Bush Theatre announces its Emerging Writers Group for 2018

The Bush Theatre today announced the fourth year of its Emerging Writers Group (EWG) with a new intake of writers. The 2018 cohort will be Zia Ahmed, Sophia Chetin-Leuner, Urielle Klein-Mekongo, Ambreen Razia, Ella Road and Patrick Russell.

The EWG is an opportunity for the Bush to develop relationships with new playwrights encountered through 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.

Zia Ahmed is a writer from North-West London. He is part of the London Laureates, having been shortlisted to be the Young Poet Laureate for London 2015/16. He is also a former Roundhouse Slam champion and was in residency at Paines Plough as part of Channel 4’s Playwright Scheme 2017.  Earlier this year Paines Plough toured his show 7 Wanna Be Yours.

Sophia Chetin-Leuner is a writer from London. In 2015 her play Save+Quit won the London Student Drama Festival and went on to be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe, The Oxford Playhouse, The Vault Festival and The New Theatre in Dublin. It was published by Nick Hern Books in 2017. She was selected to be part of the HighTide Academy in 2016 and has recently completed an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU Tisch where she was the recipient of the Dalio Family Foundation Scholarship.

Urielle Klein-Mekongo is a singer writer, actress, playwright from north west London. Her recently published play Yvette has toured the UK, including a sell-out run at Bush Theatre, and won the Pulse Award and the Harts audience award for its raw message and use of music and spoken word.

She is a graduate of East 15 acting school and is a member of the National Youth Theatre.

Ambreen Razia is an actress & writer from South London. Her critically acclaimed debut play Diary of a Hounslow Girl, commissioned by Ovalhouse, toured nationally with Black Theatre Live and House Theatre, featured at Alchemy Festival, Southbank and has been commissioned as a TV pilot for BBC Three. Her second play POT is set to go on national tour this Autumn. Awards include Best Newcomer, Asian Media Awards 2016 and Eastern Eye Emerging artist award, 2017. Ambreen was nominated for the Outstanding Achievement Award at the ‘Women of the World’ festival earlier this year. Credits include: On the Middle Day (Old Vic Theatre); Words and Women (Edinburgh Fringe); Diary of a Hounslow Girl (Black Theatre Live National UK Tour); Mind the Gap (National Theatre); No Guts, No Heart, No Glory (Perth International Arts Festival Australia / BBC 4); Random Acts (Channel 4);Murdered by my Father (BBC Three); Finding Fatimah (British Muslim TV); Ladies Day (Sky), Ilford Lane (BFI), Killed by my Debt (BBC); The Harry Hill Sitcom (BBC).

Ella Road graduated from the Oxford School of Drama and Oxford University. Her first play The Phlebotomist went on at the Hampstead Theatre Downstairs April-May 2018. She was on the 2017 script accelerator programme at the Park Theatre and is a Soho Theatre Young Writer. Ella is currently under commission to write new plays for Theatre Royal Plymouth and the Hampstead Theatre Upstairs, and is in development on several projects for TV & Film. Other creative credits include Stand Up 2 Cancer’s video campaign for RSA Films (Autumn 2018, Channel 4), short film The Wyrd and radio play Road to Oxford (BBC R4). Ella also works as an actor, and writes and performs poetry.

Patrick Russell is a Midlands based playwright originally from Yorkshire. He has graduated from the Birmingham REP Foundry group and the SOHO Theatre Young Company. His play Antlers was shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award in 2017 and won the Tony Craze Award.

Previous alumni of the EWG include Josh Azouz, Lily Bevan, Sevan K. Greene, Nabihah Islam, Gemma Rogers, Sophie Wu (who developed her Bush Theatre hit Ramona Tells Jim whilst at in the group), Tristan Bernays, Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu, Kamal Kaan, Jessian Sian, A.C. Smith, Camilla Whitehill, Robyn Addison, Afsaneh Gray, Kelly Jones, Isley Lynn, Eno Mfon and Tom Wentworth.

‘The best thing for me about the programme is that it didn’t try to teach me to write. I’ve been writing for nearly 5 years, I didn’t need another course on the ‘hero’s journey’ and genre. It was more sophisticated than that – it treated us and our methods individually. So it’s hard to say what I learnt, but I know I’m a better writer now.’ Playwright Camilla Whitehilly

Deirdre O’Halloran, Associate Dramaturg at the Bush Theatre said ‘I’m so excited to welcome this new cohort of emerging writers to the Bush.  The programme is now in its fourth year and has really helped us to cement lasting relationships with talented new writers, some of whom we take on to commission or attachment, or in the case of Sophie Wu, to full production with her play Ramona Tells Jim.  I am thrilled to be working with these writers who tell stories in so many different ways – through poetry and comedy, using science fiction genre and song, but always with loads of heart.  I can’t wait to see what they write for the Bush!’