Leading female writers/dramaturgs provide inspiration and guidance to writers selected for the Discovery and Festival Programmes.

Some of our recent dramaturgs include:

Alia Bano

Dramaturg, Discovery Programme

Alia was born in Birmingham, she read English at the University of London and is a qualified teacher. She lives in London.  Alia won the Charles Wintour Award in 2009 for Most Promising Playwright at the Evening Standard Awards for her play Shades, which ran at the Royal Court that year, directed by Nina Raine. She also won the Critics’ Circle Theatre Award 2009 for Most Promising Playwright. Her play Hens was commissioned by SkyArts for Sandi Toksvig’s Theatre: Live! season and transmitted live on SkyArts2 in June 2010, directed by Peter Gill at the Riverside Studios.

Her play Gap got a 4 * review which was a part of the National Theatre Connections Programme.
Alia has recently written a play Forest for the Birmingham Rep and is currently working with Pulse Productions to develop an original series as well as writing an episode of Jamillah and Aladdin for Kindle Entertainment.

Suzanne Bell

Dramaturg,  Festival Programme

Suzanne Bell is currently the Dramaturg at the Royal Exchange Theatre. She has worked on a number of award-winning productions of new work including plays by Simon Stephens, Rona Munro, Hattie Naylor, Rory Mullarkey, Alistair McDowall, April de Angelis, In-Sook Chappell and Chris Urch. She is currently working on projects with Anna Jordan, Chris Thorpe, Andrew Sheridan and Charlene James. She has led writer development workshops at Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre, Live Theatre, Gate Theatre, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, Theatre West, various universities and for companies in Brazil, Turkey, Canada and the USA.


Penny Gold

Dramaturg, Discovery and Festival Programmes

Penny Gold is a Playwright and dramaturge/director/producer.  For BBC TV was a Script Editor and later Producer.  For ten years Commissioning Editor for BBC Radio Drama.  Dramaturgical work includes for RSC, Soho, Hampstead and the Nuffield.  Previously on the boards of the Soho Theatre and of the black company Temba.  She served on the Arts Council New Writing Committee.

Emteaz Hussain

Dramaturg, Discovery Programme

Emteaz is a playwright and performance poet.  Her acclaimed first play, Sweet Cider, was produced by Tamasha Theatre Company at the Arcola Theatre in 2008 and was published in 2013 in the anthology Plays for Today by Women by Aurora Metro Books.  Blood, her second full-length play for Tamasha, toured nationally in March 2015 to widespread critical acclaim; dates included Belgrade Theatre, Birmingham Rep, Nottingham Playhouse and Soho Theatre London. In 2014, she was commissioned by Clean Break under their Writers On Attachment scheme.  In 2015, she wrote Outsidersfor Pilot Theatre as part of an EC Culture project called Boomerang; the production went on national tour.  In their 4 star review, LondonTheatre1 said “This is a beautiful and very welcome hour of theatre.”  Also, she took part in the IWrite feature film scheme run by Creative England.  In 2016 she wrote The Break, a monologue for BBC Writersroom scheme which was broadcast on BBC3 Online.

In 2017 she story lined for the social media account on series 1 of the channel 4 new drama Ackley Bridge.  She is currently under commission to the Royal Court Theatre for a play about the Rotherham child sexual exploitation scandal, titled Trace – and is on the BBC New Talent Hotlist 2017.

As a performance poet she has performed nationally and internationally and has toured with Transglobal Underground, Fundamental, Hustlers HC and as a backing poet with the Benjamin Zephaniah band. Emteaz works extensively as a workshop practitioner in both statutory and community settings, specialising in pupil referral units.

Caroline Jester

Dramaturg, Festival Programme

Caroline Jester is a writer and dramaturg. She is a Fellow of the Institute of Creative and Critical Writing at Birmingham City University, UK, a Master on the MA in Dramatic Writing at Central Saint Martins, UK and has been Literary Manager and Dramaturg at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre, UK. Jester’s publications include Europa (2013), Dramatic Writing Masterclasses: Key Advice from the Industry Masters (2017) and Playwriting Across the Curriculum (2011).


Atiha Sen Gupta

Dramaturg, Discovery Programme

Atiha’s first play What Fatima Did was produced on Hampstead Theatre’s main stage when she was 21 for which she was shortlisted for the Evening Standard’s Most Promising Playwright Award 2010. Concurrently she was also a member of the writing team for E4’s Skins and co-wrote episode 6 of series 3.

Atiha’s second play State Red was produced at Hampstead Downstairs in 2014. The following year her play Counting Stars showed at the Edinburgh Fringe and was shortlisted for Amnesty International’s Freedom of Expression Award 2015. Counting Stars then transferred to Theatre Royal Stratford East and played on its main stage in 2016. In the same year, she co-wrote an episode of Holby City.

Atiha is currently under commission to Derby Theatre, Tara Arts and National Theatre Connections.

Tessa Walker

Dramaturg, Discovery Programme

Tessa is currently an Associate Director at Birmingham Repertory Theatre where amongst others she has directed 101 Dalmatians by Debbie Issit, The Whip Hand by Douglas Maxwell, Looking for John by Tony Timberlake, Folk by Tom Wells, The Quiet House by Gareth Farr, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe adapt, by Adrian Nobel, A Christmas Carol adapt. by Bryony Lavery, Circles by Rachel De-Lahay and Back Down by Steven Camden.

She has also been the Literary Director at Paines Plough and a Literary Associate at the National Theatre of Scotland.


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