The Baptiste Programme

Smock Alley is looking for submissions for the 2023 edition of its flagship Rachel Baptiste programme.

Are you a black Irish writer, performer, or theatre maker? Are you a writer of colour from a discipline outside the performing arts? Are you interested in writing for the stage? Are you ready to commit time to exploring ideas about playwriting, putting ideas down on paper and then expanding into new drafts? Did you ever want to work with a dramaturg? Would you like the opportunity to talk to well-known playwrights and find out how they go about writing their plays? How about handing your script over to actors to hear your words read out?

If you have ever thought about these things the Baptiste Programme at Smock Alley could be right for you.

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 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.

We are planning to run the programme again in 2023 and are now looking for expression of interest . 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. The programme sessions will be held in Dublin and will be a combination of in-person and on-line events.

Please apply via this link.

And include copy of your CV or a bio along with an answer to the following question:
Why do you feel this programme will help you at this point in your practice?

The final deadline for applications is 6pm on Monday 31st October 2022.

The programme has been previously funded by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.


Detailed Outline
The programme is broken into four stages that take place over 9 months.
The first stage includes script concept exploration, writing plans and feedback sessions led by Pamela McQueen.

The second stage will involve master classes with Irish and British writers and theatre makers with established careers. For 2022 we were very pleased to have, May Sumbwanyambe, Inua Ellams and Sonya Kelly deliver these sessions.

In stage three the writers will focus on redrafting their scripts with further dramaturgical support from the team and peer-to-peer support facilitated by alumni from the programme. 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 with a professional cast and director.

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.

Contemporary of Rachel Baptiste. Portrait by Jean-Etienne Liotard.

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…