Our White Skoda Octavia
After (literally!) years of working with Eastern Angles and Shamser Sinha (the fantastic writer of this theatre piece), on this project, we have an Autumn tour coming up (supported by Arts Council England). See here for dates/times: Our White Skoda Octavia
This wonderful script tells the story of the Afridi family – Amjad, Rabia and their kids Faisal & Yasmin. They live in a small town in the East of England. Amjad is a taxi-driver with his eyes set on acquiring a White Skoda Octavia. But he is haunted by past events. Rabia is frustrated – she is bright and ambitious and looking towards new horizons. Young Faisal and Yasmin have their fair share of teenage frustrations and sibling tussles which, as they get older, take on new meaning. And throughout, there is the poignant and rhythmic heartbeat of the tabla and the familiar and often very funny and brilliantly-observed soundtrack of family conversation. But I’m biased! Come and see for yourself.
It’s great to be working as Freelance Creative Producer on this project. Can’t wait to get in the rehearsal room with director Sameena Hussain, assistant director Mandeep Kaur Glover, designer Rachana Jadhav, sound designers Eilon Morris and Zoe Katsilerou, lighting designer Steve Cooney, and the rest of the company. It’s an Eastern Angles production in association with Derby Theatre and Essex Cultural Diversity Project.
Stow & Tell – the development of a new script (Guncotton)
Back in July 2020 I was awarded a Project Grant from Arts Council England to R&D new script focusing on what it is like to grow up in a rural environment. With writer (Martha Loader) and director (Scott Hurran) I ran a series of community engagement sessions with a group of young people based at The Mix in Stowmarket with the aim of understanding how these participants feel, and to give a platform to their stories and experiences, and also give them an insight into the theatre-making process. The young people’s ideas and thoughts were expressed through drama workshops and written words, but also through submitting digital content; sound, photography and voice recordings (e.g. the poster above uses a photograph submitted by one of our participants). In April, we brought together three actors (Rose-Marie Christian, Rosalind Burt and Ben Castle-Gibb) to help workshop the script and film a script-in-hand performance at The John Peel Centre. This recording was shared with an online audience in July 2021. See the film here. In addition to Arts Council funding, this project has benefited from financial support from Suffolk County Council and in-kind support from The John Peel Centre, Eastern Angles, Bury Theatre Royal and The Garage.
Sheelagh – written & performed by Zoe Wells.
It was great to be asked to work as Producer on this ACE-funded project. In common with all projects taking place during this time, it involved a lot of re-scheduling and willingness to be flexible on the part of all members of the team. But the joy of finally getting into a rehearsal room at Theatre Deli with Zoe, Jules and Laura and sharing the script with other people was definitely worth the wait. This powerful, authentic, semi-autobiographical piece of writing charts the journey of one young woman as she comes to terms with growing-up, the pull of the city, life and career choices and the grief of losing a parent. Zoe described the process perfectly when she said; “This period of research and development has been about discovering what brings these words off the page. About finding a physical language for the play, as well as refining the character’s emotional journey. For me as a creator, it has also been a chance to explore what it means to be both writer and performer. For me, Sheelagh is about loss. It’s about losing our heart, sometimes losing our minds, what it means to lose our identity, and the ultimate impact of losing those we hold dearest”.
Booming Voices – schools engagement
May – July 2021:
As part of the Broads Authority‘s Water Mills & Marshes project, and supported by the Heritage Fund, Eastern Angles are producing a new play (Booming Voices) inspired by interviews and workshops with children and adults who live and work on the Suffolk/Norfolk Broads. As Creative Producer, I have been gathering information and stories, talking to local people and helping to research and develop the project. During the Spring and early Summer of 2021, I interviewed teenagers from Framingham Earl High School and facilitated a series of workshops (pictured below) at Fairhaven C of E VA Primary School in South Walsham (in collaboration with poet Dean Parkin and actor Rosalind Burt). See what we got up to with Oak Class at Fairhaven Primary School here.
