Emma’s Diary

23 October 2013
The Future
Next week will mark a year since I become one of the recipients of The London Hub Pitch It! Bursary. This year has whizzed by and I cannot believe how much Upper Cut has developed.

This time last year I didn’t have a script, I had a vague idea about what I wanted to achieve and I had zero funds. I just had an idea; I was tired of the way I was being represented on London theatres, I was tired of lazy stereotypes and I decided I wanted to create something different. I wanted to show another side of Black British History, I wanted to show Black Characters away from the estates, the gun crime and the “daddy” issues. I had a writer who could make this happen and I had a director who got my vision but I needed a kick start and I desperately needed advice. The London Hub Pitch It! Bursary provided me with both and with a small grant and some excellent mentoring I was able to turn my idea into a reality.

Throughout this year myself and my creatives have created Upper Cut a political play which is currently being read by several literary departments across London and we have managed to stage a rehearsed reading of the play at the Tara Theatre.

Not only did the I get support for my project I also met with fellow Pitch It! Bursary winner Rachael Nanyonjo who has become a friend and colleague, I worked as a writer and co- director on her Pitch It! project 2:1; and through the Hub network have met several influential theatre makers of colour. I feel like I’m very much part of a family and am confident in their support of me as an emerging artist moving forwards.

As I look to the next year of our project I have high hopes for the future. Alongside collaborators Lotte and Juliet we have decided to form our own company and are talks to co-produce Upper Cut in 2014! At the moment we are setting up the final details of the company but I cannot wait to share with you all when we are set up and ready. Big thank you to everyone who has supported us so far. This is just the beginning…

25 July 2013
UpperCut at  Tara Theatre
Last week, two days after the epic
2:1 production I had to put  my Actor/Producer head on as I went straight into rehearsals for my Pitch It project Upper Cut.

Following our readings at Theatre Royal Stratford and the Invisible Dot we felt that it was really important to showcase  Upper Cut for our supporters and also as we hadn’t had a public reading of the play in it’s entirety we felt that we had a complete enough script to be brave and show our “baby” to the world.

It has been really lovely to see the idea blossom to a fully fledged script and it’s also been a crazy learning curve for all of us involved. One of the main lessons I’ve learned is that you absolutely cannot wait around for opportunity to knock you have to get some wood, saw and nails and make the door yourself!

Below is a little snippet of my Upper Cut photo diary…


“Three rivals. One fight. Brutal civil war within a beleaguered political party over whether to allow short lists for black MPs or not.  Upper Cut is a political play of hope and betrayal”. 

We’re so pleased with the amazing feedback we’ve had from those that have attended the reading and we are now at the end of the development stage and are starting to  look forward to having Upper Cut staged (woop). My top tip I suppose is don’t rush it, it’s taken two years to develop the idea to where it is today and it may well take two more to get it on but if it’s worth it stick at it!

Post the reading we’ve had some really exciting news regarding it and I promise you, you will be the first to know once it’s all been confirmed (eek!).

As I say in every Upper Cut post the play would not be possible without the support of our friends at Old Vic New Voices, The London Hub , TARA Theatre and The Kevin Spacey Foundation to whom Lotte, Juliet and I are eternally grateful for your support and advice. Also a huge THANK YOU to everyone who has supported Upper Cut along the way by attending readings, reading drafts, coming to our workshops, and reading whatemmadidnext! You lot rock!
From Emma’s blog:

28 May 2013
Winning the Pitch It bursary has been very positive for me as an emerging artist.  As well as being able to stage a rehearsed reading of the play that I am producing at the Stratford Theatre Royal, I have also been collaborating with another Pitch It bursary winner, Rachael Nanyonjo, on another project which will be shown at Tara Theatre.  Since winning my Pitch it bursary I have gone on to win a Kevin Spacey Foundation bursary which, without the encouragement and support of The London Hub, would not have been possible so I feel very grateful for the contacts, mentors and support that have been given to me.

23 May 2013
Upper Cut Table Read
Last week we were able to have a table read of the brand spanking new version of Upper Cut at the Invisible Dot in Kings Cross. I was also really lucky to be able to get my mentor Topher Campbell who is the Artistic Director of The Red Room and his comments and thoughts were really helpful to us moving forwards and we are moving forward at quite the pace.  A few weeks ago I tweeted that I had received some fantastic news well here it is *drumroll please* Upper Cut is supported by The Kevin Spacey Foundation and they have very kindly offered us financial support for the next stages of our Research and Development!

