We are thrilled to announce the 8 incredibly talented and diverse artists who will make up our inaugural MT-Lab. For the next 12 months we’ll meet with these writers fortnightly to share work, talk about musical theatre, and create the beginnings of 4 new British musicals. The year will end with 20-minute excerpt sharings of each of their new projects.
Firdos is a playwright and TV scriptwriter. She has just completed a commission for Talawa Theatre and is currently on the Intro to Continuing Drama Scheme at the BBC. Her work has been seen at the Royal Court, The Bush and the Royal Exchange. Firdos also runs ‘Tales From Within’, which in 2017 will present ‘Sheherazade 2.0’ , a digital and theatrical fusion, a way of opening up the theatre to the young Muslim woman, allowing her to create her own work on and for both the digital and theatrical space, bringing a new audience along with her, into theatre.
Stu is a theatre practitioner and composer from London. As a founder member of TOOT theatre, and has performed in, co-written and composed scores for Ten Out Of Ten (Ovalhouse, UK tour, Ed Fringe), Be Here Now (Shoreditch Town Hall, UK tour) and Focus Group* (Ovalhouse, UK tour). His actor musician / composer credits also include theatre work with Tall Stories’, Dante or Die, Victoria Melody, Look Left Look Right and Fanshen. His song January Roars (lyrics Louise Ainsley) won the Iris Theatre panel award in December 2015, and he was shortlisted for the Old Vic 12 composer scheme in 2016.
As a founding member and songwriter of folk-pop band Left With Pictures Stu has released three albums via Organ Grinder Records, played extensively across the UK, received regular radio play via BBC6 Music, BBC Radio 2 and XFM and been published by Sony Music and EMI.
Stu has also worked for over 10 years in performing arts education; including being a Director with New Wimbledon Theatre’s Young Actor’s Company, a practitioner and Director at The Unicorn Theatre, and an associate Director with Glyndebourne Youth Opera. He has worked internationally with Artis Education training teachers in creativity, and has delivered teacher workshops for The Guardian, Roehampton University and many others.
Dominic Brennan is an Offie-winning composer and sound designer from West London. Previous work includes ‘The Universal Machine’ (2013) – a musical about the life of WWII codebreaker Alan Turing – and ‘Down & Out in Paris and London’ (2016), both at the New Diorama Theatre. This year’s projects include Etch Theatre’s ‘Pandora’ and ‘DIGS’ by Theatre with Legs. Dom and creative collaborator Phil McDonnell have previously worked together on music and sound for the Brecht-inspired stage play ’The Dark Room’ (2012). They also make music together in the band ‘Artificial Pleasure’.
Izo FitzRoy is an internationally recognised Gospel and Blues Singer. Recent works include: Debut Blues album ‘Skyline’, released in February 2017, and recorded in 2015 in New Orleans. Other projects include Composer and Choir Director of Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir and creator of Great Sea Gospel Choir.
In 2010 she graduated from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama with an MA in Voice Studies, and is one of the UK’s Voice and Dialect Specialists. Currently working as Senior Voice and Dialect coach on the RSC ‘Matilda’, and Motown.
Prior to her training in voice, Izo originally completed an MA in European Civilisation at the University of Glasgow, alongside a BA in Music Composition at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow. In March 2016, Izo pitched her first musical, along with co-writer Robert Gontier, to Beam, as part of MTN’s first Musical Theatre showcase. Written about the Teddy Boys, entitled ‘The Edwardians’.
Amber Hsu (徐碧莉//xúbìlì)
Amber is a Chinese-born, US-raised, UK-based writer, poet, filmmaker, visual artist, and small press publisher. She has written for and with the BBC, the Royal Court Theatre, Islington Youth Theatre, Orange Tree Theatre, and National Theatre Studios. She is currently under commission with the Royal Shakespeare Company to adapt a collection of Ovid’s tales for young audiences and works from Chinese Classics. In 2014, she was also awarded a Film London “London Calling” Award and commissioned to make her first short film: Next Time. In 2013, she conceived of and created Tiny Pencil – an artist-led anthology artzine and press dedicated to the lead arts. She is also the creator of #OnePoundPoems — a live, verse-making endeavour involving a 1936 Remington Portable typewriter, a handful of comrades in verse, and the goodwill of strangers. Once, she also worked in a morgue.
Joe Von Malachowski
Joe’s work has been seen at the Southwark Playhouse, The Old Red Lion, the Bush Theatre, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. As a playwright his work includes Laika: A Space Dogyssey, a musical reimagining the story of the first animal sent into orbit as a comi-tragic parable exploring the limits of science and ethics – with singing dogs in space; Let England Shake a portmanteau piece consisting of feminist revisions of English folktales, performed by an all-female cast; The Supermarket Six (also performed by an all-female cast) relocating the Luddite uprisings to a modern-day supermarket, where workers smash the self-service checkout machines that are threatening their job security and occupy the shop floor.
As a lyricist, he was a finalist for the Perfect Pitch New Musical Award 2016.
Most recently he has been working as a dramaturg for the Working Party Theatre Company on their Past, Present and Future project, producing a sound installation comprised of oral histories taken from older residents of the borough of Lewisham, and leading drama workshops on the theme of World War One with local school children.
Joe graduated with an MA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media from the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2013.
Phil is the lead guitarist, vocalist and primary songwriter for Artificial Pleasure. Touted as one of the most exciting new bands of 2017, they have toured extensively through Europe and the UK and have been played on numerous major radio stations including Radio 1, Beats 1 & Virgin Radio. As a solo vocalist he recently featured on Ojalà, the debut album by Lost Horizons formed by Simon Raymonde (Cocteau Twins/Bella Union) and Richie Thomas (Dif Juz).
Dom and Phil have known each other since childhood and have worked on various projects together including sound design for The Dark Room (New Diorama theatre) and composition for performance artist Bella Lordwarf.
Zara is an award winning, international jazz vocalist and singer-songwriter from London, UK. Zara trained as a performer and vocalist at the BRIT School of Performing Arts (Musical Theatre), BIMM (BMUS Popular Music Performance) and Guildhall School of Music and Drama (MMus Jazz Studies). In 2011 she was signed to BBC Radio 6, DJ Gilles Peterson’s record label, Brownswood Recordings Ltd and has since released 2 albums of original material worldwide to great acclaim. She has travelled the world performing across the UK, Europe, USA, Japan as well as performing as a featured vocalist and backing vocalist with the likes of Gregory Porter, Nicola Conte Band, Hugh Masekela to name a few In 2014 she won a MOBO Award for Best Jazz Artist and won the Jazz FM Award for Vocalist of the Year and Urban Music Award for Best Jazz in 2015.
Shireen is a playwright and theatre-maker. She has worked in London, regionally and internationally, creating work for audiences of all ages. Her plays include: Soon Until Forever (Theatre503, 2013), Same Same (fanSHEN & Ovalhouse 2011), Nameless (Arnolfini Theatre, 2010). Same Same was translated into Italian by the British Council and presented in Puglia, Italy (2012). The play was also shortlisted for the Royal National Theatre Foundation Playwriting Award (formerly the Meyer Whitworth Award), 2013.
Shireen was an Associate Artist at Ovalhouse (2013), playwright-on-attachment at the Royal Court (2010), Firehouse Creative Productions, USA (2011) and Nottle Theatre, South Korea (2011). She is an Associate Artist with fanSHEN Theatre Company. Shireen is the book writer for The Empty Chair – one of the finalists of the Perfect Pitch/Theatre Royal Stratford East Musical Theatre Competition 2016. She also lectures on solo autobiographical performance at London South Bank University.