tiata fahodzi, the UK’s leading British-African contemporary theatre company, has announced Chinonyerem Odimba as the new Artistic Director and Chief Executive as the company prepares for its 25th anniversary in 2022. tiata fahodzi produces theatre that is fearless; that looks around and looks forward. With Odimba they will continue in their mission to tell contemporary stories in modern and innovative ways, celebrating characters defined not by their diversity, but by their humanity.
Chinonyerem Odimba is a Nigerian British playwright, screenwriter, and poet; she is Writer-in-Residence at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Her work has been shortlisted for several awards including the Adrienne Benham and Alfred Fagon awards as well as the Bruntwood Playwriting Award. She was the winner of the 2018 Sonia Friedman Award (Channel 4 Playwright Bursary) for How to Walk on the Moon, and a finalist for the inaugural Women Playwriting Prize 2020 for Paradise Street.
Chinonyerem Odimba commented:” This is without a shadow of a doubt one of the most exciting things to happen in my career! tiata fahodzi is a company I have long admired for all the things it stands for – a home for British African heritage stories, developing and supporting artists, and a passion for the most exciting stories that theatre can tell. I feel utterly joyous to lead a company that has been so fearless and bold since its conception in 1997, and take on this role honouring the good work that has come before.
I am excited and cannot wait to start getting to know our British, African, artists, communities and audiences, and those amazing partnerships that are truly interested, and invested, in their lives. There are some very wonderful plans afoot as we head into our 25th birthday celebrations in 2022, and for now, we hope to launch a series of opportunities for artists and freelance theatre workers to come together. tiata fahodzi is looking forwards to a future that will see it growing and telling the multitude of stories that can both provoke and delight audiences in equal measure.”
Elouise West, Chair of the Board of Trustees, added: “Chinonyerem Odimba’s appointment marks the start of a dynamic new period for the company. With the 25th anniversary approaching, this appointment heralds a period of exciting change. We are delighted to have her guide tiata fahodzi as it explores new ways to best tell the stories of modern Britain.”
Mary Caws, interim Executive Director of tiata fahodzi, said: “Chino’s appointment is a hugely exciting step in the next stage of tiata’s fahodzi’s development. We will continue to build our leadership team over the next few months with the appointment of several new Trustees and the recruitment of an Executive Director. Please visit our website or get in touch for more information about these roles.’
Odimba’s work ranges from Medea at Bristol Old Vic, We Too, Are Giants for Kiln Theatre, Unknown Rivers at Hampstead Theatre, Prince and the Pauper at Watermill Theatre to The Seven Ages of Patience at Kiln Theatre and Princess & The Hustler which toured across the UK for Eclipse Theatre/Bristol Old Vic/Hull Truck. She is currently working on commissions for Young Vic, RSC, and Paines Plough.
Her other work for theatre includes The Bird Woman of Lewisham at the Arcola; Rainy Season, and His Name is Ishmael for Bristol Old Vic; Joanne for Clean Break, and Amongst the Reeds for Clean Break/The Yard Theatre. Her work for young people includes a modern retelling of Twist for Theatre Centre and Sweetness of a Sting for NT Connections.
Chinonyerem’s TV credits includes Scotch Bonnet for BBC Three and A Blues for Nia for BBC/Eclipse Theatre, Adulting for Channel 4, and more recently My Best Friend Married a Warrior for CBBC. Chinonyerem is currently developing TV series ideas for Popcorn Productions and BlackLight. Her radio credits include The Last Flag and Eve as part of This Is Your Country, Now series on BBC Radio 4.
As a director, Chinonyerem has worked for Bristol Old Vic, Theatre503 and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She will be co-directing her new musical play Black Love for Paines Plough, as well as an audio drama for Live Theatre/BBC Radio 4 in March 2021.
tiata fahodzi exists to tell stories for the Britain of today and tomorrow and has played a key role in advocating to ensure that diversity and representation is central to any recovery plan in the sector. They were part of the letter from Black, Brown and ethnically diverse leaders to Oliver Dowden; sponsored two Black artists to be part of the Freelance Taskforce initiative; distributed 21 ‘We Got You’ no questions asked first-come first-served grants for freelancers across all disciplines, and also published 13 commissioned blogs from Black writers.
tiata fahodzi is an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.
Photo credit: Sam Harvey