Autumn 2020 at the Bush Theatre

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THE BUSH Theatre has reiterated their determination to ensure they stick steadfast to their mission of keeping the door open for the next generation of theatre-makers to come through.

Since lockdown began in March, it has been an incredibly difficult time for theatre-makers throughout the UK.

This year I’m thrilled that five of our EWG playwrights come from our unsolicited submissions process

Deirdre O’Halloran, Bush Theatre Literary Manager

But the Bush Theatre has been supporting the most exciting new artists for nearly 50 years and the venue today launches its sixth Emerging Writers’ Group programme with a new cohort of six writers who will each be given the chance to develop a full-length script supported by the Bush team.

They have also announced a series of workshops with local young people to co-create the theatre’s first-ever Young People’s Company which will launch in 2021.

The Bush is also partnering on two artistic projects with local community organisations: supporting five new films for Nubian Life’s new Youtube channel and working with White City Youth Theatre on their new radio play, Pioneers.

Since re-opening the building on August 6 following the lock-down, the Bush Theatre has worked with nearly 150 artists, local residents, and young people and welcomed 300 visitors.

This activity has been made possible by the success of the Write the Bush’s Future campaign.

So far the venue has raised 50 per cent of the campaign’s target, but they need to raise a further £25,000 and await Arts Council of England funding before they can viably put on socially distanced shows.

New Emerging Writers’ Group cohort

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

Previous EWG writers include Ella Road, Zia Ahmed, Tife Kusoro and Sophie Wu. Tife Kusoro enthused: “I loved my time on the EWG. It felt great to have the time and space to develop among other emerging writers and the Bush team were incredibly supportive throughout.

“The workshops really helped me explore different approaches to my own writing, and being in the frequent company of other emerging playwrights and their work was incredibly refreshing and encouraging.

“The thing I most appreciated was being able to work towards the goal of creating and showcasing a new piece of work with sustained support and care from a team that was really invested in my development as a writer and in my work.”

Deirdre O’Halloran, Bush Theatre Literary Manager said: “At the Bush we are committed to making our talent development programmes accessible and opening our doors to new writers.

“This year I’m thrilled that five of our EWG playwrights come from our unsolicited submissions process, which is open to playwrights across the UK and Ireland, and five of them are also first time playwrights.

“This is a brilliant group of writers and I’m so excited about the work they’re going to make.”

This year’s cohort of writers is 

Sophia Griffin, a theatre maker, writer, and performance poet based in Birmingham. She uses art as a tool to connect to herself and connect to others and is particularly interested in exploring themes of family, identity, and the impact of absence.  Last year, with support from the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Sophia wrote and performed in her first solo show, Fathers, Families, and F*ckboys, and has since worked on projects with The British Council and Warwick Arts Centre. Recently, Sophia has been working on a new digital series, SeaView as part of a West Midlands writer’s room, in collaboration with The Belgrade Theatre and Strictly Arts Theatre Company.

Sophia Griffin

Holly Rose Hawgood, an actor/writer from South East London. She was a hairstylist before studying a foundation in acting at RADA 2017 and will start formal training at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School 2020.  Her acting credits include Julie (National Theatre), Life On Wheels pilot (Amazon), Roadman Vampire (YouTube), WoLab Showcase (The Bunker Theatre), All That’s Left After All That Is The Silent Hum (Itch + Scratch Podcast)

Holly found her voice for writing when she completed WoLab’s Actor/Writer program  in 2018. She has since completed her first full-length play BURST which she hopes to perform in 2021. Holly enjoys writing in her own accent/dialect and is hoping to get more working-class voices and stories on to the stage as well as into the audience.

Kwame Owusu, a writer, director, and actor. He recently graduated with First Class Honours in Drama and English Literature from The University of Manchester and is now studying for an MFA in Theatre Directing at Birkbeck, University of London.

Kwame Owusu

His directing credits include Pomona (Edinburgh Festival Fringe) and The Wolf From The Door (John Thaw Studio Theatre). He was a Trainee Assistant Director on the world premiere of Rimini Protokoll’s Utopolis at Manchester International Festival 2019. He is currently directing a number of projects for screen for Kickitdown Productions.  Kwame’s acting credits include The Letters Project (Gate Theatre), Dear Elizabeth (Gate Theatre), Lost Boys (Unity Theatre), and Waiting for Godot (Theatre Royal Brighton). He is a Young Associate at the Gate Theatre and a Member of the National Youth Theatre.

Nikhil Parmar, an actor, and writer from Manchester. He studied History at the London School of Economics before starting his acting career in 2016. His credits include three seasons of Trollied (Sky One), After Life (Netflix), This Way Up (C4/Hulu), Brassic (Sky One), and Traitors (C4/Netflix).

As a writer, last year he graduated from Emmy-winner Andy Riley’s mentorship scheme for emerging comedy writers and shortly thereafter got an Additional Material credit on C4’s sitcom pilot Brad Boyz, in which he also starred. He recently completed a script commission based on an original half-hour comedy format for DNA Films & TV, and has other original series in development at Baby Cow Productions and SunnyMarch TV. Invisible is his debut play.

Beru Tessema, an actor, writer, and director making work both for stage and screen. He was born in Ethiopia and raised in London where he is now based. Beru trained as an actor at RADA before going on to study screenwriting at London Film School.  

Beru Tessema

Beru has written, produced, and directed several short films including Absence (2014) and Verse (2015). He made his professional debut as a screenwriter in 2016 when he co-wrote the feature film Barley Fields on The Other Side of the Mountain which was nominated for best feature film at the Valladolid International Film Festival under the Seminci Joven Award.

As well as developing new work for the theatre, Beru is currently writing a feature film project, Angell Town, as a recipient of the Creative England development fund. He is also working on a short film project, Lions, which he will be directing with the support of Film 4 and BFI Network.  In addition to writing and directing, Beru teaches Screen Acting at RADA.

Kit Withington, a playwright from Manchester. In 2015 her debut play The View From Down Here was part of Ovalhouse’s First Bites season. She has since written plays for several community theatre projects including writing Streets, a piece of promenade theatre for Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Young Company in 2016. Kit was a member of Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab in 2018. Her play As We Face the Sun (formerly titled Scrap) was shortlisted for the Tony Craze Award and had a reading at the theatre. In 2019 Kit was on the Royal Court’s Intro Writers’ Group. Since April 2020 she has been part of the Royal Court’s invitational group. 


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