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Director-led theatre festival to champion women

Director Hannah Hauer-King and producer Kitty Wordsworth, the co-founders of Damsel Productions. Photo: the Other Richard Director Hannah Hauer-King and producer Kitty Wordsworth, the co-founders of Damsel Productions. Photo: the Other Richard
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A new theatre festival has launched to showcase the work of emerging female directors.

The Damsel Develops festival will give eight women the opportunity to develop and present a piece of work.

Taking place at London’s Bunker Theatre, the festival will run over eight days from November 13 to 19.

London-based theatre company Damsel Productions, which was formed to bring together female artists, is behind the new festival.

Each of the directors chosen to take part will be supported with mentoring from Damsel Productions as well as established directors including Maria Aberg, Paulette Randall, Melly Still and Di Trevis. They will also be given rehearsal space and be paid a fee for their work.

Directors announced to take part include Lucy Atkinson, Melissa Dunne and Sara Joyce.

They are joined by Rafaella Marcus, who will direct a work-in-progress showing of Crave by Sarah Kane, and Tania Azevedo, who will direct excerpts from a new musical. Justina Kehinde Ogunseitan will direct a rehearsed reading of new play UMUADA, an exploration of black motherhood and mental health within the urban-African diaspora.

Others who will take part include Damsel’s artistic director Hannah Hauer-King and co-artistic director of Purple Ostrich Productions Kerry Fitzgerald.

Hauer-King and producer Kitty Wordsworth, who are co-founders of Damsel Productions, selected the projects after receiving more than 150 applications.

Directors were asked to pitch pieces which were were written or conceived by women and committed to representing the female experience on stage. They could include revivals, new plays, adaptations or devised work.

Hauer-King said: “The shift we’ve seen in the industry towards supporting female writers has been fantastic, and we now want to see it opened up into all creative roles.

“Our hope is that the pieces across the festival will have a future life, and bring success and inspiration to the women involved.”

Wordsworth added: “We just felt there was a need for more initiatives that put directors at the centre.

“We have chosen directors who would really benefit from the exposure and they will be supported with rehearsal space, mentorships, and dramaturgical support.”

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