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Artist Development

Daniel Ward - Writers Guild Award winner - The Canary and the Crow

Five years in the making, Daniel Ward wins a Writers’ Guild Award

By | Artist Development
Daniel Ward - The Canary and the Crow

Daniel Ward in The Canary and the Crow at the Paines Plough Roundabout, 2019. Photo by The Other Richard.

Daniel Ward, has been named this year’s winner of the Writers’ Guild Award for Best Play for Young Audiences with his play, The Canary and the Crow.

Daniel collected the gong at a ceremony hosted in London last night by writer, comedian and actor Katy Brand.

The Canary and the Crow is a semi-autobiographical piece of grime-inspired gig theatre that tells the story of a working class black kid who’s accepted at a prestigious grammar school.

It premiered at Hull Truck Theatre in July 2019, with Daniel taking the lead role of The Bird.

It then toured to Latitude Festival and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in the Paines Plough Roundabout, where it also won the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence and was nominated for a Total Theatre Award.

Daniel said: “It’s a massive honour to win this award and I couldn’t be more proud. I already feel like this play has been on a huge journey and I am so excited to be sharing it at the Arcola Theatre this month and later this year on tour with the bad bois Middle Child.

“This play means so much to me on a personal level. Part of the reason I wrote The Canary and the Crow was because, whilst I’ve always enjoyed the theatre, I felt there weren’t many stories that I could relate to.

“To have received this award and the recognition of my peers for a story that is about the lived experience of a young working class black man, is not lost on me. I’m grateful that this and other stories like it are being championed and excited for what the future of theatre holds.”

Daniel wrote The Canary and the Crow in 2014, later taking inspiration for its gig theatre form after seeing our production of Luke Barnes’ Weekend Rockstars.

After sending the script to Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, in 2017, Daniel was invited to workshop the script with the company in Hull for a week in 2018, as part of our artist development programme that year.

The same week-long residency also included Frankie Meredith’s 17, which went on to appear at London’s Vault Festival in 2019, produced by Wildcard Theatre.

After a scratch sharing of The Canary and the Crow at the end of the residency, Middle Child chose to take it further and in June 2019 rehearsals started in Hull.

Hull-based MC and producer Prez 96 joined the team for his first theatre project, co-composing with Middle Child associate artist James Frewer and also making his acting debut, alongside Laurie Jamieson and Rachel Barnes.

Prez 96 was later announced as the 2019 recipient of our Career Kickstarter Fund.

The Canary and the Crow is now about to embark on a tour throughout 2020, starting with a month-long run at London’s Arcola Theatre.

For all tour dates, including more to be announced, see the listing on our website.

Out Loud scratch night writers revealed

By | Artist Development

Middle Child and Silent Uproar are delighted to announce the four writers who have been selected for Out Loud, our upcoming scratch night for Hull playwrights.

Hannah Leek, Sarah Penney, Chris Pearson and Hannah Scorer will all see a 15 minute excerpt of their scripts performed on Friday 25th January at Middle Child’s rehearsal space, Darley’s, in front of a friendly, invited audience.

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, and Silent Uproar artistic director, Alex Mitchell, will direct two plays each, featuring paid actors from Hull. Each writer will also receive £50. Out Loud is generously supported by Hull playwright, Richard Bean. 


Hannah Leek – Gryffindors Make Great Friends!

A one-woman show about a generation’s search for purpose and self-worth in a complicated world.

Chris Pearson – Have You Read the Gazette?

Before this, all Brenda had ever wanted from life was some happiness and maybe a new front door.   

Sarah Penney – Cold Cups of Tea 

Fee has lost her mam. Jackson’s losing Fee. This is about grief and deconstructing the life-works of Britney Spears.

Hannah Scorer – Can We Be Friends?

A duologue about what happens when a five-year-old who wants to meet her dad takes matters (and her mum’s phone) into her own hands. 


Sarah, Chris and Hannah Scorer have all previously participated in the Middle Child Writers’ Group, in association with Tom Wells.

We received 21 scripts in total, which were read and selected anonymously, and we would like to thank all of the talented writers who submitted scripts. 

Details for submitting scripts to the next Out Loud scratch night, which will take place in the spring, will be announced shortly. 

Subscribe to the Middle Child artist development mailing list or follow Middle Child and Silent Uproar on Twitter to be the first to hear more.

Annabel Streeton - RTYDS

Annabel Streeton to join Middle Child and Hull Truck Theatre on RTYDS placement

By | Artist Development
Annabel Streeton - RTYDS

Middle Child and Hull Truck Theatre are pleased to announce that we are working together to support a three-month Regional Theatre Young Director Scheme (RTYDS) placement in spring 2020.

Annabel Streeton, a University of Hull’s drama and theatre practice graduate, will assist both companies on a number of productions that will be performed in Hull and on tour. 

These include the touring version of Middle Child’s award-winning Edinburgh Festival Fringe show, The Canary and the Crow, and a new outdoor production that the company will present in Hull next year. 

