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Interview with producer of This Place We Know, Sophie Watson: “I’d just like to put on record that I’m not advocating putting Billie Piper in a time capsule.”

Sophie Watson
Bush Theatre has taken over the Uxbridge Road while the venue is undergoing a year-long redevelopment project. This Place We Know is a bold series of six commissioned short plays performed in spaces on and around Shepherd’s Bush.
This Place We Know has seen six world premieres of specially commissioned plays; this is a unique example of a theatre redefining what new-writing might do and how it might correspond to the local community. I thought it would be a good idea to chat to the producer behind it all: Sophie Watson.
Watson talks about Arts Council imposing ‘quantitative measures of arts quality’, Billie Piper in Yerma and more.
Sophie Watson

Sophie Watson

Hello! What are you working on at the moment?
The Bush Theatre is currently undergoing some changes that will make us more accessible and more sustainable, in the meantime, we’re out and about producing theatre in West London. We’re in our last week of ‘This Place We Know’ a series of short plays commissioned as a love letter to the Uxbridge Road and next up we’re remounting ‘The Royale’ by Marco Ramirez at the Tabernacle.

What is your most treasured possession?
In my theatre life, my playtext of ‘Many Moons’ by Alice Birch – the first play I ever produced.

Who or what is your biggest influence?
I don’t think I could pick one, I’ve always been so inspired by my colleagues; the team at the Bush are heroes.

The best kind of theatre often breaks the mould, how do you juggle risk-taking with sustainability?
When producing for an organisation you can’t look at a play in isolation, at the Bush we’re constantly looking at a season as a whole and asking ourselves whether we are offering our audiences a balanced programme. An example of that would be working with a playwright that audiences know and love and following that up with someone they may never have heard of, and hopefully there’s enough trust for audiences to come on a journey with us and a new playwright.

This Place We Know brings together a series of specially-commissioned plays in and around Shepherd’s Bush.  How have you prepared for this logistically?
I have been working on this project for many months. We commissioned the writers at the end of 2015 and then my first task was to introduce myself to almost every business on the Uxbridge Road to see whether there might be an opportunity to work together. It’s been important to think outside of the box, we ended up producing a play in a karaoke bar which I didn’t approach at first as I couldn’t imagine pulling it off but there’s a lot of good will in Shepherds Bush.

Gender inequality is a huge problem in the arts, however, there’s no shortage of women working in the arts, have you ever faced obstacles in your career?
This is a challenging industry to find your way in to regardless of gender, but I have to say that broadly I haven’t faced any obstacles that I would attribute to my being a woman. I hope I can use my position to support more women coming up through the industry as well as to profile female artists.

What are your thoughts on Arts Council imposing ‘quantitative measures of arts quality’?
I am sceptical about the introduction of these measures as an accurate way of measuring success. I’m also concerned about the additional administrative burden for organisations. I have read of concerns lately that organisations are carrying too much administrative resource, with some suggesting that this is to the detriment of the art/artists, but I find that a difficult argument to balance when looking at the demands placed on us all.

What would you bury in a time capsule to represent theatre in 2016?
Billie Piper. Is that weird? I can’t stop thinking about her performance in Yerma at the Young Vic this year. Plus, she’d have loads of other interesting stories about pop stardom.

Do you think we’ve become too obsessed with ourselves?
I think that we have always been obsessed with ourselves and with other people; particularly how we look, think and feel in relation to those other people. The difference now is the level of insecurity created by the various modes of presentation available to each and everyone of us. It continues to be the role of theatre to help us answer those questions.

What is the worst job you’ve ever had?
Christmas at Marks and Spencer.  Don’t ask.

What is the best job you’ve ever had?
Producer at the Bush Theatre of course.

Anything you’d like to add?
I’d just like to put on record that I’m not advocating putting Billie Piper in a time capsule.

Bush Theatre announces Up Next, a new programme to champion the next generation of Bamer artists

Bush Theatre
Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre

The Bush Theatre has today announced UP NEXT, a new development programme to champion the next generation of visionary BAMER (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic and Refugee) leaders and artists, in partnership with Artistic Directors of the Future and Battersea Arts CentreArts Council Englands Sustained Theatre Fund has pledged £295,000 towards the initiative.

