Dr Adam Strickson
- Position: Senior Teaching Fellow in Theatre and Writing
- Areas of expertise: Intercultural theatre; applied and community theatre; Chinese & Japanese theatre; masks and puppetry, theatre writing; libretti; poetry; outdoor theatre; theatre with refugees and Holocaust Survivors.
- Email: A.J.Strickson@leeds.ac.uk
- Phone: +44(0)113 343 6921
- Location: 1.07 stage@leeds
- Website: Adam Strickson Writer | 6 million+ Charitable Trust | LinkedIn
I am a director, poet, scriptwriter and librettist with an extensive professional portfolio. I specialise in intercultural, visual and applied theatre. I am currently working on large scale puppetry and performance with 6 million + Charitable Trust, where I am the director of the large scale procession, ‘The Weeping Sisters’, rooted in the connections between Holocaust survivors and refugees, from 2015 and contintinuing. I am also working as a visual artist, musician and writer on ‘Unmasking Pain’ with Balbir Singh Dance Company until Spring 2023, and recently contributed a paper on this work at the Sensory Storytelling Symposium at the University of Leeds (September 22). In 2020, I won the University of Leeds ‘Global’ Partnership Award, the first time this had been awarded, largely for my work that involved students with the community work of 6 million+ with refugees and local people in Kirklees and Bradford. I taught creative writing at Shanghai University Summer School in July 2018.
I am engaged with contemporary adaptations for music-theatre of Chinese classical drama by Ming Dynasty playwright Tang Xianzu. I initiated Get in! (June and July 2019), an outreach performance-workshop for the School of Performance and Cultural Industries (PCI) in collaboration with Bloomin' Buds, designed to reach potential students from areas of socio-economic disadvantage and/or a BAME background; this was supported by the Footsteps Fund. I am a Director of Bloomin’ Buds, a working class theatre and arts project based in Rockwell, Bradford.
I trained at Dartington College of Arts (Theatre), Sunderland Polytechnic (Sculpture) and the University of Huddersfield (Poetry). In 2014, I completed a practice-based PhD in 'The librettist's adaptation of source in collaboration with the composer' with the University of Leeds (Schools of PCI and Music) and Opera North. I have been working as a freelance writer and producer for 20 years and have taught at the School of PCI throughout this time, full time since September 2015.
I have enjoyed 40 years working in professional theatre, mainly within an intercultural context. Two of my poetry collections have been published: An Indian Rug Surprised by Snow (2005) and Tear up the lace (2011). A third poetry collection, Shining the rat, is in preparation. I was poet in residence at the Ilkley Literature Festival in 2005, writer in residence for the town of Boston in 2006 and schools poet in residence for Bridlington Poetry Festival in 2010. I was also lead artist for the imove Cultural Olympiad project Wingbeats from 2009 to 2013.
I collaborate with composers and Green Angel, composed by Lauren Redhead, premiered in 2011. I was the writer and director of Amy's Last Dive, a new opera composed by BBC Composer of the Year Cheryl Frances-Hoad for the Cultural Olympiad/Ludus Festival and the librettist for Cheryl's dramatic cantata, Sailing to the Marvellous, commissioned for the 900th anniversary of Bridlington Priory in 2013. Recently, in 2022, I have written the lyrics for a new song cycle composed by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, which premieres at the Howard Assembly Room on 22 November.
In 2014, I was artist in residence from February to July at Dewsbury Country Park for Kirklees Council and the Yorkshire Festival. A piece I wrote the lyrics for by Cheryl Frances-Hoad was performed by the BBC singers on Radio 3 (2021).
After an early career as a performer and maker with theatre companies like Horse and Bamboo and Satellite Arts, I co-founded Chol Theatre, the pioneering inter-cultural company based in Kirklees, and was artistic director for 13 years until 2002. I led projects throughout the north of England and in India and Bangladesh. I have written plays for the Oldham Coliseum, Peshkar Productions, Chol and an acclaimed trilogy for Burnley Youth Theatre.
From 2017 to 2020, I was external examiner for the BA courses in English and Creative Writing at the University of Bolton, and for the MA in Creative Writing by portfolio at the University of Huddersfield.
- MA Writing for Performance and Digital Media: Writing for Theatre and Contemporary Performance (module leader), Writing for Film and TV (seminar leader), Individual Project, Research Project.
- MA Applied Theatre and Intervention: Applied Theatre Practices (contributing tutor)
- BA Theatre and Performance: Intercultural Shakespeare (module leader), Performance Project Year 3 (module leader and dramaturg), Interpreting Performance Histories (guest lecturer), Independent Research Project (seminar tutor and supervisor), Year 3 placement
- Personal tutor for undergraduate and MA students.
I am primary supervisor for 5 PhD students and secondary supervisor for 1 in the areas of Chinese dance practice and philosophy (x2), the teaching of Japanese Noh in contemporary Japan and the West, protest and puppetry, the contemporary practice of writing verse drama in English and adapation for contemporary performance from Chinese classic texts.
- Year 3 Placement Tutor
- opera and music-theatre adapted from Japanese theatre forms and film
- 16th and 17th century Chinese theatre forms, especially the work of playwright Tang Xianzu
- the aesthetics and craft of writing libretti for opera and music-theatre
- the relationship between the body, landscape and words for music
- the collaboration between poet-librettist William Plomer and composer, Benjamin Britten
- developing theatre and performance from contemporary life stories
- intercultural theatre, especially in South Asian and British Asian contexts
- writing about the natural world
- large scale puppetry/Expressionism
- international pedagogy for Theatre and Performance
- theatre with Holocaust survivors and refugees
- N.B. I am not taking on any further postgraduate researchers from September 2022
Current work and pending publications
June 2018: Adam Strickson. A quietness of training, Theatre, Dance and Performance Training, 9:3, 345– 357, DOI: 10.1080/19443927.2018.1500941
Designer/director for ‘The Weeping Sisters’, a 6 million + project for Holocaust Memorial Day in Kirklees. Making giant figures for a commemorative procession about genocide. November 2016 to present. Also project management, shadow puppetry, story telling and poetry with 6 million+.
