Sixty years of forgotten treasures
Britain is to get a Black Theatre Archive. Playwright Kwame Kwei-Armah relives his role in its creation
In Britain, my work is almost exclusively compared to that of Roy Williams. This has always enraged me. Roy is a fine, prolific writer; but even if we were to be compared on the most obvious grounds – race – we still write out of two very different black traditions. I am terribly influenced by the African-American canon and stand on the shoulders of playwrights such as Edgar White, whereas Roy’s work has echoes of Caryl Phillips. And Roy, I would argue, takes inspiration from sources closer to home. What amazed me was that US critics seemed to get that. Although they weren’t always complimentary, to me that was secondary: what was important was that here was intelligent, detailed analysis and context.