Time to shine for ethnic minority performers at Leeds theatre

by Hayley Longster

Eight of Leeds’ most talented young performers will star in a one-off showcase at the West Yorkshire Playhouse tonight, in an event which aims to give exposure to artists from ethnic minorities.

Get Seen 2015 will feature a different ten minute piece from each of the eight performers, who range from actors and dancers to performance poets and singer songwriters.

Misha Harris [left] and Amanda Huxtable [right] from Get Seen 2015

Misha Harris [left] and Amanda Huxtable [right] from Get Seen 2015

Measha Harris, a 21-year-old performing arts graduate from Stage 84, Bradford, is one of the selected few and will perform a movement and monologue piece.

She said: “I think this event is fantastic. It helps people like myself to get out there, get seen and be a part of performing arts in Yorkshire, and the world. At the moment there’s not a lot of ethnic minority actors in mainstream TV.

“Hopefully events like this will help to inspire people to get involved themselves, to feel like they can be a part of something and not shy away from their opportunities.”

As part of her selection for the showcase, Measha has been rehearsing with her own professional mentor, Amanda Huxtable, a producer and director.

Amanda says of the Get Seen event: “This is a good opportunity to do something I aim to do in my own career which is to help support and sustain the presence of young emerging artists from ethnic minority backgrounds in the performing arts.

“This industry can be quite isolating and ruthless. The biggest problem is always recognition, and events like this should help try and rectify that. It’s about fairness and equality of opportunity, basically.”

The Get Seen 2015 show has been organised by charity Sustained Theatre Artists in Yorkshire [STAY] in partnership with Arts Council England, West Yorkshire Playhouse, CidaCo and West Yorkshire Theatre Network.

The showcase will take place at a point in time where diversity in the arts is shooting up the news agenda. The national Act For Change campaign, which has a similar agenda to STAY, has gained support from high profile figures such as Stephen Fry and Shame Chakrabarti.

Kay Brown, representative of STAY, said: “The key thing for us is create opportunities for artists outside London. Professional development is also one of our big things at STAY – people need someone to teach them about the less sexy areas of being an artist.

“Things like pitching, staying afloat financially, turning their performances into a business, all that stuff. That’s a big part of why we get people like Amanda involved.”

Tickets for Get Seen are still available from the West Yorkshire Playhouse box office or on the door tonight.

Information about the artists who will be performing can be found at: https://www.wyp.org.uk/events/get-seen-2015-leeds/

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