Over the course of the next two years, seven members of Artistic Directors of the Future – a network organisation for the next generation of BAMER Arts leaders – will gain hands-on experience across a range of disciplines – including artistic direction, producing, programming, fundraising, marketing and production. They will also receive support through networking, mentoring and leadership development. Collectively, the group will have the opportunity to create and lead a two-month takeover season of new work at both the Bush Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre.

Designed by the Bush Theatre alongside Artistic Directors of the Future and in a partnership with Battersea Arts Centre, UP NEXT aims to drive positive change for BAMER artists, to introduce new artists and approaches to the British theatre scene, to explore and implement new approaches to organisational change, and to encourage more UK theatres to take on their own UP NEXT programme in future years.

Madani Younis, Bush Theatre Artistic Director, said: “UP NEXT is based on a shared understanding that a generation of BAMER development projects have struggled to deliver their intended impact across our sector. We needed to go bigger: No more hand holding; no more short-lived schemes; no more waiting for permission. UP NEXT will give BAMER artists the opportunity to take the keys, take the budgets, take the space and change the game at the core of our artistic institutions. It is designed to change our theatres and feed in to the succession of their leadership  and I cant wait to see the results. 

Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, Founder & Managing Director of Artistic Directors of the Future, said: “UP NEXT is a significant and vital extension to the work we carry out at Artistic Directors of the Future. We have outstanding culturally diverse leaders in our community and, through our partnership with the Bush Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre, we will be able to showcase and empower these individuals by providing a unique hands-on leadership opportunity across two of the UKs most iconic producing theatres. This project will not only support the career development of our members but it will also challenge the status quo, increase the visibility of the UKs culturally diverse leaders and introduce a new model to create positive change for generations to come. We are thrilled to be working with the Bush Theatre and Battersea Arts Centre to redress the balance of culturally diverse leadership in producing theatres across the UK.”

David Jubb, Battersea Arts Centre Artistic Director & CEO, said:“Development schemes for BAMER artists and leaders can play an important role, but unless cultural organisations provide meaningful opportunities for significant risk-taking and unless they are prepared to be changed by those collaborations, then the progress towards a more diverse sector will continue to be painfully slow. We’re really excited to have co-developed UP NEXT with Artistic Directors of the Future and the Bush Theatre and look forward to seeing if we can test a model that could be adopted and adapted more widely.”

Full casting announced for the Bush Theatre’s This Place We Know

Full casting for the Bush Theatre’s programme of six new, commissioned plays This Place We Know has been announced today. Residents of the local community are also now invited to submit photography celebrating W12, to be in with a chance of having their work displayed as part of WeAreW12, a free photography exhibition curated by photographer Eileen Perrier.

In the week of 26 SeptemberDanny Ashok and Anjli Mohindra will star in Gbolahan Obisesan’s play Zaida and Aadam at the Nubian Life Resource Centre whilst Nancy Harris’ One Cold Dark Night will be performed by Kate Maravan at the Defector’s Weld pub.

The Place We Know. Photo: Helen Murray

The Place We Know. Photo: Helen Murray

During the second week of the programme, The Rest of Your Life by Barney Norris and Terrorism by Kenny Emson will both open. The Rest of Your Life takes up residency at local karaoke haunt Bar FM with Waj Ali playing Nick and Rakie Ayola in the role of Hannah. Simultaneously Terrorism will play at Room 56, Dorsett – the old Shepherd’s Bush Palladium and a former cinema – with Trevor White and Eleanor Matsuura.

The final week will see Agni Scott and Jeany Spark bring Battleface by Sabrina Mahfouz to St Stephen’s CE Primary School and Paola Dionisotti will perform April De Angelis’s Nobody’s Listening at the neighbouring St Stephen’s Church.

Press night will be held on 6 October 2016.

WeAreW12 is a free photography exhibition and a celebration of Shepherd’s Bush, created by photographer Eileen Perrier and the local community. Residents are invited to submit their own photos of the faces and places of W12, 20 winning submissions will then be displayed as part of a living gallery on the walls of the Bush Theatre. Photography can be submitted via the Bush Theatre’s website here.

