Projects & Productions
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 was 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).
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Talking About a Revolution
Talking About A Revolution was a new triple bill of plays written by Diana Atouna, babirye bukilwa and Malaika Kegode. These new commissions were staged together in October 2022 at Watford’s Pump House Theatre, the Lyric Hammersmith and at Bristol Old Vic.
Black Earth: Resistance, Anti-Racism and the Environment
Black Earth: Resistance, Anti-Racism and the Environment is a research project encompassing 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 steer on the project.
You can find out more about the discussions during the Town Hall meeting here:
Based on these discussions, we held follow up workshops with community members in Bristol exploring three main themes identified during the Town Hall:
What does "climate justice" mean to us?
Exploring our relationship with guilt and mental health
Actions of creative resistance
The outcome from these workshops will help guide us when creating the Green Care Packages in partnership with Community Apothecary.
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tf Summers focuses on tiata fahodzi’s commitment to younger and emerging theatre makers. An annual initiative, 2023’s project kicks off with Laugh It Off, a digital initiative designed to nurture the next generation of comedy writing talent. In partnership with Theatre Centre.
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, received 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 also launched 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
25th Birthday Gala
Previous Projects & Productions
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’
‘Glorious ode to black culture’
Age guidance 14+
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
tiata fahodzi and Wrested Veil in association with Leeds Playhouse, Soho Theatre and Tara Finney Productions present seeds by Mel Pennant.
Bricks and Pieces
“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.
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.