Writing for TV: Soap Operas

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Soap operas are our guilty pleasure. The ability to write compelling storylines that become water cooler moments, which touch you emotionally as well as entertain, is an art. So what is the secret to writing a great soap plot, Christmas special or dastardly villain? How do you make a black or Asian family feel contemporary and authentic in a genre that relies, to some degree, on stereotypes? Join Cathianne Hall (Hollyoaks, Emmerdale, Coronation Street) and Veronica McKenzie (Coronation Street) to discover Why creating strong storylines is at the heart of a long running serial, how writers go about creating a high volume of story content, the role of a storyline team and how it works, finding a story with long term characters and take part in a Q&A.

Date: Tuesday 22 July 2014
Venue: Lift Islington (The Chapel Space), 45 White Lion Street, London N1 9PW
Time: 6.30pm-8pm
Price: £15 (early bird); £10 (concessions); £20 (full price)
To book: Click here


Revolution at the Royal Court

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The Royal Court’s innovative artistic director Vicky Featherstone usually creates a stir when she announces a new season. The one for Septemper 2014 to May 2015 is no exception with revolution in the air, says playwright Maxine Quintyne-Kolaru.

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The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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Sibling rivalry: Isabella Calthorpe (India), Charlotte Parry (Gemma), Alice Sanders (Mouse), Patricia Potter (Garden), Claire Forlani (Willow). Photo credit: Mark Douet

Play: The Colby Sisters of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Theatre: Tricycle Theatre
Playwright: Adam Bock
Director: Trip Cullman

Review by Natalie Gormally

Canadian-born writer Adam Bock reunites (for the fifth time) with director Trip Cullman to explore life behind the perfectly groomed and glamorous facade of high-society New York in this black comedy.

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Interview with Ony Uhiara

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Ony Uhiara is a woman of many faces. Best known for playing Adele in the BBC sitcom The Crouches, Uhiara has a glowing theatre career and was identified as a “gifted young theatre performer” by the Guardian theatre critic and blogger Lyn Gardner as early as 2006.

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Putting African women in the spotlight

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In her second and final report on the Sheffield Doc/Fest, filmmaker Veronica McKenzie meets up with two inspiring Kenyan women filmmakers to discuss their groundbreaking documentary Truck Mama on the elusive woman who drives a truck in South Africa on a notoriously dangerous route.

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Wasafiri’s 30th anniversary event

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Wasafiri, the Magazine of International Contemporary Writing, is delighted to launch its one-off student issue, New Generations, at Keats House as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations this year. Join acclaimed poet Daljit Nagra and some of the UK’s best writers reading alongside London’s brightest new voices. Over six months from October 2013 in conjunction with Eastside Educational Trust,Wasafiri ran an exciting writing and publishing project with four schools around London. Now, three of the brilliant mentoring writers, Jay Bernard, Bobby Nayyar and Shazea Quraishi, will join some of these budding young authors on stage to read for one night only. Also appearing is Christie Watson, whose fiction excerpt ‘Basketball Player’ featured in Wasafiri in 2009 and formed the basis of her Costa First Novel Prize-winning Tiny Sunbirds Far Away. The evening will be introduced and hosted by Keats House Writer-in-Residence Daljit Nagra, who was first published in Wasafiri as a new poet in 2002

Date: Thursday 3 July 2014
Venue: Keats House, Keats Grove, London NW3 2RR
Time:: 6.30pm-8.30pm
Website: www.wasafiri.org


Step Change Programme

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Step Change is a national programme by the National Theatre for professionals seeking to progress and develop their careers in the management of the performing arts, supporting those in need of a change of direction. With a focus on producing and management roles, Step Change expands the range of opportunities for those wanting to make a transition within or into the arts, especially those who are overlooked and underrepresented. The programme is for people who are at early/mid career level with a relevant transferable skillset; are mature and self-aware with the ability to evaluate and take ownership of their own professional development and have experience of working – preferably within the arts – for either a large organisation, a small one, independently, or all three (minimum three years, no maximum). If successful you will receive coaching and mentoring, residential masterclasses, secondments at the host organisation and networking with peers and industry professionals.

Deadline: Monday 23 June 2014 (10am)
Venues: The Waterbar, Thistle Hotel, King’s Road, BN1 2GS and The Writers’ Place, 9 Jew Street, Brighton, BN1 1UT. For London and Norwich venues, check the website.
Booking: Download the application form
Email: Gemma Baxter at gbaxter@nationaltheatre.org.uk


Klook’s Last Stand

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Drifting in and out of love: Ako Mitchell (Klook) and Sheila Atim (Vinette). Photo credit Arnim Friess.

Play: Klook’s Last Stand
Theatre: Park Theatre
Playwright: Ché Walker
Director: Ché Walker

Review by Natalie Gormally

Park Theatre’s intimate 90-seat studio space plays host to writer-director Ché Walker’s powerful new musical drama Klook’s Last Stand. Set in present day California, Walker’s production is an intense love story, full of hope, loss and jazz-soul tunes.

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Interview with Noma Dumezweni

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Noma Dumezweni is a chameleon. From New York to Cuba, from Nigeria to South Africa, her ability to play with accents and reflect different cultural experiences, both past and present, is impressive. The Olivier Award winner for her role in the Young Vic production of the American classic A Raisin in the Sun, has acted with Jude Law in Michael Grandage’s Henry V and charmed in Bola Agbaje’s Belong (Royal Court). On TV she has appeared in shows such as Frankie, Roy Williams’ Fallout and Little Miss Jocelyn and in film, alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor in Dirty Pretty Things.

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Who is telling our stories?

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Screenwriter (Coronation Street, Nine Nights) and documentary filmmaker (Under Your Nose) Veronica McKenzie attended the Sheffield Doc/Fest for Words of Colour Productions to see what was happening for black and minority ethnic filmmakers. Amid some fascinating work and great panel discussions, filmmakers of colour were thin on the ground.

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What’s Up launches on Sky 1

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On Saturday 14 June 2014 at 11.30am, a weekly 30 minute dynamic lifestyle and entertainment show called What’s Up will debut on Sky 1 with two young black anchors. Far from being a ‘new’ show, What’s Up has been going for over eight years, as a training initiative aimed at diverse audiences and made by talented young people.

Joy Francis speaks to the show’s founder Bob Clarke and one of the show’s anchors, journalist and presenter Jacqueline Shepherd, about media diversity and the importance of putting diverse talent in front of and behind the camera.

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