Category Archives: Tamasha Developing Artists

‘My Journey’ by Made In India Assistant Director Corey Campbell

Ulrika Krishnamurti as Aditi in Made in India - Credit Robert Day

Ulrika Krishnamurti as Aditi in Made In India – Photo by Robert Day

My road here, from growing up in Alum Rock to becoming a Tamasha Developing Artist, has been a long one. Like many from my area it began with me misbehaving and getting into trouble with the police. The first people to offer me a chance were West Midlands Mediation, a non-profit organisation from Birmingham, they found me and asked ‘what do you want to do?’ They told me that my behaviour was down to the fact that I didn’t know how to express myself. At the time I thought it was arty-farty nonsense, but what they were offering sounded better than prison so I decided to give it a go. Initially I got into music, I was taught to rap and MC and it gave me a full sense of release. That led to me taking part in the E4 School of Performing Arts show, but they didn’t have any music slots left and the only spaces were for actors. I thought that actors were all extroverts and, as someone with serious learning difficulties and social anxieties, it wasn’t a career I’d ever considered, but I just had to go for it.

During that time I got into trouble again. It was serious, with the prospect of a long sentence, but here’s where my story gets interesting. Through working with West Midlands Mediation I had met David Vann, the person who went on to become my guardian angel. David, someone who to me was strange looking with pierced nipples and crossed legs, turned up again at this potentially disastrous point in my life. He said, ‘you carry on down this road and we can see it’s about to lead you to a lifetime inside a square box. You’ve only got one option left, you’re going to come with me and I am going to sort you out. They’re not going to hear from you again and you’re not going to hear from them again.’

I was only 17 and thought that if David wanted to be my Good Samaritan I’d just run with it. It turned out that he was the head of the part-time courses at the Birmingham School of Acting. The first thing he did was put me on a course during the summer holiday, so that I couldn’t get into trouble. He helped me relearn to read, get my GCSEs and GNVQs, he paid for the courses and then when I was 20 he also helped get me into drama school. Once again it was David who filled in the forms and put in a good word for me. When I started at drama school I was a terrible actor, the worst there. Some of the other guys had been doing it their whole lives. So I dedicated my time there to becoming the best. David’s passion had always been Shakespeare and I fell in love with it too. Particular highlights were performing Coriolanus at The Globe as part of the Sam Wanamaker Festival and an adaption of the Tempest at the Matedero in Spain.

Made In India-Rehearsal-68-SMALL

Made In India rehearsal at The Belgrade Coventry

The most memorable moment of all though came during my very last show at drama school. I was playing the part of Mack the Knife in The Threepenny Opera at The Crescent Theatre. At the very same time my Uncle had just been released from prison and he came straight to see me perform. As with all my family, he didn’t understand theatre etiquette so when the show finished he stormed up on stage, through the curtain and straight into the back stage area. We were both in bits, I was so pleased to see him and he was so proud of what I’d accomplished. It’s one of my strongest memories as it shows how what I’ve done has affected my whole family.

David died in October 2014 and it tore a massive whole in my heart. Since I was a boy I’ve been used to death, murders, cancers, all of that and it never fazed me at all. But this destroyed me. His passing made me determined to make my own theatre company, Strictly Arts. I remembered everything that David Vann had done for me and thought that I needed to be able to give the same kind of opportunity to other people. I have to be able to do that to honour the man who picked me up from nowhere and changed my whole life. He supported me through this very violent journey that I was taking, until I could finally be free.

Strictly Arts is now a springboard company at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry and I’m a creative associate there. The Belgrade took us on in 2015 and then in 2016 Tamasha agreed a co-producing partnership with The Belgrade Theatre Coventry for Made In India. As part of the TDA programme, Tamasha seek funding to offer a bursary to an emerging artist to become an Assistant Director for each of their national touring productions. The director Katie Posner and the Tamasha team were looking for an assistant and hadn’t been able to find anyone suitable. I came along, we got on really well and we successfully applied to the Regional Young Directors Scheme’s 3-month placement to become the Assistant Director. It’s another instance where my life in theatre has been a big stroke of luck, everything has just flipped into place, one thing after the other.

The full cast of Made in India - Credit Robert Day (2)

The full cast of Made In India – Photo by Robert Day

Being involved with Made In India has been very good for me. It’s an all-female cast, which isn’t something I’m used to, and that brings a very different dynamic. The characters are very strong and the actors also have strong opinions on the subject matter. My theatre company specialises in physical theatre and we therefore spend a lot of time being very boisterous, throwing each other around and testing our limits, whereas Made In India is much more text based. The read-through’s make for an interesting comparison. I’ve been an assistant a few times before but it can be a difficult role because you never know where you stand. Some directors really want you to be verbal and upfront, whereas others want you to be behind them to reinforce what they’re saying.

