Ellie Kettleton reflects on her and Sophie Escobar’s journey to becoming Chickenshed’s first Young Company Associates.

When Sophie and I met in 2010 as members of Chickenshed's Youth Theatre, we did not expect that years down the line we’d be setting out as emerging artists together and become Chickenshed’s first Young Company Associates. It is unsurprising however, that our current working practices have been shaped by our shared experiences at Chickenshed and at Royal Holloway, University of London. After performing together at Chickenshed as Young Company members, supporting on numerous children’s workshops and cultivating our friendship in busy dressing rooms, we found ourselves gravitating towards each other at university as we both studied the same Drama and Theatre course.


Having already laid foundations in physical theatre and dance from performing at Chickenshed, we both sought to further our knowledge of contemporary choreography and Dance-Theatre practice. We both took modules in Documentary Theatre as well as brushing up on our understanding of concepts like liminality and theatre's reflection of and influence on culture. We were also both heavily involved in the Drama Society and The Student Workshop - a student led theatre company, affiliated with the Drama Department. In our roles as performers, Publicist, and President of the society, we were proud and privileged to bring with us the experience of implementing Chickenshed's inclusive ethos.


In September 2018, we initiated a partnership with Chickenshed Young Company and became the first Young Company Associates. This association has allowed Sophie and I to hone our practice and traverse the space between being students and becoming professional theatre makers. Through weekly workshops, we have been able to develop our first piece together: this is how water loves, which was originally devised as part of a Final Year Project at university and is an exploration of feminist eco-theatre. Working with Chickenshed Young Company members, we have experimented and playfully explored how we can become 'bodies of water'. The Young Company members working with us will be part of our sharings this year. On 4 April we staged a short work-in-progress for friends and colleagues, with a view to inviting a diverse and dynamic range of collaborators into the next stage of the process. Our plan for 2019 is develop this is how water loves for fringe venues in London and this research and development period allows us ample time to build up a dedicated following and secure funding before taking our piece to Edinburgh in 2020.

We are thrilled to be the first Chickenshed Young Company Associates and hope to become a collective concerned with highlighting women's experiences and perspectives. Through devising original work, we aim to generate intersectional and diverse commentaries, repurposing the narrative of femininity whilst also championing and challenging our embodied female experience. We want to take up space. With our voices and our bodies we seek to engage with contemporary politics and power. Our aims will be realised through vibrant, dynamic and socially conscious movement-based theatre - marshalling space and physicality historically inaccessible to woman.