Theatreland campaign for diversity and Time’s Up at Olivier Awards 2018
The stars of the stage were lobbying for diversity on the red carpet of what turned out to be a highly political year at the Olivier Awards.
The annual event’s organisers were also handing out Time’s Up badges to celebrity guests as they made their way into the Royal Albert Hall for the ceremony.
Teen drag musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie had landed five nominations, and AIDS drama Angels In America had been nominated for six gongs.
Tony Kushner play Angels In America scooped the award for Best Revival but it was a lacklustre night for new British musical Jamie, which scored nothing.
On a night that was deep-rooted into politics, actors in attendance insisted equality and diversity of West End scheduling was only just at its beginning stages.
“Hamilton is opening doors now,” Rachel Ann Go who plays Hamilton’s wife Eliza in the London production proclaimed. “People right now are very open-minded. It’s no longer about race or colour….”.
‘It’s inevitable” that drag musical Jamie is opening up a wider conversation, says Tom McRae who wrote the book and lyrics to smash hit musical. “As an artist, you can’t disconnect yourself from what’s happening in the world.
“If you’re not staying relevant, you might not want to write a story about a queer kid in school – but if you live in the real world like we do, we’re bound to tell these stories.
“It’s a contemporary show, you can’t write it about a bunch of white kids who are straight” adds Dan Gillespie Sells, who composed the music. “It’s just not what the world is.”
“We need to keep telling these queer stories until they don’t become a topic of conversation anymore,” added John McCrea who plays lead Jamie.
John carried on: “I don’t think we should be a minority or a subculture anymore – we’re getting there.”
Jamie Campbell, whose story inspired the show added: “Jamie shows that queer stories can sell well and do well, so hopefully more producers will take the risk”.
Actor Meera Syal walked the red carpet with Anjum Mouj, a board member of Imaan Muslim LGBTQI group.
Anjum said: “Theatre can pull together issues we don’t deal with.
“The things we see on stage get people talking about things like same-sex marriage and domestic violence. It’s really critical.”
Meera Syal added: “What’s really nice about this year – and important and joyful – is how the Oliviers are embracing change, and saying we all want a society that is free from harassment.
“The Oliviers get a lot of attention – one of the privileges of being in the public eye is that we should use our profiles to spread a good message.
“I hope by having activists here this isn’t just about the actors – this is actually about a big, deep issue that is about all levels of society.”
Doctor Who actress Pearl Mackie walked the carpet with another activist, Andrea Simon.
Andrea Simon said the next phase is to move from thoughts into action.
“Now we’ve got to move from acknowledging Time’s Up and say: “What can we do about it?””
“Tonight is about showing solidarity” added Pearl.
“We’re helping to break the silence, empowering other women who perhaps look at women in the entertainment industry and think they’re privileged and protected.”
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“Actually, that’s not the case – everyone is being affected,” added Pearl.
Previous Olivier Award Best Actress winner Imelda Staunton told PinkNews: “We’re doing it tonight.
“Time’s Up is being represented here at the Oliviers and that’s what you have to do, you have to find a place where you can get it out there, and put it out to the masses. Upwards, upwards…”
You can support victims of sexual harassment by donating to the UK Justice and Equality Fund
Related topics: Theatre