The Uxbridge Road is one of the longest and most diverse roads in Europe and has been the Bush’s home for the last 4 years. In an extraordinary love-letter to its home, This Place We Know brings together a series of specially-commissioned short plays to be performed in borrowed spaces along this West London artery.

Discover stories of heartbreak, joy, loss and retribution in pubs, churches and karaoke bars. At times funny, mysterious and foreboding, each is an intimate tale woven into the fabric of the city by the hottest new writers.

This Place We Know has a meeting and information point located at Shepherd’s Bush Boutique Hotel, 11/12 Poplar Mews, London W12 7JS. A venue map is downloadable here.

Bush Theatre announces two new community initiatives for This Place We Know

The Bush Theatre has today announced two innovative initiatives that will support and accompany This Place We Know, a landmark project in the theatre’s ‘breaking out’ season. This Place We Know will see six world premieres of specially commissioned plays produced in six borrowed, non-theatre spaces across Shepherd’s Bush. Through the Westfield Community Tickets scheme, 20% of the tickets for this season will be available free of charge to residents of the local area. Alongside the programme of plays, Eileen Perrier has been commissioned to complete a photography project which will profile the faces of the local and artistic communities integral to the Bush’s breaking out season

This Place We Know, a landmark project in Bush Theatre's 'breaking out' season. Click on the image to find out more. © Helen Murray

This Place We Know, a landmark project in Bush Theatre’s ‘breaking out’ season. Click on the image to find out more. © Helen Murray

Madani Younis, Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre said, This Place We Know embraces the neighbourhood that surrounds the Bush Theatre; taking original plays to new and unexpected environments, meeting new people and encouraging local residents to become audience members for the first time. This aim will be realised through a partnership with shopping centre Westfield London, offering substantial financial support to fund an innovative ticketing initiative.

The Westfield Community Tickets scheme enables the theatre to provide 20% of all tickets to members of the local community, many of whom may not have visited the theatre before, free of charge. Tickets will be available through the Local People’s Lottery, available to all residents of W12. Local people will receive flyers which can be filled out and entered in to a Local People’s Lottery Box at the venues for This Place We Know. The lottery can also be entered online at bushtheatre.co.uk/lottery. Further tickets will be issued through partnerships with London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Council and the Bush’s partner venues.

Led by Eileen Perrier, large scale photography will be exhibited on the exterior of the Bush Theatre’s building, currently closed whilst the building undergoes redevelopment, throughout September and October. Whilst Perrier captures images of the community and people of the Uxbridge Road, local residents will be encouraged to get involved and submit their own photography. The project furthers the Bush Theatre’s aspiration of reflecting the community in which it sits and providing a platform for local people to be heard. Alongside this, the project will ensure a legacy for This Place We Know; providing an enduring and collaborative memento of the season.

“Hammersmith and Fulham is home to a vibrant arts and culture scene, and we are committed to making it even stronger. We want to ensure that residents get more opportunity to enjoy and participate in art which challenges and inspires them. This Place We Know epitomises this ethos: internationally renowned playwrights producing world premiere productions in venues throughout Shepherd’s Bush. And through this innovative partnership with Westfield, we are delighted that a new generation of audience will be able to experience this work free of charge.” Councillor Andrew Jones, London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham.

Duncan Bower, Director of Development at Westfield, said: “We have been a long-term partner with the Bush Theatre since we opened in 2008 and the theatre moved to their then new premises on Uxbridge Road shortly thereafter – our relationship remains very strong. We hope that many local people can benefit from the Westfield Community Tickets scheme and have the chance to see these exciting new plays that celebrate the cultural landscape of W12.”

This Place We Know has a meeting and information point located at Shepherd’s Bush Boutique Hotel, 11/12 Poplar Mews, London W12 7JS. A venue map is downloadable here.

The Uxbridge Road is one of the longest and most diverse roads in Europe and has been the Bush’s home for the last 4 years. In an extraordinary love-letter to its home, This Place We Know brings together a series of specially-commissioned short plays to be performed in borrowed spaces along this West London artery.

