Left: Eclipse Theatre's Dawn Walton and Revolution Mix writer Shamser Sinha. (c) The Other Richard. Middle: The inaugural Revolution Mix workshop at the NT. (c) The Other Richard. Right: Revolution Mix writer Shamser Sinha and director Roy Alexander Weise at the National Theatre workshop. (c) The Other Richard.
Eclipse Theatre is marking a new milestone in its ‘Revolution Mix’ movement - which aims to create the largest ever national delivery of Black British stories produced and performed in regional theatres - developed in association with the National Theatre (NT).
A new collaboration will see the NT host up to 10 research and development workshops, giving Revolution Mix writers the opportunity to use its specialist studios and resources to develop their body of work.
The inaugural placement took place last week with Revolution Mix writer Shamser Sinha, who – with support from Eclipse Theatre – recently won Arts Council funding to produce his new play ‘Ujamaa’ (which means ‘familyhood’ in Kiswahili). Shamser has developed the first draft of his work with guidance and support from director, Roy Alexander Weise who recently won the James Menzies-Kitchen award for young directors, and musical director, Tayo Akinbode.
A rehearsed reading of the play, which centres around a Tanzanian family who move from post-colonial Tanzania to the UK in the 1970s, was presented at the National Theatre to an audience of Revolution Mix co-producers, theatre partners and artists from across the UK. Partners were invited to give feedback which Shamser will use to develop a second draft with dramaturgy support from Birmingham Repertory Theatre, one of the Revolution Mix theatre partners.
There are currently fourteen UK-based writers working with 12 partner theatres across the UK to develop a series of plays, radio plays and short-films as part of Revolution Mix, taking more than 500 years of Black and Asian British history as their starting point. The first theatre tour is set to open in spring 2017 with the remaining pieces being shown throughout 2017 and 2018.
Dawn Walton, artistic director of Eclipse Theatre and former acting head of the National Theatre Studio said: “This is a fantastic opportunity for our writers to use the resources of the NT and its broad networks. As a company our remit is to create and programme quality, challenging work across the regions, and the National Theatre’s New Work Department shares this ambition; aiming to develop work which will be delivered beyond its London stages. By working together on Revolution Mix, we can help artists by providing a support network as well as the tools to navigate what can be an impenetrable industry for Black and Asian writers.”
Emily McLaughlin, Head of New Work at the National Theatre added: “The National Theatre's New Work Department is delighted to be supporting Eclipse Theatre's Revolution Mix initiative with its partner theatres all over the UK. We believe it will play a significant role in generating a new and productive era of Black British playwriting.”
Revolution Mix was awarded an additional £125,000 in July by the Arts Council’s Catalyst Evolve programme; a new initiative that aims to support organisations in sustainable fundraising models by investing in their capacity, with money raised matched by the fund over a period of three years.
Info: Revolution Mix is supported by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation; Arts Council England; Heritage Lottery Fund; Fenton Arts Trust and Unity. To find out more about Revolution Mix visit www.eclipsetheatre.org.uk | @eclipsetcl | #Revmix | www.eclipsetheatre.org.uk
The Revolution Mix writers are:
- Perrie Balthazar
- Maurice Bessman
- Leah Chillery
- Lorna French
- Tyrone Huggins
- Afshan Lodhi
- Archie Maddocks
- Courttia Newland
- Chino Odimba
- Janice Okoh
- Juliet Gilkes Romero
- Shamser Sinha
- Paula B Stanic
The Revolution Mix partner venues are:
- Belgrade Coventry
- Birmingham Repertory Theatre
- Bristol Old Vic
- Hull Truck
- Liverpool Everyman & Playhouse
- National Theatre
- Northern Stage
- Royal Court Theatre
- Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester
- Salisbury Playhouse
- Sheffield Theatres
- West Yorkshire Playhouse