Launchpad – Artists

Launchpad

A 6-month developing and showcase scheme for five theatre makers.

Launchpad supports five creatives of any genre to develop bold, new and adventurous work to be performed live on stage.

Artists will access a funded 6-month development & mentoring programme, giving them the skills and connections to develop their show. Launchpad will culminate in a show at The Pit Theatre at the Barbican in November 2024.

We hope to open applications for Launchpad 2025 at the end of 2024.

2024 Launchpad Artists


A.C. Smith Headshot. A white woman with brown hair and white glasses smiles in front of a background of leaves.

A.C. Smith

A.C. Smith is a playwright and songwriter who has won awards from the RSC and Soho Theatre. She has previously developed work with the Bush Theatre, HighTide, the Old Vic, and RADA. She loves exploring the boundary between real life and art, and has a specialism in cross-medium experimentation, collaborating regularly with artists from the worlds of dance, photography, mime, and film.

To Rose On Her 18th Birthday

To Rose On Her 18th Birthday is an autobiographical play, written as a love letter from a mother to her young daughter. Writer A.C. Smith was on maternity leave when she discovered a lump in her breast – which turned out to be cancer. The play explores the life-altering experience of going through cancer treatment as a young mother – and then having to do it all over again when the cancer returned mid-pandemic. When Rose turns 18, she will be able to decide whether she wants to be tested to know whether she carries the genetic mutation that made her mother so prone to getting cancer. This is a play written to speak to her in that moment, ultimately asking the question: how do we live joyfully in the face of uncertainty?

A white man with blonde hair. Smiling. Wearning a grey T-Shirt in front of a brick wall

ASYLUM Arts: Stephen Bailey, Theo Angel, Evlyne Oyedoukn, Kat Dulfer

ASYLUM Arts is a CiC company that creates opportunities and platforms neurodivergent/disabled artists. We make work that reinterprets and critiques social perceptions of disability & neurodivergency – subverting mainstream narratives and expectations of disabled-art. ASYLUM work in a collaborative format – centralising different artists dependent on the project.

Previous credits include Surfacing (**** Londontheatre1, VAULT Origins nominee), which will tour nationally in 2024; creative producing the development of FlawBored’s It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure and its runs at VAULT and Soho (***** The Times, Untapped Award winner); Who Plays Who, a comedic critique of cripping up (the Barbican Centre and closing Liberty Festival 2022); Covered in Jam’s That’s Not My Name, which mixes cabaret with structured facilitated discussion to explore the effects of receiving diagnoses of personality disorders (***** National Tour). They also run training schemes and have provided mentoring to various neurodivergent artists.

Autistic as Fuck

Autistic as Fuck is a meta-theatrical piece about autistic performers trying to put on a show about autism. Over the course of the show, internal conflicts underline both the lack of public understanding
about autism but also the complexities and contradictions within such a large group. At its heart (and with a lot of comedy) AAF argues that the ‘tell your story’ show just involves masking in a different way – being pushed into a performance of identity which doesn’t reflect what you feel and maybe, when seen by a non-disabled audience, is harmful. It’s dark, it’s funny, it asks questions about what people laugh at, it’s angry at points but ends optimistically though pointedly emphasising the impact of anti- autistic discrimination in the world.

Hugh wearing a red top in a blue seated wheelchair is on the left, grinning, with Steve in black setting up
a mic on a stand. Behind them, Sam, in a grey jumper is looking at their notes, and is standing next to a
doorway with light shining out from a projector. You can just see Nat in black taking a photo.

Hugh Malyon and Steve Sowden

Hugh is a disabled artist whose practise bridges space between personal, political and the universal. His
creative work aims to directly disrupt categorisation, shifting perceptions of disability towards positive identity, unleashing the power of care as practise. Steve is a neurodivergent, multidisciplinary artist working with live and recorded soundscape, music and voice, to find multi-layered stories with and through the community around him.

