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BiBi Crew, founded in 1991, was the first British comedy troupe to consist entirely of Black actresses. [1] [2] Their work focuses on the Black British experience.


In 1991, Joanne Campbell, Judith Jacob, Janet Kay, Suzette Llewellyn, Josephine Melville, Beverley Michaels and Suzanne Packer founded BiBi Crew in London. [1] According to Jacob and Michaels, the group was founded in response to The Posse, a comedy group made up of Black actors. [3] [4] Michaels saw the troupe perform and thought "there should be a group of women doing this" and contacted the other women involved. [3] Campbell has stated that the group formed after a memorial benefit at the Theatre Royal Stratford East to celebrate the life of actor Calvin Simpson, in which a few of the troupe members participated. [5]

The troupe's name combines the word for lady in Swahili and Urdu, with the use of the word crew, which was popular with American music groups, [3] and which the group thought gave them some "street cred". [5] They were all of " Caribbean descent", [6] and "devised and produced work with an African Caribbean perspective" that drew on their personal experiences. [1]:74 They wrote, directed, produced and acted in their productions, which combined music, dance, drama and sketch comedy [1]:44 They were regular performers at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and contributed to the theatre's mission to reflect the diversity of Newham where it was located. [2]:305 They also toured throughout the United Kingdom and United States. [7]:20


BiBi Crew reunited in 2005 without Campbell, who died in 2002, and Kay, who was pursuing a career in music. [8]


They contributed to the emergence of a black comedy circuit in Britain in the 1990s. [9] [10] Along with groups such as The Posse, they "introduced a new energized performance style into diasporic theatre in the early 1990s that was breaking away from old categories and attracting a black audience with sketch-like material, often highly political, rooted in common experience" [11]:195 Additionally, their performances at the Theatre Royal Stratford East helped to inspire the subsequent Asian revue series. [7]:20


See also


  1. ^ a b c d Abram, Nicola (2020), Abram, Nicola (ed.), "Theatre of Black Women", Black British Women's Theatre: Intersectionality, Archives, Aesthetics, Cham: Springer International Publishing, pp. 23–84, doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-51459-4_2, ISBN  978-3-030-51459-4, retrieved 2020-10-28
  2. ^ a b Donnell, Alison (2002-09-11). Companion to Contemporary Black British Culture. Routledge. ISBN  978-1-134-70025-7.
  3. ^ a b c Porter, Toby (2018-07-20). "Writer and producer Beverley Michaels, talks about her upcoming show at The Albany Deptford". South London News. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  4. ^ "Judith Jacob (The Raunchy Interview)", Ebony Online, 2017-10-12.
  5. ^ a b "The BiBi Crew". The Late Show, BBC2, 1992.
  6. ^ "Suzanne Packer talks about her time in comedy group The Bibi Crew". The Sian Williams Interview, BBC One, 2014-04-23.
  7. ^ a b Ikoli, Tunde (1998-08-26). Scrape off the Black. Oberon Books. ISBN  978-1-84943-892-6.
  8. ^ "About BiBi Crew. Story of BiBi Crew making people think and laugh". mysite. Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  9. ^ Starck, Kathleen (2006). "'Black and female is some of who I am and I want to explore it': black women's plays of the 1980s and 1990s". Studies in Theatre and Performance. 26 (1): 49–67. doi: 10.1386/stap.26.1.49/1. ISSN  1468-2761. S2CID  194089831.
  10. ^ Aston, Elaine; Janelle, Reinett; Reinelt, Janelle (2000). The Cambridge Companion to Modern British Women Playwrights. Cambridge University Press. ISBN  978-0-521-59533-9.
  11. ^ Chambers, Colin (2020-12-18). Black and Asian Theatre In Britain: A History. Routledge. ISBN  978-1-134-21689-5.
  12. ^ Gardner, Lyn (27 May 1993). "Arts: Giggers with attitude". The Guardian.
  13. ^ "On A Level | BPA". Retrieved 2020-10-28.
  14. ^ "But Stop! We Got Work To Do | BPA". Retrieved 2020-10-28.

External links