WRITER & PRODUCER
Naomi Foyle (she/they) is the author of five Science Fiction Fantasy novels, all published by Jo Fletcher Books (Quercus): cyberchiller Seoul Survivors, named by The Guardian as ‘among the best of recent SF’, and The Gaia Chronicles quartet: Astra, Rook Song, The Blood of the Hoopoe and Stained Light. Also an award-winning poet, essayist and verse dramatist, Naomi is Reader in Critical Imaginative Writing at the University of Chichester, and Fellow of the Muslim Institute, and has appeared at festivals in the UK, Ireland, Germany, South Korea, and Iraq. Naomi’s work within Disability Arts includes being a mentor at Survivors Poetry; teaching creative writing at Stay Up Late, the Brighton-based ‘gig buddies’ charity for people with learning disabilities; and being an invited speaker at Blind Creations, a Royal Holloway Conference and Micro-Festival exploring the relationship between blind people and artistic creation. As an able-bodied writer, when creating the disabled characters of Rook Song, she employed access and inclusion expert Mik Scarlet as a mentor. Their current work explores the psychological impact of their 2020 late diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Condition.
Raven Kaliana directs, designs, and writes for Puppet (R)Evolution Theatre Company. Producer of Hooray for Hollywood, a visual theatre performance and award-winning film concerning human trafficking, she has presented the film at the United Nations in Geneva, the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, London Assembly, Oxford University, and New York University. She co-produced, designed and directed Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress, a shadow animation film. Her play, Love vs Trauma toured to China, Puerto Rico, Greece, and London, Birmingham, and Brighton in the UK. Artistic residencies have included Artists’ Access to Art Colleges, Little Angel Theatre, and Puppet Centre Trust. Her work has been chronicled by BBC News, the New York Times, Guardian, Sunday Times, Copenhagen Post, Haaretz, El Nuevo Dia, International Arts Manager, Metro, and Time Out.
DIRECTOR, DESIGNER & PERFORMER
Hassan Mahamdallie is a playwright, writer, activist and specialist in diversity and art. He is a former Director of the Muslim Institute and helps edit its journal Critical Muslim. He is the founder of theatre company Dervish Productions, whose mission is ‘to amplify voices from the edge’. In 2019 he was the writer on Common Wealth Theatre’s anti-arms trade production I Have Met the Enemy and the Enemy is Us. He is presently collaborating with Vital Xposure theatre on a new play Quiet Rebels, about the White working-class women who crossed the colour line and forged relationships with the men of the Windrush Generation. His educational pamphlet Black British Rebels: Figures from Working Class History, that tells the stories of key leaders from Olaudah Equiano to Jayabeen Desai, has just been republished by Bookmarks publishing.
Peter Hinton-Davis is a renowned Canadian theatre and opera director, playwright and educator. Through his commitment to new play development, Indigenous theatre and revisionist productions of canonical works, Peter Hinton-Davis has significantly impacted the evolution of contemporary Canadian theatre. His exhaustively researched stagings are at once visually stunning and firmly rooted in the social, cultural and political context in which they are created. In 2009, in recognition of his outstanding contribution to Canadian culture, Peter Hinton-Davis was made an Officer of the Order of Canada.
PETER HINTON-DAVIS OC
INTERNATIONAL THEATRE CONSULTANT
Mo’min Swaitat is a London-based Palestinian theatre and film maker who trained at the Freedom Theatre (Jenin) and arthaus (formerly LISPA) in London/Berlin, specialising in the Lecoq method.
He has worked with the Schaubühne, New Diorama Theatre, Arcola Theatre, The Public Theater NY, Theatre Témoin, Camden People’s Theatre, the Globe Theatre, Battersea Arts Centre and many others. In 2017 his solo show Alien Land was selected for the Sundance Institute Lab. He recently starred in I Have Met the Enemy (Common Wealth / Northern Stage) – described by The Guardian as an “explosive, techno-soundtracked assault on the military machine”. His surreal short film Stones in Hand (Albany Theatre / Foreign Body Productions) was exhibited early 2021. Momin is also an Associate Artist with Sarha Collective and an electronic music DJ and collector of rare Arab vinyl/cassettes.
This year he will be using the Live Work Fund to collaborate with new artists, and research ways of creating an immersive online platform (inspired by the Palestinian/Bedouin archive) full of music, storytelling, film and ambient sound.
Play for Progress is a Croydon-based charity that supports unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people and promotes community resilience through trauma-informed creative engagement in the arts. Tapping into the healing power of music, the arts, play, and creative therapies, the charity builds healthy and resilient relationships that support and amplify the voices of unaccompanied asylum-seeking young people.
The Play for Progress songs used in the ASTRA soundtrack were created during weekly RAW sessions, where Play for Progress staff and young musicians Record, Arrange and Write music. Each track was built directly by or in collaboration with the young people and displays their creativity, characters and wide-ranging talents. From rapping, singing and writing original music, to arranging covers of cherished music from home, these songs represent the time we have spent sharing culture, practising self-expression and building relationships across languages in celebration of our collective humanity.
