Interview with Sidney Cole

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Balham-born Sidney Cole is a familiar face that you may not be able to put a name too. A respected character actor, he has done comedy, with French and Saunders, theatre with the RSC and film with actors such as Bob Hoskins. His latest incarnation is as Horse in the stage adaptation of the successful 1997 British film The Full Monty about six unemployed Sheffield steelworkers who decide to strip to make a living. Cole explains to Joy Francis how the play, also written by the film’s Oscar winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy, provides a broader storyline for the characters, how he copes with being naked on stage and why he feels that going to drama school isn’t essential to be an successful actor.

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Chewing Gum Dreams

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Talented actress and writer Michaela Coel, who is making waves in Blurred Lines at The Shed, is also about to star in her self-penned one woman play Chewing Gum Dreams, which won the 2012 Alfred Fagon Award for best new play. Developed at (and supported by) The Yard Theatre, with direction by Nadia Fall, the play recalls those last days of innocence before adulthood. Among them, Tracey Gordon, the 67 bus, friendship, sex, UK garage, school, music, teachers, friendship, periods, emergency contraceptive, friendship, raves, tampons, white boys, God, money, sex (again) and Connor Jones. Coel’s other credits include Three Birds at the Bush Theatre and Top Boy for Channel 4.

Date: 17 March-5 April 2014
Time: 8pm or 9.30pm (please check listings for relevant times)
Venue: The Shed, National Theatre, Upper Ground, South Bank, London SE1 9PX ‎
Price: £12/£20
Box Office: 020 7452 3000

The Mistress Contract

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An unconventional arrangement: Danny Webb (He) and Saskia Reeves (She). Photo by Manuel Harlan.

Play: The Mistress Contract
Theatre: Royal Court Theatre
Playwright: Abi Morgan
Director: Vicky Featherstone

Review by Natalie Gormally

Abi Morgan makes her Royal Court debut with an adaptation of The Mistress Contract, the memoir of an anonymous American couple only known as He and She. For over 30 years, He and She have been lovers. Now in their 90s, the couple reflect on their relationship.

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Red Velvet

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A man of many faces: Adrian Lester as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Play: Red Velvet
Theatre: Tricycle Theatre
Playwright: Lolita Chakrabarti
Director: Indhu Rubasingham

Review by Joy Francis

If Lolita Chakrabarti hadn’t stumbled upon the incredible story of the African-American, British-based actor Ira Aldridge in 1998, his eventful life would have remained a hidden gem of British theatre history.

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Body Narratives Screening of Wadjda

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The Body Narratives presents an intimate evening of film to support the anticipated exhibition and workshops entitled A Different Mirror in April 2014. The event aims to introduce audiences to, and encourage support for, the exhibition’s artists and workshops, as well as generate funding for the innovative project. Wadjda is a tale of a 10 year old spirited girl who longs to own a bike to race against her friend Abdullah. Wadjda is renowned for being the first film to come from Saudi Arabia directed by a woman in a notably male dominated kingdom. The director Haifaa Al Mansour gives viewers a rare insight into the barely known country by contrasting the independent minded Wadjda with the conservative setting of Riyadh society.

Date: Friday 21 February 2014
Time: Doors open at 6.15pm. 6.30pm (prompt start)
Venue: Brixton East, 100 Barrington Road, London, SW9 7JF
Price: Early bird tickets (£8.50); Standard online (£9.50); On the door (£15)
Website: Click here to book

SI Leeds Literary Prize 2014

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The SI Leeds Literary Prize for unpublished fiction by black and Asian women writers in the UK is now accepting entries for 2014. The prize runs biennially and the first award was made in October 2012 to Minoli Salgado’s A Little Dust on the Eyes, at the Ilkley Literature Festival. Three prize winners will receive £2,000, £750 and £250 for first, second and third place respectively, plus support through Peepal Tree Press’s Inscribe programme for writer development. The first prize entry receives serious consideration for publication by Peepal Tree Press. Bonnie Greer OBE, Bernardine Evaristo, Bidisha and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown are just a few of its patrons.

Deadline: 14 April 2014
Website: Click here to enter

RSL Brookleaze Grants for writers


The RSL Brookleaze Grants for writers is open for submissions. The purpose of these grants is to buy time for novelists, short story writers, poets or playwrights with pieces of work in hand. The Council of the RSL, who will be responsible for awarding the grants, will be particularly interested in applications from writers who wish to buy time away from their normal lives – who need to take sabbaticals from their jobs, for example, or who need to travel abroad for the purpose of research. A total of £5,000 is available annually, and this may be awarded either as two grants of £2,500 or one grant of £5,000. To be eligible to apply, a writer must have had work previously published, or have been newly commissioned, by a trade publisher in the UK.

Deadline: Wednesday 30 April 2014
Website:: Click here to enter

Image courtesy of With Deadline Text by thaikrit

New Statesman and Wellcome Trust journalism scholarship

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The New Statesman and Wellcome Trust have joined forces to offer a summer placement to students or graduates from an ethnic minority background who aspire to be a science journalist. During the eight week placement successful applicants will undertake a data-driven journalism research project on a scientific topic, which will be published on the New Statesman website, visit Parliament and learn about how science-based legislation is developed and debated in the select committee system, have an opportunity to interview leading Wellcome Trust scientists and policy-makers and write a regular bylined science blog on the New Statesman website. They will also be paid a London living wage (£8.55/hour). This is a positive action scheme under the Race Relations Act.

Deadline: Saturday 15 February 2014
Terms and conditions: Click here to apply



Book: Revolt
Author: Qaisra Shahraz
Publisher: Arcadia Books

Review by Natalie Gormally

Revolt is a multi-layered, multi-faceted story of love, loss, intergenerational conflict, culture and tradition.

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Helping young creatives shine

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Words of Colour’s Joy Francis and Mesha McNeil (centre) with the guest speakers at Making your Mark.

When Words of Colour Productions produced a survey for young creatives to tell us what they needed to get their careers kick started we were lucky enough to meet nearly 100 of them in person at special event at the Tricycle Cinema. Mesha McNeil who launched the survey, explains why she is now inspired to make a difference.

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Interview with Lolita Chakrabarti


Adrian Lester as Ira Aldridge in Red Velvet. Photo by Tristram Kenton.

Lolita Chakrabarti is a creative bundle of talent. For those growing up in the 90s, she is best remembered as strong willed WPC Jamila Blake in The Bill. For avid theatre goers she is the playwright who set the stage alight in 2012 with Red Velvet, based on the life of African American, British-based actor Ira Aldridge. In between she has worked extensively on stage and screen. Her theatre credits include The Great Game: Afghanistan for the Tricycle Theatre, Last Seen for the Almeida (which she also contributed to the writing of), and John Gabriel Borkman for the Donmar Warehouse.

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