Exeter Northcott Theatre has unveiled the three South West theatre makers who will create new work as part of its newly-launched Associate Company Programme.
Poet, playwright, actor and composer Jack Dean will join internationally-renowned choreographer Richard Chappell and theatre maker and activist Viv Gordon on the Exeter Northcott Futures project.
The talented trio will work with the theatre as part of the talent development programme which was unveiled in October after an intensive consultation with theatre makers across the region.
Exeter Northcott Futures – funded by the Noel Coward Foundation, the Mackintosh Foundation and Idlewild Trust – offers professional development for artists at the start of their careers, support for regionally-based companies at a critical moment in their development and a launch pad for the next generation of producers.
Producer Helen Bovey, who was recently appointed as part of the scheme, said: “We are delighted to welcome these exciting artists, who have already had a huge impact on the arts scene in the region, and support their growth to develop new ambitious projects and reach larger audiences.
“Viv Gordon has been leading the way in developing a practice of arts activism in the South West and now she will have a base here at the Northcott to grow and expand her work. Jack Dean has long been a favourite in Exeter with his signature style of storytelling which, as he describes it, lands somewhere between myth, memory and history. Richard Chappell is an internationally renowned choreographer with roots in Exeter and audiences all over the Globe. For all three artists, this programme felt like a perfect fit and I can’t wait to see how their projects develop.”
Exeter Futures is a three-tier programme, spanning eighteen months, which provides a tailored package of support and resources to help emerging South West-based companies to realise an important creative ambition or deliver a key strategic development.
Alongside the Associates Programme there is an Early Career Artists Programme – a six-month series of workshops, masterclasses and mentoring designed to kick-start career development.
This programme is open to performers, directors, designers and other makers, and has been created to provide opportunities to gain new skills and knowledge, develop new collaborations and create and present new work in Exeter.
There is also a Producers Programme, which offers a practical introduction to the role of producer and the specific skills/knowledge involved in mounting a successful production.
Viv Gordon, a writer and performer of overtly political and feminist themes, has already toured work nationally.
She said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for me at a pivotal stage in my development helping me access expertise and networks and connect with new artists and audiences to grow my practice to the next level.
“Having worked in Exeter on different projects over the years, it’s exciting to now be supported by the team at the Northcott to think ambitiously and strategically about my work developing visibility and voice for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and engaging the local community in arts activism projects.”
Richard Chappell, who formed his dance ensemble in 2013, has already worked with a string of well-known names, including the Royal Opera House and Studio Wayne McGregor.
Richard, a former artist in residence for Dance in Devon, said: “The venue’s energy, diverse programming and dedication to dance has allowed audiences to embrace a wide range of leading contemporary dance and ballet companies and we’re thrilled to work with the theatre to expand on future projects as a leading dance ensemble in the South West of England.
“We’re hoping to charge the theatre with electric collaborations whilst soaking up the staff’s diverse and extensive knowledge as our company grows.”
Jack Dean, whose work focuses on myth, memory and history, has toured internationally, including performances at Latitude Festival, the South Bank Centre and the Bowery Poetry Club in New York.
He is the creator of the Fake Town Fables and Infinite Hex podcasts; he releases hip hop music under the name Rap Bear Three, for which he was BBC Introducing’s Fave Find in 2019.
“The Northcott gave me my first ever opportunity to perform on a professional stage, way back when I was a chorus member in Polly Agg Manning’s The Bacchae for the Young Company,” he added.
“I wouldn’t be making performance today if it weren’t for that experience. It’s a real honour to have the chance to work with them to see where the next chapter in my artistic output will be.”
Artistic Director and Chief Executive Daniel Buckroyd said the programme aims to build on the Northcott’s long tradition of supporting new talent.
He said: “Exeter has an extraordinary track record of nurturing creative talent, particularly in theatre and the performing arts, with many actors, directors, designers, writers, producers and technicians having started their careers in the city, and a number of high profile theatre companies having their roots in Devon.
“At the Northcott we believe it’s vital that Exeter remains a place where people come to make amazing theatre, not just a stopping off point for touring shows made elsewhere. Which is why we’re delighted to be working with a number of the city’s other arts organisations to think about what we can do collectively to support artists.
“Exeter Northcott Futures is a comprehensive package of new talent development opportunities that will put the next generation of theatre-making talent centre stage at the Northcott.”
Dom Jinks, Exeter Culture Director, added: “The Futures programme very much addresses a city need to provide more progression and experience in the professional cultural sector for new and emerging talent. This has been identified within the new cultural strategy for Exeter and I am delighted to see this programme.”