We are really pleased to have their support particularly as the idea for Upper Cut came from the Old Vic New Voices exchange and of course Kevin Spacey is the director of the Old Vic so it’s really nice to continue that link. We will be doing two rehearsed reading in July so keep your eye on the blog for further updates.

20 May 2013
Presentation and Q&A
On the 31st May the third play that I’ve written will have a presentation and Q&A at TARA Theatre before it’s first performance on July 13th. A collaboration with Kansaze Dance Company 2:1 is directly influenced by the 2:1 ratio between women and men in the arts and follows the story of two recent Arts graduates Alex and Alex who have both left university with 2:1′s and are embarking on life as a graduate and the highs and lows that come with that!

I’m really proud of the piece and we have a fantastic cast and I would love some of my Blog readers to come along! So if you would like to come along please do get in touch it would be great to hear your thoughts.

March 2013
Tara R+D (Yes more R+D)
So as I mentioned in my introducing post I am working with my fellow Pitch It winner the lovely Rachael Nanyonjo. Since winning the Pitch It! Bursary last year we have been having lots of brunch meetings at Cafe Rouge (the french toast is to die for) and this week we finally managed to begin our R+D  (that’s Research and Development for all you non-theatry folks) at the place where we first met and pitched our ideas. We are currently exploring the theme of ‘the gaze’ and looking how women are represented in the media and the arts…and I am writing/co creating it (eek!).

We put out a casting call 2 weeks ago and have had an amazing repsonse and managed to get a room of wonderful artists to help us begin out journey. I think we may have a concept, and a working title but will have to save that all for  another blog post. The photo’s from the day are on my blog (excuse the quality of the photos I am a theatre person not a photographer).
From Emma’s blog: http://whatemmadidnext.wordpress.com/2013/03/06/tara-rd-yes-more-rd/

February 2013
Upper Cut R+D #2
If you follow my twitter feed you may have seen that we continued our Upper Cut R+D over at Stratford Royal East. We rehearsed in The Dillion Room but we did our first (very closed) presentation in the gorgeous Melvin Murray Room. Which is a really lovely space if you ever need anywhere for a rehearsed reading. We read the first four scenes and recieved some really good feedback and will be powering on with some re-writes and then a bigger reading later on in the Spring yay!

From Emma’s blog: http://whatemmadidnext.wordpress.com/2013/02/11/upper-cut-rd-2/

December 2012
Uppercut R+D
So since my last blog about winning the Pitch It! Bursary we have been doing further workshops at Talawa HQ last week. I don’t want to say too much as the first draft is currently being written as we speak (so exciting!) but here’s a few snaps of us in action. I was there although there’s no photographic evidence and it was a really triumphant workshop day with us improvising some the beats of the piece and working on a few of the scenes which have been written (!) keep your eyes for mid-January more info coming up soon…

From Emma’s blog: http://whatemmadidnext.wordpress.com/2012/12/01/uppercut-rd/

November 2012
Pitch It Bursary

If you follow me on twitter or facebook you’ve probably already heard/seen this news! But it hasn’t gone on the Blog officially but I received some great news. Last Tuesday I pitched for a panel (very dragon’s den-like) which consisted of 3 Artistic Directors of companies who’s work I have admired for a long time:

Jatinder Verma, Artistic Director, Tara Theatre

Arti Prashar, Artistic Director, Spare Tyre

Janet Steel, Artistic Director, Kali Theatre Company

I was pitching for development funds for the Black British political project that I have been developing with Old Vic New Voices which I have been documenting on this Blog here and here and guess what WE WON!!! I am over the moon and am so happy to have the support of such an amazing panel. This is just the beginning and I am so excited about the development of this piece of Theatre, more details coming soon I promise but nervous about giving away too many details at this stage. What was really heartening about the Pitch It! Bursary was so many women applied and were chosen as finalists, I really feel that this is an exciting time to be a female emerging artist and I hope this inspires other young women (particularly from minority backgrounds) to go out and make it happen!

The bursary is supported by the London Hub, and I would reccomend that any emerging BAME artists of whatever discipline become a member, please check out their website http://www.thelondonhub.com and sign up today!

Special thanks go to the Panel, Pauline Walker from The London Hub, Nicolette Kay from New Shoes Theatre, Juliet Gilkes-Romero, Lotte Wakeham, all the actors who were involved in the original workshops in September, Sharon Atkins and Janet Edwards. You are all Stars :)

From Emma’s blog: http://whatemmadidnext.wordpress.com/2012/11/02/pitch-it-bursary/