Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre welcomes six new creative appointments across a range of partnerships, projects and productions for 2021 and beyond. Each chosen individual will bring a range of expertise and, in collaboration with the other participants and partners, will contribute to the organisation’s continued evolution to further aid the theatre’s work with both audiences and its communities.
Following a high volume of applications, that were decided by the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and the Traverse Theatre, two of those chosen were Raman Mundair (IASH/Traverse Digital Fellow) and Apphia Campbell (IASH/Traverse Playwriting Fellow).
Raman will be developing a piece during her Fellowship that is a multi-platform storytelling experience employing film, soundscapes and social media that she describes as a ‘theatre-film’. Using this range of digital technologies, she will tell a story that explores the history of people of colour in Shetland.
Apphia’s work will blend storytelling and gospel music to depict what happens when a tight-knit American community is rocked by harrowing truths coming out about a charismatic leader, and how those he brought together struggle with their collective identity as a result.
The work of both playwrights will feature as part of IASH’s forthcoming three-year programme of research, the Institute Project on Decoloniality 2021-24 (IPD’24). This project offers £750,000 in funding for scholars from around the world to visit Edinburgh and explore pertinent issues.
Wezi Mhura, the originator of the nationwide Black Lives Matter mural project, and Robbie Gordon of theatre company Wonderfools, have been appointed as Creative Development Producers, having led 2020’s digital version of the Traverse’s flagship education offering, Class Act, that included sharing knowledge from musicians, lyricists and playwrights to local secondary school students so they can write their own original plays.
The appointment of the Traverse’s 2021 Writer in Residence goes to Uma Nada-Rajah, a graduate of the Traverse’s Young Writers programme and staff nurse with NHS Scotland whose most recent work with the Traverse was the 2020 audio play The Watercooler thataddressed racial tensions in the workplace.
Throughout her residency, Uma will develop two new plays examining pressing issues in contemporary society. Extracts of each piece will subsequently be presented to audiences as work-in-progress, whether in person in the Traverse’s physical theatre space or in their digital venue known as Traverse 3.
Fellow Wonderfools co-founder, Jack Nurse, has the role of Artist in Residence and is currently developing a new audio project based on the experiences of those living with dementia in Edinburgh, commissioned by Capital Theatres and produced by the Traverse Theatre. Created through conversations and workshops with those living with dementia, and those who care for them, the audio drama follows a character reflecting on her life in Edinburgh, and will be available later in Spring.
Together with Robbie Gordon, he is also representing artists that have been nominated by the Traverse as part of a networking exchange project with Canada’s Association for the Performing Arts (CAPACOA) and a number of other Scottish organisations.
Creative Development Producer Robbie Gordon says “Originally hailing from Prestonpans, the Traverse was the theatre I went to that I truly understood the potential of what theatre could be. So I’m absolutely delighted to be continuing my relationship with the theatre. I’m looking forward to making work with and for communities in Edinburgh and working with the team to map out future work in this area.”