Discover stories of heartbreak, joy, loss and retribution in pubs, churches and karaoke bars. At times funny, mysterious and foreboding, each is an intimate tale woven into the fabric of the city by the hottest new writers.

In 2016, as part of Madani Younis’ stated aim of creating a theatre that truly reflects the community in which it sits, the Bush Theatre is undergoing a major redevelopment of its building, creating a new second space, improved backstage facilities and a new front-of-house area, and making the whole building fully accessible and more sustainable. During the building works, the Bush Theatre’s programme is moving out into the local community, embracing the buildings and people of West London.

Full programme announced for the Bush Theatre’s This Place We Know

Tickets are now available for the Bush Theatre’s full programme of This Place We Know, six new, commissioned plays which will be playing in various venues on the Uxbridge Road in September and October this year. Following the previous announcement of the season’s playwrights, the Bush Theatre today reveals full details of the plays, creative teams and venues.

Bush Theatre Artist

Bush Theatre Artists. Photo: Richard Davenport

In the week of 26 September the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director, Madani Younis will direct Gbolahan Obisesan’s play Zaida and Aadam at a centre for African and Caribbean elderly people – Nubian Life Resource Centre – whilst Nancy Harris’ One Cold Dark Night will be directed by Associate Director, Omar Elerian and performed at the Defector’s Weld pub.

During the second week of the production The Rest of Your Life by Barney Norris and Terrorism by Kenny Emson will both open. The Rest of Your Life will play at local karaoke haunt Bar FM and will be directed by Miranda Cromwell (ADF partnership) whilst Terrorism takes up residency at Room 56, Dorsett – the old Shepherd’s Bush Palladium and a  former cinema – under direction from Eleanor Rhode.

The final week will see Joe Murphy direct Battleface by Sabrina Mahfouz in St Stephen’s CE Primary School and Ailin Conant (ADF partnership) will bring April De Angelis’s Nobody’s Listening to life at the neighbouring St Stephen’s Church.

Press night will be held on 5 October 2016.

Madani Younis said, “It has never seemed more important or fitting to present a season that mirrors the diversity and cultural heritage of our immediate community. From the protagonists of the stories we’re telling, to the playwrights and directors, This Place We Know is a direct result of the gamut of communities in W12. This year sees the Bush Theatre step outside of our building and conventional theatre setting and into the heart of Shepherd’s Bush, continuing our commitment to speaking up for, and with, our neighbours”

Thanks to a partnership with Artistic Directors of the Future (ADF), This Place We Know will include two directors who successfully applied to be a part of the season following a call out to ADF’s core network. The Bush Theatre will work alongside Miranda Cromwell and Ailin Conant as they direct productions as part of this season.

The Uxbridge Road is one of the longest and most diverse roads in Europe and has been the Bush Theatre’s home for the last four years.

In an extraordinary love-letter to its home, This Place We Know brings together a series of specially-commissioned short plays to be performed in borrowed spaces along this West London artery.

Discover stories of heartbreak, joy, loss and retribution in pubs, churches and karaoke bars. At times funny, mysterious and foreboding, each is an intimate tale woven into the fabric of the city by the hottest new writers.

This Place We Know has a meeting and information point located at Shepherd’s Bush Boutique Hotel, 11/12 Poplar Mews, London W12 7JS. A venue map is downloadable here.

Jude Akuwidike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe join Nicholas Pinnock in the Bush Theatre’s knockout production of The Royale

Jude Akuwudike, Franc Ashman and Martins Imhangbe will join the cast of The Royale, alongside Nicholas Pinnock, who plays Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. 

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world.

Nicholas Pinnock, as Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson – the first black heavyweight boxing champion of the world. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike (Othello, Hamlet, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl) will play boxing trainer Wynton, while Franc Ashman (Peep Show, Tennison, DCI Banks) will reprise the role of Jackson’s sister Nina. Martins Imhangbe(Lionboy, Das Ding) will play Jackson’s sparring partner Fish.

The Royale, a Bush Theatre production, runs from 3 to 26 November at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.

Written by award-winning American writer Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black), The Royale returns following the UK premiere and sell-out run in spring 2015 and will again be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis.

Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson dreams of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905 and, in the racially segregated world of boxing, his chances are as good as knocked out.

Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, The Royale is inspired by the often overlooked story of Jack Johnson, a boxer who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the most famous and the most notorious black man on Earth.

Through the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, The Royale examines society’s relationship with our present-day cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them when they find themselves outside of the ropes.

The Royale is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice. Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.”

The Royale will be staged at The Tabernacle as the Bush Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment of its building. The venue, a former church, swinging sixties hang-out, community centre and, more recently, a training ground for young boxers, continues to host amateur boxing matches to this day.

The Royale - Actors and director.

The Royale – Actors and director. Click the image to book your tickets for The Royale

Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker(Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance(Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine (Royal Court). TV and film credits include Friday Night Dinner (Channel 4), Lucky Man (Sky1) Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby CityUndercoverMoses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).Jude Akuwudike’s recent theatre credits include The Crucible (Bristol Old Vic), Hamlet Asylum Seeker (Talawa/BandBazi), Othello (Actors From The London Stage/USA Tour/Cockpit Theatre, London), Ignorance (Hampstead Theatre), Moon On A Rainbow Shawl (National Theatre), The Faith Machine(Royal Court). TV and film credits include Cucumber (Channel 4), Holby City, Undercover, Moses Jones (all BBC), Beasts of No Nation (dir. Cary Fukunaga) and The Tempest (dir. Julie Taymor).

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark and the National Theatre. Recent screen credits include Wagstaffe, TennisonDCI Banks and Apple Tree Yard. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Franc Ashman boasts an impressive list of theatre credits having performed extensively for the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre and acclaimed theatre company Out of Joint under the direction of Max Stafford-Clark. Recent screen credits include Tennison, DCI Banks & Apple Tree Yard. Franc lent her voice to the soundtrack of the Gary Oldman penned feature film Nil By Mouth and can be heard singing the theme song ‘Peculiar Groove’. She played Molly in the latest series of Peep Show for Channel 4.

Martins Imhangbe recently played the title role in Luce at Southwark Playhouse. His Other theatre includes Lionboy (Complicite), Das Ding (New Diorama),Romeo and Juliet (Orange Tree Theatre), Cinderella: A Fairytale (Unicorn Theatre), Street Stories (Royal opera House) and Sold at the Edinburgh Fringe, which won the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award. Martins trained at Central School of Speech and Drama.

Nicholas Pinnock is a British theatre, television and film actor who has recently appeared in programmes such as ITV’s Marcella and Sky’s Fortitude. He has also appeared in Channel 4′s award-winning drama, Top Boyhe played Dr Evan Farleigh in ITV’s The Ice Cream Girls and starred in the sequel to Monsters, in Monsters: Dark Continent.

Madani Younis took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.

Bush Theatre issues call for three new associate artists

The Bush Theatre is looking for three exceptional individual artists or companies whose practice is focused on new writing and new work, to join them as Associate Artists, in a new programme supported by the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation and The Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation.

Bush Theatre Artists. Photo: Richard Davenport

Bush Theatre Artists. Photo: Richard Davenport

The Associate Artists will be attached to the Bush Theatre’s new Studio space, which opens in 2017 as part of the theatre’s major redevelopment.

Applications are invited from artists and companies that have an established following and engagement with specific audiences, and wish to expand their practice, audience base, capacity and potential, through a partnership with the Bush Theatre in an 18-month programme starting from September 2016.

The successful associates will receive financial support in the form of a £2,500 bursary, a contribution towards research and development expenses, and commissions of work and/or activities for the Studio and other Bush programmes and events. In-kind support will include mentoring, use of R&D and meeting spaces in the building and access to and involvement with key events, meetings and decisions in the everyday life of the Bush Theatre.

Applications can be submitted via the Bush Theatre’s website at www.bushtheatre.co.uk/artists/ from today until the window closes on 30 June 2016.

The selecting panel will include the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis, Associate Director Omar Elerian and an external panel member.

In 2016, as part of Madani Younis’ stated aim of creating a theatre that truly reflects the community in which it sits, the Bush Theatre is undergoing a major redevelopment of its building, creating a new second space, improved backstage facilities and a new front-of-house area, and making the whole building fully accessible and more sustainable. During the building works, the Bush Theatre’s programme is moving out into the local community, embracing the buildings and people of West London.

