Starter Artists 2018/19

The National Theatre of Scotland’s starter programme offers eight funded residencies of £2,500 to help artists develop their skills, networks, and explore a new idea for a piece of theatre.

This year the Company is lucky to be joined by Claire Willoughby, David Hunter, Niroshini Thambar, Monika Smekot, Mhairi Allan, Alyson Woodhouse, Michelle Rolfe & Tim Barrow, Beldina Odenyo and Seif Abdel Salaam. Their ideas range from using dance to explore facing our fears around death, to integrating BSL and audio description into performance in a way that appeals to both disabled and non-disabled audiences, to tackling taboos with young people using cabaret and everything in-between.

Find out more about our Starter Artists…

Claire Willoughby

Claire is a performer, theatre-maker and musician based in Glasgow. She is particularly driven to create collaborative devised work and re-imaginings of classic texts for all ages that are often inquisitive, visually stimulating and darkly humourous. After graduating from the University of Glasgow, she trained at École Philippe Gaulier in Paris, as well as shorter term training with Marisa Carnesky and Gob Squad. Claire makes work for young audiences under the alias Giddy Aunt, and is particularly interested in experimenting with bringing adult concepts, such as cabaret, vaudeville and club culture to this demographic. Claire recently directed Greater Belfast by Little King, and is developing her new show Eat Me through a funded residency at Nordland Visual Theatre, Stamsund. She has also worked with Catherine Wheels, Magnetic North and Stella Quines, and is currently performing in the role of Palliative Claire in Liz Carr’s Assisted Suicide the Musical.

“Being able to develop Drip! Through the National Theatre of Scotland Starter programme is an invaluable opportunity to play and experiment in a safe and supportive setting without the pressure for an ‘end goal’. In addition, I can use this time with my director (Eszter Marsalko) to undertake important research time to shadow and interview young people, which is something we would find hard to prioritise in the way it needs to be, if we were making this work with the pressure of sharing a final performance.”

David Hunter

David left school at the age of 16 to become an electrical fitter at Rosyth Dockyard in Fife. After 12 years of muddling about in shows at night while working during the day, he caught a break in John Carnegie’s The 2000 and Three Estaites. That set him on a new path and after studying at QMUC, he went directly on the dole. Eden Court Theatre in Inverness gave him a chance and after a quick hello he was sent off to Caithness creating theatre with young people. After working with Scottish Opera he moved back north to work with Eden Court and lives in Sutherland with his wife and two kids. He continues to be inspired by his surroundings and the people of the Highlands.

Niroshini Thambar

Niroshini works as a musician and composer for theatre, installation and with communities. She has a long-standing interest in identity and belonging and these themes frequently inspire and thread through her work. She has created soundtracks for theatre, led on the creation of audio-visual installation and continues to develop her own work to include text and visual elements alongside music and sound. She is now driving new ideas for future work that communicates the complexities around first and second generation immigrant identity, connection to land and female experience.

Monika Smekot

Monika is a Glasgow based dance and film artist originally from Poland. While pursuing a Master’s degree in Indian Studies, Monika found three different ‘activities’ (yoga, contemporary dance and physical theatre) that took her in a completely different direction than planned. Monika’s practice is a result of her curiosity in the wisdom and power of the body. This curiosity was inspired by some great dance/movement/philosophy masters that she has followed for some time.

“Starter Programme 2018 is an opportunity for me to develop my choreographic skills by translating motherhood into creative methodology and at the same time it is a research into a question about inclusivity of mother artists in the creative industry.”

Mhairi Allan

Mhairi is an Aberdeen based contemporary dance artist, nurse and yoga teacher. Her work in movement has been drawn from years of creative explorations, and more recently bringing all these strands of experience together. She has enjoyed performing with many diverse collectives and companies throughout Scotland, performing and choreographing as part of DanceLive, Luminate and SonADA festivals. Choreographic work has included solo and ensemble work enriched with collaborations from many different forms and mediums, with performances in unusual locations such as a train platform, castle, gallery space and a health centre, with professional and community dance artists.

Alyson Woodhouse, Michelle Rolfe & Tim Barrow

Alyson Woodhouse is a freelance theatre director who has worked within both disabled and non-disabled theatre companies. She is particularly interested in directing adaptations of conventional theatre to make them more accessible for all audiences. Michelle Rolfe is a producer specialising in disability theatre. Her work focuses on creating accessible theatre for audiences and arts professionals alike. She currently works for BOP Theatre, Scotland’s only disability lead theatre company. Tim Barrow is an actor, writer and film-maker who wishes to explore creating accessible theatre for all audiences, as well as finding new voices in well-known stories.

Beldina Odenyo

Heir of The Cursed; Beldina Odenyo is a vocalist, guitarist, poet and writer creating work between the fields of music and theatre. Her work attempts to explore the differences and kinship between her dual Kenyan and Scottish heritage through words, music and visual art.

“ This is a rare opportunity for me as a musician to work with National Theatre of Scotland, synthesise ideas and create a unique narrative in the most supportive environment possible”

Seif Abdel Salaam

Seif is a theatre maker, performer and producer from Cairo, Egypt. He recently moved to Glasgow after having received the Arts Council England’s Exceptional talent visa for artists. His work is predominantly concerned with themes that dissect and question identity, sexuality and authority. He has directed and written plays and performance pieces in Cairo, London and Glasgow. As a performer he has worked with David Greig, Lucien Bourjeily and Nassim Souleimanpour. He has produced for international festivals in Berlin, New York, London and Amsterdam. He trained at RADA, Young Vic Theatre and the Lincoln Center Theatre in New York.

Engine Room

Find out about our latest opportunities for artists in our Engine Room programme.

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