Mercury Theatre Playwrights, Producers and Directors 2022/23 cohort announced


We are thrilled to announce our Playwrights, Producers and Directors cohort for our 2022/23 programme. This follows a hugely successful year offering support and development to their talented 2021/22 alumni.

Creative Director of Mercury Theatre, Ryan McBryde, said: “The success of our Mercury Playwrights, Producers and Directors scheme has proved to us how vital it is that regional theatres support local artists. These creative programmes are an integral part of supporting our freelance regional community and creating work for the future. This means that we can continue to be a source of innovation for audiences and artists across the East.”

Talent Development Producer for Mercury Theatre, Dilek Latif, said: “Throughout all three programmes classes will be supported by some of the best writers, producers and directors in the business; and as I know first-hand from building my career as a producer at the Mercury, there is no comparison to learning to shape your talent and your art with such supportive feedback from a broad variety of talented professionals.”

Our Artist Development Programme supports the nurturing of ground-breaking, local theatre makers. By providing time and space for researching, exploring and testing ideas, their aim is to aid local innovators. This year’s cohort are all innovative, imaginative talents, and we are overjoyed to be welcoming them and providing them with rigorous training in playwrighting, producing and directing, along with the space to platform their voices on their stages.

Read on to be introduced to all of this years PPD’s and their biographies.

Mercury Playwrights 2022

David Holland

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David is an actor and writer from Chelmsford. He studied Acting & Community Theatre at East 15 Acting School, which inspired him to create theatre that represents the local area and the people that live there. Most recently he performed a work in progress piece at The Other Palace.

Twitter: @david_aholland



Eilish Mullane

eilish 250Eilish Mullane is a playwright and director from East Anglia. She graduated from UEA with a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing in 2018, and is currently studying MA Scriptwriting (Theatre and Digital Media) at the University of Essex.

Eilish has been shortlisted for the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing (2018), as well as Broken Silence’s ‘Voices From Home’ (2019/2020) and their Writer in Residence Programme. Her work reached the Top 15% of the BBC Writers’ Room applications (2018) and was long-listed for The Royal Court Introductory Writer’s Group (2020).

Her writing has been staged as part of events by HACK Theatre, Aktualise and Norwich Theatre, and her short play ‘On Account of Her Sex’ was performed at the Pleasance Theatre in 2019.

Emma Zadow

emma 250Emma Zadow is an actor/writer from Norfolk. She trained at Rose Bruford College. She is a BBC New Creative and Soho Theatre Writers Lab Alumni. She was shortlisted for the ETPEP and Tony Craze Awards. As an actor, she has performed internationally and in her own work. Her BBC New Creative short, Jigging is on the BBC iPlayer and about coastal women who experience homelessness. It recently won and has been selected for Seattle Independent, San Francisco Art, Paris, Bestlov, Hollywood Boulevard, Sydney Australian and New York Movie Film Festivals.

Website: | Spotlight:
Link to watch JIGGING:
Instagram: @zadowemma | Twitter: @EmmaZadow

John Webber

john 250I grew up in Thurrock, Essex – a place I see now as having a bit of an idiosyncratic character. It’s heavily industrialised but also has a special natural environment being marshy and on the riverbank. It’s heavily influenced by London but its wide skies and big roads make it feel like somewhere else completely – you can indulge in the space but sometimes can feel isolated. It’s had a big influence on my mentality and creativity – it’s a rich culture to draw on. The first play I had produced, Spiderfly, is set nearby with characters living in Barking and Romford and my latest play, Wake Up People, is actually set in Thurrock itself, being based on the experiences of my aunt, who now lives in Southend-on-Sea and who’s an avid follower of conspiracy theories. It was commissioned by the Queens Theatre, Hornchurch and has been supported by High Tide. I’m really excited to be part of Mercury Playwrights – the theatre is a beacon of inclusivity for the area and you can feel the creative energy housed in the building as soon as you walk in. Whilst being part of the scheme I hope to create something worthy of being on the stage there and reflect even more of Essex’s unique culture.

Twitter: @shockheadedjohn

Lydia Sabatini

lydia 250 1Lydia Sabatini is a writer originally from Essex and now based in London. She was shortlisted for the 2021 Women’s Prize for Playwriting and was part of the Bush Theatre’s Emerging Writer’s Group 2021/22.




Rohan Gotobed

rohan 250Rohan (he/him) is a Writer and Director. He studied at the University of East Anglia (near where his family lives in Norfolk), working on new productions at Norwich Arts Centre and the Garage Theatre. He recently completed his training at Birkbeck and the Unicorn Theatre and is now Artistic Director of Dorsetborn, an associate company of National Youth Theatre. Their first production, Georgia and the Iceberg, will be touring from Spring 2023.

Rohan is influenced by writers like Caryl Churchill, Lucy Kirkwood, and Aaron Sorkin. He is currently developing his first full-length play and has been recently selected for Channel 4’s West and South West England TV Drama New Writers scheme. Oh, and he also once won £5 on Bargain Hunt.

