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London theatre the Bunker to set up free space for writers as artistic director unveils inaugural season

Chris Sonnex. Photo: Helen Murray
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Fringe theatre the Bunker is establishing a free-to-use writers’ room at its London home, as part of plans announced by new artistic director Chris Sonnex.

Sonnex took over the leadership of the theatre in September and is also unveiling his first season, which includes a satirical comedy about refugees in the UK, the Fringe First award-winning Funeral Flowers and a week-long festival exploring identity.

In the spring, the Bunker, in Southwark, will open the Writers’ Snug, a free-to-use space within the theatre’s building set aside for playwrights to work in. One of the desks will be permanently reserved for under-represented writers.

Earlier this year, theatre company Out of Joint opened up its north London space to writers for free, in order to offer an alternative to working in cafes.

The Bunker has also appointed Debbie Hannan as associate director. She will present a monthly podcast for the theatre, which will include discussions with artists and activists about what needs to change in the industry. The themes explored will then inform a monthly variety night at the Bunker.

The venue’s spring season opens in January with satire Welcome to the UK! by theatre ensemble Borderline, which includes people who have recently sought refuge in the UK.

It also includes a new festival responding to Rachel De-Lahay’s piece My White Best Friend, which sees 11 writers pen letters that “say the unsaid to the people that matter most”.

Writers include Bola Agbaje, Imran Qureshi, Anya Reiss and Nina Segal.

Directed by Milli Bhatia, the production will include readings of two of the letters each night, sight-read by performers, as well as a reading of De-Lahay’s original work.

The season also includes Emma Dennis-Edwards’ Funeral Flowers, which won a Scotsman Fringe First award at Edinburgh this year, Boots by Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher, and a double bill of one-woman shows by working-class female writers – Kat Woods’ Killymuck and Monsay Whitney’s Box Clever.

Sonnex said the season would explore “the full spectrum of revolution”, and contribute to the “artistic and political revolution bubbling across our society”.

The Bunker season at a glance

Welcome to the UK and Borderline
Directed by Sophie NL Besse
Produced by Psyche Delight and the Bunker
January 22 to February 16, press night on January 25

Boots by Sacha Voit and Jessica Butcher
Directed by Nadia Papachronopoulou
Produced by Arsalan Sattari Productions and the Bunker
February 19 to March 16, press night on February 11

My White Best Friend and Other Letters Left Unsaid…
Curated by Rachel De-Lahay
Directed by Milli Bhatia
March 18 to 23, press night on March 20

Killymuck by Kat Woods and Box Clever by Monsay Whitney
Directed by Caitriona Shoobridge and Stef O’Driscoll
Produced by W14 Productions and the Bunker
March 26 to April 13, press night on March 28

Funeral Flowers by Emma Dennis-Edwards
Directed by Rachel Nwokoro
Produced by Harts Theatre Company and the Bunker
April 15 to May 4, press night on April 17

Fuck You Pay Me by Joana Nastari
Directed by Bethany Pitts
Produced by FYPM and the Bunker
May 7 to 18, press night on May 9

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