Working with Katie has been a great experience, especially seeing how subtle and organic she is as a director. Actors want to do what is right for their character but that doesn’t always fit with the way the director wants things to go. I’ve been in positions as an actor where a director has told me ‘listen, what you’re doing is crap, you’re going to have to change it,’ and that can destroy some people. Katie is very subtle in the way that she works actors round to seeing the process as she wants them to see it and helping them take decisions which suit the play, without ever telling them that’s the decision she wants them to make. She’s also fantastic at networking. Because I have these social anxieties, one of the things I fall down on is networking, and Katie has been talking to me about how to approach people in order to get what I need as both an artistic director and an actor.

One of the main reasons I wanted to be part of Tamasha’s Developing Artists programme was because Strictly Arts is now beginning to commission playwrights to write plays on our behalf and I’d never seen that process before. It was so helpful to be with the Made In India cast and the company, and have the writer Satinder Chohan in the room, discussing things tactfully and coming to such a great conclusion in the end.

Ulrika Krishnamurti as Aditi and Gina Isaac as Eva in Made in India - Credit Robert Day

Ulrika Krishnamurti as Aditi and Gina Isaac as Eva in Made In India – Photo by Robert Day

As part of my role I’ve been “seeing in” the shows in Edinburgh and Lancaster. It’s all about making sure the actors are comfortable and that the lighting is the way was during the opening run at The Belgrade, and making any necessary changes. Every space is different; some are naturally darker or have newer lights which are just ready to beam as the wattage is flying through them. Because the set uses a lot of screens it’s also about working with the actors on the transitions, helping them because the space has changed. At this point I’m not really interested in giving actors notes because the show is theirs and they’re doing a great job. I’m just making sure that the staging is working and the audience is getting the best possible show.

I’m also helping create a curtain raiser for the CREATE rural tour in April. It will be a 15-minute piece that people will see before the main Made In India show and I’ll be working with young people from the North East. I love working with young actors, especially those, like myself, who haven’t always known that this is the career they want. I didn’t know that this was something I actually wanted to do until I was put in the firing line to do it. One of the things that I try to standby is that I live, I learn, I progress and then I pass it on. I’ve lived, I’ve seen a whole lot of badness, then I learnt (thanks to David), I progressed in life and now it’s time to pass it on. Of course I want to keep learning too, but my whole existence is because of that one opportunity that he gave to me and if I can do the same for anybody else then I will.

Syreeta Kumar as Dr Gupta and Gina Isaac as Eva in Made in India - Credit Robert Day

Syreeta Kumar as Dr Gupta and Gina Isaac as Eva in Made In India – Photo by Robert Day

It’s great to be able to bring this show to rural places, and parts of the country that wouldn’t normally get to see it. It will be amazing to go and present this show to them and understand what they think or feel about the themes. Made In India is for anybody, woman or man, in particular anyone who has gone through surrogacy, the IVF process or has lost children; it affects people universally. The surrogacy industry in India is very unique, I didn’t know anything about it before, I had no clue that it even existed. It’s a massive industry for India, they’re making ridiculous amounts of money and many poor young women see it as their only lifeline and many are completely put through the mill. I still don’t know where I stand on it, it’s a really tough story.

I owe the RTYDS, Tamasha and The Belgrade a big thank you for all of their support. Not just for awarding the bursary but for seeing the potential in what I do and am trying to achieve. The fact that they have enabled me to work on Made In India means that they’ve seen some level of potential in me and that has given me a big lift. Everyone at Tamasha, especially Satinder and Katie, have given me such an invaluable experience. We need all the support that we can get in this life and I’m so grateful to everyone who has helped me. The biggest thank you, as always, is to David Vann.


Tamasha Playwrights Intensive Play Writing Week

Tamasha Playwrights is a writer-led collective founded in October 2014 by Artistic Director Fin Kennedy and formed of 8 emerging playwrights from a diverse range of backgrounds.

Refreshed yearly, the aims of Tamasha Playwrights ranges from offering long-term career development to providing showcase opportunities to promote the writers and their work to the professional theatre industry.

This year, for the first time, both cohorts of the playwrights groups will be taking part in an intensive play writing week. Between Monday and Friday at the Tricycle Theatre, the week features quiet writing time as well as 5 leading playwrights and theatre makers as visiting tutors, alongside one-to-one advice sessions with  Dawn King and Tamasha Artistic Director Fin Kennedy. Omar Elerian of the Bush Theatre will also direct a company of actors in workshop readings of the writers’ work.

