Curve, The Lowry and Bristol Old Vic announce artists for the Naseem Khan Commissions

3 Dec 2018

Curve, Leicester – Trina Haldar, Mashi Theatre

The Lowry, Salford – Tribe Arts
Bristol Old Vic – Madeline Shann

The selected artists of the Naseem Khan Commissions, an ambitious new initiative to support artists of colour from CurveThe Lowry and Bristol Old Vic theatres have today been announced.

Selected by the three theatres, the chosen artists are Trina Haldar, Founder and Artistic Director of Mashi TheatreTribe Arts a radical-political theatre company and Madeline Shann, a theatre maker, choreographer, writer and performer. The programme will give the artists support, rehearsal space and programmed slots for the presentation of work across the network of partner theatres.

Mashi Theatre aims to create culturally diverse and engaging work, particularly for young people. Speaking about being selected, Trina Haldar said:

“I was moved to action, hearing Naseem Khan speak at the 40th anniversary of The Art That Britain Ignores, so what a pleasure it is to be granted this commission in her name. As a fellow woman of colour, with bold ideas and fire in my belly, I am inspired by all that Naseem did and I am thrilled to be starting the development of this particular story in her honour.”

Tribe Arts is spearheaded by two British Asian men, Tajpal Rathore and Samran Rathore who believe in rejuvenating theatre for the 21st century. Tajpal and Samran said:

"Naseem Khan was a gentle but radical advocate for a representative change in Britain's art sector, and though her recommendations are still to be fully realised 40 years on, her work can only be advanced by equally like-minded people currently leading the sector. It's because of this that Tribe is absolutely ecstatic to be selected as one of the three Naseem Khan Commissions, and we're certain we're in for an artistically gruelling but wholly fulfilling experience. We're ready, are you?"

Madeline Shann, whose previous work includes Little Terrors and Sex in Real Life said:

“I am thrilled to be awarded the Naseem Khan commission to develop my show ‘The Gravity’, which draws on influences from science fiction and visual pop-culture to explore how the pressures of modern life manifest as a crushing force on the individual, interrogating the current dialogue around mental health. In an industry full of barriers it is amazing to have the support of partners who care about enabling artists of colour to spread their wings and make bold, envelope-pushing work for wider audiences. I can’t wait to get started.”

The programme is named after cultural activist and Journalist Naseem Khan, who passed away last year.

Curve’s Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Fostersaid:

“There is still much work to be done in creating a cultural landscape which properly represents the rich diversity of our communities. Naseem Khan’s call to arms from 40 years ago remains startlingly relevant and we are proud to contribute to this artist development programme.

“We are thrilled to welcome Trina to Curve and to be working with our friends in Salford and Bristol on this grand initiative.”

Anthony Gray, Senior Producer at The Lowry said:

“The Naseem Khan Commissions is an important step in the quest to support and showcase artists of colour across the UK. The standard of applications was extremely high which made it very difficult to select the final three. With the three artists we now have on board we’re sure they will create incredible work that The Lowry can’t wait to be a part of.

We’re particularly excited to take the next step as an organisation in supporting artists of colour giving them the best platform possible to create something that resonates with our audiences.”

Ben Atterbury of Bristol Ferment said:

“We met some incredible theatremakers across the application process for the Naseem Khan Commission, and no doubt we’ll be hearing so much more from them in the future, but it’s incredibly exciting to have Madeline, Trina and Tribe Arts aboard as our first commissions. Over the next 18 months we’re excited to work with these artists across our 3 organisations to push these projects forwards. These commissions are about creating space on our stages for Artists of Colour to create work of scale and ambition, deserving of their extraordinary talents – I can’t wait to start working with them.”  

About Curve Celebrating its 10th birthday this year, almost one million people annually engage with Curve through performances and projects at our home in Leicester, across the UK and internationally. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Chris Stafford and Artistic Director Nikolai Foster, Curve has developed a reputation for producing, programming and touring a bold and diverse programme of musicals, plays, new work, dance and opera. All of this presented alongside a dynamic mix of community engagement, artist development and learning programmes, which firmly places audiences, artists and communities at the heart of everything we do.

Recent Made at Curve productions include the world-première of Dougal Irvine’s adaptation of Riaz Khan’s Memoirs of an Asian Football Casual, the Curve Young Company & Community production of Joseph Stein’s Fiddler on the Roof, the world première production of An Officer and a Gentleman (& on national tour), Leslie Bricusse's Scrooge, the world première of Amana Fontanella Khan’s Pink Sari Revolution, adapted by Purva Naresh (with Belgrade Theatre Coventry, English Touring Theatre and West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds); a major revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber’sSunset Boulevard (& UK tour), Winner - Best Musical, Manchester Theatre Awards and  Best Regional Production, WhatsOnStage Awards; the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s opera Sukanya(co-produced with the Royal Opera House & London Philharmonic Orchestra); the 50th anniversary production of Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw (with Theatre Royal Bath); Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s Grease (also in Dubai) and a production of Roald Dahl’s George’s Marvellous Medicine, adapted by David Wood (co-produced with Rose Theatre Kingston & on tour).