Annabel will also assist in rehearsals for Hull Truck Theatre’s new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, which will include a community cast of 90, as well as work on the theatre’s Grow Festival, for emerging artists in the region. 

Annabel said: “I’m really excited and grateful for this opportunity to work with Middle Child and Hull Truck Theatre over three months next year, two producing companies who I really admire. 

“Working on such varied shows as small scale gig theatre, to large scale outdoor productions and a classic told with a community cast will be invaluable and transformative. 

“I can’t wait to learn and grow as a director and bring these new skills and experiences to my own work in the future.”

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “Having met Annabel through the RTYDS Introduction to Directing programme we hosted earlier in the year, we are in no doubt that she is a director of exceptional promise. 

“Annabel combines a clarity of vision and purpose with passion and determination. We are thrilled to have her join the team for three months, and look forward to working alongside Hull Truck in giving her the support and opportunity necessary to growth as a young artist.”

Hull Truck Theatre associate director of creative learning and director of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Tom Saunders, said: “It’s really great to have Annabel on board for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. As a member of our Box Office staff and a local creative she is already a familiar face so she’ll be a great addition to the team.

“RTYDS is a wonderful, nationally acclaimed scheme and we’re delighted to give this talented young director a chance to get their foot in the door. We at Hull Truck Theatre are committed to offering support and development for local artists, so this collaboration with Middle Child and RTYDS is a match made in heaven.”

Johnny Moorhead - Enniskillen

First Show Fund awarded to Johnny Moorhead for ‘Enniskillen’

By | Artist Development
Johnny Moorhead - Enniskillen

Middle Child are delighted to announce that Johnny Moorhead has received this year’s First Show Fund to create a play that tells stories from the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. 

Johnny, also known as Border Boy, is a Hull-based poet who applied to the fund to develop his monologue about the legacy of the 1987 Remembrance Day bombing in Enniskillen 

He originally wrote the script for the Middle Child Writers’ Group earlier this year and now plans to turn it into a performance styled like a rural Irish Cèilidh, a social gathering that blends folk music, story telling and poetry.

Johnny said: “I am delighted to receive Middle Child’s support through the First Show Fund, who have invested in my show not only financially, but also with their time and resources too.  

“Their advice, mentorship and belief in my creative development has so far proved invaluable, and we’re only just getting started.”

Johnny, who is originally from Northern Ireland, is part of the No Larkin About poetry collective in Hull and a University of Hull drama and theatre practice graduate.

The First Show Fund will provide him with dramaturgical and writing support, technical and musical direction advice, guidance on marketing plus funding to hire a venue and cover other costs associated with putting on a show.

The idea for the show was inspired by Brexit negotiations about the Irish border and Johnny plans to speak to Irish people in Hull about their own experiences of the border. 

“Hull has a community of Irish expats so I feel it would be a marvellous opportunity to explore the best of our shared cultures, whilst providing a warning of how close we could be to reigniting a dark chapter of our history,” said Johnny.  

Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith, said: “We were really impressed by both Johnny’s script and his plans to turn it into a show that captures the essence of a good night out, but with a really important and timely story at the heart of it.

“We can’t wait to get started on helping Johnny realise his ambition and look forward to joining him in the ceilidh sometime next year.”

Nigel Taylor - Performer

Career Kickstarter Fund awarded to Nigel Taylor

By | Artist Development
Nigel Taylor - Performer

Middle Child are pleased to announce that Nigel Taylor, aka Prez 96, has been awarded our 2019 Career Kickstarter Fund, designed to help new, working class actors get a foot on the acting career ladder,

The fund will pay for Nigel’s Spotlight membership for a year and his first set of professional headshots. He will also benefit from one-to-one audition workshops with Middle Child artistic director, Paul Smith.

Nigel only began acting in 2019 after Middle Child chose him to co-compose the music for Daniel Ward’s The Canary and the Crow with James Frewer.

With a background in performance as a rapper and hype man with endoflevelbaddie and as a solo artist, Nigel also soon found himself cast in the show as Snipes.

Following the success of The Canary and the Crow at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe this summer, Nigel decided to further pursue a career in theatre.

Nigel said: “Being awarded the Kickstarter Career Fund couldn’t have come at a better time after an amazing year in theatre.

“After my debut in The Canary and the Crow I’ve had a lot of interest from film makers and theatre creators and this fund will help me enormously to promote my services in a professional and industry standard manner.”

Paul Smith said: “Nigel is a hugely talented performer and musician who gave a brilliant performance as Snipes in our recent production of The Canary and the Crow.

“He is incredibly driven and determined to succeed and I know he’ll put this fund to good use as he forges a career in the arts. Everyone at Middle Child had a great time working with him and we can’t wait to do so again well into the future.”

Career Kickstarter Fund

Career Kickstarter and First Show funds open to applications

By | Artist Development
Career Kickstarter Fund

Emily Joy, centre, who received 2018’s Career Kickstarter Fund, in action with the National Youth Theatre.

