Emerge 2017/18 - Meet The Artists

Performance by Clown Funeral, Image by Christina Owen

Performance by Clown Funeral, Image by Christina Owen

UK Young Artists is working with The Mighty Creatives and Arts Connect, with investment from Spirit of 2012, to deliver a series of arts festivals inspired by the work of William Shakespeare. The project spans three years, with a different cohort of artists leading each year in regional settings in 12 areas of low cultural engagement across the East and West Midlands. The artists will be working with young people in each of the locations to devise and deliver a festival in their area, and also create a range of different performances and pieces of art for the festival. Young people will lead the decision making process and choose how their festival will be developed and delivered for their communities. Each young artist will be encouraged to secure an Arts Award. 

Following a successful first year of festivals, with high quality performances and ideas from the artists & young people involved, UKYA ran the Year 2 open call for artists to lead the project. Here we highlight the selected artists and find out more about their Emerge projects.

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Josh Hawkins is a choreographer/dancer currently supported as Artist in Residence at The University of Salford. He founded his dance company ‘Hawk Dance Theatre’ in 2015 and since then has received funding awards from Arts Council England to support several of his projects. He was commissioned to create a Random Acts film by Tyneside Cinema, which was broadcast on Channel 4’s TV platform in November 2015.

Josh delivers participation workshops extensively and has guest delivered at a range of arts organisations including: The Lowry, Dance4, DanceXchange, Ludus Dance and Brewery Arts: and also worked in Scotland from 2014-15 to perform with BBC2 Artist in Residence Thomas Small in a variety of projects.
Twitter: @HawkDance
Facebook: www.facebook.com/hawkdance



Charley Genever is best known as Peterborough Poet Laureate 2016. At 24, she is the youngest poet to have been awarded the title, and so far she has worked with and performed for Verve Poetry Festival, Cambridge Junction, Apples and Snakes, The Poetry Society and Southbank Centre. In April 2016 she performed in the Elgar Room of the Royal Albert Hall at the finals of Poetry Rivals 2015. Now 25 and living and working from Peterborough, she's a team captain at 'Write Club' alongside Mark Grist, and produces quarterly spoken word night ‘Freak Speak’, which has been featured on Picador's Books list of 'Best UK Spoken Word Nights'. Her first collection, 'Unsexed', is due to be realised in May 2017 (BX3).

Twitter @charleyfarleyha


Manic Arts is a West Midland based theatre company that works with different communities, using theatre as a tool to stimulate positive social change. After years of being aware of theatre for change, they decided to join forces to educate, inform, entertain and mostly question. Rebecca Morgan and Charlotte Bell are co-founders of the company and have developed their skills in the city where they met at Birmingham School Of Acting. They are both multi-disciplinary performers who have performed in a variety of shows including Theatre in Education across the UK. In 2017 they toured the award winning show, The Little Creepers written by Charlotte and produced by Rebecca. The show was a one woman show about a teenage schizophrenic in the 21st century. Working in partnership with mental health charities the show toured across the UK and was Arts council funded. The company are currently working on a project called Man Up, raising awareness around male suicide.



My practice deals with ‘vagueness’, with a tension between states, between chance and control, success and failure, pasts and presents, decision and indecision, certainty and uncertainty. Often a set of rules or framework are set in place for the work to form itself around. This framework can take any form, be it an object, space, thought, duration, journey or technology. However, as the work takes shape even these ‘rules’ are approached indeterminately, blurring the rift between autonomy and intention. The rules are allowed to be rewritten within the process of writing, or not if the case may be. This stylised hesitancy becomes the works medium, using a language of purposeful purposelessness to mimic the desirable uncertainty of post(post)modern ‘living’.


My practise is based in weaving together theatre and spoken word poetry to create a narrative to highlight pertinent social issues. I write poetry and create theatre around themes such as mental health, family, race, gender, sexuality, class and systems of oppression within our society. I explore these themes by drawing on personal experience, I write spoken word verse to build narratives and strong characters that are representative of marginalised groups. Theatrical techniques are then used to create visual aesthetically pleasing interpretations of the text to aid understanding of themes and to increase the impact the text has on its audience.




