Listen Local: The Workshops

In May, Waltham Forest Residents joined us for a series of free workshops led by professional artists.

There were three groups each with a different focus:

Writing – Mondays, Resource Hub Central, E10 7ES
Performance – Wednesdays, Cann Hall Baptist Church, E11 3HY
Design – Fridays, Paradox Centre, E4 8YD

The Workshops

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Writing, Performance & Design: Hamish Pirie

Our Associate Director of 6 years Hamish Pirie trained as Resident Assistant Director at Paines Plough & at the Donmar Warehouse. He was previously Associate Director at the Traverse Theatre. Hamish works closely with our Participation Team and lead the initial workshops to give a springboard introduction into script writing, performance & design.

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Writing: Debbie Hannan

Debbie directs new writing and makes new work. She trained at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and was Trainee Director at the Royal Court. She works in London, Scotland and internationally. She directs plays that represent the working class experience and put women and queer stories at the centre.

Debbie’s workshop was on creating characters and character voice – going through a range of exercises to make characters, flesh them out and construct their journeys. Taking inspiration from real life, the writer’s day, someone’s voice, photos, overhead phrases, the outside appearance and the inner personality, the group will test a range of ways of making a character, before writing scenes in that character’s voice.

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Performance: Valentina Ceschi

Valentina is an actor, director and theatre maker. She trained for two years at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris where she also studied at the Laboratory for the Study of Movement (LEM). She co-runs Dancing Brick, an award-winning theatre company, & in 2013 she co-founded contemporary design-led performance collective, Brave New Worlds. Valentina also works regularly in opera, musical theatre & with new writers, comedians and cabaret artists.

This workshop took the participants through the core architectural blocks or ‘partitions’ of the body, to see how they relate to one another and move through space, which can tell us about character & situation, & can be the starting points for storytelling, comedy and drama.

Design: Callum

Callum is a graduate of the graphic communication design course at Central Saint Martins college in London. He has very recently graduated from a mostly graphic design based course, however his practise remains predominantly focused on bringing work to life in the physical.

His influences come from our urban life in London and Manchester, the aesthetics of our modern architectural public space, and how he thinks it could be transformed into something more enjoyable through the use of colour, image and perspective.

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Writing: Emteaz Hussain

Emteaz Hussain is a playwright, performance poet and workshop facilitator.

The workshop explored ‘Specificity and Detail’. How exploring specificity and detail can lead to the creation of compelling characters with visceral stories.


Performance: Alex Austin

Alex is a freelance actor from Walthamstow who works in theatre, film and television.

The workshop focused on three key aspects of performance Alex uses in his job: character, body and voice. The residents devised scenes using Walthamstow Market as a stimulus, bringing to life the extraordinary sights, smells and sounds you witness down the market every day!

Design: Naomi Dawson

Naomi is a set and costume designer working in the UK and aboard. She works in both classical theatre and new writing and also Opera.

The first half of the set design workshop covered the working process and practises of being a freelance set designer. The second half was a practical exercise allowing participants to create their own three dimensional model box with the aim of linking narrative and design.

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Writing: Sonali Bhattacharyya

Sonali is a playwright whose credits include Megaball (National Theatre Learning), 2066 (Almeida Theatre Participation), The Invisible Boy (Kiln Theatre), Slummers (Cardboard Citizens/Bunker Theatre) and the South Bank Show Award nominated White Open Spaces (Pentabus Theatre). The 2018 Channel 4 writer in residence at the Orange Tree, and one of the inaugural Old Vic 12, Sonali is currently under commission to The Coterie, Orange Tree Theatre, and Kiln Theatre.

Sonali’s workshop will explored how to write stories with hopefulness. Recently her practice has focused on the power of theatre to imagine new and better ways of living.


Performance: Ola Ince

Ola is a British Theatre Director. In 2010 she graduated from Rose Bruford College with a First Class Honors BA in Theatre Directing. Since graduating Ola has worked at a number of prestigious Theatres such as the Royal Court, Lyric Hammersmith, National Theatre, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, Young Vic, Bush Theatre, Finborough Theatre and Bolton Octagon.

Ola’s workshop looked at directing and how it entwines with a performers work.

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Design: Kirubel Belay

Kirubel is a freelance dance artist & fashion stylist. He is Head Fashion Stylist for House of Solo Magazine & a Contributing Fashion Editor for Hunger Magazine. Having experience in both Menswear & Womenswear, collaborating alongside some of the biggest models & musicians, in the industry.

Kirubel offered a Fashion Workshop providing insight, into his experiences and how he managed to get into the fashion industry, bringing his own influence; how he develops his craft and continues to build international relationships between himself & models, music artists, visual artists, designers, photographers, magazines etc.
There were also group tasks in which participants were able to create their own stylistic vision, by drawing from inspirations, given through resources & materials, provided by Kirubel.

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Writing: Emma Dennis-Edwards

Emma  is a multi award winning Actor and Playwright of Jamaican and Trinidadian heritage.
Emma is heavily influenced by the diverse multicultural society that she grew up with in East London and her workshop looked at how we can use our experiences and cultural influences to create theatre.

Performance: Lanre Malaolu

Lanre is a director, choreographer and performance artist, interested in developing timely, socially engaged work using a unique fusion of hip-hop dance, physical theatre and text. He was commissioned by Camden Peoples Theatre to make his dance theatre solo Elephant in the Room and by the BFI doc society, to make his hybrid dance-documentary film THE CIRCLE. His first film FIGURE, won multiple awards and screened at festivals around the word including the BAFTA-recognised Aesthetica Film festival.

Lanre’s workshop will looked at ways of fusing movement and words to create an organic and layered performance. Using distinct exercises and with insights into Lanre’s unique making process, the workshop will take an in-depth look at how words and text can be found in the same place as performers.


Design: Sabba Khan

Sabba Khan is an architectural designer and graphic novelist. She is currently working on a full length autobiographic novel set to be published by Myriad Editions. Her work explores memory, identity and belonging within a south asian diaspora context.

Sabba’s workshop explored the cathartic and healing power of sequential art. Together the participants drew a series of panels that capture the memory of a certain charged personal moment using a powerful grounding technique that you can then practice as a tool in your own day to day. The panels can be composed in a number of inventive storytelling ways leaving you with a poignant piece of art you can take home.


Writing: Al Smith

Al Smith is a playwright who writes regularly for theatre, radio and television. His plays include Harrogate (Royal Court / HighTide), Diary of A Madman (Traverse / Gate), and Radio (Arcola).

Al ran a writing session that explores ways we might tackle our climate emergency in theatre which dovetails with his play in our upcoming season: Rare Earth Mettle

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Performance: Rubyyy Jones

Rubyyy Jones is a Canadian dancer, theatre maker, activist and LGBTQI+ personality.

In her workshop she explored her work as a comedy performer and different techniques she uses in her work. Lip Sync is a key part of Rubyyy’s work and used that as part of the workshop.


Design: Rosie Elnile

Rosie Elnile is a set and costume designer based in London, she is also an associate artist at the Gate Theatre.

In this workshop Rosie introduced the participants to her work and show you some of her process. They then built a 2D collage about the idea of theatre as a Utopian space – designing a person or public utopia.