COLLABORATIVE theatres have revealed the artists who have been awarded a commission as part of a partnership to support gifted people.

Colchester’s Mercury Theatre and Canterbury’s Marlowe Theatre have been scouting out the most talented and daring theatre-makers across their region and have awarded ten commissions.

Successful artists have each been awarded up to £1,000 to support the development of new work, along with mentoring and rehearsal space support from Mercury and Marlowe teams.

The Essex artists include Sharan Atwal, an actor and writer whose work will deal with issues around fertility and the pressure society places on women to have children, as well as Blouse and Skirt - a new theatre company which celebrates stories, songs, performers and puppets from the Afro-Caribbean diaspora.

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Mark Smith, of Deaf Men Dancing, is developing Isolation In The Dark, inspired by inventor of the lightbulb Thomas Edison, TalkShow is working on a new interactive digital piece that parodies Buzzfeed-style clickbait personality tests to explore morality.

Sundeep Saini is a theatre-maker, movement director and choreographer who is creating a multidisciplinary family show about mental health struggles that affect children, including the lack of connection in a digital age, and writer Esohe Uwadiae is developing a project that follows the highs and lows of growing up as a Black woman in Essex.

The programme is funded by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership.

Ryan McBryde, creative director of the Mercury Theatre, said: “It is fantastic to be working alongside The Marlowe to ensure we can provide essential support for local freelance artists.

“It is vital our theatre-makers feel completely supported in developing new work and can benefit from links with professionals and access to our new theatre rehearsal spaces.”

Christian Brodie, South East Local Enterprise Partnership’s chairman, said: “We are delighted to be able to invest in this programme and the future of the theatres.

“We have a strong network and burgeoning pool of talent in the South East and at the South East LEP, we recognise the undeniable value that creative and cultural activities play in boosting our economies.”