Enjoy RAW Vol. 1 on SoundCloud now, and stay tuned for RAW Vol. 2 due for release this summer.
Play for Progress
Original Musical Compositions
Zaatari Radio is a humanitarian collective working with war-affected communities around the world, since 2018 broadcasting radio from Zaatari Village, an informal refugee camp within transmission distance of the Civil War in Syria.
Zaatari Radio works with the young people of Zaatari through radio-based workshops focusing on creative problem-solving and imaginative futures whilst also teaching practical life skills. The collective has also worked on projects in wider Jordan, Palestine, Angola, Jamaica and the UK. This work tends to be youth-focused exploring creative and playful practices that challenge and transcend societal injustice.
The field recordings commissioned for the ASTRA soundtrack were created by Reyam Elyaman, Oraib Dardasawi, Thikra Mhmd, Siba Masuod, Maria Khorzom, Robin Hunter, Ahmed Hajeer, Omar Amjad, Rami Romhi, Big Zaid and Radio Zaatari.
SINGER/TRAD. MUSIC ARRANGER
Palestinian singer, musicologist and broadcaster Reem Kelani was born in England, raised in Kuwait and now lives in London. Working in the Diaspora, Reem has introduced countless non-Arab musicians, music lovers and schoolchildren to Arabic and Palestinian music. Described as the Unofficial Ambassador for the culture and music of Palestine, Reem’s reputation as an artist for whom her independence is an article of faith, musically, spiritually and politically, extends across the Arab and the non-Arab worlds.
Photo of Reem Kelani by Christopher Scholey
ACCESS & CUlturaL CONSULTANTS
Professor Hannah Thompson is a partially blind academic and activist. Her internationally renowned research focuses on the intersections between Critical Disability Studies and French Studies.
Hannah is currently working on creative audio description in museums, art galleries and theatres and her notion of ‘blindness gain’. She was Production Consultant for the Donmar Warehouse’s installation BLINDNESS in 2020 and worked with a range of theatres and audio describers during her AHRC 2021-2 EDI Fellowship ‘Inclusive Description for Equality and Access’.
Hannah writes about her place as a partially blind academic in a resolutely sighted world in her blog Blind Spot.
Troi Lee is a London based Deaf DJ, performer, festival curator and event’s organiser, putting on raves and producing online streamed showcases in sign-songs, dance, comedy, VV (Visual Vernacular) and other visual performances made by and for Deaf communities worldwide. He is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) & Founder at Deaf Rave.
Deaf Rave provide workshops in Event Management, DJing, VJing and British Sign Language (BSL) as well as Deaf Awareness taster workshops for government and council organisations and festivals. They have also collaborated with numerous artists across the music, theatre and performance spectrum, working with charities, organisations and collaborators oversea.
Audio Description Provider
VocalEyes believes that blind and visually impaired people should have the best possible opportunities to experience and enjoy art and heritage.
The organisation’s mission is to increase those opportunities, make them as good as possible, and ensure that as many blind and visually impaired people as possible are aware of them, and that the arts and heritage sector know how to create them, and welcome blind people as a core audience.
Carole Bremson is an actor/director/writer and poet. After 10 years as Artistic Director of Barnet Theatre-in- Education, Carole co-founded Theatre Factory [1990-1995] exploring inter-active Shakespeare with young people and producing the world premiere of Jane Austen’s Love and Friendship at Jermyn Street Theatre, London. Her novel, The Lie Direct, is forthcoming from Waterloo Press following publication of her play, A Midsummer Night’s Madness  and poetry volume, Beginners please! .
Carole is delighted to be Cultural Consultant on this ground-breaking and award-winning production of ASTRA.
COMMUNITY OUTREACH & marketing TEAM
Community Outreach Lead Officer
Ümit Öztürk is an editor, broadcaster, poet, playwright, linguist, and a creative writing and media trainer. He is also a curator of a number of exhibitions with a focus on underreported depths of world cultural heritage.
Ümit is the coordinator of Euro-Mediterranean Resources Network (@euromernet) where he is in charge of community radio shows, film club, poetry club and cultural heritage club. His interests include philosophy, world literature and music, cinema, and cooking. Umit loves cats. His pronouns are he/him.
Rachel Searle was first involved in promoting the Chichester Fringe 20 years ago. Since then she has created and directed the annual music and arts festival Blakefest. She worked for twelve years as a Psychology and Maths teacher in Bognor Regis and later as a college lecturer in Economics.
Social change through the Arts is very much her agenda. ‘I was really inspired by reading Astra and had the privilege of traveling with Naomi to Israel and Palestine in 2018. I’m very excited to be part of the ASTRA team and seeing this imaginative and incisive work transformed into a thrilling multimedia theatre performance’.
Twitter: @Blakefestival www.blakefest.co.uk
West Sussex Community Outreach Officer
Social Media Officer
project management support
urbanflo creative is passionate about access to opportunity for all and excellence in the arts and culture; and supports the development of individual artists, community groups & cultural agencies by delivering a rich portfolio of heritage projects, creative events, talent development, arts consultancy & international exchange – all embedded with inclusive practice