Current 
Projects & Productions

The eyes and nose of Esther Ajayi. She looks dire tly at the camera, her ears and hair blurring into the background, the light of a window reflected in pupils.

tf PLAYLAB

 

tf PLAYLAB is a new annual initiative which will fund the work of six British African heritage artists and creative associates for one year.

 

The first cohort include Artist Associates director Monique Touko, sound designer/composer Esther Kehinde Ajayi and poet/playwright Yomi Sode. Each of the Artist Associates will be working with the company to develop new ideas and forms of making work that will feed into future programming. The Creative Associates are dramaturg Zodwa Nyoni, climate change expert and BBC’s Springwatch presenter Gillian Burke and playwright Oladipo Agboluaje.

 

In addition Robert Awosusi is appointed as tiata fahodzi’s Developing Talent Producer in a brand new role.

Esther Ajayi (she/they)

Esther Kehinde Ajayi is a London-based creative sound designer who explores the dramatic use of emotion in storytelling through tone, texture, SFX and melody.  Sound Design Credits include: When The Long Trick’s Over (Dir. Chinonyerem Odimba); All of the conversations/Another fucking play about Race (ArtsEd, Dir Denzel Westley Sanderson); Athena (The Yard, Dir Grace Gummer); STATEMENTS AFTER AN ARREST UNDER THE IMMORALITY (Orange Tree Theatre, Dir Diane Page); Alice (Landor_Space Dir. Or Benezra-Segal, Devised by Three Tree Theatre); Invisible Light (Tristan Bates Theatre, Dir Kwame Asiedu) Sad Girls (Edinburgh Fringe, Dir Or Benezra-Segal); Dana Is Her Name (audio comic, produced by Todd Bell & Stephanie Cotter).

 Esther Ajayi wears a leopard print coat. She looks dire tly at the camera, her ears and hair blurring into the background, the light of a window reflected in pupils.

Monique Touko (she/her)

Monique Touko is a London based multidisciplinary artist working in theatre, radio and film. She made her professional debut with Malindadzimu by Mufuro Makubika at Hampstead Theatre. Directing training includes Regional Theatre Young Directors Scheme at Royal Exchange Manchester and the Jerwood Assistant Director Scheme. Assisting credit highlights include Wishlist directed by Matthew Xia at Royal Exchange Manchester, Royal Court, HighTides’ touring production of Kanye The First directed by Andrew Twyman, Cock directed by Kate Hewitt at Chichester Festival Theatre, Shakespeare’s Richard II directed Lynette Linton and Adjoa Andoh at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Monique Touko wears a brightly patterned coat, has long braided hair and looks directly towards the camera, her hands interlaced in her lap.

Yomi Sode  (he/him)

An award-winning Nigerian British writer, a recipient of the 2019 Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship and shortlisted for The Brunel International African Poetry Prize 2021. His acclaimed one-man show COAT toured nationally to sold-out audiences, including at the Brighton Festival, Roundhouse Camden and the Battersea Arts Centre. In 2020 his libretto Remnants, written in collaboration with award-winning composer James B. Wilson and performed with Chineke! Orchestra premiered on BBC Radio 3. In 2021, his play, and breathe… premiered at the Almeida Theatre to rave reviews. Yomi’s debut collection, Manorism will be published via Penguin Press in 2022  

A headshot of Yomi Sode, dimly lit, the light plays on his forehead, cheeks, nose and upper lip as he looks towards the camera

Gillian Burke (she/her)

Gillian is a presenter on the BBC's Springwatch. She also has presented Blue Planet UK. Having earned her bachelor’s degree in Biology from Bristol University, Gillian began her a career in natural history filmmaking behind the camera, as researcher to producer/director on several Animal Planet and Discovery Channel series. Gillian is the Vice President of the Wildlife Trusts and is a patron and/or ambassador with a number of international, national and local organisations. These include Buglife, Cool Earth, Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust, Wild Otter Trust UK and the Mount Kenya Trust.