This programme is made possible thanks to support from the Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation.

For more information on the Bush Theatre’s programme, visit www.bushtheatre.co.uk

Bush Theatre announces playwrights for This Place We Know

The Bush Theatre today announced a number of ways it will demonstrate the theatre’s commitment to nurturing new writing at all levels, from emerging artists to established artists seeking to try something new.

The Place We Know. Photo: Helen Murray

This Place We Know. Photo: Helen Murray

Its September production This Place We Know will stage six new, specially commissioned plays by April de Angelis, Kenny Emson, Nancy Harris, Sabrina Mahfouz, Barney Norris and Gbolahan Obisesan, in various venues along on and around the Uxbridge Road in Shepherd’s Bush. More details of This Place We Know will be announced in the coming weeks.

In June 2016, the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writers’ Group (EWG) will enter its second year with a new intake of six writers. Last year’s EWG consisted of Josh Azouz, Lily Bevan, Sevan Greene, Nabihah Islam, Gemma Rogers and Sophie Wu. Of those writers, two are currently under commission to the Bush, two more are on attachment to the theatre, and the remaining two continue to receive artistic support on new work. The new intake of writers for 2016 is: Tristan Bernays, Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, Kamal Kaan, Jessica Sian, A.C Smith and Camilla Whitehall.

The EWG is an opportunity for the Bush Theatre to develop relationships with new playwrights encountered through its unsolicited submissions process and further afield – all of whom are at early stages in their careers. It aims to support writers over a sustained period of time and help encourage work on a new full length play.

The Bush receives, reads and considers for production more than a thousand unsolicited scripts each year, in four-month Unsolicited Submissions Windows. The first window of 2016 will open on 1 June and close on 30 September 2016.

Bush Theatre Artistic Director Madani Younis says:

From our unsolicited submissions through to the work produced on our stage, we are proud to champion, develop and produce the work of diverse writers. By inviting playwrights to our Emerging Writers’ Group, drawn from unsolicited script submissions and the work we see around the UK, we are more committed than ever to creating bespoke and meaningful opportunities for the brightest and best new writing talent.”

The submission window is open to playwrights from the UK and Republic of Ireland who have a full-length play that can be considered for production at the Bush Theatre. Once submitted, each play will be read by a dedicated team of readers, made up of theatre professionals and led by the Bush Theatre’s Associate Dramaturg. Plays can be submitted via the Bush Theatre website at www.bushtheatre.co.uk/submissions where more information is also available.

For the second year, the Bush Theatre will collaborate with Playwrights of New York (PoNY) to offer a new play commission and month-long residency to a US-based playwright. The residency includes artistic and dramaturgical support, accommodation, research and development of an original idea as well as collaboration and engagement with British theatre artists and the creative life of the Bush Theatre. 2013 PoNY fellow Kimber Lee was the first PoNY Resident at the Bush in 2014-15. Following the Residency, Lee is currently under commission to the Bush for a new play.

Local residents triumph in Bush Theatre production at BBC Television Centre

Last week, the Bush Theatre, in collaboration with award-winning theatre company Look Left Look Right, presented The Neighbourhood Project – a devised original performance, created and performed by local Hammersmith & Fulham residents, performed at the former BBC Television Centre building in Shepherd’s Bush.

The Neighbourhood Project Bush Theatre

The Neighbourhood Project Bush Theatre

The production sold out its four-night run, attracting an audience comprising over a third local residents and over 15% students and young people under 26.

A video of the project can be seen on the theatre’s YouTube channel and pictures are available on their website: bushtheatre.co.uk/event/the-neighbourhood-project/

Written by Molly Taylor, Samuel Wood and the company, The Neighbourhood Project was devised and rehearsed over a five month period, and addressed themes of community resistance, diversity and migration. As well as the local residents who performed, some chose to contribute their stories, and others to participate in other ways.