In the spirit of Tamasha Playwrights as a writer-led collective everything is scheduled by demand from the group themselves.

The schedule for the week:

Monday 8th February
10.30am-1pm  – Quiet writing time and one-to-ones with Fin Kennedy
2pm-5pm – Devising workshop with Complicite director and performer Clive Mendus

Tuesday
10am-1pm – Dawn King workshop and Q & A
2-6pm – Quiet writing time and one-to-ones with Dawn King

Wednesday
10am-1pm – Tanika Gupta workshop and Q & A
2-4.30pm – Quiet writing time and one-to-ones with Fin Kennedy
4.30-6pm – Dennis Kelly Q & A

Thursday
10am-1pm – Roy Williams workshop and Q & A
2-6pm – Quiet writing time and one-to-ones with Fin Kennedy

Friday
10am-6pm – Workshop readings of 10-15min script extracts with director Omar Elerian and 4 x actors.

For more information on Tamasha Playwrights click here.

 


Call Out for Female Residents of Tower Hamlets from Mulberry Alumni Theatre

Are you a former Mulberry student or a female resident of Tower Hamlets?

 Become an acting-member of a all-female theatre group

No previous experience required, just commitment and willingness to give it a go!

An exciting opportunity for former Mulberry School students and women residing in Tower Hamlets to come together, be creative and explore the world of theatre. Whether you would simply like to take up a hobby, grow in confidence, develop your interpersonal skills and make new friends; Mulberry ATC is a fantastic resource.

The Mulberry Alumni Theatre Company (Mulberry ATC) was established in January 2014 and is driven and led by Mulberry Alumni. The company is currently seeking new acting members to join the group and take part in staging a production.

Members will work with a Theatre Director every Tuesday (6pm to 9pm) from 1st March 2016 sessions to rehearse the production for 12 weeks for two evening performances on Thursday 26th and Friday 27th May 2016 at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) theatre.

Members will be required to attend taster workshops in February (dates and times listed below), weekly rehearsals every Tuesday from 1st March 2016 from 6pm to 9pm, including some extra evening rehearsals during the performance week.

Taster workshops:

To become an acting member Email abegum1@mulberry.towerhamlets.sch.uk and come along to a taster workshop at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) Theatre on the dates and times listed below;

  • Thurs 11th Feb* 6pm to 9pm
  • Wed 17th Feb* (half term) 6pm to 9pm
  • Wed 24th Feb* 6pm to 9pm

At Mulberry ATC, we stand for diversity, creativity and personal growth. Our members develop a range of skills and performance experiences which will enable them to bring energy to their work, develop interpersonal skills, and enhance trust in their own creative thinking. Members will;

  • Participate productively in shared group experienceParticipate productively in shared group experienceParticipate productively in shared group experienceBuild on their confidence/ public speaking skills.
  • Participate creatively and productively in a shared group experience.
  • Learn, and explore techniques used by professional actors.
  • Develop performance skills.
  • Work with professional theatre practitioners/ artists.
  • Take part in various drama workshops.
  • Have access to subsidised tickets to watch theatre productions at least 4 times a year.
  • Make new friends in a positive, dynamic and fun environment.

Rehearsal dates (Tuesdays)

Dates:              1st March – 17th May 2016 (12 weeks)

Time:               6pm to 9pm

Location:        Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) Theatre

  • 01st, 8th, 15th, 22nd & *29th March
  • *05th, 12th, 19th, & 26th April
  • 03rd, 10th & 17th, May

*Easter Half term (2 weeks)

Production week – from Sat 21st May 2016

  • Sat 21st May: 11am to 6pm           (full day rehearsal)
  • Tues 24th: 6pm to 9pm                (Technical rehearsal)
  • Wed 25th: 6pm to 9pm                 (Dress rehearsal)
  • Thurs 26th: 6pm to 9pm              (performance 1 to begin at 7pm)
  • Fri 27th: 6pm to 9pm                   (performance 2 to begin at 7pm)

To become a member/ for further information please contact;

Afsana Begum: Artistic Producer

Phone: 07469 790 410

Email: abegum1@mulberry.towerhamlets.sch.uk

 

Non-acting roles

We welcome members who would like to take on non-acting roles whether in costume/ set design, marketing or front of house during the performance night. Please enquire about any particular non-acting roles you would like to be involved in.