Jo Gleave is freelance Theatre Director, Workshop Facilitator and Project Manager based in Birmingham. From 2011-2016 Jo was the Co-Artistic Director of Tin Box theatre company, a Birmingham-based theatre company who collaboratively devised theatre which explored inventive uses of storytelling, visual theatre and site-specific performance. She now works freelance for a number of organisations in the Midlands including Birmingham REP, Birmingham Hippodrome and the Core at Corby Cube. She has worked as a visiting Director at the University of Birmingham and a visiting lecturer at Wolverhampton and Worcester Universities. As well as this she helps to co-run PILOT Nights a work-In-progress platform for theatre makers.

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Clown Funeral is based in the West Midlands. We devise darkly comic shows from unusual stimuli, exploring human corners of inhuman worlds. Our style is rooted in physicality, incorporating clowning, mime and audaciously non-naturalistic staging. Our speculative storytelling blends devising and new writing, seeking to find the everyday in the absurd. We collaborate on writing our shows, through a loop of workshopping, individually writing scenes and developing until we reach a cohesive whole.

We are theatre-makers and theatre-and-education practitioners, looking to create innovative, story-driven theatre which excites, moves and makes audience laugh.

Twitter: @theclownfuneral
Instagram: @theclownfuneral


Sophie is a Bristol based Theatre Director and Practitioner. Sophie directed the premiere of Zero Down (Theatre 503), which then transferred to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016 for a month at the Pleasance Courtyard. Sophie completed the celebrated trainee director scheme at the Orange Tree Theatre in 2014 by directing Caryl Churchill’s The After-Dinner Joke, the first major UK stage revival of the play. 

In Autumn 2015, Sophie was Associate Director on the West-End transfer of James Fritz’s Olivier Award nominated Four Minutes, Twelve Seconds to Trafalgar Studios 2.



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Siobhan Donnelly is a singer, writer, and community artist, from Cumbria, and has Masters with Distinction from the University of Huddersfield. In 2015, she produced an installation of visual art and music for Going Sane?, an exhibition by Huddersfield charity, Hoot Creative Arts. The music was later released as the Growing Pains E.P. In 2017, she released Shallow Roots, an album of songs inspired by the murder ballad tradition, in collaboration with a fellow musician. The title story of her short-fiction collection, The Man Who Disappeared, an exploration of ageing and dementia, inspired by her experience working in the care sector, was published in the 2017 Grist anthology, I, You, He, She, It. Siobhan is also the co-founder of the Umbrella Collective, an online platform connecting writing leaders and promoting events across Kirklees and, in 2017, launched the Letters Home project, writing love letters to past homes and past lives. 




I graduated from the East 15 Contemporary Theatre course five years ago. The course is renowned for creating multi-disciplinary artists that then go on to create there own work outside of the course. Upon graduation I formed The Alchemist Theatre Company, as the artistic director of the company I have written and directed four shows that have all gone on to receive great reviews both in London and at the Edinburgh Fringe. As an actor I have been a key member of director Alexander Zeldins work, devising shows for the National Theatre that have toured around the UK and internationally. My work usually contains a number of different skills including, puppetry, object manipulation, live camera, drawing, painting, live music, choral singing and dance.


Image by Mike Mayes

Image by Mike Mayes


We are two vivid imaginations practising the art form of storytelling, using the mediums of creative writing, performance poetry, music, movement and visual art. We make up meditative, ambient duo Mythm. We sing, recite, play handpan, ukulele, various percussion instruments, exploring many genres e.g. ocean reggae, ambient soul. “If music be the food of love, play on.” Music is a universal language, we’re interested to explore the immersive atmosphere of live accompaniment. Music was an important part of life for people during the Elizabethan era, we anticipate offering the young people the joy and connection of experimenting with instruments.




Laura Evans