White people urged not to attend theatre show aimed at black audiences

White theatre-goers have been urged not to buy tickets for a show aimed at black audiences.

The Theatre Royal Stratford East has said white people are not "excluded" from the production Tambo & Bones, they urge white visitors to stay away so the predominantly black audience can watch the show "free from the white gaze".

Tambo & Bones explores 300 years of African-American history and is scheduled to run for one month. But the show on July 5 is being promoted as a 'Black Out' to create a safe space for black audiences to look at race-related issues.

Festus Akinbusoye, Britain's first black Police and Crime Commissioner, said the event set a "poor and dangerous precedent."

"Society is richer and stronger when an understanding of each other's cultures and stories are shared and heard," he told the Telegraph.

"However, I believe the Black Out concept runs contrary to this education and enrichment ethos."

TalkTV's Russell Quirk also condemned the event, saying the decision by the theatre was "draconian."

Speaking to TalkTV's Dr David Bull, he said "It does nothing to help the cause of trying to ensure that cultures within Britain can weld together, exist together, and be harmonious.

"We should embrace ethnicity, we should embrace diversity, not try and cause division as this theatre is doing."

Mr Quirk, who is white, said he had purchased the remaining tickets for the front row of the Black Out show and welcomed anyone to join him to "make sure this is a diverse mix from an ethnicity perspective".

"I'm making a stand just as Ms Rosa Parks did," he said, comparing his move to the black activist who famously refused to give up her seat on a bus in Alabama in 1955, against America's policy of racial segregation.

"We have to make a stand to show that all racism, even if it's well intended positive discrimination - it's not acceptable," he said.

A spokesman for the Theatre Royal Stratford East said: “Black Out night is an initiative which started on Broadway and has been taken up by several London theatres, the spirit of which is congregation, celebration and healing.

“Tambo & Bones, staged at Stratford East, is a bold new play, a satire which actively explores race and what it is to be black. 

“We have chosen to embrace this initiative for one performance, during the play’s month-long run, as a space for black audiences to experience the play as a community.”