 

Location

Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre Theatre

Cannon St Rd,

London

E1 2LG

 

Map and directions to the MBGC

The Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre is located on Bigland Street, behind Mulberry School for Girls between Cannon Street Road and Watney Market. The MBGC is approximately 5 minutes’ walk from Shadwell DLR and Over-ground stations and approximately 15 minutes’ walk from Whitechapel Tube station.

Directions to MBGC from Shadwell DLR:

Exit down the stairs and turn right out of the DLR Station on to Watney Street. After approximately 50 metres turn left on to Bigland Street. Follow the road around and continue walking for about three minutes past Bigland Green Primary School until you reach the MBGC gate on your right. The centre is set back from the road.

 

Directions to MBGC from London Over ground/ Shadwell Tube:

Exit the station on to Cable Street and turn left.  Take the next left on to Watney Street, past the DLR Station and then follow the directions above.

Extra rehearsal times during Easter Half Term (to be agreed with director & group)

  • Wed 30th March
  • Wed 6th April

 

About Mulberry ATC

An all-female theatre company established in January 2014 driven and led by Mulberry Alumni. The company aims to bridge the important gap between education and the wider professional theatre industry for BAME women, representing a new generation of female theatre makers from the local community of Tower Hamlets.

Its remit is to offer a creative space at the Mulberry & Bigland Green Centre (MBGC) for BAME women in the local community of Tower Hamlets, who enjoy drama, to collaboratively make new and original performances. The group meet weekly to take part in workshops, rehearse for two annual showcase, and work with professional theatre practitioners.

Workshops with leading female Theatre Directors                                                               

Josie Rourke; Artistic Director of Donmar Warehouse     

Date:               Thursday 4th Feb 2016

Location:        Donmar Warehouse

Time:               4.45pm (prompt start)

 

Take part in a workshop with Josie Rourke from 5pm to 7pm before you watch her latest production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses at 7.30pm for only £10!

 

Phyllida Lloyd

Date, time & Location to be confirmed        

 

Vicky Featherstone; Artistic Director of The Royal Court Theatre

Date, time & Location to be confirmed

           

Melly Still

Date, time & Location to be confirmed

 

 

 

 


Blood: in rehearsals

Observer Christa Harris has been sitting in on rehearsals for Tamasha’s new production of Blood at Belgrade Theatre Coventry. Here are her thoughts from the first week

Blood in rehearsals

Blood in rehearsals at Belgrade Theatre Coventry. Photo: Christa Harris

As an emerging theatre director I am constantly looking for opportunities to learn and develop my craft. My experience so far spans from amateur to fringe theatre, but I have had very little professional guidance; so when Tamasha offered me chance to observe their rehearsals for Blood as part of their Developing Artists programme I jumped at the chance.

My first morning began with a meet and greet with the creative team. It was great to have the opportunity to mingle with the group before getting our heads stuck into the text and I already felt like I was in good company within the first few moments of being there. By midday I had listened to the read-through of Blood by the brilliant actors Krupa Pattani and Adam Samuel Bal, got to grips with the space as well as explored the set, designed by Sara Perks.

The set, which has been described as an ‘urban box’ is gritty, isolated and multifaceted; to look upon it you can see an exciting city landscape and, in the next moment, a barren flat. There is a melancholia attached to the set as well as a simmering energy of rebellion. Its versatility which will host over thirty scenes in different locations is simply remarkable. The shades of greys incorporated in the set alongside the light boxes and the capacity to inject bright colour generate a clever metaphor of the love story of Sully and Caneze: two young people who find love in a despondent place.  I could already see that the prison-like quality of the grey and steel framework juxtaposed with colour and light would enhance the mind-set of our two protagonists: at times completely trapped and isolated and other times filling each other’s’ world with colour and believing in their future. Set design has always been something that has interested me, a well thought out set can help define an entire play as well as add layers and meaning and so I was thrilled when Tamasha’s set had exceeded my expectations on the first day.

In the afternoon, director Esther Richardson led a discussion in which the team delved deeper into the world of the play: its language, its timeframe and, most importantly, its characters. The discussion was a way of tapping into the foundations of Blood and finding out how the characters function on a day to day basis: who they socialise with, what their history is and what their words reveal. As far as a traditional play goes, Blood breaks all of the rules; the events take place on stage over a year, but contained within our characters’ memories. At times the audiences will be completely immersed in what they believe is the present, but then sucked back out when the characters turn to them and deliver their lines directly. This is incredibly powerful tool as we are asked, not just as an audience, but as fellow citizens to listen to Sully and Caneze – they want us to hear their story and remember it. This discussion felt important in laying down the foundations of the play and I felt that I could now conceive a clear image of two fully formed characters and the worlds around them.

