SUPPORTING POWERFUL STORYTELLING: NEW PARTNERSHIP BETWEEN ROYAL EXCHANGE THEATRE AND WARNERMEDIA CHAMPIONS MANCHESTER WRITERS
The Royal Exchange Theatre and WarnerMedia welcomed three brilliantly talented emerging writers, afshan d’Souza-lodhi, Stefanie Reynolds and Samuel Rossiter, to their brand-new joint programme WRITERS EXCHANGE.
Designed to support writers in Greater Manchester whose voices are currently under-represented in both industries, and who have experienced barriers to forging sustainable careers, WRITERS EXCHANGE is a space in which passionate storytellers can experiment, take risks, mould, and develop their work. A unique package of workshops and bespoke development opportunities will be created with the support of expert professional mentors.
Supported by these two award-winning companies, these writers will be encouraged to cultivate stories that are important to them. afshan, Stefanie and Samuel begin a six-month residency at the Exchange in mid-March which includes group workshop sessions, individual sessions with WarnerMedia producers, meetings with other industry professionals and dramaturgical support from the Royal Exchange to help them hone their skills for stage and screen. With an energy to generate ideas and drive ambitious stories, these three writers will draw on the talent and expertise of both organisations and professionals working across different departments.
Bryony Shanahan, Joint Artistic Director at the Royal Exchange Theatre, said: “Building these bespoke packages with WarnerMedia for afshan, Stefanie and Samuel, three fantastic Greater Manchester writers, feels very special. This new programme is very much about breaking down barriers, it provides much needed access to knowledge and professional advice, which can often feel out of reach. It is an opportunity to share expertise with each other, and to seek advice from people working in the industry, it has been created to help these writers to sharpen their skills in both artforms. WRITERS EXCHANGE is an inspiring development space in which scripted work from the North of England can be amplified.”
Asif Sadiq MBE, SVP, Head of Equity and Inclusion at WarnerMedia International, added: “It has been an exceptionally difficult time for theatre over the last couple of years, so it was really important for us to find a true partner that we could work with and help to make a difference. For the last six months, we have worked hand in hand with Royal Exchange Theatre to develop a programme that gives opportunities to under-represented communities and really helps individuals who might previously have had obstacles and barriers in progressing their careers. Seeing it come to life with our first three very talented writers is fantastic and what better place for them to start than in the iconic Royal Exchange Theatre. We are looking forward to helping afshan, Stefanie and Samuel on their journey and helping to give them the new opportunities to thrive.”
The writers will be based at the Exchange and will work regularly with colleagues from WarnerMedia. All three writers have some experience of working in one or both industries but do not currently have transmitted screen credits.
afshan d’souza-lodhi (she/her) was born in Dubai and forged in Manchester. She is a writer of scripts and poetry. Her work has been performed and translated into numerous languages across the world. afshan is currently a LabFellow for Global Performance and Politics at Georgetown University. afshan has been commissioned to write and direct a short film for Channel 4 (An Act of Terror) and a radio play for BBC Sounds (Chop Chop). In 2021, afshan was a Sky Writes writer-in-residence for Rotherham, a partnership between Sky Studios and New Writing North. She is also currently developing a TV series with Sky Studios.
afshan said of being part of this project: “The barriers to writing as a queer, South Asian, Muslim woman living in Manchester are many. Schemes like this allow for writers like me to fully focus on the craft of writing and storytelling while also connecting me with industry professionals. I am so excited to spend this attachment creating work that evokes joy and emotion as well as tapping into people’s sense of social justice.”