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The Baptiste Programme

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

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 being lead and facilitated by Pamela McQueen, established dramaturg and is also supported by Lucy Ryan, our Director of Programming & Finance at Smock Alley.

The programme is broken into four stages that will take place over seven months. The first stage will include script concept exploration, writing plans and feedback sessions. The second stage will involve master classes with Black British writers with established careers. We are very pleased to have Adura Onashile, May Sumbwanyambe and Inua Ellams deliver these sessions. In stage three the scripts will be redrafted by the writers with dramaturgical support. First draft scripts will then have an in-house informal reading with actors. The fourth and final stage is a facilitated two-day rehearsed reading process for the redrafted script.

These play readings will be mounted for an invited audience of new play producers, directors and festival representatives. We will also invite other Black Irish theatre makers to these private readings, in anticipation of an open call for Black Irish artists to apply for The Baptiste Program 2022.

The program has four central ambitions. The first is to support the up-skilling and craft development of Black Irish artists. The second outcome is four fresh new scripts that present responses to our modern world from Black Irish theatre makers, whose voices have been sorely absent from our stages. The third is an expansion of Smock Alley’s relationships with Black Irish artists that can grow into future projects. The final outcome is connecting the writers and their work with the broader community of Irish theatre.

After this first year of what we hope will be a very productive programme, we plan to continue The Baptiste Programme with an open-call for next year’s programme.

The four participants this year are…

Osaro Amanda Azams
Mary Duffin
Kwaku Fortune
C N Smith