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Following the announcement of Corey Campbell, Balisha Karra and Justine Themen as its three Co-Artistic Directors for 2021, the Belgrade Theatre Coventry is delighted to confirm two further appointments to the team that will support its delivery of an exciting programme for Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture.
Joining the Belgrade as Senior Producer is Sâmir Bhamra, Artistic Director and CEO of Phizzical, a Midlands-based production company creating adventurous touring work with a focus on South Asian and British Asian perspectives. Previous Phizzical productions staged at the Belgrade Theatre have included a South Asian reimagining of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline in 2013, the warmly received romantic comedy musical Bring on the Bollywood and more recently, the groundbreaking LGBT love story Stardust.
A writer, producer, director and designer, Sâmir developed his directing skills at the National Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company, learning from the likes of Nelson Fernandez OBE and RSC Artistic Director Gregory Doran. He was also an Associate Artist on the Indian adaptation of King Lear for Sky Arts.
Other directing credits include Circle of Lights for Vivacity Arts and Culture in Peterborough, an outdoor dance production of Ram Lila for Leicester City Council’s Diwali celebrations, the site-specific promenade production Ticket 2 Bollywood, the Pulitzer Prize nominated play A Perfect Ganesh, Romeo + Laila, Anjali and the Enchanted Anklet and the national tour of Precious Bazaar.
Writing credits include Stardust, Bring on the Bollywood, Big B the Musical, Bombay Superstar, The Nautch Girl and Precious Bazaar. As a producer, he delivered three large-scale projects during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and was Executive Producer of Leicester’s International Dance Festival.
In addition to his theatre work, he is also Creative Director of the UK Asian Film Festival, and recently designed and directed the short musical film Mad About the Boy, which has been screened at festivals around the world, picking up awards including Best Composer at the Youth Music Awards, Bronze Prize for Music at the Queen Palm International Film Festival in LA and Best Director and Best Costume Design at the Asian Festival in Manila.
Other accolades include the 2016 Arts and Culture Award and two high commendations for his work in design from the Windrush Awards in 2003 and 2004.
Sâmir Bhamra said: “Through my work with Phizzical, I have developed a great relationship with the Belgrade Theatre, and I am delighted to be joining its staff full-time as it prepares for one of its most exciting years yet.
Coventry’s diversity was central to its bid to become UK City of Culture, and it’s fantastic to see that reflected in the Belgrade’s commitment ensuring diverse voices are at the heart of the team leading its produced programme for 2021. I look forward to working closely with Corey, Balisha and Justine to shape that programme over the coming months.”
Supporting the 2021 creative team will be emerging producer Krysztina Winkel, whose role as Embedded Community Producer will focus on outreach and participation. Originally from Germany, Krysztina worked as Education and Outreach Officer for Deutsche Oper am Rhein for four years, where she was responsible for running inclusive youth dance and theatre ensembles, as well as facilitating opera and dance outreach programmes.
She has gone on to work around the world, working with community theatre group Barefeet Theatre in Zambia, as well as on social inclusion projects in countries ranging from Italy to Iraq. She is currently studying for a Masters in Arts Enterprise and Development alongside her work at the Belgrade.
Krysztina Winkel said: “Through my role as Embedded Community Producer, I hope to widen the reach of the Belgrade’s engagement work, strengthening existing relationships with artists and communities in the city, as well as brokering new ones, by creating inspiring platforms for dialogue, wonder and creativity.”
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