Humetheus and the Quest for the Bronze Cloak

Humetheus and the Quest for the Bronze Cloak will see Humetheus in jeopardy, encountering mayhem and myth. Questions on which way to turn or who’s story is being told seem contradictory. As we journey towards the dead end of Paignton Pier, an almost too remarkable tale of heroes and monsters unfolds; will our hero’s insatiable desire to prove his worth divert him from his true destiny? The end is in sight, but never in touching distance. What if we get stuck in a loop of trying, and never find a way home? Have we been here before? Intertwining classical myth with raw and knotty reality, this emotive semi-autobiographical journey take us to the seaside long after the holidays have ended.

Ro, a white non-binary person with short black hair, black cropped shirt, jeans and tattoos, and Marcella,
a white non-binary person with long ginger hair and a pink cropped shirt and green jeans sit in a black
box studio space, holding scripts and smiling at one another.

Marcy Rick & Ro Lewis

Marcella Rick and Ro Lewis are a duo of queer, neurodivergent artists creating work that spans theatre, spoken word, cabaret and stand up comedy. Driven by Scouse and northern humour, their work is bold, funny and often chaotic.

A graduate of the Everyman & Playhouse Playwrights Programme, and with previous projects supported by Homotopia and Unity Theatre, Marcella’s recent credits include who the f**k is shakespeare? (20
Stories High); Arden Winter Tales (Writer, Box of Tricks); Sober Curious (CRIPtic Arts).

Currently part of the Everyman & Playhouse Young Writers Programme, and previously supported by Unity Theatre and Young Homotopia, Ro’s recent credits include Potato Milk (Unity Theatre), Lydia McManus and The Red Headed Girl (Hope Mill Theatre); Femme (Young Everyman & Playhouse).

Title TBC

We’re all overworked & underpaid, overloaded and under appreciated, but thank god for workplace wellbeing culture! Who needs work/life balance when we have lunchtime yoga and wellbeing webinars?

On Launchpad, we’re going to pull this culture apart at the seams, and put a spotlight on the inaccessible, uninspiring, proper shit ways that workers are often let down by their employers. For too long now, employers have gotten away with pocketing the profits of their employees’ work – and all we got was this lousy wellbeing seminar.

By satirising the many World Mental Health Days that we, mentally ill disabled artists, have spent being told ‘it’s okay not to be okay’, immediately followed by ‘now get back to work’, we’re going to put workplace wellbeing culture where it belongs – in the bin. Collaborating with the Launchpad cohort, we’re really excited to platform this story, and share our joint vision of something better.

A close-up photograph of Peyvand and Matthew at a Wes Anderson film exhibition. Peyvand on the left
is a woman has a blue-tinted bob haircut, septum ring, and is wearing a vintage orange-striped shirt. On
the right is Matt, a man with short light coloured hair wearing a tan-coloured shirt.

Peyvand Sadeghian & Matthew Robinson

Peyvand Sadeghian is a neurodivergent performer and maker from and London native, working across stage and screen. A Goldsmiths College alum and ex-National Youth Theatre GB member, Peyvand is an
Associate artist with Camden People’s Theatre, Nouveau Riche, Tamasha and has undertaken residencies with Barbican Open Lab, and artsdepot through which she’s evolving a multi-disciplinary practice with performance at its core. Previous works include Dual دوگانه (VAULT Festival 2020 Show of the Week, Keep it Fringe 2023 recipient); The Art of Uprising (MENA Arts UK short film); Restless (Terrifying Women).

Matthew Robinson is a neurodivergent visual artist whose experience spans teaching, filmmaking and screen arts, with a particular focus on experimental film and narrative theory. During an arts fellowship & residency in Berlin at Z/KU Center for Art and Urbanistics, Matthew co-created Baden Projekt, a series of installations that combined documentary and projection to create an immersive sensory experience that explored perspectives of nature and the city through the changing state of water and its impact on wellbeing. Other works include Glacial Waters,(Goethe Institut & EU Creative Commission), an experimental film installation using holographic multi-channel projections exploring global warming and the importance of waters from the Bogdanovich Glacier to the city of Almaty, exhibited at Art Bat Fest in
Kazakhstan.

