Damsel Productions presenTS



the BUNKER Theatre

Damsel Develops is a new festival committed to helping emerging female directors develop work, with the hope of moving towards a future production. In September, Damsel Productions called out for project pitches from female directors across the UK. The pieces could be old, new, devised or adapted – all was welcome as long as it was written or conceived by women and committed to representing the female experience on stage. 

Damsel has brought a group of eight exciting emerging female directors to bring their projects to the festival, Lucy Atkinson, Tania Azevedo, Melissa Dunne, Kerry Fitzgerald, Sara Joyce, Damsel AD Hannah Hauer-King, Rafaella Marcus and Justina Kehinde Ogunseitan.  Expect an eclectic week-long festival including rehearsed and staged readings, feedback sessions, excerpts of new work, and even live music. If you're someone who enjoys being exposed to the creative process and being introduced to emerging female artists, then you'll love Damsel Develops.

Damsel has also got on board a group of fantastic mentors, who will offer support and guidance to our chosen directors on their projects. The mentors for the festival include Maria AbergPaulette Randall, and Melly Still. These busy, brilliant women have offered up their valuable time to offer feedback to individual directors on their initial project ideas, as well as give guidance on rehearsal plans and process. 



Hannah Hauer-King directs a rehearsed reading of new play, Lilith: Confessions of a Demon Goddess, by Holly Augustine. Lilith is a piece that traverses genres, infusing the theatrical with the cabaret and burlesque, all through the perspective of Adam's vilified first wife. Though almost 6,000 years old, this Lilith shares our contemporary angst and an insatiable taste for the illicit, expressed with a healthy dose of both comedy and pathos. Written and performed by LAMDA and House of Burlesque graduate Holly Augustine (Bitch Boxer, Alginate, I Need To Vent), expect an hour of underscore, horns and mythological mess.

Hannah is artistic director of Damsel Productions. She recently finished participating in the National Theatre Director's Course, after working with Oxford School Of Drama and directing within the Bechdel Testing Life festival. Recent directing credits include Alginate (Bunker Theatre), Fury (Soho Theatre), Hypernormal (Vaults Festival), Brute (Soho Theatre) and Dry Land (Jermyn Street Theatre). 


Lucy Atkinson directs a staged reading of new play Oil and Matter, by Camilla Whitehill. Camilla's previous work includes the award winning shows Where Do Little Birds Go? and Mr Incredible. After working on four short plays together, 1001Aloe AloeHaemophobia, and Shy Tory, Camilla and Lucy are collaborating on a full length piece for the first time.

Roberta hasn't been home in 12 years. Now she's back. Just in time for bonfire night.  Oil & Matter is a play about trying to cross burnt bridges, and whether you can ever really go home again.

Lucy Jane Atkinson trained at LAMDA. Her upcoming work includes two new plays for VAULT festival 2018, and a West End transfer of Testament,  by Tristan Bernays (Pick of the week, VAULT 2017). Other recent work includes The Enchantment (HERE Arts Centre, New York), the US premiere of the 1888 play written by Victoria Benedictsson, the real woman who inspired the characters Hedda Gabler and Miss Julie.



Rafaella Marcus directs a work in progress showing of Sarah Kane’s Crave ahead of a planned production in 2018, which will mark the 20th Anniversary of her seminal work.

Four voices are heard in a place that might be a city, might be a grave, might be the backseat of a car. They gripe, swear, love, and spit; they are urgent and in pain. They’re not sure whether they’ll make it out alive. This is an opportunity to see one of Kane’s most elusive and startling plays, with an all female cast and concept focused around urban landscapes and desolation.

Rafaella’s recent directing credits include The Tune Is Always Better On The Outside (The Other Palace), Morphin’ (Arcola), I Have A Mouth and I Must Scream (Bunker Theatre), and The Wild Party (Hope Theatre). She was a finalist for the JMK Award 2017 and is artistic director of Mingled Yarn.

This work in progress showing of Crave is also generously supported by Theatre Delicatessen.


