Seed Commissions 2021

In August 2020, as part of its biggest ever round of commissions, Camden People’s Theatre offered 9 seed commissions to artists from marginalised backgrounds, to support the development of innovative new theatre projects. Now, we’re proud to announce the selected artists and companies as Amy Terry and Jessi Clayton, Anna-Maria Nabirye, Kelly Jones, Lagahoo Productions, Nouveau Riche and Cal-I Jonel, Pia and Ellie, Terri Jade Donovan, The Not-God Complex and Vicky Moran.

These commissions were offered as part of an expanded scheme, originally offered to artists of colour exclusively, thanks to recent funding from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation and Inclusive Camden Fund. It recognises that artists of colour, D/deaf and disabled artists, and artists from working-class backgrounds are underrepresented in contemporary theatre – and addresses this under-representation.

The scheme has been running since 2015 and has supported over 25 artists to make bold, new, adventurous work. Successful projects to have emerged from the scheme include Lanre Malaolu’s Elephant in the Room, Paula Varjack’s The Cult of K*nzoRachael Young’s Nightclubbing and HighRise Theatre’s Merryville. To view the full list of projects click here.

Successful candidates will receive £750, one week’s rehearsal space (or one week’s supported digital R&D), and the opportunity to perform as part of our artistic programme.

See below for more information about the selected artists & their projects.

Amy Terry and Jessi Clayton, ‘(tres)passage’

Where do we belong? Are we strangers in our own land? Is this a passage or a (f*ck you) trespass?
At a time when the public has been told nature is our only refuge, it is being cordoned off from us. We say no more. We will be connected in isolation. Queer and Working-Class folx will not be trespassers on our own land. So, you write the script with us. You give us passage and we will trespass for you. What is passage and what is trespass? Where do you want to make passage? What land do you want to reclaim?

Amy Terry and Jessi Clayton are both regional working-class queer theatre artists who completed the MA in Text and Performance at RADA and Birkbeck. Amy is a writer/performer and researcher focusing on queer playwriting as a research tool. Amy has written and performed ‘A Good Night Out for the Gays’ (CPT & Karma Sanctum Soho) ‘expectations, great’ (CPT & Craftory Workshop) and ‘But I’m A…’ (CPT) and worked as an associate on ‘Land Without Dreams’ (Gate). Jessi Lee is a director, dramaturg, playwright, and researcher focusing on rural lesbian representation. Her work includes dramaturg and assistant director for ‘The Human Voice’ (Gate), director for ‘expectations’, ‘great’ and ‘But I’m A…’ (CPT), and dramaturgy and research assistant at Shakespeare’s Globe (2019/2020). Amy and Jessi are co-founders of theatre company Free School Lunch.

Twitter: @freeschoollunchtheatre | Instagram: @freeschoollunchtheatre 

Image by Emma Jane Richards

Anna-Maria Nabirye, ‘Ugandish’

“Only one of my grandparents is still alive and we have only ever spoken through the translation of others, she will die soon and we will have never spoken directly.”
Exploring ideas around home, nature vs. nurture, inherited colonial trauma and the spaces and cultures in between. Like the British Empire, I will seek to redraw the borders and boundaries of my identity in a bid to speak to her directly. I will set out to conquer the demons and mysteries of my identity and perhaps the land I seek no longer exists – but I will try to find it.

Anna-Maria Nabirye is a multidisciplinary artist working across visual arts, live art, social practice, theatre, film, TV and fashion. Her work is focused on the narratives of Black Women within the African Diaspora. Anna-Maria’s work combines and layers elements from the different creative worlds she occupies. Working in service of the subject material and audience, Anna-Maria allows that to lead and guide the main medium within which the work is presented. Anna-Maria is currently occupied with creating joy and how that intersects with the experiences and cultural representation of Black women.

Twitter: @AMNabirye | Instagram: @amnabirye

Cal-I Jonel and Nouveau Riche, ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’

No More Mr Nice Guy chronicles a year in the life of Keloughn; a British-Caribbean music teacher with big dreams of transforming his department. After a stressful start to his new job, struggling to balance work and play while side-stepping the microaggressions of the day, he becomes the victim of a traumatic incident. We are swiftly immersed inside the mind of our protagonist using a collage of storytelling, movement, Grime, Jazz, RnB and an interplay of effects. We witness Keloughn desperately holding on to his sanity whilst questioning who he is and if he ever really knew who he was.

Cal-I Jonel is a creative artist from East London. After a 10-year career in education, he left the teaching profession in 2018 to train at Identity School of Acting and the Maktub Theatre group. Cal-I played the role of Elder Ghali in West End’s ‘Book of Mormon’ after making his professional debut in February 2020.

Nouveau Riche is an award-winning creative movement, headed by a team of professional performing artists and producers. Our objective is to discover, nurture and produce unique stories with a keen scope on work that is both educational and entertaining.

Twitter: @nvrchuk @Jonel1| Instagram: @nvrchuk

Ellie and Pia, ‘The Friendship Project’

This show is an exploration of Ellie and Pia’s true friendship and the obstacles they had to overcome in order to be good to and for each other, showing what it was like to grow up in Islington (an underfunded inner-city borough) getting in trouble and trying to figure out what they would do after leaving the education system.

Ellie and Pia are 21 years old. Having left formal education, they have worked in professional venues such as Royal Court Theatre and Barbican Centre. This has made them both really passionate about making work as young people that is also available for young people as in these professional venues they did not feel this kind of work was prioritised.

