While its Dean Street doors may be closed to performance for the foreseeable future, Soho Theatre continues to work behind the scenes alongside bringing work to its digital player.

David Luff, Soho Theatre’s Creative Director, said: ‘In this period of separation there is need, more than ever, for connection and stories of hope. Today we announce the launch of three filmed plays for Soho Theatre On Demand, each shining a light on diverse challenging life experiences but each laced with humour, insight and compassion.

Now is also the time to uncover new positive visions for the future and we have six stunning new writers join our Soho Six residency and a record number of Verity Bargate Award submissions. To continue supporting the next generation of writers we have seven masterclasses exploring different aspects of new-writing led by the Soho team and alumni.

Stay safe and we hope to see you soon back in Soho.

Highlights are:

  • Three new theatre films join our Soho Theatre On Demand platform from Tuesday 26th May: The Special Relationship, a darkly funny and biting verbatim satire by Hassan Abdulrazzak about the complex stories behind the deportation of ex-prisoners from the US; a specially filmed version of Patrick Sandford’s Groomed, a moving one-man play inspired by the writer/performer’s own life shot on location in a primary school; and Good Girl, the debut play by Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab alumna Naomi Sheldon, a comic and unflinching coming-of-age story which won critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2017. All films will be available to rent for £4 each for 48 hours until August.
  • Six writers join our Soho Six programme, each co-commissioned with a theatre or production company, and working in residence with Soho Theatre for a year to develop their artistic practice and write a new play:
    • Willy Hudson (Bottom), co-commissioned with Daisy Hale
    • Yasmin Joseph (J’Ouvert), co-commissioned with Actors Touring Company
    • Nyla Levy (Does My Bomb Look Big in This?), co-commissioned with Tamasha Theatre Company
    • Racheal Ofori (So Many Reasons), co-commissioned with FUEL
    • Holly Robinson (soft animals), co-commissioned with 45North
    • Danusia Samal (Out of Sorts), co-commissioned with Paines Plough
  • A record number of 1,493 plays have been submitted to our Verity Bargate Award 2020, a 40% rise on 2017. The reading process continues and the shortlist and winner will be announced once the theatre reopens. 
  • New online playwriting and theatre masterclasses have been announced, led by writers Yolanda Mercy (Quarter Life Crisis), Dylan Coburn Gray (Citysong) and Milly Thomas (Dust, Clickbait), director Sara Joyce (Dust), producer Daisy Hale (PECS, Not F*ckin’ Sorry), Soho Theatre’s Literary Manager Gillian Greer and its Creative Director David Luff. 

New online comedy masterclasses to also be announced soon

 

SCROLL RIGHT FOR SOHO THEATRE ON DEMAND AND SOHO SIX IMAGES

Under commission and in residence for a year, Soho Six plays a key role in Soho Theatre’s vision for developing and supporting writers. The Soho Six are six writers and artists under commission and in residence for a year as they create new work for our stages. The programme immerses each writer in the life of Soho Theatre, with regular contact with staff, exposure to new work across our three stages, getting to know our audiences and building, and the positive impact of peer learning with five fellow artists. Soho Six alumni include Arinzé Kene, Bryony Kimmings, Theresa Ikoko, Jessie Cave, Max & Ivan, Phil Porter, Charlotte Josephine, and Rita Kalnejais.

On the Soho Six commissions, Soho Theatre’s Creative Director David Luff said: “We are extremely proud to bring together such an outstanding group of writers on the Soho Six programme. These are artists with bold, unique and thrilling voices, matched with six of the most exciting theatre companies and producers working in the UK. I can’t wait to see what we all develop together over the coming year.”

