(previously Black Theatre Co-op & Nitro. Est. 1979)
With roots as the touchstone of a major cultural movement in Britain, nitroBEAT is an evolution and a vital collective urge to drive the vision forward into a new era – bringing together known and undiscovered talent and creating performances with a rebellious streak – intuitively and without labels.
We're in love with music, theatre and visual art and they're at the heart of everything we do. We're finding new ways to explore the urgent stories of modern life waiting to be told. We're building and developing ways of working and innovating to imagine, create and tour shows alongside festivals, talks, films, live music, events and 'happenings' – on stage, outside, online and in unexpected places. Compelled by the desire to connect, excite, challenge and to cross boundaries, we're encouraging people to examine the relationships with themselves and each other. We're doing that locally and globally from our home in the centre of one of the most diverse cities in the world.
Since March 2015, nitroBEAT has been a resident company at Soho Theatre. To find out more about the residency, click here.
Established in 1979, the Black Theatre Co-operative was as a collective that gave opportunities to actors, writers and directors and staged popular theatre reflecting a multi-cultural Britain. In addition to its theatre work the company also developed a strong presence on British television. Celebrated staged performances include Welcome Home Jacko (1979), Redemption Song (1984) and the Channel 4 television series No Problem! (1983-85).
In 1996, Felix Cross MBE became Artistic Director, giving it new impetus followed by the new name Nitro, while continuing its tradition of combining music styles and theatre that explored the contemporary black British experience. Nitro engaged, inspired and developed participants, audience members and future theatrical talent through their performances such as Slamdunk (2004), Wedding Dance (2007) and Stand up for your writes: The God Racket (2014).
The company has produced over fifty productions in its 36 year history and Nitro will continue to develop work from its' second base in Australia, led by Felix Cross.
In 2015, Diane Morgan became Director of nitroBEAT, establishing a new home and partnership with Soho Theatre. The Artistic Associate's joining her to envision the programme for this initial exciting phase are writer, producer, DJ and social entrepreneur, Charlie Dark; award-winning playwright, Oladipo Agboluaje and world-renowned theatre director, Paulette Randall.
Diane initially joined Nitro as a producer in 2013. She started her career as a visual artist with a deep passion for music and fell in love with theatre sixteen years ago, when she worked at Contact Theatre in Manchester. As Head of Projects she was encouraged to incorporate her own practice, ideas and network of collaborators into the theatres' bold and inclusive vision.
From strategic cultural initiatives at Arts Council England to productions, festivals and large-scale outdoor events, Diane has conceived, produced, programmed and commissioned new performance work (alongside a few short films, club nights and gigs) and collaborated as a video artist with a range of artists and productions, including Jeff Noons' 'Somewhere the Shadow', ex Stone Roses guitarist Aziz Ibrahim, ACE Dance Company, Artsfest finale events in Birmingham and with poets and lyricists in London and New York. Previous roles include leading the large-scale Decibel project in the West Midlands and Project Manager for the Cultural Leadership Programme, where she created the inaugural 'Women to Watch' list profiling 50 female leaders from across the UK. Her educational history spans Fine Art, Media (BA) and Visual Communication (MA), which she completed alongside establishing and co-directing a multi-disciplinary touring performance and education company.
Paulette was the Associate Director for the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics working alongside Danny Boyle. She is the former Artistic Director of Talawa Theatre Company and was Chair of the Board of Clean Break Theatre Company, 2006-2007.
Paulette attended drama school at the age of 18, training to be an actress at the Rose Bruford College of Speech and Drama. After graduating in 1982, she and two fellow students set up their own company, called Theatre of Black Women, in response to the lack of roles for black actors at the time.
She is the foremost director of American playwright August Wilson's plays in this country, having most recently directed Lenny Henry in Fences in the West End, and has also directed his work at the Arena Stage in Washington DC. Paulette has had an extensive theatre and TV career; among her theatre credits are Twelfth Night, Moon On A Rainbow Shawl and Crossings. Her TV credits include Desmond's (C4), The Real McCoy and The Crouches (both BBC Comedy) and Kerching! (CBBC).
According to London's Evening Standard: "Knowing her theatrical pedigree - Randall, 49, has directed August Wilson's plays, which celebrate the African American experience and is a former Artistic Director of black theatre company, Talawa; her TV credits include Desmond's (C4) and The Real McCoy (BBC2) - makes you wonder whether she can claim credit for the multicultural flavour of the show."