Gillian Burke's headshot. She is sitting in a grass field with a grey blanket around her and a headscarf. She has a silver bracelet and looks down towards the camera, a grass seedhead just in the foreground.

Oladipo Agboluaje (he/him)

Oladipo Agboluaje is the author of several plays. Highligths include Early Morning, The Christ of Coldharbour Lane, The Estate, Iyale - The First Wife, New Nigerians, Mother Courage and her Children (adaptation), Threshold and The Hounding of David Oluwale (adaptation). Awards highlights include the Alfred Fagon Award, the Peggy Ramsey Award and the Pearson Award. Oladipo has taught African Theatre, Post-Colonial Dramas and Creative Writing at Goldsmiths University of London, SOAS, City University, London Metropolitan University and the University of Greenwich. Oladipo was writer in residence at the New Wolsey Theatre and the National Theatre, London.

Oladipo Agboluaje stands with a broad smile in front of a grey background. He has a blue shirt and a short black and grey beard.

Zodwa Nyoni (she/her)

Zimbabwean-born dramaturg, director, playwright, and screenwriter. Zodwa co-curated RE:ASSEMBLE, a new dramaturgy professional development programme by Paines Plough in association with 45 North; and has worked as a dramaturg with multidisciplinary performance artists.

Winner of Channel 4 Playwright's Scheme with Boi Boi Is Dead (2015, tiata fahodzi). Her other theatre credit highlights include: Nine Lives (2014, Leeds Playhouse/ Òran Mór), Phone Home (2016, Upstart Theatre), Borderline (2017, Young Vic), Duty (2018, Paines Plough), The Happiness Project (2020, Pilot Theatre) and The Survivors Guide To Living (2021, Manchester Royal Exchange). Her latest play, The Darkest Part Of The Night was shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award and George Devine Award 2021. It will be produced by Kiln Theatre in 2022.

Zodwa Nyoni has light brown braids and a beaming smile. The collar of an orange shirt is just visible and her face fills the frame.
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Talking About a Revolution

 

Talking About A Revolution is a new triple bill of plays written by Diana Atouna, babirye bukilwa and Malaika Kegode. These new commissions will be staged together in October at Watford’s Pump House Theatre and at Bristol Old Vic.

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Black Earth marketing image. A yonung man looks to the camera. He makes an "o" with his lips and wears a orange basketball vest. The top of a giant raspberry is just visible in the foreground and turquoise leopard print on black creat a background.

Black Earth: Resistance, Anti-Racism and the Environment

 
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Black Earth: Resistance, Anti-Racism and the Environment is a six-month research project which will encompass workshops, nature walks, artist commissions and Green Care Packages for members of the local communities in Watford and the South East, and the Bristol and Bath regions. 

Our discussion will explore the mental health impacts specific to Black British, African heritage and other Global Majority people as well as the how creative resistance can play part in how we respond. 

Black Earth: Resistance, Anti-Racism and the Environment began with an open Town Hall meeting Tuesday 31 May 2022 facilitated by Samia Dumbaya and Selina Nwulu and live illustrated by Jasmine Thompson in order to gather a local and community-based response. 

You can find out more about the discussions during the Town Hall meeting here:

Town Hall live illustration and recordings

Black Earth will continue with further workshops, both online and in-person, which will work with a continuing cohort to build a working definition of climate justice, explore how Black people and Global Majority people can resist guilt and how creative resistance can play a key role in our fight back.

We are also launching an artist callout for people who identify as Black British or African heritage. You can find out more about the £3,000 commission here: 
Black Earth - Artist Callout

Laugh it Off image. A person with a long white jacket, camoflage trousers and white shoes squats at the base of a red wall. They have thin oval spectacles, long bright nails and gasp at something on their phone.

tf Summers

 

tf Summers focuses on tiata fahodzi’s commitment to younger and emerging theatre makers. An annual initiative, 2022’s project kicks off in August with Laugh It Off, a digital initiative designed to nurture the next generation of comedy writing talent. In partnership with Theatre Centre. 

