Emma Kelly is a dynamic drama practitioner with extensive experience in theatre and education. Having taught performing arts for over a decade at Brighton College, voted England’s best Independent School in 2019, she is now developing her career as a dramatist.
Presently Emma’s time involves devising a selection of plays, short stories, and screenplays in Brighton. Having been awarded an MA in Dramatic Writing from the Drama Centre, Central Saint Martins in London, Emma is keen to commit to creative projects in the UK and internationally. Emma made the top 3% in the BBC Writersroom drama script open window 2022. With over 4000 applicants, it is one of the most competitive opportunities in the UK for writers. She is part of the Broken Silence Theatre Writers Hive 2022 and writes for youth and adults at Close Encounters Theatre in Zurich.
An extended stay in New York in 2019 was a source of inspiration for Emma; she was able to soak up the city’s creative landscape whilst studying playwriting at the Barrow Group and taking writing classes at Gotham Writers on Broadway.
At Brighton College Prep, she directed numerous big-budget musicals, including ‘Fiddler on the Roof, ‘Bugsy Malone’, and her final production ‘Six for Year Six’, a performance in which she adapted a selection of stories by the Brothers Grimm.
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.
Alongside this, she coached children and adults, setting up ‘Jam’, a company that produced bespoke art and drama workshops. Her enjoyment of planning and structuring events with an audience in mind is evident in her vast and varied immersive and site-specific work portfolio. Emma is adept at using narrative to transport people into the worlds she creates.
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.