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The Lowry Artist Development Programme

INSIDE | The Lowry Celebrate 10 Years of Their Artist Development Programme

2019 marks the ten-year anniversary of The Lowry’s Artist Development Programme. Re-launching with a new structure, it aims to nurture artists at different stages of their practice. During the last decade, the programme has worked with a multitude of talent and a total of 52 productions have been commissioned as part of the program. The four strands, Artist Network, Class Of, Developed With andAssociate Artist allows The Lowry to support artists in numerous ways. To celebrate the start of this exciting revamp, the theatre held The Lowry’s Artist Showcase to shine a light on the exciting upcoming productions in development. 

I was really impressed by each pitch as we were introduced to a diverse mix of programming. I wanted to highlight my favourites and what theatre I am excited about The Lowry helping to bring to life over the next few years.

House of Blakewell

First up were House of Blakewell, a double act cabaret pair with their show Everything is Absolutely Fine (working title). The basic premise is that it’s a show about a woman named Alice who is making a new start. After moving from a big city into a small town, she is going to be a ‘new person.’ It’s a hilarious, relatable and relevant story about navigating life told through monologue and song. They showcased a few songs, one particularly funny one about shopping in Waitrose and seeing that person that appears to have their life completely together. Witty and honest, I found this pair really entertaining and it was a show that looks like it has a lot of promise. Currently in the R&D stage, they debut their show at the Lowry this June. 

More information on The House of Blakewell.

Thank Heavens for Little Girls

Jennifer Jackson had some really interesting ideas for her show Thank Heaven For Little Girls. She expressed that children rarely see an accurate representation of themselves on stage, therefore her idea is to have ten 10-year-old girls on stage. She wants the audience to see a group of girls on stage being brilliant, funny and entertaining. It’s a really intriguing idea that sounds like it has a lot of potential and Jennifer will be developing it throughout 2019 ahead of a 2020 tour.

More information on Thank Heavens for Little Girls.

Director’s Cut

Kill The Beast are a well-established theatre company known for their extravagant and over the top studio and mid-scale theatre. The award-winning comedy company have a brand new show that combines live-film and original music. It’s a fast-paced production about the worst films ever made. The excerpt they performed was sharp, witty and superbly executed on stage, proving how ready they are to tour the production. 

More information on Director’s Cut.

Art with Heart

I hadn’t previously heard of Art with Heart but they describe themselves as collaborative arts adventurers that are ‘barrier breakers, dance-floor shakers and loyal caretakers.’ They had a brilliant concept called Golden Years that pushes back against stereotypes of retirement. Looking at what it is really like to age in a climate of austerity, they have created the Golden Years Caravan. With a focus on social change and audience development, it’s a caravan that tours across the UK and hosts a series of artworks creates by retirees. Although not fully developed, it’s a fantastic idea and would work perfectly in arts festivals across the UK.

More information on Art with Heart.

Dickson MBI

Dickson MBI is not only a phenomenal dancer but an incredibly captivating person. Wanting to make art that connects with people, his latest project is inspired by his heritage. After a family trip back to his country of origin Cameroon, he wanted to create a piece that explores his dual identity being British African.

When talking about his idea, he talked passionately about contemporary dance and said something that really resonates. “With contemporary dance, you don’t have to get it, you just have to feel it.” Not only are you entranced by his movement, but Dickson speak honestly and with a real sincerity, you find yourself gripped onto his every word when he talks about his life and his work. Currently at the R&D stage, he is developing this dance piece and it’s definitely one to watch.

More information on Dickson MBI.

Jerk Chicken Samosa

Tribe Arts are a fascinating duo that create new commissioning and touring opportunities for artists of colour. Opening their pitch, they said they wanted to create a show that looks at the relationship between Black and Asian communities and explore the combo-culture being born in British society. They explained that they wanted a piece of theatre that doesn’t focus on the usual 3 T’s – taxi drivers, terrorists and tick-boxing. Influenced by the rise of British hip-hop, raga and bhangra music, they are telling the stories of their culture.

Described as an intimate story, covering both comedy and drama, they want to break the perception of what theatre is in their community and make it accessible. So by looking at how music is used in Bollywood films, they want their production to have a real music video vibe that taps into that genre. But by doing this, they also want to make it mainstream and not just for their community, so audiences can see the potential in Black and Asian stories. Speaking with such passion, despite being in its initial stages, I’m very excited about this show. 

More information on Tribe Arts.

Tank & Me

Seeing this in the program I was unsure of how it was going to work. The description states: “Tank & Me is a duet between a 20 litre water container (Tank) and a human being (Me). Conventions require us to call this piece a solo, as Tank is technically classed as an ‘inanimate object.’” Puzzled by this, I didn’t expect to be so enthralled by the performance. Fran Hyde has created this piece to incorporate contemporary circus, dance theatre and new magic. What worked brilliantly is that Fran herself is a really funny woman with excellent dry humour. 

More information on Fran Hyde.

LUNG Theatre

LUNG Theatre really blew me away with their innovative and politically driven work that seems to have created a real impact. Described the make theatre “with communities, by communities and for communities” they are a national touring theatre company that broadens horizons and investigates modern Britain. Founded in 2012, they are dedicated to producing new verbatim theatre as well as collaborating with new writers.

An example of this is their new production Trojan Horse which is about a local story that hit the national press accusing ‘hardline’ Muslim teachers and governors of plotting extremism in Birmingham schools. Adapted from the real testimonies of those at the heart of the enquiry, it’s the story of a community torn apart by racial division. LUNG Theatre take the stories in the heart of our communities and give them a platform through accessible theatre. I love everything this company are about and I’m desperate to catch some of their work as it plans to tour across the UK from autumn 2019. 

More information on Lung Theatre.

Information on The Lowry’s Artist Development programmes can be found on their website.

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