The Musical Theatre Darkroom will bring together four experienced theatre makers who are new to musical theatre and four experienced musical theatre makers to take part in a six month development programme. The initiative is based on China Plate’s Darkroom artist development programme, which has run since 2004.
The Musical Theatre Darkroom will be led by China Plate and the Musical Theatre Network in partnership with Royal & Derngate Northampton, and South Hill Park Arts Centre and Harlow Playhouse through Farnham Maltings’ greenhouse initiative. The project is supported by Arts Council England and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.
During the autumn of 2015, the 8 artists will be selected through a process of consultation with musical and theatre venues and producers. It will be launched at Shoreditch Town Hall in December 2015.
In February 2016 a 3 day residency at Northhampton’s Royal & Derngate Theatres will focus on process-sharing workshops led by pairs of participants with guest sessions by specialists working in musical theatre. In preparation for this residency each pair will generate a ‘reading list’ of musicals to attend. During the residency time will be set-aside for participants to reflect, work individually or meet in smaller groups. In this way the space to think and create is protected whilst offering less formal opportunities to work on ideas together.
A communal dinner will round off each day offering another context in to think about the day’s work. Like all Darkroom residencies this initial phase is purely exploratory – focusing more on how participants might make musical theatre work rather than on specific product.
In April 2016, following a gestation period, participants will reconvene at Harlow Playhouse for 2 days to begin the development of their creative proposition, or to further explore a relationship or idea. This work could be the beginnings of a piece or just a further interrogation of each others’ practice. A small budget is available to engage a small company of actors and musicians at this stage.
Following this second encounter participants (individually or in emergent groups) will work up proposals for new musical theatre projects ahead of a day of informal pitches to an invited audience of venues, producers and industry hosted by Shoreditch Town Hall in April 2016.