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tf MATCH/PLAY

tf MATCH/PLAY is a one-off birthday gift to six artists based in Watford and the South East. The winning pairs, matched by tiata fahodzi from differing creative disciplines, will receive a commission to push the boundaries of what theatre is and will present their work to their local communities. Supported by the Genesis Foundation’s Kickstart Fund.

We are also launching an artist callout for people who identify as Black British or African heritage. You can find out more about the £750 commission here: 
MATCH/PLAY - Artist Callout

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Tickets and Ties (1997) production photo. The cast stand around the edges of the stage facing one another. The man on the right speaks laughingly to the man on the left who looks annoyed. There are two sets of steps upstage and the old photo glows bright orange in its exposure.

25th Birthday Gala

 

A 25th Birthday Gala celebration premiering Talking About a Revolution will be held at Watford’s Pump House Theatre on 5th October 2022.

Pump House logo - 50 years
 

Previous Projects & Productions

Nicholle Cherrie's hearshot. She has dark, curly hair and wears a dark top.

Nicholle Cherrie

Roo

Beth Elliott's Headshot. She wears silver looped earrings, and looks over her shoulder to the camera.

Beth Elliott

Lois

Nathan Queeley-Dennis' headshot. He wears two earrings in his right ear, a mustard top and looks a little downward towards the camera.

Nathan Queeley-Dennis

Orion

Kiln Theatre, Paines Plough and tiata fahodzi

 

Book and Lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba
Music by Ben and Max Ringham
Directed by Chinonyerem Odimba

 

Following a five-star, critically acclaimed national tour and winner of the 2022 Writers’ Guild Award for Best Musical Theatre Bookwriting, Black Love comes to Kiln Theatre, London for a strictly limited run.

Meet Aurora and Orion. Sister and brother. Constellations in time. More than blood. More than just fam.

Inside their small London flat, memories of their parents’ Black love surrounds them. When that love is threatened, they must first find understanding and connection before they can begin to find a way back to one another.

An explosion of form-busting storytelling, Black Love celebrates and investigates the Black experience through music, real-life stories and imagined worlds. This ‘beautiful ode to black society and home’ (The Guardian) is not to be missed.

★★★★★
‘Beautiful and essential’

The Stage

★★★★
‘Glorious ode to black culture’

The Guardian

Age guidance 14+

Cast
 
Poster for Black Love at Kiln Theatre in co production with Tiata Fahodzi and Paines Plough. A woman singing into a microphone in fron to a patterened pink, yellow and orange background, with a motif of piano keys.

Black Love

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Letters to Fellow Writers

Bruntwood Prize & tiata fahodzi Letters Project

In partnership with Bruntwood Playwriting Prize, tiata fahodzi invited 4 writers to reflect on what they would like to say to fellow writers if given the space to do so.

Following our 2 events around Dramaturgy instigated by a Letter to Eurocentric Dramaturgs sent by over 150 Global Majority playwrights in 2021, tiata fahodzi has been talking with many organisations about dramaturgical practice across the industry. 

Manchester Royal Exchange and Bruntwood Prize were particularly interested in how to ensure that readers for the prize have as much opportunity to look at their own bias in work that is selected. As a part of these conversations, we wanted to invite writers to write A Letter to my Fellow Writers. The letters range in style from Lorna French’s brilliant advice to make your own rules, to more nuanced reflections in Hassan Abdulrazzak’s Letter to Exiled Theatre Makers, to how we hold ourselves and be brave in our writing from Dipo Agboluaje,  or how we support ourselves and each other through this time from Matilda Feyiṣayọ Ibini. These letters shine a light on the care we must take when we handle another’s words, experiences, pains and joys. Hope they bring you something wonderful as you read.

