New theatre company 45North, founded by award winning producer and director Jessica Rose McVay, has been launched to champion the work of emerging playwrights and theatre makers, and to present new writing to a variety of audiences. Born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota, before moving to the UK in 2016, company founder Jessica Rose McVay gives a nod to her hometown with ‘45North’ being the longitude coordinates of Minneapolis.
Having previously worked as assistant director on the Broadway show The Best Man, and having then gone on to produce a number of celebrated works over the past few years, in London and the Edinburgh festival including the 2019 critically Acclaimed Post Mortem and Leave a Message at Edinburgh 2019 McVay is now talking the opportunity to formalise her production company, appoint a number of staff, produce several London, Edinburgh and international shows in the coming 12 months and begin an immediate bursary scheme providing financial support to emerging artists
As vocal advocates of unheard and underrepresented work, 45North’s mission is to shift the spotlight onto creatives that put marginalised groups front and centre; starting with women. McVay is joined by Emily Carewe as Creative Producer for Theatre, with plans for a Creative Producer of Events to come on board mid-March 2020. The company is also committed to employing creative teams where women and/or trans and/or non-binary people make up at least 75% of the company.
45North already has plans in place for a series of productions with runs in London, tours across the UK, a season of four shows in Edinburgh, and shows in major Australian cities (more details of all shows below).
In addition, the company’s passion for supporting emerging creatives will be supported by the launch of two bursary schemes providing financial support to female, trans and non-binary emerging artists details of how to apply can be found here)
A short commission scheme, where artists will be given a day in 45North’s new studio in Hackney Downs to R&D new work, with the option for feedback from 45North and support in producing a public showing.
The second, more ambitious bursary will be open to playwrights, directors and divisors and will see creatives receive an initial grant of between £1000 – £1500 with 3-6 months access to the 45North studio and office space to create a first draft. They will also be given feedback and support from the team and if the resulting piece fits in with 45North’s core values, it will be commissioned and will receive further financial backing to a total of £5000 and a production produced by 45North.
McVay states: “45North was created with the primary goal of finding and promoting new work by theatre creatives who set out to tell stories that are all too often unheard – we want to advocate and amplify the amazing work that is out there when you step away from white-male dominated narratives. With the stage a prominent catalyst for social change, it’s more important than ever to put marginalised groups at the centre of creative work. I’m very excited to be embarking on this journey”.
45North’s initial slate, set to take place over the next few months will include:
- On home soil, the company will be producing Gillian Greer’s play MEAT at Theatre503 in February 2020 (separate press release for that to be sent over very soon), which was shortlisted for 503’s playwriting award in 2018. The story navigates sexual assault and consent within a relationship. MEAT tells the story of two ex-lovers who meet for a night of food, drink and reminiscing about old times, when a revelation sets them on a collision course like no other. This piece is a perfect fit for 45North, putting strong female creatives at the helm with writer Gillian Greer and director Lucy Atkinson.
- Next comes a very exciting collaboration with theatre company Scripts for Supper – a fantastical immersive dining company which will tour a production of ‘Wind in the Willows’ in spring 2020. The brainchild of Masterchef 2016 semi-finalist Annie McKenzie, Scripts for Supper treats audiences to a scrumptious five-course dinner, as a gastronomic world collides with theatre. Much-loved stories and characters are brought to life with journeying audiences encountering an extravaganza of storytelling within an immersive theatrical world. This tour will visit venues around England, ranging from city farms to country houses.
- This will be followed by four productions at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August 2020. The four shows are currently in development, and each will be part of a cohesive set of compelling works that challenge stereotypes and prejudices, tied together by their female-led narratives.
- And beyond the UK, 45North is producing an Australian tour of Post-Mortem which a beautiful piece of physical theatre which brings an honest and comic look at young love and old trauma from award-winning playwright Iskandar Sharazuddin – this follows Post-Mortem’s critically acclaimed run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year. The show will be touring to Perth and Adelaide in 2020 – first playing at the Blue Room Theatre in Perth from 24th January to 1st February before going onto Holden Street Theatres in Adelaide from 12th to 26th February.
- Also headed to Australia will be new play (un)written (un)heard. Running from 29th January to 9th February at Girl’s School in Perth, this piece follows the astonishing true story of Dorothy Lawrence; an English journalist who disguised herself as a man in order to join the front line in WW1 with an ambition to become the first female war correspondent.
- Looking beyond the next year 45North’s long term plan is to commercially produce shows at West End and Broadway level and working towards having the company having its own venue – and to continue and evolve their bursary schemes; encouraging emerging artists by helping them access the funds they need in order to devote time to their artistic endeavours