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A stage show developed at Lighthouse as part of its pioneering SANCTUARY artists residency support scheme is to be made into a short film for Sky Arts. 

Spinning Wheel, written by and starring Hannah Kumari – whose one-woman show ENG-ER-LAND plays Lighthouse on 19 March – has been renamed Devi and commissioned as part of the Sky Arts ‘Unlocked’ series featuring the work of emerging artists from Coventry as part of its programme as the UK’s City of Culture. 

Hannah spent a week at Lighthouse last August working on the show with the technical team. 

“This week enabled me to have the space and time to further develop and hone my ideas for the piece,” says Hannah. “My time at Lighthouse, and in Poole, really informed the show and I then went on to receive a commission from The Wardrobe Ensemble to continue developing it.” 

The story follows Hannah as a woman of mixed heritage stuck in a cycle of addiction – as she searches for help, she encounters an ancestral figure in an unlikely place. 

“Although my short film Devi will be very different in style, it explores similar themes and is inspired by Spinning Wheel. The work done at Lighthouse during SANCTUARY has played an important part in me being successful with this commission.” 

SANCTUARY was set up last summer with support from the Garfield Weston Foundation and offered artists space at Lighthouse in which to devise and develop new work. Crucially, their expenses were covered, and some 80 individual artists in 18 different companies benefited from 105 days of support. 

Responding to Hannah’s commission, Paula Hammond, Producer: Artist Development at Lighthouse, says: “This demonstrates how investment in space and time given at an early stage can be so important for artists to create new work. 

“I’m delighted that the SANCTUARY programme that gave space to Hannah last summer has led to two commissions – firstly from The Wardrobe Ensemble/Bristol Old Vic to produce a live performance and now an additional award from Sky Arts to create a short film. Lighthouse is very  proud to be associated with Hannah and we look forward to seeing the film.” 

The artists featured in Sky Arts’ Unlocked series were selected from an open call inviting ideas for short films responding to the question ‘what does it mean to be free?’. The concept of ‘freedom’ being one of the City of Culture’s main themes. 

As part of the project, each of the ten artists will receive a bespoke programme of mentoring and support from industry professionals, helping them to create new digital broadcast content. 

Phil Edgar-Jones, Director of Sky Arts said: “I’m excited to see the work that will be created by these brilliant emerging talents and really proud that Sky Arts will be able to showcase their work and introduce it to new audiences. It’s important that young creatives are offered support in developing new work and by working in partnership with organisations across the West Midlands region, we will ensure that their voices are nurtured and heard.” 

Devi will be directed by Alistair Wilkinson and, like the other commissions, it is currently in production ahead of transmission in the Spring. 

Hannah’s original stage show presented a weird and wonderful peek at the semi-secret world of Alcoholics Anonymous in an interdisciplinary examination of sobriety and the rule book. It was commissioned by The Wardrobe Ensemble and in association with Blind Summit supported using public funding from Arts Council England and by Lighthouse. 

(NC)

Published 4 January 2022