Talawa Theatre Company announces 2023 season, including new productions and the return of Talawa Stories

Talawa Theatre Company has today announced details of their 2023 programme, including new productions, community projects in Croydon and the return of Talawa Stories and Talawa Firsts.

As part of This Is Croydon, London Borough of Culture 2023 programme, Talawa will present the premiere of RECOGNITION, a new play inspired by the remarkable life and works of Black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. Coleridge-Taylor was a dual-heritage African composer and Croydon resident, whose classical compositions were hugely successful in the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

RECOGNITION follows Song, a young Black composer from the modern day, who discovers Samuel Coleridge-Taylor and learns she is joining a legacy of Black classical music in Britain she never knew existed. Through these two mirrored lives and a common passion – music – RECOGNITION explores how we acknowledge and celebrate those who came before.

This exciting new production is co-created by Amanda Wilkin and Rachael Nanyonjo, written by Amanda Wilkin, and directed by Rachael Nanyonjo. The production will have original music by Mercury Prize-nominated Cassie Kinoshi (leader, Seed Ensemble), with Coleridge-Taylor’s compositions.

Talawa will also be highlighting hidden histories and unsung heroes of the area with a new initiative, OUR CROYDON. This collaboration with the Croydon Museum, supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, will amplify stories of historical, recent and current figures of African Caribbean heritage who are either from or have lived in Croydon. Part of the London Borough of Culture celebrations, OUR CROYDON will begin with a call out to participants, training on how to research, developing stories in collaboration with artists, and will culminate in local and online exhibitions. OUR CROYDON will platform the voices of local Croydon residents, schools, archivists, educators and creatives, and the rich history which exists in the area.

Following the success of the first TALAWA STORIES partnership in 2021, BBC Radio 4 and Talawa Theatre Company will team up again to bring audiences three new audio dramas, which will air in 2024. The first TALAWA STORIES series featured three original audio dramas by rising talents Sian Carter, Charles Entsie and Roberta Livingstone, with casts including Don Warrington, Sharon D Clarke and Alfred Enoch, and aired to acclaim with one of the dramas, Running With Lions, going on to have a stage life at Lyric Hammersmith in 2022.

TALAWA FIRSTS is returning in 2023 for its eleventh year, with a two-week showcase of new writing and skills development workshops. TALAWA FIRSTS invests in talent and Black excellence in theatre, providing a stage for some of the freshest new voices in Black British theatre. This summer’s TALAWA FIRSTS programme will welcome audiences and artists for an exciting fortnight of original and authentic new voices.

TALAWA YOUNG PEOPLE THEATRE (TYPT) returns as a free, four-week skills development programme for emerging Black theatre-makers. TYPT aims to create a career pathway into the theatre industry by developing participants’ skills, experience and networks. Applications to participate in TYPT will open in March 2023. The Introductory Writer’s Group returns this year for Black writers who live, work or study in Croydon. This free course takes place until June 2023 at Talawa Studios, led by Talent Executive Michelle Matherson, encouraging the creation of original work and supporting new voices.

Building on Talawa’s investment in artist development and engaging local audiences, TALAWA CONNECTS will provide audiences, creatives and the wider Croydon community with the opportunity to explore the many paths there are to creativity and theatre. During 2023, Talawa will host 24 sessions, which will include: Connect & Play, masterclasses and networking sessions for Croydon-based artists; Youth Group sessions for young artists aged 14-18 on Shakespeare and performance skills; and Croydon Storytelling, where participants can work with an established artist to create an anthology of poems or stories that can be passed down to younger generations within Croydon.

STUDIO FIRSTS is a programme presented by Talawa, opening their doors to emerging theatre artists looking for a space to develop their original work. Throughout the year, Talawa will also continue its investment in their New Work programme with a range of Research and Development projects, with the view to collaborate with exciting organisations to create new work and cultural experiences for audiences. Later in the year, Talawa will be a co-producer on a new touring production, with more details to follow.

On 31st March, Talawa will hold a 2023 Season Launch and fundraiser with an exciting line up of past alumni and future Talawa stars.

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