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Director Anna Berentzen, writer Zodwa Nyoni and producer Scarlett Spiro-Beazley are ready to inspire and enthuse young creatives from across Greater Manchester

We are delighted to welcome Anna Berentzen, Zodwa Nyoni and Scarlett Spiro-Beazley to the Royal Exchange Theatre as they take up their new roles working with our flagship Young Company, and with Children and Young People from across Greater Manchester on schools programmes, in communities and with our resident Children’s Company.

Empowering young people to embrace their creativity and find ways to tell and share the stories that are meaningful to them is perhaps more important than ever. Award winning writer Zodwa Nyoni is our new Young Company Writer; throughout 2021 she will work closely with Young Company members who want to hone their writing skills, producing work for the theatre and for each other. Zodwa is a playwright, screenwriter and director who has toured her poetry nationally and internationally performing at Latitude Festival, Southbank Centre, eKhaya Multi Arts Centre (Durban), National Gallery Bulawayo (Zimbabwe) among others. Her play BOI BOI IS DEAD saw her become a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize 2014/15. Other credits include BORDERLINE (Young Vic), DUTY (Paines Plough) and NINE LIVES (Bridge Theatre/Leeds Studio).

Of working with the Young Company Zodwa said…
"I came up through youth programmes and development schemes where I met teachers and artists from around the world. They helped me find my voice as a writer and showed the impact storytelling can have. I want to do the same for the next generation."

Royal Exchange Young Company Alumni Anna Berentzen is our Young Company Director and will be working closely with budding directors and performers. Her experience as both a Young Company member and as a professional director gives her a unique insight into creating original, challenging and powerful work with the company members. She said...

"As Young Company alumni, I can honestly say that without my training with the RET I wouldn't be where I am today in terms of my career, and I wouldn't have met some of my best friends and most inspiring colleagues. I'm thrilled to direct such an exciting group of young artists and be able to invest in the future of theatre in Manchester."

Before becoming a director Anna trained and worked as an actor. She has a passion for new writing, and recently worked with the Exchange on the digital Advent Calendar ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS and the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting Ceremony 2019. In 2020, she was selected to be part of the Catalyst residency at The North Wall Theatre and has recently co-founded Hawkseed Theatre Co. who specialise in supporting, developing, and celebrating new writing.

Overseeing all of the work we do with children and young people across Greater Manchester is Scarlett Spiro-Beazley who takes up the position of Children and Young People Producer. Scarlett has been producing impactful arts participation programmes with young people and communities for over 7 years in a range of settings from festivals and theatres to youth centres and hospitals. Following roles at GLYPT (Tramshed), Frantic Assembly, Camden People’s Theatre, Cardboard Citizens and Home Live Art, Scarlett has most recently expanded the performing arts offer for young people at the Roundhouse, developing engagement with the artistic programme, finding pathways to industry for emerging creatives, providing them with starting blocks to build a sustainable career, and amplifying the youth voice of those underrepresented in the sector.

Scarlett said of taking on her new role…
"I am incredibly excited to be joining the wonderful team at Royal Exchange, particularly at this time of reflection and change within the industry. The pandemic will almost certainly have negative long-term implications for young people, a demographic that was already facing so many crises including poor mental health and access to employment. Now more than ever is the time to support our incredible young people, to listen, to provide safe environments for them to be creative, express themselves, and give them tangible opportunities to fulfil their boundless potential. Empowering young people has always been at the heart of what I’ve strived to do, and I can’t wait to do this as part of the inspiring engagement work already being delivered at the Royal Exchange with the communities of Greater Manchester. "

We are thrilled to welcome these three brilliant and passionate creative practitioners to the Royal Exchange Team.