Gillian Burke from tiata fahodzi's Compound Conversations. She is sitting in a grass field with a grey blanket around her and a headscarf. She has a silver bracelet and looks down towards the camera, a grass seedhead just in the foreground.

Compound Conversations

 

A series of events, conversations, craft sessions and industry skills workshops that we hope will move us towards a fairer, more just, more joyful theatre industry putting wellbeing at the heart of what we do. 

Built on the idea of a ‘compound’ - a space very typical in West African cultures - being a place where people come together to eat, laugh, cry, share stories, and learn collectively, these open invitation online conversations are for those that want to come to a space to informally discuss the bigger issues facing the theatre industry. 

They have so far included a Dramaturgy Townhall; Craft Sessions on a range of topics lead by artists for artists, featuring some of the most skilled British African artists and creatives including Yero Timi-Bui, Dipo Agboluaje and Anastasia Osei- Kuffour; Industry skills workshops to support artists with funding advice, information about how governance in theatre works, specific roles, how we fill gaps of British Black leadership in the arts; plus future forward conversations on Climate Change and Global Majority artists by creative facilitators such as Gillian Burke and Selina Nwulu. 

Terrace Sessions

Launching in May 2021 across our social channels, this series showcased British-African musicians through music sessions which opened a window on where the artists work, what their ‘home’ language means to their art, whilst bringing the joy of aural discovery to our audience.

 
a previous poster for Black Love by Chinonyerem Odimba - Part of Paines Plough's 2021 season. A woman with a headband and black, flowery dress looks scornfully at a man who looks at the camera. He has sunglasses on his head and a short beard.

Black Love 

Roundabout 2021

A Paines Plough and Belgrade Theatre production in Association with tiata fahodzi
 

Part of Belgrade Theatre’s Coventry UK City of Culture 2021 programme
Book and Lyrics by Chinonyerem Odimba
Music by Ben and Max Ringham
Directed by Katie Posner and Chinonyerem Odimba
 
BLACK LOVE was Roundabout’s first ever musical and was written by tiata fahodzi Artistic AD/CEO Chinonyerem Odimba who also co-directed with Paines Plough Joint AD Katie Posner with music by Ben and Max Ringham.

Love freely. Love freedom. Love.  
 

Meet Aurora and Orion: Sister and Brother. Constellations in time. More than blood. More than just fam. They look after each other in their small London flat, filled with the memories of their parents’ Black Love. When that love is threatened, they have to find their way back to each other and to what it means to love whilst Black. Using real-life stories, imagined worlds and new songs inspired by an R&B heritage, they begin a journey to confronting their own worst fears.  

BLACK LOVE is an explosion of form busting storytelling, an ode to Black music, and those real stories we rarely hear. 
 

★★★★★
“Beautiful and Essential”
The Stage
★★★★
“Singing siblings’ glorious ode to Black culture.”
The Guardian
Brixton Blog
“Immense, magical and simply breathtaking!!!”
Manchester Theatres
A shot from tiata fahodzi's production of Good Dog. A boy sits in a pool of light in the darkness, one leg dangling over the edge. He holds two fingers up as if he is saying "two".

Good Dog

SPRING 2019

Mum’s promised him that bike so even when school or homelife bites, he knows to keep his chin up, his head down and his shirt clean. Because in the end, everyone who’s good gets what they deserve. Don’t they?

good dog – set during the early noughties – tells the story of growing up in a multi-cultural community, and the everyday injustices that drive people to take back control. Delicately observed and fearlessly told by writer Arinzé Kene (Netflix’s Crazyhead, Eastenders, Channel 4’s Youngers, West End smash Girl From the North Country, and Misty at Bush Theatre and West End), good dog embarks on its second national tour following its acclaimed world premiere in spring 2017.

good dog is a treat for everyone – whether you’re looking for a night out with friends, loved ones or want to broaden your horizons alone, this is the play for you. The show opened at Watford Palace Theatre on 31 January 2019 before embarking on a national tour of 15 venues.