Twitter: Rohan_Gotobed

Thomas Edwards

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Thomas, a Colchester native, has been writing about East Anglia for several years. A founder of Castle Park Theatre, his plays launched and built the company. As a writer, director, actor and musician, he has produced three plays since 2019, two of which were his own (The Hay Wain – 2021, The Gift – 2019) and one adaptation (Julius Caesar – 2022). All his work is rooted in the history and folklore of Colchester and the region.



Tom Murray

tom murray 250Tom Murray (he/him)is a London-based actor, director, dramaturg and playwright from Cambridge. Tom studied History at Durham University (2018-2021) and in 2022 graduated with an MA Dramaturgy And Writing For Performance at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Recent work includes plays Framed (Theatre503, Mountview Ignite Festival and The Golden Goose Theatre), an extract from North Star (Soho Theatre), and The Time Machine by H. G. Wells (Ultraviolet Theatre Company – 2023 summer tour). He is interested in the Absurd, the socio-political, and the ways that the past can speak to the present. He strives for character-based theatre that is thought-provoking and unsettling, that straddles the line between comedy and tragedy.

Twitter: @TomD_Murray
Instagram: tommurrayplays

Vanessa Ackerman

vanessa 250Vanessa Ackerman trained as an actor at LAMDA. She has worked with companies such as the RSC, the Lyric Theatre Hammersmith, the Royal Court, Howard Barker’s Wrestling School as well as for the BBC and ITV. Her first full length play Love, No Country was performed at the Cambridge Junction Theatre in July 2021, directed by Patrick Morris, as part of Menagerie Theatre Company’s Hotbed Festival. Her plays The Many Lives of Clara M and All the Unborn Children have both been developed with the support of the Arts Council and in collaboration with Nir Paldi of Theatre Ad Infinitum. Audio pieces include Episode 5 for the Easts Cambridge Radio105 and Hansel and Gretel for Menagerie Theatre. Her writing, including poems and translations, has been published in Routledge Companion, Amethyst Review, Uppagus, Marble Poetry, Anthropocene, Barren Magazine, Black Jack Editions and in forthcoming issues of Dreich Magazine and the Cephalo Press Anthology Borders and Belonging.

Twitter: @ness27011

Mercury Producers 2022

Bea Svistunenko

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I grew up in Wivenhoe and fell for the theatre by watching productions at the Mercury, attending their classes, being a member of the Young Actors Company and doing shows at the Headgate Theatre, Lakeside Theatre, Wivenhoe Youth Theatre and Wivenhoe Pantomime. After university I trained as an actor at RADA and have since worked for the Old Vic Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, ITV, HBO and Netflix. I am now turning to producing to gain agency over my work and creativity. Colchester, and it’s wealth of theatrical opportunity, has always been the home I return to from wherever I am working or living, and I’m excited to reconnect with it and foster new creative partnerships throughout and beyond this programme.

Claire Gilbert

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Claire is an international theatre producer who makes art for social change. She produces and co-runs political company British-Romanian BÉZNĂ Theatre (wipe these tears, The People’s Tribunal on Crimes of Aggression Afghanistan Sessions, ILLEGALISED), Off west-end award winning Out Of The Forest Theatre (Louisa & Jo (&Me), The Brief Life of Boris III, Call Me Fury, Bury the Hatchet) and Claire Gilbert Ltd (In Her Strength, The Axiom of Choice). She works for Lora Krasteva to deliver Becoming; a series of multi art from residencies in UK, Czech Republic, Germany & Romania and has also produced for companies including Cardboard Citizens, Deafinitely Theatre & Wayward Productions. Before becoming a freelance producer she worked with venues including National Theatre, Royal Court & Barbican Centre for Complicité.

She is a Stage One supported producer and proud Essex Girl.

Lydia Idakula

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Lydia Idakula refers to herself as a Producer, Writer & Arts Manager. She produces Film, TV, Stage Productions and Art Events including Festivals and Art Exhibitions.

Amongst several notable works, she was the Series Producer and Head Writer for the acclaimed Multichoice – Africa Magic daily show in Nigeria, ‘Halita’ which ran for 240 episodes. She was also a writer and the producer for Little Black Book Season 1, a web series, for which she was nominated in the Best Writer and Best Series category for the Africa Magic Viewers Choice Awards.

She serves on the board of Ladima Foundation, an organisation that supports women in film, and is rounding off her role as the Artistic Director for the Lagos Theatre Festival. She now lives and works in the UK as a Writer and Freelance Producer. She is currently working on her first Musical.

She is elated to be a Mercury Producer. In her own words: “My dream is to create shows that tell stories of the underrepresented Africans living in the UK, connect them to their heritage, give them a platform for expression while also exposing non-Africans to these rich and powerful stories. This programme will position me to be a successful producer in the UK, especially with the mentoring, networking and other opportunities it presents. This program is my next ten steps and I am elated to be a part of it!”

