News Story

October is Black History Month and this year's theme is ‘Saluting our Sisters’, celebrating black women. It's about raising the voices of those who have had contributions ignored, ideas appropriated, and their voices silenced.

We’d like to put a spotlight on some of the amazing black women who have graced the CFT stage.

Noma Dumezweni

We’ve been lucky enough to welcome Noma to our stage a few times, from Nathan the Wise and The Coffee House (2003), to The Master and Margarita and (as Hippolyta/Titania) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in 2004, and Six Characters in Search of an Author in 2008.

Noma Dumezweni in A Midsummer Night's Dream Image: Clare Park
A busy office covered in lots of books, out of focus in the background sits Lenny Henry looking at Lashana Lynch standing in the foreground wearing a denim jacket, with curly hair hooped earrings and red lipstick.
Lashana Lynch and Lenny Henry in Educating Rita Image: Photographer Manuel Harlan 2015

Lashana Lynch

The names Lynch, Lashana Lynch. She may now be internationally known as the new 007 in the latest Bond film and as Maria Rambeau in the Marvel films but she began her career in theatre. Lashana starred in Educating Rita (2015) opposite Lenny Henry – the only time the roles have been played by black actors in a major stage production.

Sharon D Clarke

Sharon, it goes without saying, is an absolute legend! She starred as Caroline Thibodeaux in Caroline, or Change (2017), in its first UK production since its 2006 National Theatre premiere. It transferred to the West End and Broadway, where Sharon won Olivier and Black British Theatre Awards and was nominated for a Tony and a Grammy.

Sharon D Clarke in Caroline, Or Change Image: Marc Brenner
Nina Sosanya in Platonov Image: Photographer Johan Persson 2015

Nina Sosanya

Nina showed off her versatility playing not one but TWO characters, both called Anna Petrovna, in our Young Chekhov trilogy (2015). Not to brag, but Young Chekhov transferred from CFT to the National Theatre. Nina has starred in major TV dramas like Last Tango in Halifax, W1A and Screw.

Rakie Ayola

Rakie was magic in the UK premiere of Adrienne Kennedy’s autobiographical play Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? (2023), the true story of a young Black playwright trying to make her name in a new world. Coincidentally, both she and Noma Dumezweni played Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child in the West End.

Rakie (playing Adrienne), wearing a silver-coloured, flowing blouse and wide-legged dark trousers is looking out towards the audience with a pensive look on her face.
Rakie Ayola as Adrienne Kennedy in Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? at Chichester Festival Theatre Image: The Other Richard
Susan Wokoma as Adaego in Never Have I Ever at Chichester Festival Theatre Image: Helen Murray 2023

Susan Wokoma

From the screen to the Minerva stage. Susan was here earlier this season in Never Have I Ever playing a role written specially for her by Deborah Frances-White. She has a whole host of film and TV credits including Enola Holmes and Chewing Gum – you can also catch her in the current season of Taskmaster.

Rachelle Diedericks

Talking about our generation... Rachelle was one of the 12 young actors who appeared in Alecky Blythe’s verbatim play Our Generation (2022) here, and at the National Theatre. Rachelle has since returned to the National Theatre playing Mary Warren in The Crucible and is now back at CFT, this time in the Festival Theatre playing Catherine in A View from the Bridge.

A woman in a light grey dress sits on a swing. Her face is in the shadows and behind her the stage is dark, with swirling grey smoke.
Rachelle Diedericks in A View from the Bridge Image: The Other Richard

Want more? Coming up soon in our Winter season on the theme of ‘Saluting Our Sisters’ we have Apphia Campbell in her own play Black is the Color of My Voice, inspired by the life of Nina Simone, and Fantastically Great Women Who Changed The World, a show for all the family exploring the stories of some of history’s strongest women.

Why is Black History Month important? Find out more on the BHM website