Black Voices in Myth

Black Voices in Myth has begun! A two-week research and development project led by Director Jessica Kalissa and Writer Kaleya Baxe to explore, celebrate and champion marginalised voices in myth.

The team, supported by Professor Katherine Harloe, have been hard at work to create and devise in order for writer Kaleya to develop a brand-new script that can be toured across the country and challenging the narrow window through which Classics has been historically viewed. The project will increase representation, accessibility and critical thinking with the aim of improving access to the subject for young people who face barriers to study and enjoy ancient Greek/ Roman history or myth. 

The project sparks an exciting relationship with Chickenshed Theatre, an inclusive theatre company, where we hope to develop our education outreach, offer placements to their graduates and share practices from both our organisations.

Chickenshed is a pioneering and inclusive company that makes beautiful and inspirational theatre. They bring together people of all ages and from all backgrounds to produce outstanding theatre that entertains, inspires, challenges and informs both audiences and participants alike.

Their vision is a society that enables everyone to flourish, and Chickenshed’s mission is to create entertaining and outstanding theatre that celebrates diversity and inspires positive change.

Chickenshed runs children’s and youth theatres for over 800 young people, operates three nationally accredited education courses, engages in community outreach projects and has established a growing network of ‘sheds’ across the UK and two in Russia.


Creative team:


Jessica Kalissa 


Kaleya Baxe


Afua Ofori-Darko

Francesca Henry

Leda Douglas

Olivette Cole-Wilson  



Assistant Directors:

Sebastian Ross (Chickenshed Graduate)

Balthazar Magloire Oliver (Chickenshed Graduate)

Consultant Academic:

Professor Katherine Harloe

Royal Holloway Placement Student:

Edmund Kelsey

Artistic Director:

Tamsin Shasha 

General Manager:

Katherine Sturt-Scobie

Kaleya Baxe | Writer

Kaleya Baxe is a writer, director and facilitator whose work is driven by her passion for representation, inclusion and collaborative kindness. As well as working on outreach and youth  projects with the Young Vic, Kiln, ans Arcola Theatre her work often shines a light on important subjects (Patricia Gets Ready (for a date with the man that used to hit her) and has toured schools, youth settings and pupil referral units (Written, Little Fish Theatre). As an assistant she has had the opportunity to work with acclaimed writers such as Chinonyerem Odimba (Artistic Director, Tiata Fahodzi) and Mike Bartlett (Doctor Foster, Life). Kaleya recently finished her placement as the Paines Plough Trainee Director 2020/21.

Jessica Kaliisa | Director

Jessica is an innovative award-winning theatre director with a passion for creating spaces that bring more black performers on stage teaching black history through theatre. She is best known her play Queens of Sheba (Soho Theatre) which won the Off West End Award for Best Performance Piece. Her work as an actress spans across BBC, Royal Court and National Theatre. She works collaboratively and artistically with actors and writers to produce theatre shows breathe organically through the performer and immerse the audience seamlessly.

Afua Ofori-Darko | Deviser

Afua trained at Identity School of Acting from 2018 until 2020 where perfomances included 'Blue is the Warmest Colour.' She has since worked on the short film 'Instinct,' outdoor theatre production 'The Streets Where We Live' exploring Liverpool’s involvement in the slave trade, and touring theatre piece 'Routes' developed from workshops with refugees. Prior to completing her studies, she had performed in various youth theatre productions including 'We Will Rock You' and worked in voiceovers in the digital and gaming spheres.

Leda Douglas | Deviser

Leda Douglas fell into acting while travelling Europe where she specialised in Jacques Lecoq technique. She went on to graduate from The Oxford School of Drama in 2018 and since has been in numerous productions, including: Shudder at the Soho theatre, the one woman show Nuclear Future, and leading roles in Creation Theatre's The Time Machine, and Alice in Wonderland. Her film credits include: DINAHHousekeeping, I AM, and Woman to Woman.

Francesca Henry | Deviser

Francesca is a performer, writer and dramaturg with a degree in Classics from Bristol University and an MA Acting from RWCMD.
Her work as a performer in theatre includes Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (Tobacco Factory Theatres and Wiltshire Creatives), Germ Free Adolescent (The Bunker Theatre), Our Town (Regent’s Park Open Air), Dear Elizabeth (The Gate) and The Wolves (Theatre Royal Stratford East). Her upcoming screen work includes A Discovery of Witches for Sky and The Chelsea Detective and Silent Witness for BBC 1. 
She is a member of the Royal Court’s Script Panel 2021, has been involved in R+Ds with the Gate, Bush and Old Vic, and regularly provides script support on projects which centre marginalised stories.  

Olivette Cole Wilson | Deviser

Olivette entered the acting profession in her 'prime' after a career as a Teacher, Social Worker,Trainer, and Counsellor. Olivette has been involved in many projects including the award winning short film 'Souljah', and several plays including The Emperor Jones, Pretend Families, Where will we Live and Blood Rites. Other work includes voice overs, corporate work and advertisements. Every  aspect of acting is of interest to Olivette and she enjoys  every new challenge. Aside from acting Olivette loves Music,  Poetry, Chocolate and Prosecco.

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