One of the things that really struck me on the first day was the amount of people on the creative team. I have always loved the idea of having a large creative team behind a production but have always found it difficult to have everyone on board from day one. I never knew how useful it was to have a lighting designer, sound designer and set designer in the rehearsal room right from the start of the rehearsal process, but there was so much that came out of the read-through and discussion from having all members there to contribute to and deliberate over the play. The play already felt epic and I could not wait to see what the rest of the week would reveal to me.

By day three of the week, I had witnessed the two actors approach the first few scenes in a variety of ways. Not only was it important to Esther to dig as deep as possible into the characters’ psychology, emotions and their outer surroundings, but a keen interest in the poetics of how the characters speak and their movement was a vital part of the process. When writing this now, it seems natural to assume that these things are practised in a rehearsal room, but it was the amount covered within such a short space of time that was amazing to watch. The use of spoken word throughout Blood is something that at times injects a stylistic angle on the play, a fluid poetic style is overt and the body language of the piece comes to life in the short sharp scenes that portray a whirlwind romance which comes to a head. This rhythm which changes tempo throughout the piece, was complemented in the rehearsal room by both Assistant Director Ryan Harston, a physical theatre performer and director whose hip-hop roots really brought the piece to life, and Movement Director Kitty Winter, who’s work with Laban allowed huge amounts of experimentation with the proxemics for each moment. In continuously reaping over a scene with new approaches, new revelations were made and interesting nuances were created between the characters. After each scene was read a new discussion was held, the actors would question their motivation for everything their character did and Esther would guide them to find the right answers. I felt the work being done wasn’t necessarily about creating something which was technically ‘perfect’ but making something with a purpose. Mining the text in this way was fascinating to watch and I learned a lot from this process; it will definitely be something that I introduce to my own rehearsal room.

As part of my Observership I was very lucky to be able to interview Blood writer Emteaz Hussain. It was great to talk to Emteaz about her ideas for the play, what inspired her and where her preferences lie in terms of her writing style. Emteaz has a natural flair for spoken word performance and her life experiences have clearly inspired her to write a piece about the complexity of love, the exploration of identity and the courage of youth. No matter what the experiences that lie behind the play or whoever the people are who have inspired her along the way, her story is primarily about hope and love. During a discussion on day four of the observership, Esther spoke of how ‘love allows you to see everything vividly and in different colours. You’re so lucky if you have loved or feel loved. Otherwise, life can feel like a world without colour’. Esther went on to speak of how love is not being entirely a ‘spring meadow’ as one who loves also has a fear of losing the thing they love so much. This analysis of love, felt to me the absolute reason for the journey these characters go on. It was clear from the beginning of the week that Hussain and Richardson work so well together and listening to their rationale behind the play highlighted this even further. By the end of the week, I could see the bones of the first part of the play. Although the journey had just begun, I already felt huge promise. I had gone from a captivated reader of the play to an observer completely in love with the characters and the story.

A lot of the time when I go to see theatre I analyse every little detail to the point where I worry about clarify of thoughts and misconstruing actions; but with Blood I could see that everything was covered – new things sprung up every day and each and every thought was well-considered: whether this was contemplation on the entire arc of the play, a small design decision or inspection of the way a particular line was delivered. There was so much trial and error and it was amazing to witness a team work with the text attentively and wrestle with moments of uncertainty until there was an epiphany in the room. This was something I loved most about my observership, as it highlighted to me that you don’t always have to have the answers straight away, but instead, it’s healthier to test things out, mine for meanings and create something better than anticipated.

One of the reasons I was drawn to taking this observership with Tamasha was due to my passion for making theatre which holds a mirror up to society and investigates the culturally diverse community that surrounds us. My week with the company gave me a shrewd insight into the rehearsal room which was so helpful to my development at this stage in my career. I am so grateful for having the time to witness Esther create magic in the rehearsal room with the beautiful words of Emteaz Hussain and two very talented actors. The observership not only motivated me within my own craft, gain a set of new skills and ideas of how to execute particular rehearsals, but it allowed me to gain the confidence that from time to time I have lacked. It was one of the most insightful and exciting weeks in my career to date and can only thank the team for allowing me to be a small part of their journey and mine.


Actors’ Masterclass with Iqbal Khan

Last week we held a two day Acting Masterclass, led by Iqbal, on approaching complex language in plays, ranging from Shakespeare to Contemporary Texts. He looked at how actors can find this complex voice in texts which tackle big ideas.