Twitter: @ellieandpia | Instagram: @ellie.and.pia

Kelly Jones, ‘1.4 for a copy’

“I has always wanted to make a show about how my parents met on a CB Radio in Dagenham in 1980. About them and the stories of the bustling community of illegal pirate radioers that existed amongst under-classes in 1980s London.”
1.4 for a copy is a digital/live experience about community, connection and our relationship to the stories that are passed down to us.

Kelly Jones is a working-class playwright and theatre-maker from Dagenham. She was the winner of the BBC Drama Award in 2014. She has recently completed the Emerging Playwrights Program at The Bush Theatre. Currently on Hightide’s Playwrights cohort and Mercury Theatre’s Essex Voices. Kelly writes about the autobiographical with an emphasis on queerness, class and her relationship to home. Recent credits include: ‘Room to Escape’ (BBC Arts) ‘Comma’ (Sherman Theatre) ‘Garden Paradiso’ (Mercury Theatre) ‘Tammy’ (Queens Theatre Hornchurch) ‘The people’s platform’ (Commonwealth).

Twitter: @KMJwriter

Lagahoo Productions, ‘Bogeyman’

The first domino to topple in ending the trans-Atlantic slave trade and the European enslavement of West African people was the Haitian Revolution. Europe, by and large, has forgotten this important piece of history. In fact, Europe seems to think that slavery ended when lawmakers in London did lots of moral thinking and court cases. To this we say, “nah”. Lagahoo Productions will develop a blistering new multimedia show, Bogeyman, exploring the life of Francois Mackandal who, in his time, was the most successful rebel in the French colonies and the most feared man in all of Haiti.

Lagahoo Productions is an award-winning London-based theatre company led by Emily Aboud and Grace Dickson, formed to fill a gap in representation and to create formally innovative new writing for and by Caribbean people, with a focus on queer and diverse work. A New Diorama Emerging Company 19/20 and Soho Theatre Young Company, Lagahoo makes work that celebrates the magic of being Caribbean, challenging colonial and sexist conventions, all while empowering those who are bound in the shackles of colonial values. Caribbean culture is a magical combination of many cultures – rooted in sadness but universally sharing joy. Our work reflects this – our art must be political, else it is conservative.

Twitter: @lagahootheatre | Instagram: @lagahootheatre

Portrait By Lorna Fitzsimons

Terri Jade Donovan, ‘Imitation Princess’

“Tonight, I’m going to play a trick on you, and I don’t think you’ll like it.”
Imitation Princess tells the tale of Princess Caraboo of Javasu (or Mary Willcocks), the original Regency shit-stirrer and prankster, i.e. the ultimate disabled princess. In April 1817, Mary managed to fool Bristol’s high society into believing she was a sea-swept princess who had been kidnapped by pirates, just by lassoing them all into her imagination.  This is a radical disabled reclamation of her story.

Terri Jade Donovan is a Disabled and hard of hearing actor and writer from Manchester. They are a creative associate at Jermyn Street Theatre and are currently training on the BA acting course at The Lir, Dublin. Professional acting credits include Graeae Theatre’s BBC Radio 4 production of ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’. Terri’s work delves into memory, disability, feminist history and loss. Previous work includes ‘Finding Elsie’ (Contact Theatre), ‘Ready Brek’ (short – Royal Exchange) and ‘Hurricane Protest Songs’ (Rada studios/Rich Mix). Hana Pascal will be directing ‘Imitation Princess’.

Twitter: @T_J_Donovan | Instagram: @terri_donovan5

Image taken by Michael O’Reilly

The Not-God Complex, ‘I Talk with My Friends at the Witching Hour’

I Talk with My Friends at the Witching Hour is a project which combines folklore and fact to examine the ableism present in the medieval witch trials. It interrogates how this attitude is still present in the attitudes and medical bias disabled and neurodivergent women face today. Centring around themes of sacrifice and ritual, this project will explore what it meant to be a witch then, and what it means to be a witch now.

The Not-God Complex is an all-female collective of performers from all over Europe, working collaboratively to create interdisciplinary theatre through inclusive practice, in a reaction against the patriarchal ‘God-Complex’ methodologies often found in physical theatre practices. This project is led by Zoë Glen who is a neurodivergent performance maker and researcher whose work centres around disability arts practices, language and spirituality.

Twitter: @notgodcomplex | Instagram: @thenotgodcomplex

Vicky Moran with Claire Gilbert, ‘Womxn’s Project’

“We are at an urgent time right now. With domestic abuse rates soaring, particularly during the pandemic (REFUGE report 66%), it is womxn who have been hit hardest. Working together with womxn with lived experience of homelessness, we will develop and create a series of monologues inspired by their life stories. It’s a little bit immersive, a little bit audio experience, a little bit oral history – but fundamentally a theatrical moment, bringing human beings together in empathy.”

Vicky Moran is a director, writer and community arts facilitator. Her work centres around real stories and using art as activism. She has worked extensively both in professional and community settings with companies such as Cardboard Citizens, Clean Break, The Old Vic, Soho Theatre and Theatre 503. Vicky was the Writer/Director of ‘No Sweat’ (Pleasance/Lakeside Theatre Feb 2020) about the LGBTQIA+ experience of homelessness. Vicky will be working with Producer Claire Gilbert, filmmaker Abigail Sewell and Sound designer Nicola Chang alongside the womxn writer/actors.

Twitter: @vickymoran94 | @_ClaireGilbert_ |  @WomxnsProject