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Theatre Royal Stratford East hosts New Musical Development Collective in its inaugural year

Theatre Royal Stratford East hosts New Musical Development Collective in its inaugural year

  • Theatre Royal Stratford East to mentor and support new organisation dedicated to fostering British musical theatre artists and projects
  • Four new musical projects and eight artists to be supported over the course of one year through the Musical Theatre Lab
  • Founded and run by Sevan Tavoukdjian, Adam Lenson and  Aaron Rogers
  • Participants include UK artists from all genres and social strata
  • NMDC runs from March 2017 – March 2018

Theatre Royal Stratford East (TRSE) is proud to announce a year-long partnership with the New Musical Development Collective (NMDC), a brand new company focused on dramaturgy and development of British musicals and artists. The NMDC launches this month with its inaugural Musical Theatre Lab (MT-Lab) on 7 March 2017 and will be in residence at TRSE for a full year, ending with a public sharing of work on 9 March 2018.

One of NMDC’s goals is to foster and develop new British musicals that respond to the modern world and contemporary life with a focus on enriching the fabric of British theatre making and stories. Each year the NMDC plans to be in residence at an organisation with an interest in producing new musicals. Through the in-kind support of these theatres, the NMDC will be able to nurture composers, songwriters, lyricists, and playwrights from all backgrounds with an interest in creating work for the stage that brings together words and music.

The MT-Lab writers will receive a £1000 stipend, year-long dramaturgy and development, industry and skills masterclasses and workshops, a work-in-progress sharing at The Other Palace, an excerpt sharing at TRSE, a 12-month membership to Mercury Musical Developments, free tickets to TRSE productions, and access to hot desks and rehearsal rooms.

The inaugural 2017 NMDC MT-Lab writers, chosen from an open call for applications, will include Zara McFarlane, Amber Hsu, Stu Barter, Firdos Ali, Nikki Burnhope, Shireen Mula, Joe Von Malachowski, and David Austin Grey. These 8 artists come from across the UK with backgrounds in theatre, music and fine arts.

As part of its residency at TRSE, NMDC will be producing two EMERGE concerts, showcasing the talent of new/emerging acting and writing talent, as well a Think Tank Roundtable series revolving around diversity in the British Musical Theatre.

The NMDC is supported by Arts Council England, Mercury Musical Developments, Musical Theatre Network and The Other Palace and will be mentored and supported by TRSE during its year-long residency.

Kerry Michael, Artistic Director at Theatre Royal Stratford East said: Musical theatre is a key priority for TRSE, being an art form that has the power to bridge gaps across cultures and develop new audiences. We are excited to support and mentor the New Musical Development Collective with our shared vision to break new ground with British musicals. As an organisation that has always had musical theatre development as one its cores, we are excited to share our knowledge and expertise with the NMDC as they respond with us to the rallying call for new British musicals.

Sevan Tavoukdjian, NMDC co-founder, said: What started as an idea in the back of my head a year ago has grown into something I didn’t think possible. I was lucky to meet Adam and Aaron who then agreed to jump on board with me. I feel we’ve created something really special. I couldn’t be more thrilled that TRSE agreed to be our first host organisation. They have much to teach us and we’re ready to learn. We hope to play a part in the growing wave of new British musicals in the UK.

Adam Lenson, NMDC co-founder, said: I am thrilled to be working with a group of artists from such diverse creative practises and am looking forward to forming a unified collective that can debate, argue and learn together and who can form challenging, innovative and well-crafted new British musicals. As artists we saw the gaps and the needs and wanted to respond to them in a way that supported the artists and the industry.

Adam Lenson, NMDC co-founder, said: With the incredible support of the Arts Council England we are able to offer a creative working environment for these eight writers. TRSE as our host theatre and MTN, MMD and The Other Palace as our supporters, gives us the ability to support our artists as they write four brand new British musicals. Our sole aim as a company is to offer platforms where we hope to encourage writers to be bold & brave with their storytelling.

For more information contact:

Amy Bramman

Kate Morley PR
Tel: 02072994304
Mobile: 07944539520
Email: amy@katemorleypr.com

Social Media - TRSE
Facebook:             theatreroyalstratfordeast
Twitter:                 @stratfordeast
Website:                www.stratfordeast.com

Social Media - NMDC
Facebook:             NewMusicalDevelopmentCollective
Twitter:                 @NewMTDev
Instagram:            newmtdev
Hashtag:               #NMDC2017
Website:                www.nmdc.co.uk

A People’s Theatre
This famous producing theatre, located in the heart of London’s East End on the edge of the new Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, prides itself on creating world class work that reflects the concerns, hopes and dreams of its community. A prolific developer of new work, this award-winning theatre attracts artists and audiences often not represented in other venues. Through a continuous loop it inspires and is inspired by its vibrant, young and diverse audience.

