Temba, theatre company and the Black Theatre Collection: records

Scope and Content

Press cuttings and photographs from Temba productions. Also press cuttings about theatre by other black and Asian companies and theatre practitioners in the UK and internationally. Also small amounts of cuttings about dance, music, comedy, film, radio and television involving black and Asian people. Most of the material relates to works involving black people, with smaller amounts of material relating to Asian people.

Administrative / Biographical History

Temba Theatre Company was founded by Alton Kumalo in 1972. The initial aim was to produce new black writing from the UK and South Africa. The word Temba is said to mean 'Hope' in Zulu. Temba staged the first British production of Sizwe Bansi is Dead by Athol Fugard, John Kani and Winston Ntshona, as well as many world premieres, including Black Slaves, White Chains by Mustapha Matura.

In 1984 Alby James took over as Artistic Director and sought to create new audiences for the company. More world premieres were put on, including Back Street Mammy by Trish Cooke, Glory! by Felix Cross and Streetwise by Benjamin Zephaniah. Staff at Temba collected press cuttings about their own activities but also about theatre and other cultural events involving black and Asian people and some political issues, such as the cultural boycott of South Africa and UK arts funding. The company closed in 1992, due to the withdrawal of funding by the Arts Council of Great Britain.


Material relating to Temba's productions has been arranged chronologically, other material has been arranged alphabetically, in the following series:

  • THM/77/1 - Press cuttings about Temba productions
  • THM/77/2 - Press cuttings about productions involving black and Asian people, other than Temba productions
  • THM/77/3 - Press cuttings about Shakespeare productions involving black and Asian people
  • THM/77/4 - Press cuttings about black and Asian theatre companies and festivals
  • THM/77/5 - Press cuttings about black and Asian theatre practitioners
  • THM/77/6 - Photographs of Temba productions
  • THM/77/7 - Scripts relating to Productions byTemba

Access Information

This archive collection is available for consultation in the V&A Blythe House Archive and Library Study Room by appointment only. Full details of access arrangements may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Access to some of the material may be restricted. These are noted in the catalogue where relevant.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Temba, 1993.

Conditions Governing Use

Information on copying and commercial reproduction may be found here: http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/a/archives/.

Appraisal Information

This collection was appraised in line with the collection management policy.

Custodial History

This material came to the V&A after the company closed in 1993.


No further accruals expected.

Related Material

See also the Department of Theatre and Performance core collections: material relating to Temba may be found in several collections, including production files, company files, theatre buildings files, biographical files for related persons, and photographs. Please ask for details.

Scripts have been removed and transferred to the V&A Theatre and Performance library collections. Programmes and flyers have been removed and transferred to the V&A Theatre and Performance core collections.

Personal Names