A shot from a tiata fahodzi's production "Seeds". A woman has her arms wide. She look like she might be asking a question, part smiling, part exasperated. She wears a white vest and a leopard print coat is draped on the back of her chair.

Seeds

tiata fahodzi and Wrested Veil in association with Leeds Playhouse, Soho Theatre and Tara Finney Productions present seeds by Mel Pennant.
 

“What would you do to save your son? Everything? Anything? Lie?”

On Michael Thomas’ birthday, his cake sits in his mother’s living room, its candles burning undisturbed. Jackie wants to clear her conscience, whilst Evelyn’s got a big speech to deliver on the 15th anniversary of Michael’s fatal stabbing. Are some things better left unsaid?

Sensitively written by Mel Pennant and shortlisted for the Alfred Fagon Award, seeds tells the story of two mothers united in sorrow, sharing the hardship of protecting their sons – one in life, and one in death.

Brought to you by the producers of the critically-acclaimed production of good dog by Olivier Award nominated Arinzé Kene, led by a female creative team, seeds explores the human story behind a tragedy through the eyes of those left behind.

From tiata fahodzi and Paines Plough's production "Mixed Brain". Credit The Other RIchard. A man with curly hair smiles gleefully. He is pointing and has a checked shirt with a green and yellow flag around his shoulders. The audience behind him are laughing.

Mixed Brain

A tiata fahodzi and Paines Plough production.

 

August 2017

Jack wanted to get into teams real quick so he said, why don’t we do blacks VS white? I was confused, what does he mean? People with black shoes vs people with white trainers? Jack, Tom, Rob, George and Myles went to one side of the pitch and I was left stood in the middle as Christopher Rose went to the other. I was thinking what side do I go on? Now, before I get a chance to decide my 7-year old racial identity, Jack shouts out “you can be the referee Nathan because you’re mixed race”

Star of Benidorm, writer for Rastamouse, 50% Jamaican, 50% British, 100% reppin’ Shepherd’s Bush. Nathan Bryon is many things. Mixed. 

Welcome to his world. Part story, part stand-up, a show fusing Afro-Caribbean flair and British awkwardness in a searing, searching exploration of what it means to be mixed-race and mixed-experience today.

If you live in the middle does anywhere feel like home?

 

Get in the mix. Learn a little, live a little, laugh a lot.

An image from tiata fahodzi's Bricks and Pieces. Two young people sit next to each other. The woman on the left is trying to hold back her tears, and the man on the right loks down. He is raising his eyebrow.

Bricks and Pieces

Summer 2016

“Are black people often playing petty criminals? Are women always playing the love interest or talking about men? Are gay people always stereotyped? Are disabled people hardly ever seen…I don’t think of myself as just a ‘black actor’. I’m an actor, not a number”

Idris Elba, The House of Commons, January 2016

 

Working in collaboration with the world-leading Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), we produced brand new commission bricks and pieces from award-winning writer Charlene James developed with – and for – an exceptional cast of black RADA students. 

bricks and pieces was presented at RADA from Tuesday 24 May – Saturday 4 June, before it met a festival audience at Latitude on Friday 15 July.

Lovers, Tobi and Gabe are building a life together.  When Tobi’s cousin Mya crashes into his home, she brings along both her dreams and her baggage. While Tobi tries to hold on to Gabe, he struggles to support Mya when he can’t seem to support himself.

tiata fahodzi and RADA’s co-commission – by award-winning writer of Cuttin’ It Charlene James – was a story about the places we escape into, the other worlds we build and the icons we cling to.

RADA offers world-leading vocational training for actors, stage managers, directors, designers and technical stage craft specialists. Celebrated graduates include Richard Attenborough, Ralph Fiennes, David Harewood, Omar Sharif, Anthony Hopkins and Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

Charlene James was previously awarded the Alfred Fagon Award and the George Devine Award 2015 for Cuttin’ It, a play focusing on Female Genital Mutilation. She is a Jerwood New Playwright 2016.