Emma Kelly is a dynamic drama practitioner with extensive experience in theatre and education. Having taught performing arts, she is now developing her career as a dramatist.

Emma’s time involves devising a selection of plays, short stories, and screenplays in Brighton. She was awarded an MA in Dramatic Writing from the Drama Centre, Central Saint Martins, in 2020 and has since been commissioned as a writer in the UK and internationally. Working with companies such as Close Encounters, Circulate, Unzipped Theatre, Rising Tides, Junction Theatre and Slackline Productions.

Emma recently placed in the top 3% of the BBC Writersroom drama script Open Window 2022. With over 4000 applicants, it is one of the UK’s most competitive opportunities for writers. She was also shortlisted for the BBC Voices South East Development Group and selected to be part of the Broken Silence Theatre Writers Hive 2022 and London Playwrights Development Group 2023.

Emma has written for youth and adults at Close Encounters Theatre in Zurich as their resident writer since 2020, writing 11 episodic plays for casts of up to 24. Her last commission, Cult, was performed in April 2024. She has also collaborated as a writer on immersive projects with a Heritage focus in Brighton, including What If Walls Could Speak, a theatrical promenade in the Regency Town House in Hove. She has recently worked on an immersive XR audio experience for Brighton Dome with Immersive Networks.

Emma founded Wild Elk Productions in 2003 and produced sell-out show 2145, her comic sci-fi for the stage at The Lantern Theatre as part of Brighton Fringe 2023. It was awarded the Michael Graney Bursary for writing with a sci-fi focus from Ironclad Creative. Then, it was voted in the top 3 plays for the Audience Choice Award and stated as ‘Better than Netflix’ by Latest TV. It was also nominated for an OffFest award. She then wrote and produced The Tower, a site-specific play about a flooded world at Brighton Fringe 2024. The show was performed in the atmospheric Old Net Loft at Brighton Fishing Museum and shortlisted for The Farnham Maltings Emerging Company Award. Stated as “gripping theatre” and given an Outstanding Show rating by Fringe Review, Emma hopes to tour this play in the future.

Emma’s avant-garde background started with a BA(Hons) in Theatre and Visual Practice at Brighton University, which enabled her to develop large-scale collaboration and theatre production skills. Her final show, ‘Chamber’, culminated in a cutting-edge, immersive piece of theatre that was critically acclaimed. Emma put the audience in the role of giants and voyeurs in her miniature urban landscape with live interactive performance and projection work.

Emma then progressed to the professional development of site-specific and immersive theatre for numerous festivals and events. She took several roles, such as an actor, writer, and director. As a pioneer of immersive and site-specific theatre before it had a mainstream audience, some of her work included taking a coach of people to ‘The Great Escapade’ in 2004 and convincing them that there had been a chemical disaster on the route. Soon, the audience was running through a field with pyrotechnics exploding behind them, then ushered into a post-apocalyptic decontamination process. Other projects involved the construction of a house at the ‘Fire Gathering Festival’ 2006. The audience was invited to observe and interact in the world of a fictional ‘lady of the manor’. Emma inspired emerging performers and collaborated with ground-breaking video and animation artists to realise some of her ambitious work.

Many who have experienced her productions comment on Emma’s brilliant and bizarre imagination. Able to turn her hand to playwriting, screenplays, audio drama, and group writing initiatives, Emma shows promise in her development from a performance artist to a multi-skilled dramatist. Her voice is dark and humorous whilst conveying a multitude of genres and writing styles.

Take a look at Emma’s Origin Story to find out what motivates her to write.