Lawrence Batley Theatre announces three year partnerships with writer and poet Nikita Gill and ThickSkin theatre company

Lawrence Batley Theatre announces three year partnerships with writer and poet Nikita Gill and ThickSkin theatre company

Lawrence Batley Theatre’s new Artistic Director & Chief Executive Henry Filloux-Bennett today announced the first ‘Storytellers’, artists who will be creating and performing work at the theatre over the next three years.

Nikita Gill is an Indian writer and the UK’s most followed poet with more than half a million followers. Her popular books include Fierce Fairytales & Other Stories to Stir Your Soul – a collection of fairy tales for a new generation, focussing on gender stereotypes and the darker side of classic stories – andWild Embers: Poems of Rebellion, Fire and Beauty. Her new book Great Goddesses will be released later this year.

Nikita will be bringing her stories to life on stage for the first time at the theatre, creating and staging work in Huddersfield over the next three years.

Nikita said: ‘This is my first foray from page to stage and I feel honoured to collaborate with the Lawrence Batley Theatre. I’m excited to tell stories for people outside the mainstream. To tell stories that put women front and centre and stories that have the power to change the world we live in.We’ve already started work on the first show and it’s shaping up to be wonderful. I’m really looking forward to sharing the magic with the people of Huddersfield and Kirklees.’

ThickSkin creates innovative and exciting theatre. The company was formed by Neil Bettles and Laura Mallows in 2010 and quickly established itself as one of the UK’s most exciting theatre companies, producing multi-award-winning productions, commissioning new writing and touring worldwide. The organisation aims to unearth new talent and engage established artists in the creation of new work.

The Lawrence Batley Theatre has co-commissioned a new play by ThickSkin which will tour the UK later this year and be performed at the theatre as well as in community centres and libraries. The partnership will then continue with new plays commissioned in 2020 and 2021.

Neil Bettles, Artistic Director of ThickSkin said: ‘At ThickSkin we have always thrived on collaboration.  The partnership with Lawrence Batley Theatre is the perfect way for us to share and create new work with a wide range of people.  Our work is accessible, inclusive and vibrant and aims to bring more people into the theatre not only to watch the work but to take part in making it.  We create theatre that draws on many forms but at the heart we want to tell good stories. Sometimes true, sometimes fantasy, our work is always physical, visual, engaging and imaginative and has a cinematic quality that we hope inspires young audiences to create their own work.’

Laura Mallows, Executive Director of ThickSkin said: ‘I’m delighted that we’re going to be working with Lawrence Batley Theatre in the coming years. We share a commitment to developing audiences and we want to tell stories both inside and outside the theatre so that we meet new people, and hear their stories too. Working closely with Henry and his team we’re already developing two projects for 2019, and have lots of ideas about how the partnership will grow. We want to meet artists who are based in Yorkshire and create work with them.’

The two ‘Storytellers’ are the first announcements from the Lawrence Batley Theatre’s new Artistic Director & Chief Executive Henry Filloux-Bennett.

Henry said: ‘Stories have shaped the world around us for as long as we’ve been able to share them – from how we feel and grow as individuals to how we come together and develop as a community. In these uncertain times however, questioning how and why we tell stories is crucial. We are so thrilled to be working with ThickSkin and Nikita Gill – two of the most exciting and original creative forces in the country – over the next few years to respond to these questions. Developing relationships with these two ‘Storytellers’, we’ll be presenting new cross-art form work – including theatre, movement and poetry – made in and for Huddersfield, across the theatre’s three performance spaces, all with a clear aim: to reflect the times we find ourselves in, and to explore how we share meaningful stories for today.’

The autumn season at the theatre will also include Nigel Slater’s Toast, which was adapted byHenry Filloux-Bennet for the West End stage, and the Sheffield Theatres and English Touring Theatre co-production of Matt Haig’s Reasons To Stay Alive. Both shows are on sale now at www.thelbt.org

Further details on ThickSkin’s production will be announced in May with Nikita Gill’s first show announced in July. The full autumn/winter season at the Lawrence Batley Theatre will be announced in early July.

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