In a blog for the Bush website, participant Naomi Westerman wrote:

If The Neighbourhood Project is anything, it’s a celebration of diversity. Through this I’ve met people and heard stories I could not have dreamt of… During the months, people came in and out, but I was surprised by the level of commitment and passion. Some chose to perform, some contributed their stories but preferred not to be onstage, but every single person in the room was invaluable… the unwavering support from everyone involved has given me a structure for one of the most emotional and challenging periods of my life. I don’t know what I would have done without it.

The Neighbourhood Project was a Bush Theatre and Look Left Look Right production created in collaboration with the residents of Hammersmith & Fulham. It was generously supported by Hammersmith United Charities, The Daisy Trust, The Eranda Rothschild Foundation and Land Securities.

In 2016, as part of Madani Younis’ stated aim of creating a theatre that truly reflects the community in which it sits, the Bush Theatre is undergoing a major redevelopment of its building, creating a new second space, improved backstage facilities and a new front-of-house area, and making the whole building fully accessible and more sustainable. During the building works, the Bush Theatre’s programme is moving out into the local community, embracing the buildings and people of West London.

For more information on the Bush Theatre’s programme, visit www.bushtheatre.co.uk

 

Nicholas Pinnock (Marcella, Fortitude) will reprise his role as Jay Jackson, the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, in the Bush Theatre’s revival of its critically acclaimed play, The Royale

Bush Theatre

Nicholas Pinnock (Marcella, Fortitude) will reprise his role as Jay Jackson, the first African-American heavyweight champion of the world, in the Bush Theatre’s revival of its critically acclaimed play, The Royale, running from 3 to 26 November at The Tabernacle in Notting Hill.

Further casting to be announced.

Bush Theatre

Bush Theatre

Written by award-winning American writer Marco Ramirez (Sons of Anarchy, Orange is the New Black), The Royale returns following the UK premiere and sell-out run in spring 2015 and will again be directed by the Bush Theatre’s Artistic Director Madani Younis.

Jay ‘The Sport’ Jackson dreams of being the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world. But it’s 1905 and, in the racially segregated world of boxing, his chances are as good as knocked out.

Told in six rounds and set in a boxing ring, The Royale is inspired by the often overlooked story of Jack Johnson, a boxer who – at the height of the Jim Crow era – became the most famous and the most notorious black man on Earth.

Through the sights and sounds of the early 20th century boxing circuit, The Royale examines society’s relationship with our present-day cultural heroes and the responsibilities that are thrust upon them when they find themselves outside of the ropes.

The Royale is loosely based on the real-life story of Jack Johnson, whose story is one of great talent and triumph, but also racism and injustice. Despite Johnson being one of the greatest fighters who had ever lived, one newspaper wrote at the time of his first title fight: “If the black man wins, thousands and thousands of his ignorant brothers will misinterpret his victory as justifying claims to much more than mere physical equality with their white neighbors.”

The Royale will be staged at The Tabernacle as the Bush Theatre undergoes a major redevelopment of its building. The venue, a former church, swinging sixties hang-out, community centre and, more recently, a training ground for young boxers, continues to host amateur boxing matches to this day.

Nicholas Pinnock is a British theatre, television and film actor who has recently appeared in programmes such as ITV’s Marcella and Sky’s Fortitude. He has also appeared in Channel 4′s award-winning drama, Top Boy, he played Dr Evan Farleigh in ITV’s The Ice Cream Girls and starred in the sequel to Monsters, in Monsters: Dark Continent.

Madani Younis took over as Artistic Director of the Bush Theatre in 2012. In 2013 he won the Groucho Club Maverick Award for the theatre, following the most successful season in the theatre’s history which played to 99% capacity. Also for the Bush Theatre he has directed Perseverance Drive and Chalet Lines. Prior to his appointment at the Bush Theatre, he was Artistic Director of Freedom Studios in Bradford, Yorkshire where his work included the site-specific work, The Mill – City of Dreams. He has also worked nationally and internationally as a theatre director, writer and practitioner. Whilst at Freedom Studios he collaborated with the Bush Theatre through workshops culminating in Freedom’s two week residency in 2010 at the theatre. He was previously Director of Red Ladder Theatre Company’s Asian Theatre School. He originally trained in film, and his debut short film Ellabellapumpanella, commissioned by the UK Film Council, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007. He was the recipient of the Decibel Award at the South Bank Awards show in 2006.