Celebrating women theatre makers inspiring change

  • Date

    Mon 26 Jun 17

Performer in PMA production Africas Hope

Six incredible directors from around the world came to at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester in June as part of a special one-day international festival dedicated to inspirational women theatre makers.


The AHRC-supported festival in June saw two UK premieres plus talks and discussions on how women directors, actors, designers and creatives are using theatre to inspire change and build peace in societies divided by conflict.

The programme was organised by Elizabeth Kuti and Annecy Lax from the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre at the University of Essex.

At the heart of the Festival was groundbreaking global theatre collective Ariadne – a network of women theatre directors from Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Palestine, Rwanda, Serbia, Sri Lanka and the UK.

This was a unique chance to see Ariadne directors come together. They were based at the University of Essex’s Colchester Campus for five days as they developed with students and community actors a new performance for the Festival.

Another highlight of the Festival was the premiere of a new play by award-winning playwright Dr Kuti feature Coronation Street star Shelley King and one of India’s most celebrated performers of Indian classical dance Madhayama Segal.

Dr Kuti said: “This international festival was a unique event hosted by the Mercury Theatre, Colchester, which brought together a global company of actors, directors, musicians, dancers, writers, choreographers and academic experts.

“Looking particularly at the role of the arts in peace-building, this day was a chance to explore and discuss the work of women theatre-makers from across the globe – all of whom are using theatre to connect the generations, and to build bridges between past conflict and hopes for the future.”

Dr Lax added: "This is the first time these artists, and Ariadne, have come together in this way to make work for a British audience, and to engage with both the public and the academic community."

The talks, discussions and performances will be inspired by the theme Tales of Winter and Spring - Gender, Histories, and Intergenerational Exchange in Global Theatre.

Ariadne are:

  • Susannah Tresilian of the UK
  • Hope Azeda from Rwanda
  • Ruwanthie de Chickera from Sri Lanka
  • Djiana Milosevic from Serbia
  • Frederique Lecomte, working in Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Iman Aoun from Palestine