Soho Theatre are proud to announce the following as our Soho Six playwrights for 2020/21:
Willy Hudson, co-commissioned with Daisy Hale, is a writer, actor and producer from Devon. His debut solo show Bottom premiered at Edinburgh 2018 followed by a run at Soho Theatre and a national tour. Bottom is published with Oberon Books and in development for television with Balloon Entertainment. In his theatre work he likes to confront social taboos with autobiographical storytelling, comedy and fusion of form. Willy is developing a slate of new projects and is working with creative producer Daisy Hale to launch Willy Hudson Ltd. Acting credits include: Bottom (Soho Theatre), Noble Nine (VAULT Festival), Islanders (Soho Theatre) and Peter Pan (Regents Park).

Yasmin Joseph, co-commissioned with Actors Touring Company, is a London-based writer. Her debut play J’Ouvert premiered at Theatre503 in 2019 and she was nominated for the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award. Yasmin is the current writer-in-residence at Sister Pictures and is on attachment at the Royal Court Theatre as part of the Channel 4 Playwrights scheme.

Nyla Levy, co-commissioned with Tamasha Theatre Company, is a writer and actor. Being mixed race, Pakistani and Canadian, with Muslim and Jewish heritage, and born and bred in London, Nyla has always gravitated towards stories that explore experiences related to identity, culture and race. Nyla began in verbatim theatre, with her first play Different is Dangerous (Amnesty International Freedom of Expression longlist nominee), followed by Normal with a bit of Oomph!. Nyla co-founded Two’s Company which went on to tour Different is Dangerous to venues including Theatre 503, Nottingham Playhouse, The Lowry and Edinburgh Fringe. Nyla received Arts Council England funding to develop her first fictional play Does My Bomb Look Big in This? which was subsequently co-produced by Nyla and Tamasha Theatre Company at Soho Theatre, Tara Arts and in a regional UK schools tour. Nyla is currently writing an episode for Ben Chanan’s new series, YOU (Kudos/Sky), and an episode of Good Karma Hospital (Tiger Aspect).  She is also developing Blues & Two’s (BBC Studios) and her original idea Little Runt (Jax/HBO Max). Nyla is part of Tiger Aspect’s mentorship scheme and the BBC Drama Writersroom 2019/20.  

Racheal Ofori, co-commissioned with FUEL, is a writer and performer. She is one of The Guardian’s ‘12 Theatre Stars For 2020’ as well as one of Theatre Weekly’s ten ‘Rising Stars of 2020’. In TV, Racheal’s script Here Again is in development with Balloon Entertainment. She also developed the TV pilot Dysfunctional with Balloon, which was chosen for a Sky Table Read. In 2017 she was selected for a TV writing bursary with Creative Skillset and is currently in the writers’ room for Neil Gaiman’s Anansi Boys with Red and Endor Productions. She was also part of the writing team on the second series of Kiss Me First. Her latest stage show So Many Reasons, produced by Fuel Theatre, originally ran at the Camden’s People Theatre before a national tour and transfer to Soho Theatre. Her acting work spans across TV, film and theatre and includes Inua Ellam’s Three Sisters (National Theatre), Treadstone (Amazon), Enterprice (BBC) and Guns Akimbo, due to come out in late 2020.

Holly Robinson, co-commissioned with 45North, is a writer and casting assistant originally from Birmingham. She began her training at Playbox Theatre in Warwickshire before moving to London where she has been a member of Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab and the Hampstead New Playwrights Group. Her first play soft animals was longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize and shortlisted for the Tony Craze award. soft animals was staged by Soho Theatre in 2019 and Holly was nominated for Best Writer at the 2019 Stage Debut Awards. Her other work includes writing for Oxford School of Drama and small myth at Vault Festival. She is part of BBC Writersroom London Voices 2020.

Danusia Samal, co-commissioned with Paines Plough, is an actress, writer and singer. Stage acting credits include the Royal Court, RSC, Globe, and Royal Exchange. Screen credits include The Great (Hulu), Ghost in the Shell (Paramount/DreamWorks), and Tyrant (FOX). Danusia’s writing credits include: Out of Sorts (winner of Theatre503 International Playwriting Award); Busking It, inspired by Danusia’s experience as a London Underground busker (Shoreditch Town Hall / HighTide); Decolonising History (Tamasha Digital / SOAS University); Conditionally (Soho Theatre / Oxford School of Drama); Langthorne Stories (Soho Theatre / Waltham Forest). Danusia is currently collaborating on various projects with TV production companies. In 2019, she was commissioned to write her first TV drama as part of the BBC’s TV Drama Writers Programme.