Melissa Dunne directs a staged reading of new play Good Cook. Friendly. Clean. by Brooke Robinson. Financially left behind by her baby boomer generation, 58-year-old Sandra still bounces from one London house-share to the next. When she finds herself kicked out of her latest rental property by her twenty-something housemates whilst undergoing treatment for cancer, she's under significant pressure to find somewhere sustainable to live. Written by acclaimed Australian playwright Brooke Robinson, Good Cook looks at the fate of boomers left behind by their own generation in terms of home ownership, and excluded by millennials from the share-accommodation market.

Melissa recently directed Just to Get Married (Finborough Theatre) - “Staged with wit and efficiency by Melissa Dunne,” Ben Brantley, The New York Times. The play received four stars in The Times, The Evening Standard & The Observer. Melissa is artistic Director of Papercut Theatre and is a Lecturer on the MA Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.



Sara Joyce directs a rehearsed reading of Marina Carr’s On Raftery's Hill. Premiering at the Royal Court in 2000, On Raftery’s Hill is a story about three generations of the Raftery family who live on a farm in a small, rural Irish community. They have shaped their lives around the landscape. Sorrell, the youngest of the family, will either escape a destiny that has burdened the Raftery women, or realise the truth of the rumours that suffocate them.

Sara recently directed Dust by Milly Thomas and Elsa by Isobel Rogers at Edinburgh Fringe. Both shows will transfer to London in early 2018. Previously she directed The Scar Test by Hannah Khalil (Soho Theatre). Sara was resident director at Almeida Theatre and resident assistant director at Soho Theatre. She has worked with Dominic Dromgoole, Claire van Kampen, Pan Pan Theatre, Rupert Goold, Richard Eyre and Steve Marmion.


Tania Azevedo will direct excerpts from a new musical The Restorative Artist by Clancy Flynn and with music by Laura Kaye ThomsonThe Restorative Artist is a one woman show about working at a funeral home, based on the writer’s personal experience. Abigail Quinn worked on the dead, but her job was for the living. When she prepared a body, she helped the survivors tell a story about a life that was lost. But people are telling stories about her while she’s still alive.

The musical examines how we are only ever a character in other people’s stories and uses a score of spoken word, folk and contemporary musical theatre to explore the themes of death, human bodies and sexual identity.

Tania has recently received an OFFIE award nomination for 'Best Director' for the new musical Paper Hearts (Upstairs at the Gatehouse). Recent directing credits include Tenderly (New Wimbledon Theatre), XY (From Page to Stage at The Other Palace), Paper Hearts (Upstairs at the Gatehouse and International Tour), Piece of Silk (The Hope Theatre), Hello Again (Hope Theatre).



Kerry Fitzgerald directs new play The Goodnight Girl, by Hannah Warsame. Set in modern-day Soho and featuring live music from Tamara Astor, this play centres around the invisible women living in its shadows; sex workers, regularly discussed but rarely heard from. The Goodnight Girl is a piece that explores female strength and tracks the journey of five women as they navigate their pasts and carve out their futures in a rapidly gentrifying Soho.

Kerry trained as an actor at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and is co-artistic director of the feminist theatre company Purple Ostrich Productions. Her most recent directing credits include Purple Ostrich's Christmas Cracker 2016 (Vaults, Waterloo) and Vadge of Honour (UK Tour).


Justina Kehinde Ogunseitan directs a rehearsed reading of new play UMUADA, an exploration of black-motherhood and mental health within the urban-African diaspora. UMUADA, meaning ‘first-born daughters’ in Igbo, explores the innate and often unacknowledged process of un-becoming, a process that first-generation migrant women are forced to experience if their husbands, children and communities are expected to thrive. Conceived by Justina Kehinde Ogunseitan and co-written by Yosola OlorunsholaUMUADA is a witty yet poignant exploration into the disruption, dislocation, bereavement and grief that accompanies migrant-hood and motherhood.

Justina Kehinde directed and co-produced the first-all black all-female production on a Cambridge stage, Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls…, before successfully taking it to London for a sell out production 2012/13. In 2014 she directed and co-produced the South African political-musical Sophiatown (ADC Theatre) and in 2017 was the assistant director and poet for FRONTLINE, a dance-theatre piece on Human Trafficking (The Place, London).


Graphic design by Sophia Del Pizzo

Photography by Sonia Archer