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Soho Theatre today announces its Associate Partnership with India’s G5A Foundation to launch Writers’ Lab Mumbai, supported by the British Council.
Soho Theatre and the G5A Foundation’s paths first crossed in 2017 with the performances of Nastaha Marshall’s Half Breed in the G5A Black Box space in Soho Theatre’s India tour as part of the Arts Council and British Council Re:Imagine season. The production was accompanied by playwriting workshops from Half Breed director Miranda Cromwell and writer and performer Natasha Marshall. The India tour of Half Breed also stopped at the Jagriti Theatre in Bangalore, British Council Theatre in Chennai, British Council Theatre in New Delhi, with similar workshops taking place at each venue.
Soho Theatre’s connections to India run even further, with its 2013 production of Phil Porter’s Blink at the Jagriti Theatre in Bangalore, and the Ahir Shah and Lauren Pattinson comedy tour stopping at That Comedy Club in Bangalore, The Habitat in Mumbai, the Akshara Theatre in Dehli, the Bhaskara Auditorium in Hyderabad and the Institute Menezes Braganza Goa, as well as presenting comedian Shappi Khorsandi to the Mumbai Literary Festival in 2019. Soho Theatre has also brought some of the best Indian comics to the UK, whether in London, Edinburgh or on tour, including Vir Das, Aditi Mittal, Anuvab Pal, Kanan Gil, Radhika Vaz, Daniel Fernandes, Sumit Anand and Karunesh Talwar.
Building on the growing links between Soho Theatre and Indian writers, theatre-makers and comedians, Soho Theatre and G5A Foundation have forged an Associate Partnership for continued creative collaboration. Recently, during G5A’s fifth anniversary shouldart festival celebrations, Soho Theatre’s Creative Director David Luff and G5A Associate Artistic Director Ishan Benegal held an online public Zoom conversation about the relationship between the two theatres and their plans for the future.
The next new project is Writers’ Lab Mumbai, which focuses on developing creative playwriting skills for young people through an exploration of the values of cultural heritage and life in contemporary Mumbai. Currently in its pilot stage, participants will be given new-writing workshops and explore a wide range of issues as an inspiration for storytelling, including identity, community and cultural assimilation.
Led by theatre professionals and members of Soho Theatre and G5A’s artistic teams, Writers’ Lab Mumbai brings together participants from diverse Indian communities and socio-cultural backgrounds. The programme encourages young writers to tell their stories, share their opinions, and engage with different perspectives on their families, traditions, cultures, values, histories and present-day India. By bringing together a diverse range of voices, and supporting the development of new-writing in Mumbai, Writers’ Lab Mumbai aims to create work that is authentic and distinctive.
The programme gives young people tools and techniques to explore their voice as writers and culminates with each participant creating a short script, which is submitted to G5A and Soho Theatre and shared in a virtual celebration of their work. Working in collaboration, Soho Theatre and G5A will develop and deliver 6 digital workshops over 6 weeks, for participants aged 18-25 years. These sessions will be conducted online via Zoom.
G5A has been working in Mumbai to foreground bold, contemporary voices in the arts since 2015, and has curated and produced 650+ programmes that support independent, experimental creative professionals across disciplines. With a commitment towards innovation and rigor in form-making and a deep appreciation for the artistic process, G5A consistently works to create spaces for deeper engagement with art and the artist, supporting the development of new work. In a short five years, they have worked with over 500 artists from India and worldwide, and built a community of 40,000+ with strong ties within the local neighbourhood as well as cultural practitioners and organisations in the city.
Soho Theatre has developed and delivered Writers’ Lab in London since 2011 and has supported hundreds of young writers in creating scripts for the stage. Soho Theatre and G5A will jointly lead the project, which will also provide support and training to G5A workshop leaders for delivering new-writing schemes.
This project also initiates a long-term creative collaboration between G5A and Soho Theatre. Both theatre organisations are committed to discovering and nurturing the talent of tomorrow, whilst introducing their work to new audiences. This is an opportunity to strengthen the UK-India cultural partnership, leading the way for long-term exchange of knowledge, expertise, and cultural heritage – supported by British Council.
NOTES TO EDITORS
Soho Theatre is London’s most vibrant producer for new theatre, comedy and cabaret. We pursue creative excellence, harnessing an artistic spirit that is based in our new writing roots, the radical ethos of the fringe and the traditions of punk culture and queer performance. We champion voices that challenge from outside of the mainstream, and sometimes from within it too. We value entertainment, accessibility and enjoy a good show. We are a registered charity and social enterprise and our audiences are diverse in age, background and outlook.
Ordinarily our work plays to live audiences of 250,000 audiences a year in our Dean Street venue, at the Edinburgh Fringe and beyond. Since our temporary closure due to Covid-19 we have re-launched our online platform Soho Theatre On Demand, which hosted the phenomenally successful live recording of Fleabag. We’ve partnered with Amazon Prime Video (UK) for a three-series deal, bringing existing and new comedy shows to the platform (2020-21). We are also working towards the opening of an exciting second venue, a “local theatre with a national profile” in Walthamstow, currently slated to open in 2022.
Soho Theatre’s board is chaired by Dame Heather Rabbatts DBE and the company is led by Executive Director Mark Godfrey and Creative Director David Luff. sohotheatre.com | sohotheatreondemand.com | @sohotheatre
G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture is a not-for-profit organization that encourages contemporary art and culture that is experimental and courageous, good governance that is inclusive and participatory, and ecosystems that are equitable and resilient.
G5A Academy designs collaborative learning experiences together with artists, for artists and creative practitioners – enriching experimental critical thought and practice, while enhancing creativity, innovation, and future thinking. The aim is to nurture knowledge production and reinforce rigor within the contemporary arts practice, through a deeper engagement with art, the artist, and the environment in which they create – refining the vital capacities to reflect, absorb, and respond creatively and compassionately to their context and environment.
G5A Academy is one of the five elements of G5A that together work to establish a creative lab and hub for arts and culture in the city.