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Talawa Firsts 2012


Talawa Firsts kick starts the careers of exciting writers, directors and theatremakers. We create a community of artists who - through Talawa - can meet each other, spark off ideas, build networks and together become the next generation to shape British theatre.

13 - 29 June 2012


Every summer, Talawa's studio becomes a hub of activity as upcoming directors lead development workshops on new plays and theatre-makers refine their work.

The first season launched in 2012, and featured work from Charlene James, Alexander Williams, Cynthia Bernard, Fraser Ayres, Shereen Jasmin Phillips and N Richard Nash.


Dad(die) by Charlene James, directed by Tinuke Craig

Set in a run down bedsit, Dad(die) is the darkly comic tale of an absent father.

Charlene James is a playwright and actor who trained at Birmingham School of Acting and The School at Steppenwolf, Chicago. She is a graduate of the prestigious Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme and currently is one of five writers in residence at Theatre503. She has four plays in development: Handle With Care, Dad(die) (longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award),Lundunand Maybe Father (shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award). Maybe Father was part of Talawa’s Flipping the Script season at the Young Vic in 2011.

Tinuke Craig trained as a director at LAMDA, graduating in 2010 and recently completed the NT Studio Director's Course. Assistant directing credits include: The Changeling at the Young Vic (directed by Joe Hill-Gibbins), Hundreds and Thousands at Soho Theatre (directed by Lisa Spiring), Out of Sight/Out of Mind at Trestle and The Tempest at Theatre Royal, Haymarket (directed by Trevor Nunn).Directing credits include: One Million Tiny Plays About Britain by Craig Taylor (Young Vic), Buy me Love by Rosa Connor (24 Hour Plays, Old Vic), Waiting for Lefty by Clifford Odets (Theatre Royal, Haymarket), Old Bag by Afsaneh Gray (Theatre503), Unmanned by Laura Stevens (Riverside Studios) and Abortive by Caryl Churchill (Albany). Tinuke is a Resident Director of Equal Measure, an associate of Juncture Theatre and a script reader for Theatre 503.

Rise by Cynthia Bernard, directed by Anthony Ekundayo Lennon

Rise looks at the unseen side of gang violence and the effects on the families left behind.

Cynthia Bernard is dedicated to writing brave, exciting drama. Her stage play Rise was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award 2011 and longlisted for the 2011 Bruntwood Prize, reaching the final 100 out of over 2,000 entries. Rise also reached the penultimate round of the 2011 Verity Bargate Award. In 2010, Nine Night was staged in three theatres: Bush Theatre in London, Halifax Square Chapel and Theatre in the Mill in Bradford. Cynthia recently completed the advanced invitation studio writers group at the Royal Court Theatre and attended a BBC masterclass.

Anthony Ekundayo Lennon as just completed his work as the Assistant and Staff Director for Michael Buffong’s National Theatre production of Moon On A Rainbow Shawl. As part of the engagement he directed the National Theatre’s readings as part of the Exploring Black British Plays event and the National’s Platform of Trinidadian Writings. He was Assistant and Resident Director for the West End production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (Novello Theatre 2009/10) directed by Debbie Allen. He directed Winsome’s Daughter as part of Talawa Theatre Company’s Flipping the Script season at the Young Vic and was AD to Michael Buffong at the Almeida Theatre for Crawling in the Dark (2011). 

Keepsake by Fraser Ayres, directed by Nadia Latif - Wednesday 27 June 2012
Presented in association with TriForce

The Prime Minister has been kidnapped and is being held in a council flat on an estate. The captor is not insane or disturbed; simply, he has had enough.

As an actor Fraser Ayres has undertaken a wide range of work in  TV, film and theatre; he featured in Intimacy, Revengers Tragedy, The Smoking Room and AdultHood and he has performed at the National Theatre, Royal Court and Royal Stratford East. He received numerous accolades and awards for his performances including; Time Out Best Performer, Herald Angel Best Actor Edinburgh Festival and a Fringe First. Over the past five years Fraser has turned his attention to writing, and has been honing his skills with a number of organisations and individuals including development with the BBC, Greyscale Theatre Company, Michael Jacob and Pete Thornton as well as various commissions of his own work. He has also been developing his talents as a Director and Producer on a variety of projects including Chizzy Akudolu’s Rec Room and Noel Clarke’s The Play with his company TriForce Promotions, of which he is Co- Founder and Managing Director.

