Freelance Theatre Practitioner
BA (Hons) Europen Theatre Arts (ETA) 2007
As soon as I completed my ETA studies I made the journey back to my home city of Manchester.
I was fortunate: an opportunity had presented itself at the very moment I was preparing for life beyond Rose Bruford College.
Along within a group of other emerging artists, I began a nine-month creative project with Brazilian theatre company AfroReggae as part of the Contacting the World international theatre festival.
This experience confirmed something I’d originally learned through ETA: that cross cultural learning and collaboration is important, exciting and artistically advantageous, and that everyone has a fundamental right to access and participate in theatre and the arts.
I had found a mission, which still underpins everything I do: to make work of high artistic quality with people who are traditionally underrepresented in theatre, and for a diverse audience. This has led me to take artistic residencies in the community, make live performances in prisons, and work with theatres and arts organisations across the UK.
Most of the work I make engages with the concept of reality and truth and is set in a social context, often focussing on younger audiences. For example I worked on the groundbreaking theatre piece Crystal Kisses (2010) written by Sabrina Mahfouz and Avaez Mohammed, directed by Benji Reid, which dealt with the sexual exploitation of young people. Other examples include Attitude (2015), an interdisciplinary variety show that I directed, based on attitudes towards gender, and Not in My Honour (2017) by Ashia Zia, which tells the story of young people affected by honour-based abuse.
Over the years I’ve been commissioned to make a solo show, have directed a story of seeking asylum, made a visual art exhibition in collaboration with people experiencing homelessness, and worked with a young company to devise a promenade piece that considered creating ‘a world without rules’.
My approach is fundamentally rooted in theatre, in fact in my ETA training, although my role changes from director to facilitator, from consultant to producer. Negotiating this multi-role approach is a skill I picked up during ETA, and has been crucially important in my career.
Through all of this work I’ve developed my own creative methodology, which I am now sharing through consultation with arts organisations. Last year I worked with multi-disciplinary arts centre HOME to develop and deliver a year-long residency for emerging artists.
Continuing this partnership I am currently working in collaboration with artist Ria Hartley and a young company to devise a piece which explores difference, with the performance to be staged later this year.
As I was readying myself to leave the cocoon of Rose Buford in 2007 I did not appreciate the huge challenges ahead, the self doubt, the unpaid rent and the sacrifices I would have to make to establish myself in this industry. Equally, I had no idea how amazing it would feel to be surrounded by incredible artists making innovative work or how nurturing, kind and encouraging other people can be.
I am indebted to ETA, particularly the many tutors and practitioners that sent me on my way inspired and ready to make work. Rose Buford gave me the tools I needed to carve my own path and make a career from something I love, and for that I will always be grateful.
Photo credits: Chris Payne / Rachel Adams / Maria Ruban