Alex’s Final Blog


2015 when we started at Freedom Studios seems like many lifetimes ago. No Brexit yet, and a world-wide pandemic was the stuff of Tajinder Singh Hayer’s North Country (our first show) not our daily lived reality.

Looking back over the work we’ve made in that time it hardly seems possible. Did we really make an opera about warring ice cream families and stage it out of 2 actual ice cream vans on City Park? Did we really produce Emma Hill’s grime ‘n brass musical #ChipShoptheMusical and tour it to fish ‘n chip shops up and down Yorkshire? Yes we did. And more – Ben Tagoe’s beautiful, moving When We Were Brothers took the story of male friendship and mental health to bars, working men’s clubs and community centres. We celebrated the life and fierce passion of Andrea Dunbar in Adele Stripe’s Black Teeth and a Brilliant Smile adapted by Lisa Holdsworth, which played to packed out pubs, clubs, and theatres. Aina J Khan’s Pashto Thriller and Asma Elbadawi’s Number 4 brought communities and cultures together in a rich mix of 80s music, Pashto dance, poetry and basketball. Making a livecast in 2017 of North Country in a burnt out building with no power or wifi was a particular highlight! It was that crazy project which helped us build the technology for live streaming every performance of Kamal Kaan’s Aaliyah (After Antigone), a pioneering live-digital hybrid.

But it was the things that happened behind the performances that mattered most. Freedom Studios is and always has been about the nurture and support of new artists and here in Bradford we have the best new artists to work with. Our Team Freedom writers, directors, actors, teachers, designers, young people number 100s and nothing we have done would be possible without every one of these extraordinary, talented, generous people. Too many to name all individually but long-term Associates and colleagues Kash Arshad, Dermot Daley, Tanya Vital, Natalie Davies, Kamal Kaan, Joanna Jowett, Chris O’Connor, Duncan Clarke, Zodwa Nyoni, Lisa Holdsworth, Ema Pightling, Nicole Joseph all need a special shout out. An especially big shout out to Steve McCabe whose financial skills and level-headed management has kept the Freedom ship steady.

Moving on to new freelance projects, I know that I’m not going to be leaving behind Bradford or its artists. Freedom Studios, and Bradford, are poised to go on to even greater things. Supported by its amazing Board, and all its phenomenal artists, Freedom Studios is in good hands. And Bradford, this is the place where the craziest things can happen, the biggest ideas can flourish, the best talent can emerge. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Alex Chisholm

Join the conversation about Alex’s Final Blog