 

Since 1982, the Verity Bargate Award, Soho Theatre’s foremost playwriting award, has uncovered the best new and emerging writers. It has launched the careers of some of Britain’s most established playwrights and screenwriters including Matt Charman (Bridge of Spies), Vicky Jones (HBO’s Run), Toby Whithouse (Doctor Who) and many, many more. This year’s award, supported by Character 7, will be judged by a panel of industry experts including former Soho writers Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Arinzé Kene and Laura Wade, screenwriter Russell T Davies, actress and playwright Lolita Chakrabarti. The award is sponsored by Character 7 and chaired by film and television producer,  Character 7’s Stephen Garrett.

Soho Theatre’s Literary Manager Gillian Greer said: ‘It has been a stellar year for our flagship playwriting prize, the Verity Bargate Award. With a whopping 1,493 submissions, a 40% rise on 2017, the Award is larger than ever before and we’ve been blown away by the quality of plays received. Our reading process will continue as normal while our building is closed, and we plan to announce our shortlist and winner upon reopen.’

 

Soho Theatre’s digital service, Soho Theatre On Demand, is currently broadening the range of work available so that audiences can continue to see great theatre, comedy and cabaret, and provide a platform for independent artists, theatre companies and practitioners at this time when venues are closed to performances. Next week’s release includes three theatre films: Synergy Theatre Project’s The Special Relationship written by Hassan Abdulrazzak and directed by Esther Baker, Ingenious Purpose’s Groomed, written and performed by Patrick Sandford, and Good Girl, written and performed by Naomi Sheldon.

On the launch of these new films, Soho Theatre’s Creative Director David Luff said: “We have selected three of the best recordings over the past few years, three superbly written, thrillingly performed and brilliantly filmed plays with vital and gripping stories. Each of these writers have strong connections with Soho Theatre, having written, directed or trained with us, and I’m delighted to share their work with a global audience in this time of lockdown on our international Soho Theatre On Demand platform.”

Synergy Theatre Project presents
THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP (2020)
Written by Hassan Abdulrazzak
Directed by Esther Baker
With Amrita Acharia, Moyo Akandé, Nicholas Beveney, Yvette Boakye, Miranda Foster, Fergal McElherron, Duncan Wisbey.
The play will be available to rent 26th May – 26th August

Filmed at Soho Theatre in March 2020, a darkly funny and biting satire which exposes the complex and heart-breaking stories behind the deportations of ex-prisoners from the US.

A grain of cocaine, a digit on a breathalyser, a forged cheque, a DEA sting or murder one? Caught in the transatlantic tango between Trump and May and smugly presented by a gun-toting immigration officer, these are verbatim stories of double punishment and separation. Gripping accounts of justice and separation are brought to vivid life in a fast-paced and theatrically daring production using savage comedy, surreal metaphor and verbatim testimony from those who ended up on the wrong side of the criminal justice system.

Synergy Theatre Project creates ground-breaking work across theatre and the criminal justice system. The Special Relationship was developed from interviews with ex-prisoners and experts in immigration and criminal law, the award-winning playwright Hassan Abdulrazzak carves a rich dramatic narrative and uncovers vital questions around identity and place as he gets behind the political rhetoric of those caught up in the quagmire of immigration detention and deportation.

Praise for The Special Relationship
‘a powerful force’ ★★★★ Sunday Times
‘a fascinating insight into the arbitrary nature of deportation’ ★★★★ Theatre-News

Ingenious Purpose presents
GROOMED (2019)
Written and performed by Patrick Sandford (former Artistic Director of Nuffield Theatre Southampton)
Directed by Nancy Meckler
Music by Simon Slater
The film will be available to rent 27th May – 27th August.