Nadia LAtif trained as a director at RADA under William Gaskill. She works almost exclusively in new writing, and has worked with writers including Rex Obano, Nimer Rashed, Abi Morgan, Ben Ockrent, Ella Hickson, Sarah Solemani, Naomi Wallace, Georgia Fitch, Simon Stephens, David Greig, Sarah Grochala, Samuel Adamson, Lynn Nottage, Brad Birch, Kristiana Colon, Alecky Blythe and more. She was Associate Director of Theatre503 from 2009 - 2011.

Talawa Firsts Hotspots

Stronger written and directed by Alexander Williams - Friday 15 June 2012
Presented by Golden Delilah as part of HotSpots

Three women speaking, first as one but then emerging as three distinct, powerful voices, Stronger takes a look at what it means to be a black woman in the UK today. 

Alexander is a singer, writer, actor and director. He’s twice been a member of the prestigious Royal Court Writers Groups and his play Thyestes received a three star review from Guardian theatre critic Michael Billington during its run at the Battersea Arts Centre (2008). His short comedy One Day on the Train was enjoyed at both the Golden Delilah project at the Hackney Empire and the Jackson’s Lane Theatre. He is a founding member of London playwright collective Scriptonite and has presented many readings of his plays at the Old Red Lion and Lauderdale House, including OpheliaKing CalibanSins of the Father and The Lost Children.

Cortae by Shereen Jasmin Phillips, directed by Stef O’Driscoll - Friday 22 June 2012
Produced by Palesa Mokoena as part of HotSpots

Cortae is a young Black man living in inner city London.  Follow him on his journey of self discovery as he struggles to reconcile being true to himself with trying to please the ones he loves.

Shereen Jasmin Phillips graduated from Central School of Speech and Drama in 2010. She was part of the Royal Court's Young Writers’ Programme and Invitation Studio Group where she developed Cortae, which was longlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award in 2010. Theatre credits include: I Love You, I'm Just Not In Love With You (Lyric Lounge, Lyric Hammersmith), Hidden (Heat & Light, Hampstead Theatre), There is no conflict without drama (OVNV 24 Hour plays 2011, Old Vic), Thin Line Inbetween (OVNV IGNITE 5, Waterloo East Theatre), Hidden (Ovalhouse, 33% Festival) and Park Bench (Company of Angels, Notre Dame School).

Stef O'Driscoll is the Associate Director at the Lyric Hammersmith and her credits as Associate include: Mogadishu (UK Tour), A Midsummer Night's Dream (Filter/ Lyric Hammersmith) and Alice By Heart (NT Connections). Prior to this Stef was the Assistant Director on the Lyric's Olivier Award-winning revival of Sarah Kane's Blasted. Other directing credits include the award winning Yard Gal (Oval House Theatre), When Women Wee (Soho Theatre), No Longer I (Public Theatre NY) The 24 Hour Plays 2010 (Old Vic), Mother (Theatre 503) and Country Feedback (Time Warner Ignite). Stef is also the Associate Director of Paines Plough and the Artistic Director of Dirty Stop-Out whose latest show A Guide to Second Date Sex will premiere at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Echoes by N Richard Nash, directed by Erica Miller - Friday 29 June 2012

Living in an asylum, a couple fights to remain happily mad, as all they fear is sanity.

By arrangement with William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, NY and Samuel French Ltd.

N. Richard Nash (June 8, 1913–December 11, 2000) was a writer and dramatist best known for writing Broadway shows, including The Rainmaker and The Happy Time (1968, nominated for the Tony Award for Best Musical). He worked as a ten dollar per match boxer and graduated from South Philadelphia High School in 1930 before entering the University of Pennsylvania to study English and Philosophy. Nash wrote a number of screenplays, novels and plays, including the screenplays for the 1947 Ann Sheridan film noir vehicle, Nora Prentiss, The Sainted Sisters (1948), Helen of Troy (1956), Porgy and Bess (1959), and later One Summer Love (1976) and Between the Darkness and the Dawn (1985). Other Broadway shows include Girls of Summer (1956), Handful of Fire (1958), 110 in the Shade (1963, revived in 2007). 

Erica Miller:After studying Theology, Fine & Decorative Arts and acting, Erica has arrived at the perfect artistic mix in directing. She was trained by the Young Vic and StoneCrabs Theatre and mostly works in new writing. Erica enjoys the creative challenge of working with writers. She is fascinated by the reaction and interaction of people experiencing the world around them. Recent credits include: Gorilla Banana by Lisa Carroll (XY for Papercut Theatre/Theatre 503), Articlesby Isley Lynn (Occupied Times: Living Newspaper of the Occupy Movement/Arcola) and Take Me 2 Manhattan by Maxine Quintyne-Kolaru (Talawa’s Flipping the Script/Young Vic).

Talawa would like to thank the Almeida Theatre for their assistance on Talawa Firsts.

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