‘What a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging and inspiring two days. Iqbal has an infectious passion for language and a way of letting everyone access the text with ease, with a focus on conveying the true meaning of a thought or idea. As someone who thought I’d never crack verse speaking, I now feel liberated and confident to explore the words on a page and not only to find understanding but also to express the ideas in a speech in a way that doesn’t alienate an audience but let’s them in. I feel that this will hugely impact my on stage delivery and can’t wait to put my new skills to work. Bravo!’
Vineeta Rishi

‘Iqbal is fantastic: out of all the workshops I’ve done, working with him has been by far the most enjoyable, challenging, and helpful. His talent, acumen, and teaching ability is exceptional: I can think of few ways to better hone my craft.’
Shamir Dawood

‘Working with Iqbal was exactly what I needed; he created a very honest atmosphere from the get-go and asked each one of us to tell him what our fears were when working with complex text. And that led to me feeling more comfortable with exploration of the text. Iqbal challenges you to not be lazy with text as an actor, he works in an extremely detailed manner and breaks down the text with you, but then allows you to run with it yourself. It was a wonderful boost for me as an actor and I feel so much more confident now going into an audition with a complex speech ready to perform.’
Dhiren Gadhia

‘Iqbal Khan’s Masterclass, was nothing short of extraordinary. Iqbal introduced a new way of approaching complex text, spending time on each of us, addressing our personal needs. He created a safe environment for us to not only be creative, but also ask frank questions about text, the industry and life as an actor. Personally, I learnt much which I can incorporate into my work, whether it be working on a play or prepping for an audition. Also, it was good to be introduced to new vocal exercises, which, although were challenging, if I should continue to practice, will help me no end.’
Bhella Candenti

‘A thoroughly helpful, encouraging and inspiring 2 days. Iqbal spent detailed time with every participant, working with them individually. We were given a useable toolkit to open up and share complicated ideas and language. There was a strong focus on sharing – with the audience and with your co-actor in a scene. We explored different emphasis within sentences/verse lines to find the clearest way to share an idea. This was an excerise to encourage understanding.

The most exciting work came through when the idea was being discovered in the moment, with the audience – putting yourself in an honest, vulnerable and therefore, exciting position and allowing the audience to discover and understand the text with you. Equally, we were encouraged to trust the language as well as focusing on being understood and in this way, organic, genuine emotion emerged. This helped us avoid generalised washes of anger, sadness etc. We put characters to the test: what do they want from this conversation, play that and see what happens, using the language as your tool to get it. Listen and pick up on words your partner has just said – how do they further the argument or test the relationship? The most unique and unexpected things could then happen because we were connected, open and our imaginations were free. For me, one of the most important discoveries was that anxiety can shut down your voice and shut down your imagination and you become an actor that the audience starts to worry about and not really listen to. When anxiety is out of the way, you have gotten out of your own way and you can then be the actor you really are.’
Suzanne Ahmet

‘The two day Acting Masterclass Workshop with Iqbal khan left me buzzing. I since have been unable to remove my nose from the spines of classic texts. The workshop was exactly what I needed – a boost of confidence to show me I already have the ability to attack and play with Shakespeare, Ibsen etc but also Iqbal seems to inject this passion into you that makes you, quite simply, excited to attack and play with these classic texts, or even all texts. It was just fantastic, I learnt so much and Iqbal was just wonderful to work with.’
Naomi Stafford

‘Iqbal’s masterclass was truly inspiring. He stripped away the mix of pretension and anxiety that can come with classical texts and gave us a range of tools with which to tackle the complex language. He worked with us as individuals as well as in groups and this one-to-one work was detailed, evocative and game changing. It was also very useful to watch others transform their work under his, frankly, magical touch! He tore down presumptuous and florid performing and taught us how to communicate a meaning with sincerity. It was absolutely brilliant, I’d go again’
Kerry Gooderson

‘The two days with Iqbal were pretty amazing. We worked on monologues and scenes from classical texts. I really enjoyed Iqbal’s approach to the work – to find the truth and the thoughts in the text. The text is the key. We explored a few different ways of tackling scenes, basically coming up with different ways of living it. It’s inspiring working with someone like Iqbal, who strives to bring out the best in everyone- knowing that actors work well when they’re comfortable. His style is organic and without pomp. The work is the work. Overall, the two days were incredibly enjoyable and fulfilling- what you normally expect from a Tamasha workshop.’
Ali Zaidi

‘As always the master class on Text with Iqbal was brilliant and hugely fun. Having worked with him previously I was  keen to ensure I had the chance again and it was well worth it of course. His skill and patience in conveying the subtleties of language from an actors perspective is precise and relevant to each actor’s needs. His depth of knowledge is vast and it was good to explore both classic and contemporary text. His charm and humour put you at ease instantly. A great two days. Thank you Tamasha!’
Llila Vis