Musical Theatre
An important aspect of its work is the development of new musical theatre. The Theatre’s vision is to break new ground with musicals that bring contemporary and urban music into the mainstream of British theatre. This has led to the production of a broad spectrum of acclaimed sell-out musicals with its work transferring nationally and internationally. Recent productions include: The Infidel The Musical, Fings Ain’t Wot They Used T’Be (first performed in 1959), the Olivier-nominated Oh What a Lovely War (restaged in 2014 for its 50th anniversary year, with a national tour to follow in 2015), the UK Theatre Award-nominated Glasgow Girls (with National Theatre of Scotland and Citizens Theatre in association with Richard Jordan Productions Ltd, Pachamama Productions and Merrigong Theatre Company (Australia)), Wah! Wah! Girls (with Sadler’s Wells and Kneehigh), the Olivier Award winning Pied Piper (with Boy Blue Ents), Britain’s Got Bhangra (with Rifco Arts & Warwick Arts Centre), Reasons to be Cheerful (with Graeae Theatre Company and New Wolsey Theatre), Clockwork Orange, Takeaway, Come Dancing (Best Off West End Production – What’s On Stage Awards), The Blacks, The Harder They Come (including West End and North American tour), the Olivier nominated The Big Life, Da Boyz and Baiju Bawra.


The New Musical Development Collective (NMDC) was created in response to a dearth of development initiatives focused on musical theatre writers and a lack of diverse theatre makers. The NMDC identifies ‘diverse’ along race, gender, socio-economic, disabled, and LGBTQ lines. For the NMDC, diversity is not about exclusion but about enriching the fabric of British theatre making and stories.

The NMDC is dedicated to creating, nurturing and fostering artists who identify as playwrights, songwriters, lyricists and composers; artists who will be given a space to work with no rules but proven principles that can be acknowledge but challenged in pushing the form beyond its current boundaries.

The NMDC also understands the importance of providing training and skill-development to improve and increase the quality of new British musical theatre that seeks to examine our past, respond to our present, and anticipate the future.


Kerry has been the Artistic Director and Chief Executive of Theatre Royal Stratford East since 2004. Under Kerry Theatre Royal Stratford East has been nominated for seven Olivier Awards including Cinderella , You Me Bum Bum Train and the remount of Oh What A Lovely War.  

Kerry has pioneered many unique and diverse projects including IFEA, an international artistes exchange, where 30 countries participated in sending over to London a few of their most aspiring young artistes to work together and create new work.  OPEN STAGE  a project where Theatre Royal Stratford East became the first theatre to hand over its programming to its audiences in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. During these Games, Theatre Royal Stratford East hosted Nigeria’s Hospitality House (Nigeria House). 30 Nigeria House is a project coming out of that residency where there was secured commissioning grants for 30 young artists of Nigerian heritage. Kerry is a member of Equity’s International Committee for Artists’ Freedom.


Sevan is a NYC and London-based writer, actor, and facilitator. He has worked in NYC with The Public Theater, The New York Theatre Workshop, The New Group, The Culture Project, New York Stage and Film, New York Musical Theatre Festival, and in London with The Bush Theatre, Arcola Theatre, Theatre503, Tamasha, Rich Mix, The Shubbak Festival, The Greenbelt Festival. He is an alumni of The Public Theater's Emerging Writing Group, Rising Circle's inaugural INKTank Lab, The Bush Theater's Inaugural Emerging Writers Group.  He is a graduate of the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama's writing MFA program. He has been shortlisted and a finalist for the Princess Grace Award, the Saroyan Social Justice/Human Rights Playwriting Award, Papatango Playwriting Prize, William Saroyan Playwriting Prize, PlayPenn New Writing Lab, and the Sundance Theatre Lab.

2016 Kevin Spacey Artists of Choice Award for Musical Theatre forWasted a new rock musical about the Brontës at the West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Directing includes: Songs For A New World (St James Theatre, 20th Anniversary Production), Disgraced (English Theatre Frankfurt), Dark Tourism (Park Theatre), Ghost: The Musical (GSA), See What I Wanna See (Jermyn Street Theatre), Reel Life (Ustinov Theatre Bath and St James Studio), The Goodbye Girl (Upstairs at the Gatehouse), West End Recast (Duke of York’s Theatre, Phoenix Theatre), Ordinary Days (Trafalgar Studios), Little Fish and Saturn Returns (Finborough Theatre), Come Fly With Me (Salisbury Playhouse), The Dead Guy (English Theatre Frankfurt) and The Family (Old Vic US/UK Exchange, Public Theater, NY), The Sorrows of Satan a musical play by Luke Bateman and Michael Conley (Tristan Bates Theatre) and Whisper House by Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow (The Other Palace / St James Theatre).

Associate and Assistant directing includes: work with Terry Johnson, John Doyle, Victoria Wood, Stephen Daldry, Nancy Meckler, Roxana Silbert, Maria Friedman, David Grindley and Lindsay Posner at venues including Hampstead Theatre, The Royal Shakespeare Company, The Menier Chocolate Factory and in the West End.

Originally from Dublin, Aaron trained at Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and most recently completed an MA in Creative Producing from Birkbeck. Aaron is currently one of The Old Vic 12 Producers, an Associate Producer at Theatre Royal Stratford East, the Gala Producer at The Old Vic and previously the Assistant Producer to Paul Taylor-Mills. Producing credits include: The Rise And Fall Of Little Voice (Union Theatre), Sex, Chips And Rock N’Roll (Piccadilly Theatre) Three Guys Naked From The Waist Down (Finborough Theatre), Rebel Song (Her Majesty's Theatre), My Dads Gap Year (Tristan Bates Theatre), An Invitation To:You From:Me (Tristan Bates Theatre) Fragile (Cobalt Cafe Theatre, Dublin). Assistant Producer credits include: In The Heights (Kings Cross Theatre), Casa Valentina (Southwark Playhouse), Red Riding Hood (Pleasance Theatre London), Miracle On 34th Street (UK and Dubai Tour).

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