News

Improbable!

 

I am beyond delighted to have joined the mighty Improbable Theatre Company as Strategic Lead on The Gathering, the artistic search for a home.

A home for Improbable, who have never had one before. A home for improvisation, and a home for artists who have not had a home elsewhere.

A space for regeneration and creation, for relationships, for dreaming.

And part of Improbable’s legacy to the arts and to the world more broadly.

The story is just beginning to take shape and I’m honoured to be one of the people telling it.

You can read about the project here

 

Goodbye JW3, Hello whatever’s next

At the end of October 2021 I stepped down from my role as Director of Programming at JW3, which I held from 2017 to 2021. It was a privilege to work with the passionate and talented people at that mighty organisation.

In-person and online JW3 has so much to offer not just the Jewish Community but everybody who believes in culture, conversation and a life better lived encountering different people and ideas. As well as offering a joyful, inclusive and mind-bogglingly varied programme of activities and events, JW3 distributes thousands of meals per week to local people in need. The space that JW3 creates helps build the inclusive, resilient society we so need. And you don’t have to be Jewish!

JW3 is the only Jewish Arts, Cultural and Community Centre of its kind in the UK, and an organisation which is hugely ambitious in its cultural mission and scope.

I served on the Senior Leadership Team and led the creative, hugely talented team of staff and freelancers who produced our professional Arts and Culture output (including music, theatre, comedy, cinema and multidisciplinary work), our Adult Education classes and courses, a full programme of events for families, children and young people in their 20s and 30s, and a volunteering and social action programming including a food bank working in local, interfaith partnership to serve hundreds of thousands of meals to vulnerable local people.

During the pandemic I oversaw the transformation of our in-person work into a diverse and ambitious online programme which brought people together at a time when their horizons were shrinking, promoted diversity and excellence in Jewish culture and education, and provided milestones, reflection and celebration for tens of thousands of people. I steered the team to return activity safely and impactfully into the building, and to learn how to deliver in-person and digital work resiliently and to best effect. This was a constant and evolving process of learning, strategising, budgeting, encouraging, influencing and supporting staff.

I learned a huge amount during my time at JW3 and I am open to returning to theatre or to a new role in the charity sector. In theatre my absolute dream would be as the Artistic Director of a socially engaged and community-minded professional company, preferably in a jobshare. To veer more left field, I’d love to use my public speaking, writing and influencing skills to effect environmental change.

 

Director of Programming at JW3

I’m delighted to announce that in September I’ll be starting a new role as Director of Programming at JW3.

JW3 is a Jewish community and cultural centre in London, providing a programme of year-round events, both free and ticketed, for all sectors of the diverse Jewish community and for people of all backgrounds. Everyone is welcome!

The centre houses a cinema, a multi-purpose theatre hall, a demonstration kitchen, several classrooms, workshop spaces and arts and drama studios, a restaurant, cafe and bar… and a piazza which transforms from a beach in summer to an ice rink in winter.

I’m excited by the range and quality of the work which the phenomenal team at JW3 is able to provide for the public. More broadly, I’m inspired by JW3 as an inclusive, non-denominational, apolitical space of connection which is deeply important to the health of the Jewish community and the wider community.

I believe that the space created by JW3, and the connections made¬†in that space between people who might otherwise not encounter one another, can promote resilience at times when relations between communities ‚Äď and within them ‚Äď risk becoming brittle or fractured.

I’m thrilled¬†to be starting this new adventure.

Please see here for further information:

JW3 New Programming Director Press Release

This is Also England

I’m totally utterly delighted to be working on a new musical by my partner in crime from Pins and Needles, Joseph Finlay, and new accomplice Raphael Smith… and a little bit by me too.

This is Also England is a story of bravery, solidarity, oppression and love, set in a West London slum house in 1957. It‚Äôs a musical where personal struggles act in tandem with serious political themes: fighting free from unreasonable authority, the ugliness of racism, learning to overcome trauma through love, and accepting that change is inevitable and often for the better. The show brings together the experiences of Caribbean and Jewish immigrants and the indigenous Londoners who fought the war only to lose an empire and all the certainty that went with it. It’s set in the past but it’s really about us, now.

It’s brilliant. We’re writing, workshopping and pitching and I’ll post updates as I have them.

The picture above is not of This is Also England. We don’t have any pictures yet. It’s of Guys and Dolls. Because.

Beautiful Change

At the moment I’m working with Jeanette Bain-Burnett, a Creative Producer who works in Social Policy, on an event to share the highlights of her research into partnership working between arts organisations and social organisations, with reflections on effective partnership working more broadly and recommendations for a framework for sharing knowledge and embedding learning between partners.

Beautiful Change: What do cultural and social leaders learn when they work together?

It’s free to attend, it’s at City Hall in London on June 1st from 4.30pm-6pm, and if you’re interested in culture, social change, learning and managing knowledge then you’re invited. But space is limited and you must book through eventbrite here. Maybe see you there!

It’s Only Words but lots of people have read them

My article on our use of language in the arts, ‘Words, words, they’re all we have to go on’ – or, in its original title¬†‘It’s Only Words (And Words Are All I Have)’, which I suppose¬†they had to change for copyright reasons – has been listed as one of ArtsProfessional’s best read features in 2016. Fifth best read, I believe.

If you’re not one of the thousands who’ve read it (yes, really!) then you can just click on the link and catch up…

Whatever Happens (Next) to Mrs Exeter?

In May 2016 I directed the first showing of Whatever Happened to Mrs Exeter for Visible Theatre at Graeae’s Bradbury Studios to an invited audience of funders, industry professionals, company supporters and the real women on whose interview transcripts much of this semi-verbatim play (which was originally called The Wardrobe Project)¬†was based.

Here’s more info on the cast, script and process.

We’re debriefing at the moment but it’s looking good for a full run to theatre and non-theatre spaces later this year – more on that soon.

It’s Only Words (and words are all I have)

On Thursday 7 April, Arts Professional published my feature article on our use of language in the arts.

You can read it here.

During my time as a Clore Fellow 2013-2015, I had become increasingly uncomfortable with certain phrases and terms, including ‘diversity’, ‘cultural offer’ and even ‘creativity’. I began to feel that unless we challenged ourselves to improve our language, we would never make the progress we hoped for in the areas and ideas to which our words referred.

So I turned my frustration into… a stream of words.¬†The irony was not lost on me! The article was written as a provocation, rather than a definitive contribution, and I’d welcome comments if you see things differently (or even perhaps agree with me).

 

Casting!

This week, Thursday 10 and Friday 11 March, writer Sonja Linden and I will be casting for Visible Theatre’s¬†The Wardrobe Project, a new piece of theatre made in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, exploring age and identity through the clothing choices made by older women.

Sonja is the Artistic Director of Visible Theatre. You can read more about the play and the company here.

We’re looking for 6 actresses, playing age 60+, including a transgender actress, to first interview and then play a range of women, explore ensemble techniques for verbatim text, and dramatise the life and strange death of Vogue’s erstwhile older role model, Mrs Exeter (pictured above).

Please contact me if you would like more details.