How can a Truth be told?
How can a Secret be spoken?

A betrayed schoolboy, a Japanese soldier, and the inventor of the saxophone…

Presented at Soho Theatre in 2017, the play won the Broadway Baby Bobby Award, Fringe Review Outstanding Theatre Award and the Fringe Guru Brighton Fringe Award for Theatre at the 2016 Brighton Fringe. In 2019 Groomed was powerfully reinvented as a film, shot entirely on location in a primary school classroom. Honest and provocative but never depressing, three poignant narratives are brought together to show how, when a story is told, it can save your life.

Praise for Groomed
‘With exemplary honesty Patrick Sandford sheds much needed light on some dark places’ ★★★★ Guardian
‘A remarkable piece of theatre’ ★★★★ Financial Times

GOOD GIRL (2017)
Written and performed by Naomi Sheldon
Directed by Matt Peover
Designed by Alison Neighbour
Photography by Felicity Crawshaw
The play will be available to rent 28th May – 28th August.

Winner of Voice’s Pick of the Fringe and Funny Women’s Best Show award, the exceptional debut play from Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab alumna Naomi Sheldon comes to Soho Theatre On Demand, filmed at the Old Red Lion Theatre in December 2017 before its Trafalgar Studios transfer in 2018.

‘One of these days, am I going to evaporate? Right here?’

Growing up in the 90s, GG and her mates obsess over music, vaginas and witchcraft. But there’s a problem. Living feels too extreme. To be one of the good girls, GG learns to make herself numb, but at what cost?

A bold, provocative and laugh-out-loud funny coming-of-age tale, Good Girl interrogates the experience of a young girl growing up in the 90s, a timely and distinctive piece that offers a vital new perspective to current dialogue about female experience. Sheldon’s inclusive and disarming form of storytelling allows her to candidly explore sex, masturbation and mental health and examines the dangers of defining ourselves by the opinions of others.

Praise for Good Girl

‘Cutting edge truth and hilarity from one of the freshest young voices of the century. Don’t miss Good Girl.’ Emma Thompson
‘Flawless’ ★★★★★ Voice
‘contemporary, relevant and, most importantly, incessantly funny’ ★★★★ WhatsOnStage

 

Soho Theatre is excited to announce a programme of seven masterclasses to support budding theatre makers developing work from home. The series will be held weekly on Zoom and will feature masterclasses on various aspects of playwriting and new theatre practice to support the development of new plays from artists in lockdown:

Wed 3rd June              Writing from Experience, with playwright Yolanda Mercy (Quarter Life Crisis)
Wed 10th June            Writing and Form, with Verity Bargate Award winner Dylan Coburn Gray (Citysong)
Wed 17th June            Writing Characters, with Soho Theatre Literary Manager and playwright Gillian Greer
Wed 24th June            Story, Structure and Dramaturgy, with Soho Theatre Creative Director David Luff
Wed 1st July               Directing New Writing, with director Sara Joyce (Dust, Armadillo)
Wed 8th July               Producing New Work, with producer and artist Daisy Hale (PECS, Not F**ckin’ Sorry)
Wed 15th July             Making A Solo Show, with playwright and performer Milly Thomas (Dust, Clickbait)

All workshops are priced £12 with £10 concessions (bundle of all seven workshops for £49) and are available to book online at Soho Theatre – https://sohotheatre.com/take-part/workshops/

On these new workshops, Soho Theatre Literary Manager Gillian Greer said ‘Did Shakespeare write King Lear while quarantined? Who knows! But it’s clear that artists are using this time to mine their creativity, to try things, experiment and discover, and we are delighted to be able to offer this comprehensive set of masterclasses to support that amazing work.’

Furthermore, a new series of online comedy masterclasses will be announced soon.

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