International festival of women making theatre to inspire change

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Six incredible directors from around the world arrive at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester in June as part of a special one-day international festival dedicated to inspirational women theatre makers.

The AHRC-supported festival on Saturday 24 June will see two UK premieres plus talks and discussions on how women directors, actors, designers and creatives are using theatre to inspire change and build peace in societies divided by conflict.

The programme is being organised by Elizabeth Kuti and Annecy Lax from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre at the University of Essex.

At the heart of the Festival will be groundbreaking global theatre collective Ariadne – a network of women theatre directors from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Rwanda, Serbia, Sri Lanka and the UK.

This will be a unique chance to see Ariadne directors come together. They will be based at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus for five days as they develop with students and community actors a new performance for the Festival.

Another highlight of the Festival will be the premiere of a new play by award-winning playwright Dr Kuti featuring Coronation Street star Shelley King and one of India’s most celebrated performers of Indian classical dance, Madhayama Segal.

Dr Kuti said: “This international festival is a unique event hosted by the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, which brings together a global company of actors, directors, musicians, dancers, writers, choreographers and academic experts.

“Looking particularly at the role of the arts in peace-building, this day will be a chance to explore and discuss the work of women theatre-makers from across the globe – all of whom are using theatre to connect the generations, and to build bridges between past conflict and hopes for the future.”

Dr Lax added: “This is the first time these artists, and Ariadne, have come together in this way to make work for a British audience, and to engage with both the public and the academic community.”

The talks, discussions and performances will be inspired by the theme Tales of Winter and Spring – Gender, Histories, and Intergenerational Exchange in Global Theatre.

Festival highlights include:

  • The six Ariadne directors will take part in a five-day residency at the University of Essex, and in collaboration with students and community actors from Essex, will create the UK premiere of Dear Children, Sincerely. The performance will feature interviews between young people and elders in their society. This constantly evolving piece has been performed across the world, in different incarnations, with performers from Rwanda and Sri Lanka.
  • Coronation Street star Shelley King and one of India’s most celebrated performers of Odissi dance Madhayama Segal will appear in a rehearsed reading of Cold Season in Calcutta. This is a new play by award-winning playwright Elizabeth Kuti inspired by Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale, directed by Trilby James.
  • Panel discussions, talks and interviews with the directors and artists of Ariadne; led by Susannah Tresilian of the UK, the other Ariadne directors are Hope Azeda from Rwanda, Ruwanthie de Chickera from Sri Lanka, Djiana Milosevic from Serbia. Frederique Lecomte, working in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, Iman Aoun from Palestine.

For further information and tickets please click here.

To download an information pack please click here.

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