I think they were right. For me, ambition is a daydream - a wish - and I don’t do too much of that. My ambition is to be able to keep working ‘til I die.
What is your greatest fear?
That the status quo will be allowed to continue to use the debate on the nomenclature of the art of its non-white citizens as a method of reinforcing its marginalization. Did I read somewhere that my work comes under the heading of BAMER? ‘Black Asian Minority Ethnic Refugee?’ Please!
What inspires you?
I’d go to the theatre three times a day if I could. It is the greatest way of changing society. There are so many candidates, but in the end it’s Cerceau directed by Anatoly Vassiliev at the Riverside Studios
What has been or is the biggest challenge you’ve faced, pursuing a career in the Arts?
Whether as Artistic Director or as a solo artist, the biggest challenge is not to spend so much time doing the administration, the forms, the meetings, the politics, that too little time is left for the art. Constant struggle - and not one I ever won
What do you wish you’d known when you were younger, that you know now?
Absolutely nothing. Had I known that there would be so little point in much of what one did, I may never have tried the things I did, had the pain and the pleasure
What has been your proudest moment?
After bleating on for so long about the need for a building in which Black theatre artists could experiment, perform, calls the shots, the opening night of Wole Soyinka’s The Road at the Cochrane Theatre in London, in the presence of the man himself - who liked the production - came close to a proud moment
Do you think British theatre is in a state of crisis?
No. There are more interesting, challenging diverse pieces of theatre and performance art in London than most other major cities of the world. I know London isn’t Britain, but…of course, it could be even more adventurous and inclusive. However, when I compare the British theatre of when I first came to Britain, in 1956 to today, I think it has moved with the times and to a great extent, shown the way
What do you hope for Sustained Theatre to achieve?
Sorry, but the name is dreadful. Really sounds like something arrived at in committee. My hope for you is that you will achieve a new name