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Musical theatre incubator launches with Stratford East partnership

Zara McFarlane, Shireen Mula, David Austin Grey, Amber Hsu, Firdos Ali, Stu Barter, Nikki Burnhope will take part in the New Musical Development Collective.
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A new organisation to nurture emerging musical theatre artists is being launched, and will partner with Theatre Royal Stratford East for its inaugural year.

The New Musical Development Collective will focus on the dramaturgy and development of British musicals and musical theatre artists.
Four new musical projects and eight artists will be supported over the course of a year with the collective, which will be in residence at TRSE for 12 months from March.

It is the first in what the company hopes will be a rolling annual partnership with a theatre organisation interested in new musicals.
The host theatres will provide in-kind support to NMDC, allowing it to nurture composers, songwriters, lyricists and playwrights.

The eight chosen artists for the first year will receive a £1,000 stipend, a work-in-progress showcase at the Other Palace, a 12-month membership to Mercury Musical Developments, a performance of their work at TRSE and free tickets to its productions.

They will also benefit from dramaturgy and development, masterclasses and workshops, and access to desks and rehearsal rooms.

The inaugural Musical Theatre Lab writers are Zara McFarlane, Amber Hsu, Stu Barter, Firdos Ali, Nikki Burnhope, Shireen Mula, Joe Von Malachowski and David Austin Grey.

NMDC co-founder Adam Lenson said the collective’s creation was intended to address the gaps and needs of theatre “in a way that supported the artists and the industry”.

“I am looking forward to forming a unified collective that can debate, argue and learn together and who can form challenging, innovative and well-crafted new British musicals,” he added.

Over the next year, NMDC will also produce two showcases at TRSE, as well as a round-table series about diversity in British musical theatre.

Artistic director Kerry Michael said: “Musical theatre is a key priority for Theatre Royal Stratford East, being an art form that has the power to bridge gaps across cultures and develop new audiences… As an organisation that has always had musical theatre development as one its cores, we are excited to share our knowledge and expertise with the NMDC as they respond with us to the rallying call for new British musicals.”