Tamed – Virtual Chorus
After many months of working with director/dramaturg/writer/actor Sarah Calver and her company Flight of the Escales as Producer on the project TAMED we were finally able to navigate the pandemic situation and assemble a group of seven fantastic women participants from the Ipswich area (photo shows Evie White) for a week of in-person R&D filming. Sarah and videographer Cate Blanchard worked with the group to explore how women conform to and rebel against the status quo and how our behaviour has been conditioned and tamed by the societies we live in. The R&D investigated how a filmed chorus of ‘Kates’ might provide a thought-provoking and playful digital audio/visual companion to a final (future!) live performance inspired by ‘The Taming of the Shrew’. Ultimately, the project was a celebration of female voices highlighting the strength and uniqueness of womanhood.
Beneath The Banner – R&D with Up The Road Theatre Company
Nicola Pollard (Artistic Director of Up The Road Theatre Company) invited me to work as Associate Producer on her Arts Council England-funded R&D project exploring the untold of stories and experiences of members of the coalmining community. It was great to catch up with Nic and filmmaker Rich Swainson (both of whom I had worked with before). It was also fantastic to be able to base our R&D week at one of my favourite venues, Colchester Arts Centre, where the welcome and kind support from Ant Roberts and his team is always guaranteed. Over two online days, and three in-person days, Nicola worked with actors Tiegan Byrne and Robin Kingsland and designer Emma Tompkins exploring the script (Beneath The Banner) and the storytelling possibilities. Hopefully this production, intended for small-scale, rural touring venues, will find its way in front of audiences in the near future.
Our White Skoda Octavia by Shamser Sinha
Following two ACE-funded development readings in Peterborough at Metal Culture in Peterborough and at Southwark Playhouse supported by Eastern Angles, Shamser has been re-visiting and redrafting his script. Now we are entering the next exciting phase…talking to potential co-producers. This contemporary story uses humour, tragedy and rhythm to highlight the experience of a typical working-class British Pakistani family living in an English town. Our aim is to share this story by touring the play to small-scale venues and fringe/studio theatres across the country.
Footsteps Audio Trail
I’ve been working with the Women’s Voice’s Women’s Votes ‘Footsteps’ committee to produce an audio trail version of Martha Loader’s promenade play commemorating the lives and achievements of the Ipswich Suffragettes. It’s performed by Martha and Henri Merriam, with additional narration from Pat Whymark. The play is based on the book ‘A Song of their Own’ by Joy Bounds. And the project was supported by the Eastern Angles ‘Playwrights East’ initiative. Use soundcloud.com to listen live on your smart phone or download the audio trail to your desktop: https://soundcloud.com/user-969157779-676084807/footsteps-the-story-of-the-ipswich-suffragettes
Arts Council England – Developing Your Creative Practice
I’ve been awarded funding from Art Council England which will enable me to develop my skills as a freelance producer.
My grant was made possible thanks to the Arts Council’s Developing your Creative Practice programme, a new development fund designed to support independent creative practitioners. With the support of this scheme, so far I have attended the 2019 Family Arts Conference in Liverpool, become a member of the Independent Theatre Council and signed-up to a number of their training courses and joined the National Rural Touring Forum. I am also spending time meeting other Creative Practitioners, sharing knowledge, seeing inspirational and innovative work, and researching and developing my own theatre-making ideas.
Satellites – written & performed by Natalie Songer
We spent the evening at The Garage on October 4th taking part in the All In Productions Scratch Night. And now, team ‘Satellites’ (Natalie Songer, Nick Barton-Wines, Calum Paterson and me) are busy plotting our next move. First-up will be more script development and rehearsal, then a work-in-progress performance and chatting to industry contacts at Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday 10th December…and then some serious 2020 planning! Subject to funding, we aim to tour the show in Spring 2021 kicking-off with a performance at Colchester Arts Centre on Wednesday March 10th 2021.
