We are thrilled to announce the cohort for the 2024 Rachel Baptiste programme at Smock Alley Theatre;
Tanya Bridgeman, Christie Kandiwa, Matthew Sharpe and Shannon Welby
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 three years of the programme we have engaged with 12 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, Dagogo Hart, Sophie Lenglinger, Gabriel Adewusi, Joy Nesbitt and Sean Gallen.
We are thrilled to welcome the new 2024 cohort to the programme.
Feedback from previous Baptiste Programme participants:
‘The Baptiste programme was a great opportunity to develop new work alongside a group of peers, but also with guidance and inspiration from experienced theatre professionals. I got to work with other artists I admire. The programme is also a really lovely way to start to build a relationship with Smock Alley – I highly recommend’.
Esosa Ighodaro – 2022 Participant
‘The Baptiste Programme has given me the opportunity to find my voice, and to keep searching for what it is I want to say. It has given me the confidence to pursue writing, in all its forms. It’s an excellent programme that continues finding voices that we haven’t necessarily heard from yet, and hopefully will lead to more authentic and culturally mixed experiences being represented on our stage. Long may The Baptiste Programme continue.’
Kwaku Fortune – 2021 Participant
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.
The programme has been previously funded by the Arts Council and Dublin City Council.
Our current cohort for the 2024 Rachel Baptiste programme at Smock Alley Theatre consists of: Tanya Bridgeman, Christie Kandiwa, Matthew Sharpe and Shannon Welby
Tanya Bridgeman (she/her) is an Irish-Bajan creative from London. Since graduating from Mountview academy of theatre arts Tanya has worked on numerous theatre productions as an actor. Tanya’s first play as a writer was her solo show Shoes To Fill. This play received a seed commission from Iris Theatre (Covent Garden) and was awarded an Off West End commendation. As a writer Tanya is interested in word of mouth stories and how they are passed down through generations. She has a keen interest in folklore and the similarities we can find in stories across the globe. As well as acting and writing Tanya works with IamIrish to uplift and celebrate people of mixed ancestry/ multi ethnicity.
A poet and singer-songwriter, Kayssie K. also known as Christie Kandiwa was born in Zimbabwe and raised in Ireland. Her work is influenced by blending her Zimbabwean cultural heritage and her Irish upbringing and intertwines Southern-African myths and local languages and forms. She was awarded as the Poet Laureate of County Wicklow in 2021. Published as one of seventy women who have shaped Irish culture, Kayssie was invited to perform as part of the Literature Festival in Limerick, Diversifying the Canon 2022, MoLi Culture Night, Living Canvas Programme, produced Ruvheneko as part of the Fringe Festival 2023 and NCWI’s 2022 conference and is working as part of the Moonfish Ensemble.
Matthew Sharpe is an actor and writer who has worked in theatres across Northern Ireland, National Theatre London & Europe as well as appearing in films and TV in Ireland. Acquiring roles in Soft Bored Patrol, Ordinary Love, Stranger with a camera, and Bloodlands S1 & 2, and KNEECAP the movie. Matthew has written and produced his own podcast called The Thought Floor. This year, Matthew was selected for Incubate, with Tinderbox Theatre Company – A network creating space for artistic connection, communication and creativity. He was also selected for the Dublin Fringe WEFT programme, which facilitates the support and creation of work for non-white artists across Ireland. And INVEST – a freelance artist development project based in Belfast with a national and international reach, designed to upskill and create the next generation of inclusive artists to lead Northern Ireland’s theatre and dance sectors. With these opportunities and support Matthew has been able to create a show which will debut in theatres in 2024! Matthew aims to elevate his writing and creative practice to new heights this year.
Shannon Welby is a writer from Donegal whose background is in screenwriting. Her accolades include reaching top 1% of 4,287 scripts for BBC Writers room Open Call 2023, selection for development for RTÉ Storyland 2023, selection for Spotlight TV Comedy, Screen Ireland Screen Mentoring, X-Pollinator Development Lab, Final 30 for Virgin Media Discovers and Best Screenplay Award Finalist at Catalyst International Film Festival. She graduated with a First Class Honors MA in Screenwriting for Film & Television at National Film School IADT. What excites her most about the craft of playwriting is the fear of excavating honesty – an honesty that drips off the stage, into the aisles, and infects the bones deeper and more isolating than other art forms.
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 scripts. 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.
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