Marco Young

marco 250

Marco is an actor and translator looking to develop his practice as a producer. He trained as a performer at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Acting credits include Another America (Park Theatre), The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus (Pitlochry Festival Theatre), My Cousin Rachel (Bath Theatre Royal & UK Tour), The Stranger on the Bridge (Salisbury Playhouse/Tobacco Factory), A Girl, Standing (Theatre 503), Romeo and Juliet (Guildford Shakespeare Company). He has been translating from Italian to English for several years and is currently developing a translation of the acclaimed Miracoli Metropolitani (Suburban Miracles) by Gabriele di Luca with Foreign Affairs theatre company. He co-produced, translated and performed in the first British English version of Scusate se non siamo morti in mare (Sorry We Didn’t Die at Sea; Finalist Premio Riccione 2015) by Emanuele Aldrovandi at Seven Dials Playhouse in July 2022.

Mercury Directors 2022

Elinor Dunton

elinor 250Elinor Dunton (she/her) – Elinor is a director and assistant director from Chelmsford, Essex. Most recently she worked as Assistant Stage Manager on Michelle Payne’s To Have and To Hold. Her directing work has included working as Assistant Director for Fiddler on the Roof directed by Alex Howarth and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels directed by Michelle Payne, as well as co-directing Brand New Day – a Musical Theatre showcase at the University of Chichester – with Adam Pritchard. Elinor is very excited for the opportunity to work with the Mercury Theatre and to work with experienced and talented creatives.

Jane Prinsley

jane new 250Jane is a director and writer hailing from Norwich. She sees theatre as a place for community catharsis. She’s interested in telling untold stories and reexamining age-old tales. Jane is currently working on Where We Dwelt, an ACE-funded piece about the medieval Jews of Norwich. Her past projects include Twice Over at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was in the Skinny’s pick of the Fringe. In her mission to render old classics new, she once staged an immersive adaptation of John Ford’s ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore in a nightclub. She is a facilitator with the National Youth Theatre, was part of the Traverse Young Writers group, is a high school English teacher and, when she’s not making theatre, works as an Education Facilitator at The Guardian.

Jasmine Skingle

jasmine 250Hello, I’m Jaz and I am an 18 year old aspiring screenwriter, currently studying Film at Kings College London. I have done theatre my entire life, from acting in school plays, watching theatre productions at my local theatres and in the West End, teaching drama at Stagecoach Colchester and now writing and directing my own stage-plays such as Ghost Therapy, which saw great success at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. I cannot wait to develop my directing and writing skills further, since when you love an industry all you want to do is learn!


Matthew Jewson

matt 250Matthew is a neurodiverse actor, lecturer and theatre maker based in Essex. With over 10 years of industry experience Matthew has dedicated his work on the belief that creativity & artistic expression is a catalyst for change.

He has extensive experience on curating youth projects as previous company director to TWAS Theatre ltd and producing the creative engagement programme at The Mercury Theatre Colchester.

Matthew has recently been associate producer on the outdoor arts event, Fresh Air Festival. His directing credits include musicals such as ‘Godspell,’ ‘Legally Blonde: The musical’ and will be directing ‘Spring Awakening’ the musical in spring 2023 at UCC.

Instagram: @mrmattjewson | Twitter: @MatthewJewson

Neetu Singh

neetu new 250Neetu Singh is a theatre maker and writer from Hackney, East London. She read English at the University of Oxford graduating in 2021. While studying there, she founded Haldi & Co Productions, which is now a Tamasha Theatre Associate Company. She is an alumnus of the Hackney Empire’s Artist Development Programme and Theatre Royal Stratford East’s Young Technicians’ programme. She assistant directed Kabul Goes Pop at Brixton House Theatre and is currently assistant directing Noor at Kali Theatre. She is currently pursuing a part-time Masters in Creative Writing at the University of Cambridge and splits her time between London and Cambridge.

Nicola Pollard

nicola 250Born in Maldon, Nicola grew up on the Kent coast and now lives in Hertfordshire. She studied at the University of Cambridge, followed by a MFA at the University of Exeter. Her first professional job was with Ipswich-based Eastern Angles, with whom she has now worked five times, including directing their touring production Red Skies in 2020 and 2021. Other credits as a director include scratch nights and short runs at Theatre503 (Rapid Write Response), Hen & Chickens, Old Red Lion, King’s Head, House of Detention and a rehearsed reading at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Nicola was Assistant to the Head of Text at Shakespeare’s Globe for the summer season of 2014. In 2021, Nicola produced, co-wrote and directed Book Sleuths in a Bind, a family-friendly interactive show in association with Hertfordshire Libraries.

Nicola is Artistic Director of Up The Road Theatre, who create and tour new work to those with little access to live performance. Their next tour is due to be spring 2023, funded by Arts Council England. She is also a trained workshop facilitator.

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