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The Baptiste Programme

We are thrilled to announce the cohort for the 2023 Rachel Baptiste programme at Smock Alley Theatre.
Seán Gallen, Sophie Lenglinger and Joy Nesbitt.

The Baptiste Programme is a paid and mentored script development programme for Black Irish theatre makers and writers of colour.

The programme is named after the 18th century black Irish singer Rachel Baptiste, who performed to great acclaim here in Smock Alley as well as at other notable and prestigious venues and pleasure gardens of the time. There’s a good article about her over on headstuff which is well worth checking out.

This project is lead and facilitated by Pamela McQueen, established dramaturg and supported by Lucy Ryan, our Director of Programming & Finance at Smock Alley. The programme has been funded by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.
Over the past two years of the programme we have engaged with 8 artists all of whom have developed a full length script with us. Osara Adams, Mary Duffin, CN Smith, Kwaku Fortune, Nandi Jola, Esosa Ighodaro, Ikenna Anyabuike and Dagogo Hart.

We are thrilled to welcome the new 2023 cohort to the programme.

Seán Gallen is a Clondalkin native (via Martinique) whose focus is writing prose but he has also worked in film and music. He studied Film and Television Studies and English Literature at the University of Glasgow and moved to Berlin after graduating to dive into the creative scene there. He is fascinated by alienation and assimilation and how most of us oscillate between the two.

Sophie Lenglinger is a writer and actor. She recently appeared in Carys D. Coburn’s ABSENT THE WRONG on the Peacock stage at the Abbey Theatre as part of Dublin Fringe Festival. Her writing experience includes Writing and Directing modules during her Foundation Studies at Drama Centre London in 2019 and the Fishamble Writing for Performance Workshop 2021. Originally from Vienna, Sophie Lenglinger moved to Dublin in 2019 to begin her studies and recently graduated from the Lir Academy BA Acting programme in 2022.

Joy Nesbitt is a theatrical director, writer, and neo-soul artist originally from Dallas, Texas. In her art, Joy is inspired and motivated by stories of Black Femininity and the destruction of oppression in today’s society. Joy is a recent graduate of the Theatre Directing MFA at The Lir National Academy of Dramatic Arts in Dublin, Ireland. She attended Harvard University with a dual degree in Social Anthropology and Music, as well as a secondary in Theatre, Dance and Media. She is a 2021 recipient of the Louis Sudler Prize in the Arts for the sum of her artistic activities as a student at Harvard.

The programme is broken into various stages that take place over 9 months. The first stage includes script concept exploration, writing plans and feedback sessions. The second stage will involve master classes with Irish and British writers and directors with established careers. The writers’ scripts will then be redrafted with dramaturgical support for the third stage and these draft scripts will have an in-house informal reading with actors. The fourth and final stage is a facilitated two-day rehearsed reading process for the developed script.
These play readings will be mounted for an invited audience of new play producers, directors and festival representatives.
Smock Alley has long been a venue that supports artists particularly in the early part of their career. The Baptiste Programme is one of a series of targeted new work programmes at Smock which seek to professionalise young artists, provide a platform for underrepresented voices and raise skills in artistic practice

This programme is a combination of dramaturgy workshops, mentor seminars and facilitated meetings. The programme culminates in a reading of the new scripts with a professional cast and director.

2021 was the first year of the programme and we were delighted to work with an amazing cohort including Osaro Azams, CN Smith and Kwaku Fortune. For the 2022 cohort we worked with Dagogo Hart Dagogo, Ikenna Anyabuike, Nandi Jola and Esosa Ighodaro. Graduates from the programme are going on to further develop their work. CN Smith is the recipient of numerous bursaries, and his recent play Spear was performed during the 2022 Fringe. Kwaku Fortune’s play, It’s Cool in the Shade, first developed through the Baptiste programme, is currently undergoing further development with Once Off Productions. We were delighted that this year’s programme of rehearsed readings was presented as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival 2022.

Detailed Outline
We are looking to achieve the following outcomes: the primary outcome is to support the skills and craft development of black Irish theatre artists and artists of colour. The second outcome is 4 proto scripts that can be brought to completion with further development. Scripts that present responses to our modern world from artists of colour, whose voices have been underrepresented on our stages.The third outcome will be an expansion of Smock Alleys relationships with artists of colour that can grow into future projects. The fourth outcome is connecting the writers and their work with a broader swathe of producers and creative team members across Irish theatre. This program wishes to facilitate those networks and relationships with the writer’s new plays. The fifth outcome Smock Alley hope to continue the relationship with one or more of these writers to provide the producing support to allow them be a lead artist in producing the play and facilitate whatever is necessary in funding applications or co-production requirements.

Smock Alley also intends to offer resource in kind supports to these writers in the future with supports like free rehearsal or development space in the Boys School as they continue their development as practicing theatre artists.

From left to right: Seán Gallen, Sophie Lenglinger, Joy Nesbitt

Images from our rehearsed readings presentation in August 2021

Pictured Top Left L – R:  Esther Ayo James, Donna Anita Nikolaisen, Ryan Lincoln, Pete Daly, Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, Barry Simpson, Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle. | Top Middle L – R: Amanda Azams, Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle, Esther Ayo James | Top Right: Amanda Azams, Alessandra Zevedo, Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle, Yves Lorrhan |  Middle Left: Amanda Azams, Aoife Spillanne-Hinks | Middle: Bairbre Ní Chaoimh, Caitríona Ní Mhurchú | Middle Right: Alessandra Zevedo, Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle, Yves Lorrhan, Esther Ayo James | Bottom Left: Jeanne Nicole Ní Áinle | Bottom Middle: Leah Minto, Ryan Lincoln | Bottom Right: Amanda Azams, Esther Ayo James

RTE Radio 1 : Drama on One
In The Wings – The Baptiste Programme 1
17 FEB • 23 MINS
Lucy Ryan & Pamela McQueen feature…
RTE Radio 1 : Drama on One
In the Wings – The Baptiste Programme 2
24 FEB • 34 MINS
Featuring writers C.N. Smith and Kwaku Fortune…