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The Baptiste Programme

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 led 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.

2021 was the first year of the programme and we were delighted to work with some fantastic theatre artists including Amanda Azams, Kwaku Fortune and C N Smith.

We are thrilled to welcome the new 2022 cohort to the programme. They include;

Dagogo Hart Dagogo
Dagogo Hart Dagogo is a Dublin based poet, writer, and spoken word artist whose words have wowed audiences from bar basements to Electric Picnic stages. He started performing in Dublin in 2016 at open mics and poetry slams, which saw him become an All Ireland poetry slam finalist in 2017. His personal works include; RedBeard Paddy (a poetry short film), The Home Project, See True (a spoken word variety show) and Boy Child (a spoken-word play). See True and Boy Child were co-written with FeliSpeaks. He also curated the hip-hop and poetry slam series Talkatives as part of WeAreGriot.

Esosa Ighodaro
Esosa has worked in TV, film and theatre as a vocalist and actor. She has an MA in screenwriting, with a particular interest in telling more varied stories about the black experience in Ireland.

Ikenna Anyabuike
Ikenna Anyabuike is an emerging actor, writer and theatrical voice residing in the West of Galway. His roots lie in underground poetry slams, theatrical performances and music. He places an emphasis on bringing his multicultural background to the Irish stage. His driving creative force is to make theatre a “site of universal introspection and hopefully enable a life that can be lived without fear”.

Nandi Jola
Nandi Jola is studying for her MA in Poetry at Queens University Belfast. She was Ulster University Facilitator for Books Beyond Boundaries NI and a TEDxSpeaker in 2021.

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 with established careers. The writers’ scripts will then be redrafted with dramaturgical support. First 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.

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

Dagogo Hart Dagogo
Esosa Ighodaro
Ikenna Anyabuike
Nandipha Jola

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…