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Soho Theatre strengthens its theatre team

Mon 31 October 2016

LONDON’S MOST VIBRANT VENUE FOR NEW WORK STRENGTHENS ITS THEATRE TEAM AND ANNOUNCES ITS LATEST CROP OF NEW TALENT

Soho Theatre has a packed festival programme and recent weeks have seen the cult hit Fleabag break box office records, twelve shows filmed for its fledgling Soho Theatre Live TV and digital offer, two UK tours, and its latest crop of Soho Young Company’s Comedy and Writers’ Labs commence.

Behind this is an extensive artist development programme, identifying artists at the beginning of their career and nurturing the talent of the future.

Today Soho Theatre announces two important new appointments to its Artistic Team (Associate Director and new post Associate Dramaturg); its commission of six artists on the Soho Six programme; and reveals the winner of its 2016 Young Writer’s Award.

- Theatre director and producer Charlotte Bennett becomes Soho Theatre’s new Associate Director

- Playwright, dramaturg and director Adam Brace becomes Soho Theatre’s Associate Dramaturg

- Six playwrights join our Soho Six programme, where they will be working with Charlotte, Adam and the company for a year, developing their artistic practise and being commissioned to develop a new piece: – Daniel AlicandroJessie CaveTheresa Ikoko – Writing partners Samson Kayo and Robert WhitelockRachel WagstaffCaligula’s Alibi (Writer Jonnie Bayfield and Director Will Cowell)

- Adam Narat becomes the 2016 Young Writer’s Award winner for his play Birthright

Artistic Director Steve Marmion on the new Associate appointments: “I’m thrilled to be welcoming two theatrical heavyweights to our team at Soho Theatre. Both join our already thriving team who have built this season’s incredible season of mostly home grown work. I hope that they enrich the work and the development of the work for our stages with their unique talents and new insights; increasing capacity to work across the genres we have on stage and to look under more unusual and hard to reach stones to find voices we haven’t heard from yet.”

As Artistic Director of Forward Theatre Project for seven years, Charlotte Bennett has directed at the National Theatre, Live Theatre, York Theatre Royal, Northern Stage and Latitude Festival. She is currently directing their next production GENESIS, which comes to Soho Theatre next month. And, for the last three years, she has also worked as Producer for RashDash, producing their last four national tours, including their latest Edinburgh Festival Fringe hit Two Man Show, which is set to return next year following its sold out four week season last month in Soho Theatre Upstairs.

“Soho Theatre is the place I look to first when planning a night out at the theatre. Its vibrant, daring and accessible programme brings to the stage things you can’t see anywhere else. Pushing boundaries in their ambition, commissioning and scale of work, it is everything a theatre should be. Following ten years of working freelance in new writing and contemporary theatre, I have worked with a great range of writers and theatre makers to get their work seen across the country. It is an exciting next step in my career to now be joining an organisation with whom I gained my very first assistant directing role in London in 2007, who share my passion of championing innovative artists. I’ve been lucky enough to develop a relationship with Soho Theatre throughout my freelance career, so am delighted to now be joining them as their new Associate Director,” said Charlotte Bennett.

Since 2013 Adam Brace has been Associate Dramaturg at Nuffield Theatre, Southampton, and prior to that as Associate at the Gate Theatre, London. Adam’s first full length play Stovepipe had an eight week run in collaboration with the National Theatre, and his second They Drink it in the Congo was produced by the Almeida Theatre this year. His other dramaturgy work has included Letters to Windsor House by Sh!t Theatre (Fringe First winner, 2016) and The One by Vicky Jones (Verity Bargate Award winner, 2013), and he has directed and script edited more than 20 live comedy shows, working with acts such as Ahir Shah, Alex Edelman, Massive Dad and Markus Birdman.

Asked about his new appointment, Adam Brace said, “Soho Theatre is a vital space for the most exciting new work in the country. Across many theatrical forms, from new writing, performance art, comedy and cabaret – as well as their shows that defy classification – Soho has been a home for some of my favourite work of the past decade. I am delighted to join this essential creative hub and collaborate with the most exciting writers, artists and comedians. I hope I can help them continue to challenge audiences with vital socio-political or socio-sexual questions, while remaining unafraid to entertain.”

Under commission and in residence for a year, Soho Six plays a key role in Soho Theatre’s Vision to develop and support writers. Generously supported by The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation and Jack and Linda Keenan, the Soho Six are six artists under commission and in residence for a year as they create new work for our stages. The programme immerses them in the life of Soho Theatre through regular contact with staff, artists and leadership, as they get to know our audiences, our building and the positive impact of five other artists. Soho Six alumni include Bryony Kimmings, Max & Ivan, Phil Porter, Charlotte Josephine, Arinze Kene and Rita Kalnejais whose commission First Love is the Revolution premiered this time a year ago here at Soho Theatre to much acclaim.

Soho Theatre are proud to announce the following as our Soho Six playwrights for 2016/17:

Daniel Alicandro whose first play Copperfield was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award in 2013, his second play Myfanwy and the Underwood was shortlisted for Verity Bargate Award in 2015. “I’m grateful, astounded and if I’m really honest, slightly freaking out at the opportunity…I remember swearing a lot when I found out the news because it’s both incredible to have Soho Theatre’s support and commitment. Also it’s massively terrifying…”

Writer/performer and illustrator Jessie Cave whose live work includes two sell-out runs of her 2012 Edinburgh show Bookworm at Soho Theatre and four sell-out runs of her second solo show I Loved Her. Film and television work includes playing Lavender Brown in the Harry Potter series, Heather in Sky One’s Trollied and her first book of illustrations Lovesick was published by Ebury this summer. “I am so honoured to be part of the Soho Six. It was a complete dream to have performed my shows at the Soho Theatre and now I can’t wait to write a new “play” specifically for it. I aim to create something unique and honest and visually brave and bizarre. And ideally…funny.”

