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The Wardrobe Ensemble Champion New Works With £18k Investment Into South-West Based Artists

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Running throughout the week will be Moist, Moist, Moist, a part poetry, part stand-up, part gig; featuring live music from Hal Kelly.

The Wardrobe Ensemble are celebrating the last week of their ambitious theatre festival with a final serving of fantastic shows. The venue in Bristol which has championed the local theatre scene from August to October, has created a multitude of creative opportunities for South West artists, including investing £18,000 to develop new pieces of theatre, and provided a community-focused hub in the city for audiences to enjoy after a year inside.

Running throughout the week will be Moist, Moist, Moist, a part poetry, part stand-up, part gig; featuring live music from Hal Kelly, recipient of the 2021 National Partnership Award with Theatre Royal Plymouth and The Pleasance Theatre Trust. One man show Borderline is a journey through a mental break, drug addiction, obsession, a life of crime and a life in and out of institutions... all in the pursuit of love. There Was a Little Girl by Millie Wood Downie is a witty, comedic and truthful insight into growing up opposing the female narrative. Winners of The Wardrobe Ensemble commission, Hannah Kumari will present her extraordinary show Spinning Wheel, alongside Brook Tate's unforgettable biographical play Birthmarked. Closing the week will be the legendary Theatre on the Downs closing party, Wheel of Fortune combining iconic game shows, unexpected mayhem and live music.

In this post-pandemic climate, the investment made by The Wardrobe Ensemble has allowed the opportunity for artists to still develop innovative and ground-breaking work. Hannah Kumari, performer, writer and puppeteer received £10,000 to develop her experimental show Spinning Wheel, alongside an additional £3,000 for Brook Tate for his play, Birthmarked. Theatre company Ad Infinitum also received £5,000 to develop their latest work-in-progress Beautiful, Evil Things.

Having received funding from Arts Council England for The Theatre on the Downs, The Wardrobe Ensemble created the commission to enable select South West artists to keep doing what they do best. The panel which consisted of Jesse Jones and Emily Greenslade from The Wardrobe Ensemble, Aisha Ali, vocal artist, cultural and inclusion producer, composer, improviser and artistic director of Kiota, and Jay Zorenti-Nakhid, Resident Assistant Director at Tobacco Factory Theatres were looking for new and progressive shows and were staggered by the sheer volume of talent.

The Wardrobe Ensemble says, We've had 5,431 people attend The Theatre on the Downs so far, and we've still got a week to go. This support and appetite has been really overwhelming and we're so thrilled to have worked with the 34 amazing companies we have programmed as part of The Theatre on the Downs. Investment in new work is so vital and we are so glad to be able to support other artists as part of this project. Come and see us in this final week!

Commissioned by The Wardrobe Ensemble and in association with Blind Summit, Hannah Kumari will present Spinning Wheel - an interdisciplinary examination of sobriety and the rule book. A weird and wonderful peek at the semi-secret world of Alcoholics Anonymous, through the eyes

of three women who might not belong there.

Hannah Kumari says, This commission, so generously created by The Wardrobe Ensemble, will allow me to collaborate with a creative team on my new show Spinning Wheel throughout September, and receive mentoring from a company whose work and practice I hugely admire. It gives me the time and space not only to develop my creative practice and ideas but also my self-producing skills, collaborating with more artists and creating work on a larger scale. It oi??ers me the chance to perform previews of my new work at Theatre on The Downs, which will be invaluable to its ongoing development. I hope I can make a meaningful contribution to the cultural landscape of Bristol and the South West, and inspire young global majority artists that there is a place for them and their stories in the region.

In addition to the £10,000 commission, The Wardrobe Ensemble also provided an unplanned mini commission to support the brilliant show Birthmarked by Brook Tate which tells the tale of his own life experiences growing up as a Jehovah's Witness until he was excommunicated at the age of 23 for being gay. Weaving in music to tell his personal story, the show will be comprised of 10 songs that focus on Tate's experiences. Honest, funny, and uplifting, the show explore the themes of indoctrination, rejection, suppressed and expressed sexuality, and the rebuilding of self-worth and a life after you've lost everything you believed to be true.

Brooke Tate says, I'm pretty dang blown away by the support and encouragement I've got from the Wardrobe Ensemble. I'm so grateful, quite nervous, but overall SO friggin' excited to get going with this project. Super super chui??ed. Having a bunch of people believe in me and this idea is such an incredible feeling. So yes. Ta. Very. Much!

For full programme listings, please visit The Theatre on the Downs website: https:// theatreonthedowns.co.uk/.


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