Whoever says theatre is dead has not come across Wright Bro Entertainment. Founded by Tyrone Davis and Kieran Shekoni, this theatre production company is out to make theatre fun again by blending narratives that are culturally relevant, yet thought-provoking.
While they are known for their more recent productions like ‘I Think I Might Cheat On My Girlfriend’ – featuring celebrities like Adeola Patronne – the creators have been shaking up the theatre industry since 2012. We caught up with Tyrone and Kieran to chat about their journey in theatre, highs and lows, and what the future holds.
GUAP: Why theatre?
Tyrone: It’s something different. The film scene in the UK in terms of black cinema is very up-and-coming but there are a lot of black independent filmmakers but for theatre, we wanted to make it more accessible. Theatre is seen as white, middle-class, and boring so we’ve got stereotypical views of theatre but we wanted to show people that theatre can be fun and cool. In summer we talk about festivals and days parties but we never really talk about theatre but we wanted to make theatre a cool motive to go to.
Kieran: Yeah, I totally agree. Also, theatre allows us to be more independent and tell the stories we want to tell on behalf of our culture but for everyone to enjoy. Within cinema and TV very strong stereotypes are pushed onto the black community but there’s other things within our community like love stories, for example. Within theatre we can tell these stories unrestrained and that means a lot to us.
GUAP: Where did both of your journeys with theatre production begin – did it start with Wright Bros?
Tyrone: Many years ago in 2008 I got invited to a youth drama group through a friend and it was actually fun. I told Kieran about it and he really enjoyed it, too. Our passion came from there and they actually asked us to become managers at the youth drama group with no experience but just going off our passion and determination. We started our acting careers at the same time too but with the lack of opportunities for actors, we both came together to create our own stories and put on our own stuff through Wright Bros.
GUAP: When you did create Wright Bros what was the problem you were trying to solve?
Kieran: There were a number of things – like we wanted to balance the narrative and tell different stories by providing a different type of entertainment for people to enjoy in our community. We also wanted to make sure the new generation did not feel limited in their creativity – there’s characters that people can watch on stage and feel inspired by. Like you might see someone on stage who is a lawyer but also has fun and is really cool.
Tyrone: Yeah I definitely agree- all stories are important but we also need to make sure that all stories are told. And just to add to what Kieran said, while we want to inspire we also make sure our shows aren’t preachy. We acknowledge issues but we’re here to entertain and that’s our primary objective.
GUAP: Something that’s unique about your productions is that you take influencers and turn them into actors. Where did that idea come from?
Kieran: Tyrone and I had been writing plays for a long time and we noticed that the word wasn’t spreading and we did not have the funding for advertising. So it’s like how do we get more people to know about this? That was a big challenge for us. We also realised that in order to be able to give opportunities to new talent we need to have a brand and be able to provide. That’s why we reached out to people who are in the industry because they would be able to spread the word. So we’ve worked with Paigey Cakey, Zeze Mills and now we’re working with people like Adeola Patronne. These people are not known to be actors but we sharpen the performance to the point where we know they can do an amazing job on stage. You don’t look on the stage and think that’s an influencer on stage but you say that’s an actor on the stage.
GUAP: Throughout your productions a consistent theme is relational dilemmas and making light of them. How come you both take that angle?
Kieran: It’s because we don’t see enough of it. And I’m not talking about toxic relationship dramas but relationship drama in general. And if you think about films in cinema, how many black couples do you see talking about their experience? You hardly see any.
Tyrone: Touching on black love, it was also key for us to cast all types of black women. Most of our audience is black women and we wanted them to feel like they were coming to see a show where they were seen. We wanted them to feel desired and feel like they’re the ones being pursued and falling in love.
GUAP: What’s next for you guys and Wright Bros?
Tyrone: We just want to keep building what we’re doing. We’re looking at doing some of our shows internationally and that’s just early conversations that we’re having for next year or 2025. We also plan to open up our own theatre so we can have a home for Wrights Bros and it can also be a space for other creatives to use.
Kieran: Yeah and one of our theatre production has actually recently been commissioned for a feature film so it’s definitely exciting times.
Get your tickets for their upcoming show ‘I Think I Might Cheat on Your Girlfriend’ showing from October 26-28th.
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