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Message from our Associate Director Malakaï Sargeant

Hey TP Family, 

Behind closed doors in the safety of our homes (where we hope you all are, too), we’ve been working hard to ensure that, whether digitally or IRL, when an artist engages with TP they have the best experience possible. 

Theatre Peckham is now trailblazing a bold new way of working with artists, in the hope that we set an industry precedent by taking note of some of the real yet invisible financial, logistical, cognitive and emotional barriers many creators and makers in London face – especially those who may not have the luxury of being able to work on their craft full- or even part-time.

It is well-documented how individuals are systemically discriminated against in our sector due to their ethnicity, gender identification or presentation, sexual orientation and expression, financial background, learning or behavioural difficulties, mental health challenges or physical ability. However, these are often viewed in silos with a “one-size-fits-all” approach that fails to tackle the root causes of such discrimination, especially for those who are experiencing inequality in multiple ways due to their identity. 

With this in mind, we are now expanding our offer as a Learning Theatre by piloting our first ever Artist-in-Residence scheme supporting three incredible Black womxn from or neck of the woods, South East London. Until Autumn 2020, we are joined by three artists who embed themselves in our local area, working with residents and young people while being holistically supported by Theatre Peckham to develop their practice. The offer to these artists throughout this residency is significant and includes: free work space, a financial artist bursary, the opportunity to curate a programme of work for local residents, personal mentorship, marketing and dramaturgy support and free space to present new work. 

Our three Artists-in-Residence are:

babirye bukilwa (featured image) – an actor, model, poet (SISTA!, THE COLOUR OF MADNESS) podcaster and a songwriter. Most recently seen returning to the National Theatre stage opposite Cate Blanchett and directed by Katie Mitchell, her notable work includes the Royal Court, the Hampstead, The Nottingham Playhouse, the Arcola, Soho, The Leicester Curve, BBC, Channel 4 and the ICA. babirye was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Shortlist 2019.

Olivia Douglass – a writer and artist from South East London. Her work aims to remould the traditional and colonial images surrounding the Black Queer experience and spans across poetry,live literature, live art, filmmaking and theatre. Her debut show, Palm as Portal, comes to Theatre Peckham in Summer 2020. Our Associate Director Malakaï Sargeant directs.

Rochelle White –  a South London-based visual artist and educator who works primarily within photographic mediums, moving image and installation. White’s work investigates the fabric of cultural and racial identity resulting in a union of bold contemporary and traditional references, often loaded with symbolism specific to and rooted in unspoken diasporic understandings. 

Meanwhile, we recently redeveloped our Gallery space and have launched with an interactive solo exhibition by Greenwich-based South African-born portrait photographer Theodorah Ndlovu. The Gallery and our Foyer is a dedicated space to host visual art, installations and events by artists under 35 based in South East London. Theatre Peckham knows how difficult it can be to put together an exhibition, so as well as providing the space to exhibit work we also offer artists support in putting together a launch event. If you fit the criteria and would like to showcase your work at Theatre Peckham, please get in touch. We are currently working to digitise Theodorah’s interactive exhibition Many Kinds of Power so it can be enjoyed on our website during social isolation. 

Quarantining has also meant that we are able to dedicate time to reviving our TP Collective of artists, made up of individuals who have previously taken part in the Theatre Peckham Academy, productions or our wider programme – if this sounds like you and you’d like to know more, please get in touch. Throughout this period we have been in regular contact with our TP Voice group of local residents and Academy members’ parents/carers who keep Theatre Peckham in check; we’re really grateful for all of their support in this time. 

And of course we’ve been keeping connected with our Academy members – already over 60% have joined an app that we developed so our tutors can stay in touch and set our members creative tasks, share resources and check-in with each other. We’ve also reallocated some funding in order to carry out some digital projects to keep young people’s creative minds busy; watch out for more information and ways to get involved in First Drafts and Lyrics & Lines in the coming weeks.

So, in short: supporting and developing local artists is essential to the work we do at Theatre Peckham. While we focus on nurturing the artistic and personal development of under 25s, as a Learning Theatre, Theatre Peckham also strives to platform innovative new writing and performance from new voices of all ages and walks of life. More than anything, we are looking to engage with artists who create work that includes and is for families, young people and varying facets of our local community. Increasingly, Theatre Peckham is becoming a space artists who are bold in pushing the boundaries of form, use exciting ways to retell existing or imagine new stories, and engage with audiences beyond the performer-spectator relationship. We can’t wait to announce even more projects we’ve been working and open our doors again soon – we hope you’ll be joining us on this exciting new chapter for Theatre Peckham.

Stay safe,

Team TP