About The Lowry The Lowry is the most visited cultural venue in Greater Manchester housing two galleries, three theatres, and bar & restaurant Pier Eight. As one of the UK’s leading arts organisations The Lowry commissions and presents an vast range of work throughout the year including dance, drama, musicals, circus, opera, music, comedy and family. Named after the painter LS Lowry, the building is home to the world’s largest collection of his works, and has a dedicated gallery. The second gallery presents exciting new exhibitions from contemporary artists.

The Lowry’s Artist Development programme has supported artist development since 2009 working with artists and companies such as Lung TheatreKill the BeastRachael Young andTheatre ad Infinitum. The programme forms a structured pathway that supports theatre makers from their first steps in the industry through to creating award-winning productions for the midscale.

There are two main strands of The Lowry’s artist development programme Developed With The Lowry, a 12-month bespoke package of financial, practical, creative and professional development support and Associate Artists, a long term relationships where the artist/ company receives core funding, commissioning opportunities and highly specialised bespoke support as they establish themselves on the national stage.

About Trina Haldar Trina Haldar is the Founder and Artistic Director of Mashi Theatre.

Mashi Theatre was set up in response to the lack of diverse work on offer, particularly for young people. 

Mashi Theatre reawakens stories steeped in culture and hand them down to new generations. A Mashi is a keeper of stories and teller of tales. The company creates work that is Playful; Challenging; Universal & Inquisitive. Our aim is to bring people together through the telling of stories that transcend time and offer a fresh perspective.

Tales of Birbal (a Co-production with The Spark & supported by Z-Arts) toured Nationally in 2017. Mashi’s new show, Stripey Honey… is very Yummy (a commission by Big Imaginations, in partnership with The Spark Arts for Children) is set on the border of India and Bangladesh, home to the Bengal Tiger and local Honey Bees will tour the North West & Midlands in Spring 2019.

As a Freelance Theatre Director, Trina’s directing credits include productions at Curve Theatre, Nottingham Playhouse, Tara Arts, Soho Theatre and recently Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai, India.

Trina is also a Giggle Doctor with the Theodora Children’s Charity, former participant with the National Theatre- Step Change programme, The Optimists with China Plate and a Clore50 SC Alumni. She consults with Theatres and consortium to increase representation on and off our stages and has spoken at a number of platforms including the Guardians “Our Nations Theatre” conversations with Lyn Gardner and recently on Radio 4’s Front Row programme.

Trina is on the board of Theatre-Rites an award-winning company and leader in the creation of experimental theatre for children. 

About Madeline Shann Madeline Shann is a theatre-maker, writer, choreographer and performer. She trained in Drama at Exeter University, and Physical Theatre with Jasmin Vardimon Company and Royal Holloway University London. Her own work includes solo show Little Terrors and dance theatre ensemble piece Sex In Real Life. As a performer Madeline has worked with RashDash on The Darkest Corners, Featherweight on The Red Tree and Travelling Light on Igloo. As an assistant director her credits include Of Kith and Kin (Rob Hastie, Sheffield Theatres/Bush Theatre) and Black Men Walking (Dawn Walton, Eclipse Theatre/Royal Exchange Theatre).

About Tribe Arts  We are Tribe Arts, a philosophically inspired, radical-political theatre company based in Leeds/Bradford. We amplify the stories and voices of the current Black and Asian generation and believe theatre needs to be rejuvenated into the 21st century. We want to cultivate an environment for a renaissance in theatre-making and produce unexpected performances that reach towards transcendental experiences. Tribe anticipates being a movement and a brand, with far-reaching visions outside traditional theatre environments. Tribe trusts in constant questioning, revolution, change and empowerment, and wants to be a conduit for social conversation and healing. Tribe’s ambition is to extend outside of traditional performance spaces to connect, work, aid, represent, champion, motivate, educate and entertain communities, through powerful theatre and other interdisciplinary art forms.

Tribe Arts is spearheaded by 2 British Asian men, Tajpal Rathore & Samran Rathore (not related!). Aside from being actors, Tajpal is also a producer, writer and presenter; Samran is a writer and Spoken Word artist, and both have an interest in music and rhythm, incorporating much of these disparate skills and stylistic qualities into Tribe's resultant work.

Bristol Old Vic is the longest continuously running theatre in the UK, and celebrated its 250th anniversary in 2016. The historic playhouse aims to inspire audiences with its own original productions, both at home and on tour, whilst nurturing the next generation of artists, whether that be through their 350-strong Young Company, their many outreach and education projects or their trailblazing artist development programme, Bristol Ferment.

They use their funding to support experiment and innovation, to allow access to their programme for people who would not otherwise encounter it, or be able to afford it, and to keep their extraordinary heritage alive and animated.

On 24 Sep 2018, Bristol Old Vic completed its 2-year multi-million pound redevelopment project, which transformed its front of house space into a warm and welcoming public building for all of Bristol to enjoy, created a new studio theatre and opened up its unique theatrical heritage to the public for the first time.

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