Applications are now open for two of our annual funds designed to support new theatre makers based in Hull, our Career Kickstarter Fund and our First Show Fund.

It’s well documented that the costs associated with pursuing a career as an actor are often a barrier to many working class artists.

Our Career Kickstarter Fund will make a dent in those initial costs for one actor each year by paying for professional headshots and one year’s Spotlight membership.

The chosen actor will also be offered free, one-to-one audition workshops with Middle Child’s artistic director, Paul Smith.

Meanwhile making your first piece of work as a company or individual can be overwhelming enough without even considering the costs.

That’s why each year our First Show Fund provides support to one new Hull theatre maker to produce, market and record their first piece of work.

The fund covers a venue hire fee, script and marketing printing costs, professional filming, production photography and poster and flyer design.

We will also provide a range of in-kind support, including rehearsal space plus time with each member of the core team, covering directing, producing, marketing and technical expertise.

Applications for both funds are now open and close at 10am on Monday 9th September 2019.

The Career Kickstarter and First Show funds are part of Reverb, our artist development programme for theatre makers living and working in Hull, designed to offer first class opportunities to artists so that they don’t have to leave the city.

Fresh new plays in our theatre library

By | Artist Development

Our theatre library has expanded, thanks to our amazing publishers Oberon, who have once again donated copies of everything that they published last year.

Below is a selection of some of the biggest hits you may have missed on the stage, that you can now borrow from our little library at Darley’s.

Visit our online catalogue to browse the full collection and to reserve plays to borrow.

(cn: some of the descriptions below refer to violence, grief, transphobia, racism and sexual violence)

Emilia

Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm at a time when #MeToo dominated headlines, Emilia is the never-before-told story of Emilia Bassano, a published poet long rumoured to have been Shakespeare’s muse – the Dark Lady.

dressed.

After being stripped at gun point, Lydia set out to redress herself with a new healing set of armour. Lydia now only wears clothes she has made.

Told with a tender intimacy, dressed., is a true story from This Egg, told by four women who have been friends since school.

Pah-La

When Deshar carries out an act of defiance it reverberates across Tibet and a new freedom struggle is born with life changing consequences for Deshar, Deng and their families.

Pah-La, based on real stories during the 2008 Lhasa riots, is an examination from playwright Abhishek Majumdar of the future of non-violence.

Global Queer Plays

A unique anthology bringing together stories of queer life from international playwrights, these seven plays showcase the dazzling multiplicity of queer narratives across the globe: the absurd, the challenging, and the joyful.

Burgerz

Burgerz asks the questions: What does the trans body do in order to survive? And how can one become a protector, rather than a bystander?

Carving out a place for themselves as one of the most prominent trans voices in the UK, Travis Alabanza presents a piece that is both timely and true to their style: both unsettling and powerful.

The Lovely Bones

Susie Salmon is just like any other young girl. She wants to be beautiful, adores her charm bracelet and has a crush on a boy from school. There’s one big difference though – Susie is dead.

Award-winning playwright Bryony Lavery collaborates with director Melly Still (Coram Boy, National Theatre) on this unforgettable adaptation of Alice Sebold’s novel about life after loss.

Poet In Da Corner

In a strict Mormon household somewhere in the seam between East London and Essex, a girl is given Dizzee Rascal’s ground-breaking grime album Boy in da Corner by her best friend SS Vyper.

Step into a technicolour world where music, dance and spoken word collide, and discover how grime allowed Debris Stevenson to redefine herself.

The Trick

The Trick is a magic show about the parts of life we don’t talk about – the realities of getting older and coming to terms with loss, from playwright Eve Leigh.

Ghosts, goldfish, mediums, and sleight-of-hand collide in this unpredictable exploration of ageing and grief.

I’m a Phoenix, Bitch

In 2016, Bryony Kimmings nearly drowned. Post-natal breakdowns, an imploding relationship and an extremely sick child left her sitting beneath the waves hoping she could slowly turn to shell.

Tonight a new legend will be created; that of the invincible and fearless woman; a tale Bryony wishes she had known from birth.

Queens of Sheba

Turned away from a nightclub for being “too black”, four women take to the stage with their own explosive true stories.

Loosely based on the DSRKT nightspot incident of 2015, Queens of Sheba tells the hilarious, moving and uplifting stories of four passionate Black Women battling everyday misogynoir – where sexism meets racism.

User Not Found

What happens to our digital lives after we die? Become a fly-on-the-wall to peer into the life of a man who is faced with keeping or deleting.

A story of contemporary grief unfolds through this intimate, funny performance that gently interrogates our need for connection, from the pioneering Chris Goode.

Dance Nation

Somewhere in America, a revolution is coming. An army of competitive dancers is ready to take over the world, one routine at a time.

With a pre-teen battle for power and perfection raging on and off stage, Dance Nation is a ferocious exploration of youth, ambition and self-discovery from Clare Barron.

EN PL