‘The 2 day workshop with Iqbal Khan was an interesting insight into the use of heightened language and rhetoric in classical text. The work carried out was detailed and catered to each individual performer clearly highlighting our strengths and weakness’. A worthwhile refresher if you’ve been away from classical texts.’
Kiran Sonia Sawar


Tamasha’s Scratch Producer, Amy Clamp, attends our BBC Creative Skillset Pop-Up

Now more than ever, as a theatre Producer, I have to think about selling my work and my ideas whether that is to a venue, audience member or investor. With the industry increasingly saturated with theatre makers – and with it becoming more and more difficult to receive public funding – this idea of ‘selling your ideas’ feels like something many emerging artists may need to start doing in order to get their work seen.

It was for this reason that Tamasha Theatre Company, for whom I work part time, decided to host the BBC Creative Skillset Pop-Up workshop. The day aimed to provide practical skills to know how and when to find, refine, pitch or ditch an idea. As a company Tamasha are keen to support and encourage self producing artists and so the skills highlighted and practically explored in the BBC workshop will likely be very useful when applied to their own work.

I have been working with Tamasha Theatre Company as their TDA (Tamasha Developing Artists) Scratch Producer since March this year and so attended the BBC workshop to see if it could assist my work as a Theatre Producer in London.

To give you a little background, Tamasha was formed in the 80s with the aim of championing British-Asian artists and stories, and helping them make the crossover into the theatrical mainstream.  They have since been at the forefront of placing the voices of emerging and established artists from culturally diverse backgrounds centre-stage. Here at Tamasha, my role involves producing the company’s quarterly scratch nights. The position was one for an ‘emerging Producer’ with the aim of giving a young theatre maker a chance to work as part of an established theatre company. The position has been so fantastic for me, expanding my skills and knowledge, and allowing me to learn from those around me whilst having complete artistic control over the events themselves.

Tamasha was the perfect location for the BBC Creative Skillset Pop-Up as we have a catalogue of almost 2000 developing artists; these include actors, directors, film makers, producers, writers, designers and more. Since Fin Kennedy has come on board as Tamasha’s new Co-Artistic Director, this is a part of the company that is continuing to expand. Fin is really keen on helping, supporting and advising emerging artists on how to produce their own work and it is workshops like this that help enable artists to understand a bit more about how to do this.

Unlike TV and film, in the theatre industry (at least the subsidised area of it anyway) we aren’t ever asked to pitch an idea in front of a room full of executives. Generally productions leave the ground by the artists involved building strong relationships with venues and applying for money from the Arts Council or other such funding bodies. During the BBC Creative Skillset course we were taught to describe our vision for our work, thinking of it as a pitch, and this was actually very helpful. It is sometimes easy to forget that, even when you are extremely passionate about something and think your idea is the best thing since sliced bread, that isn’t necessarily enough to make the person you’re speaking to feel the same. Somehow you need to get that person as excited as you are, and to do that you must sell them your idea.

Over the past couple of years I have moved from the role of Production Manager to Producer. It has been quite an adjustment; from being the practical problem solver to a creative collaborator and leader. As a Theatre Producer it is necessary for me to think of ideas, develop and implement them, whilst providing and maintaining an environment in which my creative team can do the same. The Creative Pop Up helped me to think about which areas of this process hold my strengths and which areas I might want to find support with. Realisations such as this are vital in order to form a team that supports one another and also allows one another to flourish.

With conversations and exercises on leading creative teams, generating ideas and designing a pitch, I came out of the workshop feeling inspired and able to think about my work in a different light. I will definitely be carrying my learning forward and recommend anyone who produces, or is thinking of producing their own work to go along to one of these workshops.

To find out what Tamasha are up to, or how to become one of our TDAs then please visit our website – www.tamasha.org.uk

For more information on the BBC / Creative Skillset Pop Ups follow this link – www.bbcacademy.com/module/50494982

Blog by Tamasha’s Scratch Producer, Amy Clamp.


Fin Kennedy’s Westminster Media Forum Speech June 2014

The In Battalions report, published by Tamasha co-Artistic Director and playwright Fin Kennedy and researcher Helen Campbell Pickford in 2013, received widespread coverage and formed a significant part of the recent debate about arts funding cuts, in particular around theatres’ capacity to take risks on developing new plays and playwrights in an age of austerity. Below is a transcript of Fin Kennedy’s Westminster Media Forum speech on how we assess the cost versus the value of the arts, in order for the sector to better make its case to politicians and the public.

