Cafe Society Swing, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by an anonymous guest critic

An evening of spectacular performances depict the true story of New York’s first jazz club, Cafe Society, run by immigrants and allowed black and white audiences to integrate. The club’s audiences watched the most talented performers of their time, including Billie Holiday, who gave her first performance of harrowingly beautiful lynching song ‘Strange Fruit’ there.

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Our Country’s Good, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by an anonymous guest critic

Ramps to the Moon’s Our Country’s Good delivers a production that seamlessly integrates actors with and without disabilities to produce excellent all round performances. Originally written by Timberlake Wertenbaker in 1988, it tells the extraordinary true story of a group of convicts in Australia, who in 1797 with the help of an officer, rehearse and perform a play despite the odds being stacked against them due to strong opposition from the other officers at the settlement.

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Mark Thomas: Showtime from the Frontline, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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by guest critic Joanna Trainor

Mark Thomas knows his audience. He starts the show with a dig at Quentin Lett’s racist review before calling audiences at the Royal Court “a bunch of Tory fuckers,” and the room’s already onside. It’s obvious that almost everyone at the Theatre Royal Stratford East has seen Thomas gig before. The whooping coming from the elderly gentleman sat next to me when he came on stage was particularly lovely.

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Joy, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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An increase in conversations on diversity indicates that people are starting to come round to the importance of more than a token few woman and people of colour on our stages. White male dominance in theatre is increasingly being called out, with some small and mid-sized venues and companies leading the way on diversifying their work. But physical disability draws less attention in the diversity debate, and learning disability even less so.

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My Country; a work in progress, Theatre Royal Stratford East

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After 52% of 72% of the British voting population voted to leave the EU, Rufus Norris’s concern that London theatre was out of touch with the majority of British people drove him to launch a nationwide project of listening. He sent a team of ‘gatherers’ to all corners of these sceptered isles, and they collected 70 interviews from people up and down the country. The transcriptions combined with text by Carol Ann Duffy gave birth to My Country; a work in progress.

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