Interview with Hazel Tsoi-Wiles

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Playwright and former Londonist editor Hazel Tsoi-Wiles has always wanted to write. So much so that at 16 years old, she secured a place on the Royal Court Young Writers programme and participated in many of its theatre writing initiatives, ending with the Unheard Voices programme for East Asian writers in 2011.

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Courttia Newland and The Almasi League

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In March 2014, award-winning novelist Courttia Newland launched The Almasi League Writers’ Programme with the Newham New Deal Partnership. Over 12 months, Newland mentored 10 emerging London writers from African, Asian, Caribbean and Oceanic backgrounds through group workshops and one to one tutorials, with access to established writers and editors such as Ella Allfrey and Linton Kwesi Johnson. Since the programme’s end, some of the writers have captured the attention of editors and playwrights with one already nominated for various national writing prizes

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Write your own future

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Talking future change: Sathnam Sanghera, Dreda Say Mitchell and John Athanasiou.

Spread the Word and Words of Colour Productions presents Writing the Future

Saturday 12 September 2015
10.30am-5pm @ Waterstones Piccadilly
Tickets: from £10 – £15 (concessions available) – TICKETS ARE AVAILABLE FOR THE MORNING SESSION, SO BOOK NOW!

The experience of BAME writers in attracting a literary agent, getting their work published and being widely promoted isn’t a widely positive one. As highlighted by the recent Spread the Word commissioned report ‘Writing the Future’, publishers’ attitude towards diversity is putting them at risk of becoming “culturally irrelevant”.
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‪Diverse author day‬ on Twitter

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Rosie Canning, creative director at Greenacre Writers, and award winning author Alex Wheatle, are the people behind a new hashtag #diverseauthorday which will launch on Thursday 24 September 2015.

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The Etienne Sisters

etienne sisters

After the huge success of the critically acclaimed Klook’s Last Stand (The Park Theatre), writing duo Chè Walker and Anoushka Lucas, bring the premiere of their new play to Theatre Royal Stratford East.

The all-female cast features London talent with MOBO award winner Allyson Ava-Brown, Jennifer Saayeng (Ghost the Musical, Hairspray) and Nina Toussaint-White (EastEnders, Switch). The trio are joined by award-winning jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh, renowned for her work with Courtney Pine and The Roots.

Set to a contemporary soulful jazz soundtrack, The Etienne Sisters explores what it means to be part of a family today. Families have their cracks, secrets and baggage, with the Etienne’s being no exception. Should families stick together through thick and thin? Should they always be there for each other in time of need? What happens when the family rock is taken away from you?

The Etienne Sisters reflects Theatre Royal Stratford East’s continued commitment to break new ground with musicals that bring contemporary and urban music into the mainstream of British Theatre.

Date: Thursday 10 September – Saturday 3 October 2015
Venue: Theatre Royal Stratford East, Gerry Raffles Square, London E15 1BN
Price: £7 – £22.50

Baila Brazil


Baila Brazil is a musical journey into the heart and soul of the African and urban roots of acclaimed dance company Balé de Rua, which premiered at Sydney Opera House in January 2015. Inspired by North American street dance, capoeira and samba, the company’s energetic, yet elegant style is born from the everyday lives of many of the company who grew up in the favelas of Uberlândia in Brazil.

Comprising of 14 dancer-percussionists, one singer and a live band of keyboard, bass and guitar, the show explores the rich cultural heritage of the Brazilian people.

Balé de Rua was originally developed as an art project in the poor neighbourhoods of Uberlândia. Since being discovered at the Biennale de la Danse of Lyon in 2002, the company have performed at leading venues across the world, bringing their exuberance and energy to more than 500,000 people in 13 different countries. The thrilling mix of Baila Brazil’s original music and passionate dance forms part of the Southbank Centre’s summer-long Festival of Love, find out more here.

Date: Wednesday 5 to Saturday 15 August 2015
Venues: Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
Price: £15 – £38

East End Boys, West End Girls

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Spora Stories announce its latest production, East End Boys, West End Girls, which tours across four venues this summer. Following the highly acclaimed and sell-out shows of Pandora’s Box last year, writer and director Ade Solanke returns with a vibrant story about adolescence, friendships and unfamiliar territories.

In conjunction with the play, Spora Stories will also hold free workshops for young people interested in drama, offering a chance to devise and perform their own response to the play in a special pre-show event. The workshops are suitable for ages 11 years and upwards.

Date: Tuesday 28 July to Saturday 15 August 2015
Venues: Arcola Theatre, CLF Arts Café, Saatchi Gallery, Bernie Grant Arts Centre
Price: £10 – £17

Africa Utopia line-up announced

africa utopia

Africa Utopia – a four day festival dedicated to celebrating arts and culture from modern Africa and the African diaspora – returns to the Southbank Centre for its third year. Bringing together creatives across music, dance, literature, fashion and visual arts, the line up includes legendary afro beat musician Tony Allen and star guests Toumani and Sidiki Diabate.

Date: Thursday 10 to Sunday 13 September 2015
Veune: Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX
Price: £10, £8 (concs)
Website: Book here

The Last Ship

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Book: The Last Ship
Author: Jan Lowe Shinebourne
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press
Price: £8.99

Review by Ronke Lawal

The Last Ship is a poignant novel which spans three generations of a Chinese family who settle in Guyana after arriving on one of the last ships from China to the Caribbean.

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Culture under scrutiny

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Photo credit: Henna Decoration by Sarah/Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia

Groomsmen in turbans, women in saris, the happy gay couple in sherwanis. The stage was set for a vibrant, colourful civil partnership that looked straight out of a Bollywood movie. However, those featured in the photograph don’t appear to come from the culture the clothes represent.

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London’s newest theatre launches summer season

Hackney Showroom

Hackney Showroom is a new community arts venue which introduces four experimental shows as part of their summer season. Offering their space to emerging new production companies Fit to Burst, pluck, Ste & Dav and Boom Shakalala, each piece of theatre attempts to blur the boundaries and challenge the form of performance.

Date: Monday 6 – Friday 31 July 2015
Price: £10 – £12
Venue: Hackney Showroom, Amhurst Terrace, London E8 2BT

Clap Hands by Pluck Productions trailerView here