Meet Paines Plough’s Re:Assemble cohort 2020

Re:Assemble is a professional development programme launched by Paines Plough in 2020 to collectively identify, challenge and evolve existing dramaturgical systems and practice. This project is about broadening the pool of practitioners we support so that we might work individually and as a team to identify the best conditions in which bold, eclectic and visionary writers can thrive.

 As a team, the Re:Assemble cohort will build a resource which will be made available to all arts practitioners as an open-source guide to best practise. Paines Plough will commit to putting this guide into action across our own work, and to supporting our peer organisations to follow its recommendation.

Markella Syrri

Markella is a Greek Dramaturg and Theatre maker. She holds a postgraduate degree in Dramaturgy and Playwriting and has participated in different devised projects along with working in backstage theatre. She collaborates with emerging playwrights in the development of original scripts. She is interested in work that explores the complexity of identity and culturally specific writing that challenges the audience’s perspective. As a non English speaker she finds the possibility of creating new linguistic codes and dialects for the UK stage fascinating.

Markella’s question: How do we support writers to speak their own language? How do we curate the space for culturally specific and polyglot work?

Cassiopeia Berkeley-Agyepong

Cassiopeia is an actress, singer and theatre-maker passionate about new writing in theatre and opera. She studied Music at the University of York and Musical Theatre at the Royal Academy of Music. Credits include: Shuck ’n’ Jive (co-writer/co-producer) and Caroline, or Change (U/S Radio and The Moon) | 

Cassiopeia’s question: What lessons can music teach us about storytelling and how can we better harness its power to support or subvert meaning as part of our dramaturgical practice?

Elizabeth Chan

Elizabeth’s first play, written on the Royal Court Writers Group, was long listed for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting. Using creative and spiritual practices she has been exploring the themes ‘traumatic structures’ and the melancholy of race, investigating cultural memory, loneliness and fragmented narratives through text and the body.

Elizabeth’s question: How can the dramaturg make the world a more expansive place?

Frey Kwa Hawking

I’m a London-based dramaturg and critic, writing for Exeunt Magazine and The Stage, and am the Unicorn Theatre’s Schools Officer. I’m currently Dramaturg Assistant on the Young Vic’s Neighbourhood Voices programme, have taken part in the Royal Court’s Script Panel, and love new writing. I am quite trans and angry. @absentobject.

Frey’s question: Thinking about the dominance of the “well-made play”, do we need shifts in the language we use and the shapes through which we view narratives to ensure we don’t bend or pass over unfamiliar and non-Western story structures? 

Layla Madanat

Layla is an Arab-British interdisciplinary creative. Whatever the form the work takes, she is driven by telling stories centred around social justice, aiming to shake up power landscapes. She enjoys working with new writers to tell unheard stories, and merging art of all forms to spark bold discussions.    

Layla’s question: How can we tailor conditions for a safe and supportive dramaturgical relationship, especially when a writer and dramaturg come from different lived experiences? 

Naomi Obeng

Naomi is a playwright and critic. Her writing has been supported by Soho Theatre, the Royal Court, Leicester Curve and Nottingham Playhouse, and her first full length play was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Playwriting. She writes for Exeunt and The Stage and co-edits Noises Off at the National Student Drama Festival.

Naomi’s Question: Are all dramaturgs suited to any writer? And how do dramaturgs work to support writers in non-traditional storytelling, where certain norms and structural expectations don’t apply?

Alessandra Davison

Alessandra is a director, poet and photographer from Birmingham, currently with the Jamie Lloyd EMERGE company and on the Genesis Network at the Young Vic where she has previously trained and made work. She was formerly the associate director on ‘Torch Song’ for Turbine Theatre and an associate agitator at the Royal Court. Her poem ‘The Thing About Symmetry’ is studied at LAMDA Grade 8 and she runs her own theatre photography business.

Alessandra’s Question: How can we make sure that untold and under represented stories get appropriate dramaturgical support from a practise that has evolved around a traditional canon of work and form?

Robert Awosusi

Robert is a theatremaker based in London. He creates performance work (live and recorded) that explores socio-political issues, championing and uplifting marginalised voices and communities in meaningful and stimulating worlds. His current focuses are around Blackness, capitalism and climate change. Recent work includes: Fairview (Young Vic) – Assistant Director, Radio Elusia (Boundless Theatre Podcast) – Associate Director. 

Robert’s question: How do the work of dramaturgs factor into the wider ecology of theatre / performance making, whether in-house or freelance? What is the story we currently want theatre to tell? Or can tell? Who are we leaving behind? What should we leave behind?

Gift Ajimokun

Gift is a culture curator, producer, facilitator, an inclusion and equity advocate and founder of OKE London; a demi-fine jewellery brand that aims to create visibility for the Urhobo people of Nigeria who are an ethnic minority. Prior to this Gift has worked for Penguin Random House, Wellcome Collection and Unilever. She has been awarded the Investing in Ethnicity Top 10 BAME workplace Heroes award 2019. She part of the Sour Lemons MAKING LEMONADE 2020 cohort.

Gift’s question: How does white supremacist culture effect writing, dramaturgy and the theatrical process?  

Cameron Sharp

Cameron Sharp is a queer theatre maker/producer based in Newcastle. He is an associate artist at Live Theatre and co-founder of theate company/drag trio, Bonnie and The Bonnettes, and queer collective, The House of Love. His work is largely influenced by storytelling, identities, gender, sexuality, and all things that sparkle. 

Cameron’s question: Where can dramaturgy exist among theatre companies? The lines are so blurred in terms of who does what, how they work, is one person in charge. Is peer-dramaturgy a thing and if so what processes are there or can be put in place to develop this? 

Joanne Skapinker

Joanne Skapinker is a theatre-maker, dramaturg, facilitator and creative producer from London. Her work spans participatory performances, international collaborations and inclusive practice: she has worked with playwrights in New York City, circus performers in France, teenagers in Finland and teachers in Birmingham. She is currently Enrichment Projects Manager at Punchdrunk.

Joanne’s Question: How can we develop modes and processes of dramaturgy which we can use, adapt or invent to fuel the creation of socially-engaged theatre, and how can we make these accessible and shareable?

Amy Bethan Evans

Amy is a playwright, dramaturg and disability activist originally from Bristol. She is currently on commission to the Royal Court and on attachment to the National Theatre Studio. Her plays include Libby’s Eyes (Bunker) and Tinted (Vaults) and she reads for 503 and Finborough as well as co-curating the Access Platform at Vaults 2019 and the Bierkeller’s New Writing Platforms in Bristol 2013-16. 

Amy’s question: I feel like disability activism is often treated like an intersection to other activism, rather than the lens we apply first. I’m interested to see what happens when we do that and also how to make checking other kinds of privilege accessible.

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