Theresa Ikoko who is currently enjoying a hugely successful five week season in our theatre with her play Girls, co-produced by Soho Theatre, HighTide and Talawa Theatre Company (winner Alfred Fagon Award 2015, joint winner George Devine award 2016 and shortlisted, with judges commendation, for Verity Bargate Award 2015). _“Being a part of Soho Theatre over the last nine months has been great fun. Soho has become a safe place and the staff are trusted
confidants and advisors. Being able to extend that relationship for, at least, another year makes me feel confident that the work I want to make will be protected and I will be able to grow as a story teller, in a fun and supportive environment.”_

Writing partners Samson Kayo and Robert Whitelock. Actor and writer Samson Kayo is most known for his work on Youngers, Aliens and as writer / actor on The Javone Prince Show along with his role in First Love is the Revolution here last year. “I love what Soho Theatre represents in terms of opportunity, variety and diversity so when I was asked to be a part of Soho Six I jumped at the opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with the Soho team again!”

Stage and screen actor, writer and accomplished artist Robert Whitelock whose body of work ranges from seasons for the Royal Shakespeare Company to The Tricycle, appearing in The Bank Job, Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa, Marcella for ITV and primetime staples Dr Who, Silent Witness to authoring non-fiction works, short films and adapting Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for audio production. “Being on the Soho Six with my writing partner Samson means that we can explore in depth ideas that we’ve had. It also gives us the opportunity to experience the work of our contemporaries who are exploring similar themes and watch their approach to them, and all within the safe haven of a universally praised theatrical institution.”

Award-winning playwright Rachel Wagstaff, whose adaptation of Birdsong played in the West End before it was a smash-hit tour throughout the UK (2013-15). Most recently, she has written the book to the new British musicals Only the Brave (directed by Steve Marmion at Wales Millennium Centre) and the UK Theatre Award Winning musical, Flowers for Mrs Harris. “Writing is an inherently solitary pursuit so I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to create and develop a play in conversation with other artists within, and for, such a vibrant and open-hearted theatre.”

And, the unique creative partnership duo Caligula’s Alibi of Writer Jonnie Bayfield and Director Will Cowell. Together they have performed to acclaim at Arcola Theatre, Vault Festival, Southwark Playhouse, Edinburgh Festival and Soho Theatre. They, like their work, are subversive outspoken and existentially dumbfounded. “Working with the Soho Theatre is a huge opportunity to work closely with one of the most ambitious and innovative venue’s on the scene. We are delighted to have our company recognised for our often alternative work, and proud to be supported and mentored by the best venue for bold, important new work.”

“Soho Six – What a bunch. You wouldn’t let them all babysit but my god you want to see their plays!”
Steve Marmion, when asked to describe the new intake of Soho Six’ers in one sentence.

Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab programme is an annual nine-month long programme where participants work towards developing a brand new full length play. Sixty-four writers, through a three draft process, writing about any subject, at any length, and each assigned a dramaturg (including Deirdre O’Halloran, Jules Haworth, Joe Murphy, Sarah Dickenson and Chris White), completed the programme this year, with 49 submitting a final piece.

Soho Theatre is proud to announce 26 year old Adam Narat as the 2016 Young Writer’s Award winner for his play Birthright. Part of the inaugural LTC apprenticeship programme (placed at Almeida Theatre) and now Literary Assistant at Royal Court Theatre, Adam’s play ‘was the most complete play we were delivered that I don’t think I’d read before. And whilst covering issues a lot of our work has touched on – gentrification, relationships as a trap and sex and drugs – it held a lens up that made them all look a bit different’ (Steve Marmion). Birthright is a refreshing new play that transports us to a drug fuelled bender in the forest on a tropical island. Sara and Lawrence are looking to escape the mundanity of city life, but their hedonistic quest doesn’t quite go to plan.

Special commendations went to Caitlin McEwan’s Monsters, a story which follows a young female comic through her life on and off stage, juggling tricky journalists, her relationships and her career and Ross Willis’ Wonder Boy, written to include BSL as part of the creative process, follows a teenage boy with a severe stammer as he navigates his way through a failing school system with support from superheroes, an unlikely best friend and a very funny teacher. Also shortlisted: Samson Hawkins’ Olympic Fencing a comic play with heart and songs set in a rural village in Northamptonshire discussing sexuality, gentrification and class, in a small town environment, written to include actors with autism or down syndrome, and Natasha Marshall’s Half Breed, based on her experience growing up in a village as the only person of colour. A highlight of our Soho Rising Festival this month, Marshall’s play was also developed and shared earlier this year as part of the Talawa Firsts programme.

The Writers’ Lab Programme (2015/16) will conclude with a full rehearsed reading of Adam Narat’s award-winning play, with invited guests, on Monday 12 December, along with presenting excerpts from the shortlisted plays. Sara Joyce will direct the reading and excerpts.

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