Oladipo Agboluaje is an award-winning playwright and a significant force in British drama. Described as an 'exciting, vital new voice' (Time Out), Agboluaje demonstrates his versatility to write plays that transcend African and British cultures.
Born in Hackney and educated in both Britain and Nigeria, he began writing short stories at a young age. After completing his BA at the University of Benin, West Africa, he returned to London in 1995 and attended the London Metropolitan University where he received an M.A. in Literature. He later wrote a doctoral thesis at the Open University on West and South African drama.
His first play Early Morning, was produced by Futuretense and performed at Oval House Theatre in 2003. Since then, he has gone on to write plays such as The Estate, For One Night Only and Mother Courage and Her Children (African adaptation for Eclipse Theatre). He is the winner of the prestigious Alfred Fagon Award, and a received a 2010 Olivier award nomination for Outstanding Achievement In An Affiliate Theatre for his 2009 play for Iya - lle (The First Wife).
Charlie Dark first emerged in the early nineties with the groundbreaking Urban Poets Society. Later signed to the influential Mo Wax label, he formed the group Attica Blues and went on to record two critically acclaimed albums and numerous singles eventually being signed to Sony records. Attica Blues opened the doors to a DJ career that still continues today with appearances at clubs and parties across the world.
In 2001 he started performing poems in the London spoken word scene and soon gained a fearsome reputation for his energetic performances and insightful words leading to performances with writers such as Linton Kwesi Johnson.
Charlie conceived 'Blacktronica' a monthly gathering of creative minds at the ICA in London - one of the first clubs to pull fashion, art and music under one roof. Attracting attention from the likes of Zadie Smith to Chris Ofili, Blacktronica grew to an international movement with events in New York, Malaysia, Japan and Singapore.
Charlie teaches poetry and creative writing to people of all ages across the world and has appeared on 'Why Poetry Matters' a BBC production presented by Griff Rhys Jones. Moonlighting as a creative consultant his past clients range across the creative fields including The De la Warr Pavilion, The Arts Depot and Nike who sponsor his running and mentoring project The Run Dem Crew; rundemcrew.com.
Having created sound installations at the Tate Modern and literature projects with The Southbank Centre, as well as directing a number of theatre projects, Charlie sees nitroBEAT as an opportunity to explore new ideas and to pass on his wealth of skills to the next generation of emerging artists. With over twenty years of experience expect to be challenged and informed as he opens the doors to the networks you never knew existed.
Ayesha is a documentary photographer and film maker who has a childlike fascination with the world. She has the central belief that visual art is one of the most powerful tools in today's fast-paced society. She is passionate about using the power of imagery to explore alternative ways of thinking about ourselves and others. She says, "The human brain can not create, it can only take inspiration from what is already there and what it has been exposed to. It is important for me to be responsible about the messages I expose through my work."
Ayesha has worked in a variety of environments since 2007. From being a lighting and digital assistant on celebrity photoshoots to managing community based photography and film projects. She also works as a freelance artist, creative director and workshop facilitator with arts organisation, Beatfreeks. Her growing experiences have given her exposure to a diverse range of people and situations, which she uses to inform her personal work. She was a finalist in 2015's Magnum Photos 30 under 30 emerging photographers exhibition at the Photography Show. When relaxing, Ayesha enjoys getting out of the city to capture warm sunsets over natural landscapes. Her goal is to contribute to making the world a more harmonious place and lives by the, "be the change you want to see in the world" ethos.
Anna Smith is a freelance producer. She co-runs the London based performance company Unfinished Business alongside Artistic Director Leo Kay. Having developed the company over the past few years, she has been involved in creating and producing many performance and participation projects with a broad range of artists.
With a background in performance design, Anna has a strong aesthetic and conceptual interest in performance and is passionate about developing innovative work which promotes active participation and interactive engagement with audiences.
Hardish has over twenty years Marketing and PR experience in the arts and cultural sectors having worked with heritage, festival, visual arts, dance, music, theatre organisations and practitioners in the UK and Europe. He has also led on strategic audience development projects for a diverse range of organisations including Arts Council England, British Council, National Trust, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Danish Centre for Culture and Development, audience development agencies and arts and cultural organisations in the UK and Europe.
Hardish shares his practice of developing new audiences at seminars and training workshops and also works as a consultant in the UK and Europe, supporting organisations with the development of policy and strategy documents focusing on communications, diversity and organisational development.