Rifco Associates was launched in 2015 to address the lack of opportunity for British Asian artists in the theatre sector. Since then 25 artists have been supported through the programme from a range of artistic practice including writers, lyricists, composers, designers, aerial artists and spoken word. The programme is led by Rifco’s Associate Director, Ameet Chana and a call-out for new scripts and treatments from both mid-career and emerging writers led to their largest ever number of applications for 2020.
Shabina Aslam, Ferhana Jameel, Taqi Nazeer, Sid Sagar Maanuv Thiara, and Yasmin Wilde have been announced as this year’s 'Rifco Associates'.
Shabina Aslam lives and works in Bradford, where she was brought up. Shabina has worked as a Theatre Director and Producer and is currently working for Northern Broadsides Theatre Company in Halifax. She is also developing a theatre and digital installation with Theatre in the Mill in Bradford. This is called Bussing Out and explores the experiences of migrant children within Education in the 60’s and 70’s; traumatic times with many parallels to now.
Ferhana Jameel is a South London-based writer with a strong background in academic publishing and Diversity and Inclusion. Her recent works include performing at the Tara Arts spoken word poetry showcase focusing on the experiences of South Asian women, and her poem The Bet was featured in Dear Damsels Annual 2020.
Taqi Nazeer is a writer, performer, presenter and voice-over artist, who has worked extensively with theatre companies across Britain. He is also the creator, producer and presenter of the hit BBC Asian Network Podcast Scotistan. Taqi has previously worked with Rifco playing ‘Mahesh’ in The Deranged Marriage in 2015.
Sid Sagar is an actor and writer. As an actor, he has a range of credits on stage and screen. As a writer, his first full length play was shortlisted for the Finborough Theatre’s ETPEP Award and selected for the Rose Theatre Kingston’s inaugural New Writing Festival. He is currently participating in Soho Theatre Writers’ Lab. He has also co-written a sitcom with SLAM Films.
Maanuv Thiara is an actor as well as a writer-performer. He was a finalist of the National Theatre’s New Views Writing Competition and his play 8 Weeks was performed at the Nt Shed by members of the NT Company.
Yasmin Wilde grew up in Cambridgeshire and is of dual heritage (Austrian/Pakistani). She has been performing for over thirty years in British theatre and TV. As an actor she has been lucky enough to work with some of our best British Asian writers including Tanika Gupta and Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.
Each candidate receives a £500 bursary alongside mentoring support, writer-in-residence days and masterclasses with industry leaders to develop their play over the next year, culminating in a Showcase event later in the year.
Continuing their journey into a second year of support are Karim Khan, Christine Lalla and Romo Sikdar-Rahman and each will embark on a bespoke programme of one to one sessions to further develop their plays, learning more with industry mentors and developing partnerships with venues and peers.
Associate Director and the programme leader, Ameet Chana told Asian Voice, "Having received a record number of very high standard submissions I am very much looking forward to working with this year's cohort and supporting their journey in developing their ideas. This year we aim to add to their writing 'tool-kit' further with more masterclasses, one-on-one sessions with their mentors and recognised theatre practitioners as well as writer-in-residence days and access to watch more shows and read more plays."