“I’ve been asked to speak today because last year I wrote a report entitled In Battalions, about the effect of cuts to the Arts Council on the British theatre industry’s capacity to develop new plays. The results made for grim reading. The report is available online so I won’t repeat its findings here. Instead I would like to address a philosophical point which I feel often gets overlooked in this debate, and that is about the difference between the cost of the arts to the public purse and the value the arts generate for public life.

There is a prevailing ideology you come across when this debate comes up. Phillip Pullman calls it ‘free market fundamentalism’. I prefer the softer term ‘market value’, because it is not a wholly illogical or unreasonable position. But it essentially states that if any play cannot attract enough paying theatregoers to cover its costs then it should be allowed to go to the wall. Let the market decide.

I’m in my first year of a new job – as Co-Artistic Director of a small-scale touring theatre company, Tamasha – and I’d like to offer a few reflections on this.

Small scale theatre tends to confound the market value principle, and here’s why.

A 90 minute new play with 3-5 actors will always play in what we call a studio or black box theatre – small auditoria of around 150 seats. So far, so cheap you might think.

But if you’re going to do things properly – which is what being a professional artist is all about – then costs begin long before show opens. Commissioning a playwright and developing the script is the first step – and can often take place years ahead of first night.

Once the show is cast there are the actors and other professionals such as the director, designer, company manager and stage manager. Then there are material costs, back office costs, producing costs, admin support, publicity – and if the show is required to tour, travel, accommodation and per diems.

All this means that even a modest four-hander play, with three weeks’ rehearsal, a three week run in London and four weeks’ touring can easily cost upwards of £100,000. Given what one can charge for shows of this scale – and even if the show does roaring business (a big if) it will make back on box office perhaps half what it cost – at best.

Small scale theatre is essentially economically unviable. It cannot exist without some kind of subsidy.

But the question we should be asking of such shows is not ‘Did it make money?’ but ‘Did it create value?’ – a far more amorphous concept, and one at which our sector is notoriously bad at successfully making its case.

I’d like to demonstrate the difference between cost and value with a brief example from my own company’s recent output.

My Name is… is a three-hander verbatim play written by my colleague Sudha Bhuchar. The play has just closed in London and Glasgow, where it received a clutch of rave reviews and in Scotland standing ovations. The play tells the real-life story of Molly Campbell, a mixed race Scottish-Pakistani girl who, in 2006, was reported as having been kidnapped by her father and forcibly taken to Pakistan. The truth turned out to be a lot more complicated.

My Name is… tells this family’s story in its own words. It has been a huge success, with audiences in tears, TV and radio interest, and a national tour booked for September and October. Even so, it will not make more money than it cost.

The value in a show like this is manifold. It tells the truth behind a story located along an important cultural fault line which exists in our society. It gives visibility to often-misunderstood or vilified minority groups. It creates understanding in audiences of other cultures with which many share their cities.

Performing in the show has been a stepping stone for all three of its actors, for one it was her professional debut and another has been nominated for an award.

The show was accompanied by workshops in inner city schools, exploring what it means to have a dual heritage in 21st century Britain.

In Scotland, Asian audience members urged me to remount the show for a longer Scottish tour because of the social and cultural community understanding such a show can create.

This makes it sound worthy – it wasn’t. It was funny and warm and heartfelt and human – and desperately sad.

But perhaps most movingly, the real Molly Campbell and her mother came to see it. They loved it. They came back – several times. They brought extended family. After the third time they had seen it, Molly herself said, “It was like going back in time and looking at us all … I got to see my mum and dad falling in love … I was just a little girl who was stuck but not knowing she was stuck and having to choose. I was scared in the beginning that people would blame me for what happened but watching myself being so innocent it’s finally hit me that I don’t have to carry that guilt anymore.”

If there is a price you can put on that, I have no idea what it might be.

My Name is… took five years to create. The project is a quintessential argument for public investment in the arts – ‘market value’ would never have come up with this show. Don’t get me wrong, now that it is a hit, Tamasha are doing everything in our power to exploit its success. It may, one day, break even. But it will never make a profit. Does this mean it is without value?

I’d like to close with a quote from Lorne Campbell, in a recent think piece for the Guardian about whether an obsession with value for money is trumping concerns of artistic quality.

“Perhaps this is the role of the cultural organisation now?” Cambpell writes, “To be the buffer between the market system we operate in and the non-market place that must be created if we are to begin to dream a new more equitable way for us to be as a society?”

So, I would repeat again: the question we should be asking of our publicly-supported theatre is not – or not only – ‘How much did it cost?’ but ‘How much value did it generate?’ for British society.

Thank you.”


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