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Yvonne Brewster by Richard Hubert Smith

“I’m not going to be faffing around the edges of the fringe, that means I’m something you could cut off … you’re not going to fringe me”.

Yvonne Brewster cofounded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985. Talawa, a Jamaican word for small but mighty, is a description that fits Brewster perfectly.

Photo by Marc Brenner

Yvonne Brewster in conversation with Colin Grant

Jamaican-born playwright Alfred Fagon’s The Death of a Black Man has been revived in 2021. Fagon died in 1986, and past winners of the Alfred Fagon Award introduced in his honour include Michaela Coel. On its 25th anniversary, Colin Grant talks to the director Yvonne Brewster about Fagon’s legacy.

Biography

Yvonne Brewster OBE is a Jamaican-born theatre director and author. She studied speech, drama and mime at the Rose Bruford College and the Royal Academy of Music. In Jamaica, she collaborated with the playwright, Trevor Rhone, to create The Barn, the island’s first professional theatre company. Brewster worked on many films including The Harder They Come, Smile Orange and for BBC TV, The Fight Against Slavery and My Father Sun-Sun Johnson.

In the UK, she cofounded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985. Talawa, a Jamaican word for small but mighty, is a description that fits Brewster perfectly. Her theatre credits include the first all black production of William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, and Frederico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding for the National Theatre.

Yvonne Brewster is a trustee of the Alfred Fagon Award, the author of the memoir, The Undertaker’s Daughter: The Colourful Life of a Theatre Director, and Vaulting Ambition, a history of Jamaica’s innovative Barn Theatre. She has also edited numerous collections of plays.

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