Over the Moon

Over the Moon (working title) is a theatrical exploration using immersive projections and original NASA archive material of the 1969 Apollo 11 moon landing, to navigate the interplay between awe and despair, along with the search for NASA’s top-secret mental health checklist in the quest for wellness. Using this cultural marker for human progress so deeply embedded into our collective psyche, we ask: What perspective has space travel really given us on our place in the universe, our relationships with each other and in understanding ourselves?

Previous Launchpad Artists


Headshot description: Jasmin, a young Chinese woman, in a collared, dark blue dress. She is smiling widely.

Jasmin Thien

Jasmin Thien is a fully blind, Bruneian born Chinese actor, writer, spoken word poet and stand-up comedian. She earned a degree in Education, English, Drama and the Arts from Cambridge University. Her work often explores narratives of intersectionality. She is especially keen on approaching difficult subjects in ways that are truthful and nuanced while staying accessible to all.

We Close Our Eyes

We Close Our Eyes is a play exploring memory, loss, inter-generational trauma and what it means to repeatedly start a new life for the sake of the next generation. It takes a raw and sometimes even funny look at how being Chinese means to be stubborn, to be headstrong, to never be afraid to begin again, and above all, to never, ever talk about trauma.

A headshot of Jessi, a white non-binary person with short brown hair and brown eyes, sitting in their powered wheelchair (out of shot) in front of a blurred brick wall. Jessi is wearing a light blue shirt over a white t-shirt, and gazing gently at the camera.

Jessi Parrott

Jessi Parrott is a non-binary, disabled and neurodivergent performer, playwright and poet based in London. When making their own creative work, they are particularly interested in exploring the intersections of their identity, and understanding what it means to navigate the world as a wheelchair user with Cerebral Palsy who is part of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Bumps

Bumps explores the joy and pain of journeys (literal and figurative) towards accepting and embracing your body and brain, when society – and your own mind – tells you that you shouldn’t.

Headshot of Ada Eravama - a Nigerian woman who is visually impaired. Ada smiles directly into the camera and is wearing a black top. Behind her are gold sparkles against a blue background.

Ada Eravama

I’m a Nigerian woman who is visually impaired, based in Manchester. I studied Performing Arts at Hope University, Liverpool. I’m inspired by the creative potential of audio description and believe access tools such as AD and BSL should continually be experimented with to ensure they complement their visual counterparts. I’ve worked with companies such as Leeds Playhouse, Mind the Gap, Extant, DaDaFest, and The National Youth Theatre – as a trainee, performer, assistant director, and Inclusion facilitator. These years of experience have inspired a career in directing and the playful exploration of multi-sensory, access-integrated work.

Fragments

Exploring themes from my Nigerian culture, age, and youth, the piece follows Grace and her grandma who are struggling to connect before something more than personal differences expand the distance between them.

A lighter skinned Black non-binary person in pink dunagrees and a dark green floral shirt leans towards the camera. They are smiling and have ringlets covering their forehead.

Ashleigh Wilder

Ashleigh Wilder (they/he) is a Black trans masculine actor-poet-thinker from Yorkshire. They delight in speaking about the unspoken, and as a disabled activist channel multiple disciplines into creating art, facilitating workshops, and educating. Acting credits include: Macbeth (Leeds Playhouse), Brassic (Sky Max), The hatterleys (BBC R4), The Film We Can’t See (BBC Sounds) and Left Behind (Sky Arts).

Touch

On International Women’s Day, a non-binary trans masc person walks into a holistic therapy space for their first ever full-body massage. We watch them navigate introductions to the cis white massage therapist as a Black disabled non-binary person in recovery from a recent sexual assault.

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Jacqui is a black woman with black and slightly grey waist-length twists, She is wearing a vertically striped shirt. She is sitting in her powered wheelchair sideways facing, Jacqui staring straight into the camera with a curious look on her face. The background is greenery not in focus.

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