Edith – in the beginning
Having completed my initial contract with Stuff of Dreams Theatre Co (funded by StartEast), I am now back working with the company on an Arts Council England – funded project exploring the life of Edith Pretty. We’ve staged a series of atmospheric, outdoor, site-specific performances, at Sutton Hoo National Trust, of a new play based on the life of Edith Pretty and the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon treasure by Karen Forbes, directed by Cordelia Spence. All three shows sold out….! The next stage of the project is to deliver three creative writing workshops with participants in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich in partnership with Colchester + Ipswich Museums, Theatre Royal Bury and The Garage. And finally….we will perform the play once again with the support of Eastern Angles and Colchester + Ipswich Museums at The Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich on Saturday 9th November 2019. Tickets: http://www.easternangles.co.uk
July 2019 – January 2020:
This week I’m beginning work on an exciting new project with Norwich-based theatre-maker Natalie Songer. Satellites is a piece of self-performed, autobiographical storytelling created by Natalie. Here’s how she describes this amazing, true family story: “It’s a bittersweet, intimate epic in which two brothers, my great-uncles, are separated by war. One flourishes in one of humanity’s biggest successes, the space programme, whilst the other is lost in one of humanity’s biggest failures, the concentration camp system. Eighty years later, I try to reunite them.” We will be sharing the work at Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday 10th December and before that at The Garage Norwich on Friday 4th October.
English Civil War – two new plays
June – September 2019:
I’m working with Keeper’s Daughter, Play Nicely, and Stuff of Dreams on the research and development of two new Arts Council England funded plays….The Numerous & Various Assassinations of Oliver Cromwell, and English Civil Whores…..sharings happening at the Key Theatre Peterborough and the Seagull Theatre Lowestoft in September!
Our White Skoda Octavia
May – July 2019:
I was asked by Eastern Angles to produce two sharings of a new script by Ipswich-based playwright Shamser Sinha. The play, Our White Skoda Octavia, was based on Shamser’s own experience of living in Ipswich and using taxis on a regular basis. Shamser interviewed taxi-drivers from Ipswich and Peterborough, using their verbatim accounts to inform his writing. The result is a script using humour, tragedy and rhythmic drum beats to explore themes of broken marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, health, manhood, local politics, the credit-crunch, Brexit, and the working-class British Pakistani experience. We shared the script to guests and Creative Industry colleagues in Peterborough and at Southwark Playhouse. The hope is that this play will have a future life as a co-produced touring production. Watch this space!
Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company
November 2018 to July 2019:
I am working as a Creative Producer for Stuff of Dreams, a new role funded by Start East. Based in Norfolk, Stuff of Dreams are a fantastically energetic and exciting rural touring theatre company, led by Artistic Director Cordelia Spence, telling East Anglian stories and employing local home-grown talent. Current projects include An Honest Gentleman, the story of Aylsham-born highwayman Thomas Easter, a summer season of outdoor Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, and a new site-specific production, developed in collaboration with the National Trust at Sutton Hoo, telling the story of Edith Pretty.
The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps – Murray Lachlan Young
December 2018 to 2020:
Matthew Linley, asked me to join ‘team Murray Lachlan Young’ and help promote Murray’s new project The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps. How could I refuse? This is a brilliantly gothic, epic-poem that has morphed into a stage performance and a VR experience and is designed to appeal to family audiences. All the info here: www.raddleshammumps.co.uk
Delivered by Freemans – Eastern Angles
Whilst working for Eastern Angles I had been involved in the research, development and production of their Heritage Lottery funded project Delivered by Freemans. Focusing on the stories and experiences of people who worked at the huge Freemans Catalogue Distribution Centre in Peterborough, the project involved gathering oral histories, delivering schools workshops, creating an exhibition and producing a community play, staged at The Undercroft and directed by Poppy Rowley, entitled All Wrapped Up in Westwood. One of my first freelance jobs post-Eastern Angles was to evaluate this fantastic project which struck such a nostalgic chord with the Peterborough population.
Footsteps – the story of the Ipswich Suffragettes
Sept – October 2018:
The Women’s Voices Women’s Votes Festival organisers approached me with the idea of producing a theatre work to celebrate the contribution of Ipswich Suffragettes. We decided to create a piece of free, promenade-style theatre that would take the audience on a journey through the streets of Ipswich. Playwright Martha Loader (of Tusk Theatre) was commissioned to write the script (supported by Eastern Angles Playwrights East) based largely on the book ‘A Song of their Own’ by Joy Bounds. The production, Footsteps, was directed by Natalie Songer with two actors (Hayley Evenett and Paisley Pascal) playing the part of time-travelling heritage guides assuming the roles of various prominent Suffragettes. With the help of community participants (see above) we delivered six well-attended street performances….people watched and marched, and the sun shone!