Taking The Stage is back this autumn

5th June 2024

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Taking The Stage returns to Milton Keynes Gallery from 16th - 19th October.

Supported by Arts Council England, our third festival will once again shine a light on inspirational women from theatre and the arts. Our event aims to empower women from within our industry and put them centre stage to celebrate female talent, our creative contributions to the arts, and highlight our achievements. 

We are true advocates for supporting and championing all women within the arts and fighting for gender parity. This event puts women at the heart and provides an important platform for local and high-profile women from within the industry to share their stories. 

With an exciting and inspiring lineup, Taking The Stage will include a keynote speech from leading British playwright Winsome Pinnock, a headlining play from Suzette Coon and a talk from Lesley Gannon from The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain on how to protect your intellectual property. 

We will also be showcasing a series of new plays written by Emma Burnell, Sian Rowland, Subika Anwar Khan, Chloe Wade, Tam Gilbert and local playwrights Carly Halse, Lisa Stenhouse, and our Artistic Director Rosemary Hill.  

Key female industry figures, including Lynda Rooke (Equity President), Polly Kemp (Director of ERA 50:50 and Women in Theatre Lab), Jennifer Tuckett (Director of Women in Theatre Lab), Jenny Sealey OBE (Artistic Director at Graeae), Chloe Todd-Fordham (award-winning playwright), Judith Jacob (actor and director) will host important conversations and debates on subjects such as ‘Where are we with diversity and inclusion?’ and ‘Do we tell enough LGBTQ stories in theatre?’ and ‘Where are our future theatre makers?’

Committed to providing access and opportunities to the next generation of theatre makers, we continue to work with young people from across Milton Keynes. You may have seen some talented drama students in our most recent production of ‘Not A Game For Girls’ by Benjamin Peel at Stantonbury Theatre. The young students were an absolute joy to work with and truly amazing in bringing the inspirational story of the Dick, Kerr Ladies to life. 

This year our students will take to the stage with a newly devised piece alongside female-led and award-winning theatre company, Haste. We gave young people the opportunity to work with Haste in 2019 at our first Taking The Stage and the piece they created in a short amount of time was incredible. We also worked with students from MK college for our second Taking The Stage in 2022. This time they worked with Haste for an even longer period which allowed them to develop their skills even more deeply..  We can’t wait for what will come this year. 

Our four-day festival is jampacked with inspirational figures, new plays, conversation, discussions and so much more. We still have more work to do and aspects to confirm, but we can tell you the exciting line up so far:

Wednesday 16th 

Champagne reception and keynote speech with Winsome Pinnock. Performances written by Rosemary Hill and Suzette Coon, plus a Q&A panel with Lynda Rooke (Equity President and Chair), Winsome Pinnock (playwright), Polly Kemp (Director of ERA 50:50 and Women in Theatre Lab), Jenny Sealey OBE (Artistic Director at Graeae), Jennifer Tuckett (Director of Women in Theatre Lab) and Suzette Coon (playwright).

Thursday 17th

Performances written by Emma Burnell, Sian Rowland, Tam Gilbert and Subika Anwar Khan, plus Q&A panel Subika Anwar Khan (playwright), Judith Jacob (actor), Emma Burnell (playwright) and Sian Rowland (playwright), Tam Gilbert (playwright)

Friday 18th 

Performances written by Carly Halse and Lisa Stenhouse, Chloe Wade and Q&A with Chloe Todd Fordham (award-winning playwright) Carly Halse (playwright), and Lisa Stenhouse (playwright) and Rosemary Hill ( Artistic Director of The Play’s The Thing)

Saturday 19th 

A talk with Lesley Gannon from The Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Performances from MK College/Haste, Suzette Coon, and Rosemary Hill. A Q&A panel with Rosemary Hill (The Play’s The Thing) Carly Halse (playwright) and Sian Rowland (playwright) and Chloe Wade (playwright) plus a closing speech from Suzette Coon.

We are incredibly proud to host this festival for the third time in our home city at the wonderful MK Gallery, which gives a platform to these highly inspirational women.

Women have had a profound impact on theatre and the arts and it’s important we continue to recognise and celebrate the incredible work we have created and the stories we’re telling now. We should also get excited about what is yet to come from the next generation.

Put the dates in your diary now -16th - 19th October.

We hope you will be able to join us.

Further information and tickets will be available soon.