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In Development

Fifth Word are dedicated to discovering, commissioning and producing some of the most exciting playwrights in the East Midlands and beyond.

We are currently setting up productions for two of our newest theatre commissions to tour to theatres around the country, and have an exciting programme of community projects and more artist opportunities in the making, as we look toward the future.

We are currently creating plays with Mufaro Makubika and Sonali Bhattacharyya. These two fast-rising writers are part of the next mighty wave of playwrights leading the way in British theatre and work with them continues our commitment to commissioning and producing artists from the East Midlands and writers telling relevant stories for today’s audiences aged 18-25yrs.

Mufaro Makubika (MALINDADZIMU, Hampstead Theatre; SHEBEEN, Nottingham Playhouse/Theatre Royal Stratford East- Alfred Fagon Award Winner) is writing the world premiere adaptation of NoViolet Bulawayo’s Booker-shortlisted novel We Need New Names. We Need New Names is a coming-of-age story about the life of a young girl named Darling. We meet her first as a 10-year-old in Zimbabwe, navigating a world of change as wider socio-political forces impact on her daily life of childhood games with her friends. Later we follow her as a teenager after she has migrated to join a relative in the United States: where the fabled promise of a new life conflicts with her lived reality as a young Black immigrant, and competing cultural loyalties threaten to pull her apart. We Need New Names is a powerful ensemble piece exploring migration experiences and identity, with huge resonance for contemporary UK audiences.

We’ve been developing the play over the past 2 years with support from Arts Council England. Fifth Word will be producing and touring this play in Spring-Summer 2023, in a co-production with New Perspectives.

Sonali Bhattacharyya (TWO BILLION BEATS, Orange Tree Theatre; CHASING HARES, Young Vic – Theatre Uncut Political Playwriting Award Winner) is under commission to write a new play for us, ROADBLOCK. ROADBLOCK explores the stories of British Muslim schoolgirls, who are as influenced by women resistance fighters in Rojava as they are by Ms Marvel, and whose adolescence is as complex, infuriating and joyous as any teenagers' but with the added complications of Islamophobia and cultural erasure.

The play has been informed by a group of young British Muslim teenagers from Derby & Nottingham, with whom we held a number of workshops to explore the play and Sonali’s ideas. The young women have influenced the character relationships and even how the story ends! Collaborating with the local community is a vital part of sharing and making this play: allowing us to continue to make work that is relevant, accessible and meaningful for communities.

After an Arts Council England funded a research and development process earlier this year, led by director Nimmo Ismail, we are continuing to work with the teenage women to shape the further development of the script, and develop their own creative response to it.

The development processes on both plays are being led by Artistic Director Laura Ford and Creative Associate Nic Wass, supported by input from freelance artists engaged on each process.

Do keep an eye on our blog for news on our discoveries from working with these writers, and for announcements on opportunities, events and talks.

Mufaro Makubika

Mufaro Makubika

Sonali Bhattacharyya

Sonali Bhattacharyya

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