Lidia Crisafulli

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Talawa Firsts 2015


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.

10 - 26 June 2015


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 fourth season of Talawa Firsts in 2015 featured three new plays and three completely new pieces of work by three artists from our Studio Firsts programme. Additionally, we ran hugely popular skill-building workshops with the BBC, Soho Theatre and Arts Council England.


Struggle by Firdos Ali

Suuban makes a YouTube video explaining how she is doubly discriminated against: she is black and she is Muslim. When the video goes viral she becomes the voice of her community. But her new found fame has unwelcome consequences. MI5 pressure her relentlessly for help preventing teenage girls joining Isis. And some of her community turn against her, digging up secrets from her family's radical past in Somalia.

Firdos Ali studied Chemical Engineering at UCL before pursuing a career in web programming and online marketing. She participated in the Unheard Voices programme at the Royal Court and co-wrote the Ship's Name (Royal Court). Struggle is Firdos's first full-length play.

Even to Live by Safaa Benson-Effiom

"They can come with all their flaws and imperfections and their inadequacies and that's okay, but we HAVE to change otherwise we won't survive here. That's not fair.”

At the peak of her military career, Ari decides to pack it all in and return to civilian life. Is she just fed up with the hypocrisy or is there something else that drives her to bring Jess round to her (and the Infantry's) way of thinking: that this is no place for a woman?

Safaa Benson-Effiom is a playwright, born and raised in London. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Drama and Theatre Arts, she went on to study at RADA, gaining her masters in Text and Performance. Since then, she has written a number of plays focussing on the female experience. Safaa aims not only to explore the varied and complex lives of women but also to gain an understanding from all perspectives, no matter how unpopular or unconventional.

Skipping Rope by David Judge

Skipping Rope tells the story of a mother and daughter struggling to love each other. Only by sifting through the worst things they have done will they finally feel like they belong. Like a skipping rope, the writing beats out a rhythm that articulates the characters' longing to come together. If the rhythm is broken, will the skipping rope become the family's noose?

David Judge is a professional actor from Manchester and is over the moon to be developing his first play, Skipping Rope, with Talawa. After performing his poetry at various events in Manchester over the last couple of years, David was encouraged to transform his poems into plays. With the support of Box of Tricks theatre company (BOTTC) David completed his first draft of Skipping Rope earlier this year and is hoping Talawa and its audience enjoy this stage of Skipping Rope's journey.


How to write a play with Jane Fallowfield, Literary Associate, Talawa and Nina Steiger, Associate Director, Soho Theatre

Ever thought about writing a play? Come along to this practical session led by Jane Fallowfield (Literary Associate, Talawa Theatre Company) and Nina Steiger (Associate Director, Soho Theatre). Writing exercises and games will help draw out ideas from your head and onto the page. Aimed at new writers; no experience necessary.

Telling a story on TV: The Ten Questions with Rachelle Constant, Development Editor, New Talent, BBC and Anne Edyvean, Head of BBC Writersroom, BBC

Rachelle Constant (Development Editor, New Talent) and Anne Edyvean (Head of BBC Writersroom) will lead a workshop on the key ingredients of storytelling. Have you got a story that you think would work perfectly on TV? Find out how to structure and develop your idea, and make your script as strong as it can be. Suitable for brand new and emerging writers; no experience necessary.

Getting your project off the ground with Jonathan Kennedy, Executive Director, Tara Arts/Lead Producer, Black Theatre Live, Richard Kingdom, Greenhouse Project Manager, Farnham Maltings and Pete Staves, Senior Relationship Manager, Theatre and Touring, Arts Council England

Jonathan Kennedy (Executive Director, Tara Arts and Lead Producer, Black Theatre Live), Richard Kingdom (Greenhouse Project Manager, Farnham Maltings) and an as yet to be announced guest will share their experience of supporting work by emerging artists. Following this, they will open up the session to participants who will have the opportunity to get expert advice on their projects. Aimed at producers and theatre-makers with an idea in development, whether that be an idea at the earliest stage of development or a play that has been produced and needs support in giving it a future life.


Amsterdam by Chanje Kunda

What happens when you abandon your responsibilities to chase your dreams? Life is about taking risks. This is a big one. Seduced by the attractions of Amsterdam and a charming Surinamese man she met on holiday, Chanje liberates herself of all the possessions that define her, in favour of a voyage into the unknown. What will be her fate? Amsterdam is an ambitious project fusing theatre, spoken word and music into the high powered, super-modern 21st century play of love and lust. ‘I am not the object of desire – I am desire...'

Chanje Kunda is a poet, playwright and performance artist based in Manchester. She performs nationally and internationally and has performed alongside some of the most influential modern poets including Benjamin Zephaniah and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Some of her prominent performances include features at The Royal Albert Hall, Calabash Literature Festival Jamaica, Royal Exchange Theatre and Latitude Festival. In 2012 she gained a year long artist residency in the Netherlands and she performed in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Eindhoven and Groningen. As a playwright, Chanje has had two full length plays produced. Her Latest play Amsterdam has been touring nationally.

Mixed Bill with Anastasia Osei-Kuffor, Amahra Spence and Suriya Roberts-Grey

See it here first! We are presenting extracts of brand new work, developed during research and development weeks at Talawa's Studio space in May. We put a call out to BAME theatre-makers with an idea for a new piece of theatre. Three were selected to develop their ideas with us and we will be giving you a glimpse of what they have been up to. The three selected artists are: Anastasia Osei-Kuffour, Amahra Spence, and Suriya Roberts-Grey.

Normads by Far From the Norm

Far From the Norm presents a night of ongoing pieces and scratch works. Expect rude awakenings and uncensored thought processes choreographed by Botis Seva.

Delve into an unexplored existence where we dissect, reason, and endeavour to walk amongst our unknown creations. We ask you to question the world you are rejected in and enter a shaded territory as we take you on a hypnotic journey of unlocking the human conventions.

Far from the Norm was established in May 2009 and is a collective of individuals renowned for challenging and inspiring audiences. Far from the Norm dancers all bring distinctive features to the company alongside their approaches to given choreographic and conceptual ideas. Follow us into our world, where we are governed solely by creativity. A place where limitations don't exist; because freedom in movement is what we crave.

Botis Seva is a Freelance Dance Artist and is the Artistic Director and Choreographer of Far From The Norm. His work is usually proclaimed to have a strong spiritual foundation being acknowledged within the hip hop theatre world but also incorporating a contemporary sensibility. As Artistic Director, Botis always endeavours to take his audiences somewhere else using sociological subject matter, continually collaborating with different artistic mediums and dance forms to ingrain his experimental, hip-hop theatre style.

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