Co-adaptor of Dreaming Under the Southern Bough (Tang Xianzu) for stage@leeds company, directed by Steve Ansell; accompanying tour to Beijing, Shanghai and Fuzhou in September 2016, including presenting papers and contributing to discussions. This is part of my work with the Staging China International Research Network, based at the University of Leeds.
Editor for Anjum Malik, writer working on Loving Grannies’ Music a book about South Asian music in Bradford communities for Womenzone, Bradford. September 2016 to March 2017.
Writing tutor (Poetry and Radio Drama) for National Association of Writers’ Groups annual residential at the University of Warwick, September 2016.
Poetry judge and reader for Gateway to India competition for Kirklees Council, August to September 2016.
New publication in Mandarin! (Co-author with Steve Ansell, director of stage@leeds) February 2017.
A Midsummer Night’s DREAMING Under the Southern Bough – play script.
New Drama (bimonthly)
Editor Lin Weiran
pp 98–121 (DREAMING 107–121)
Published by Beijing Performance and Arts Group
新剧本 New Drama 双月刊 bimonthly ISSN 1003-8043 北京演艺集团 Beijing Performance and Arts Group 两个剧本98页到121页；梦南柯是107页到121页 林蔚然
Collaborations and contributions
I have contributed a chapter to the book that Dr George Rodosthenous edited for Bloomsbury, Contemporary Adaptations of Greek Tragedy: Auteurship and the Director’s Vision, published in January 2017. The chapter is titled: La Mama’s ‘Trojan Women’: 40 years of Suffering Rhythms from Edinburgh to Guatemala. It is largely about the use of sound and rhythm, and the use of ancient and ‘nonsense’ language in connecting with many differing audiences, and relates to my chapter on poetics in the PhD. Published January 2017.
I worked with Lauren Redhead on a short ‘mystery play’, Mary M, for the Automatronic Collective, who create work for organ and electronics. This work, which also investigates new compositional strategies, was performed in Easter 2016 at St Laurence’s Church, Catford, London, and will include a children’s choir.
I was the lead artist for Barnsley Magna Carta Project, drama and film about human rights and our relationship to the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta, with Horizon Community College and Barnsley Youth Council. March to July 2015. Funded by the Heritage Lottery.
I was also the co-ordinator and editor of Great Bridlington – the People’s History for Priory 900 and Bridlington Renaissance. September 2014 to March 2015.
Poet and environmental artist for Huddersfield Festival of Light, November 2014.
Artist in residence for Kirklees Council at Dewsbury Country Park, January 2014 – July 2014. Environmental sculpture, poetry, performances and publication.
Wingbeats: libretti, poems, commentary and photo documentation of Amy’s Last Dive and Flight Paths. Published by Valley Press, Scarborough, December 2012. Editor and principal contributor.
Libretto and production for Sailing to the Marvellous dramatic cantata, for Priory 900 (Bridlington), October 2013. Composer: Cheryl Frances-Hoad.
Poet in Residence for Trinity Centre, Leeds (to April 2013)
Script for Bolton Octagon Theatre/Youth on Unity for North-West tour. Directors: Elizabeth Newman and Lisa O’Neill- Rogan. 2011.
Poet’s residency for Ceramic Review. A collaboration with ceramic sculptor Rosa Nyugen. Publication September 2012.
Lead artist and artistic director for ‘Wingbeats’, a collaborative music-theatre project in Leeds and the East Riding of Yorkshire. Commissioned by imove and an official Cultural Olympiad project. April 2010 – November 2012
Recent poetry readings at:
- Holocaust Memorial Day (Huddersfield)
- Ripon Cathedral
- Barefoot Festival
- Unity Festival
- Bridlington Poetry Festival
- Poetry Under the Arches
- Saisons Poetry Library (South Bank, London)
- Albert Poets (Huddersfield)
- University of Leeds
- Leeds Beckett University
- Poets and Players (Whitworth Gallery, Manchester)
- Ilkley Festival
- Huddersfield Hat
- Dewsbury Minster
- Poetry by Heart (Leeds)
- Words on Tap (Leeds)
- Beehive Poets (Bradford)
- Gallery 49 (Bridlington)
- Wakefield Literature Festival
- Poems and Pints (Harrogate)
I also took part in a podcast for Anon 7/Scottish Poetry Library.
A selection of professionally produced scripts and libretti
Amy’s Last Dive. An imove commissioned opera composed by Cheryl Frances- Hoad, British Composer of the Year 2010 (Librettist and director). Leeds (where it is also part of Ludus Festival) and Bridlington. June and July 2012. Amy is being given a new production at Hull Truck Theatre in September 2016 for the Amy Johnson Centenary Festival.
Flight Paths (or Hope is the thing with feathers). An original imove commissioned opera composed by Stephen Kilpatrick for Voxare Quartet (New York), professional soloists and community participants. Leeds and Bridlington. (Librettist and director). September and October 2011. DVD and sound recording available.
Green Angel. A chamber opera composed by Lauren Redhead, based on a novella by Alice Hoffman, University of Leeds. (Librettist and director) January 2011. DVD available
A Burlington Tale. Live performance and broadcast play commissioned by Integreat Yorkshire and Bridlington Old Town Association, funded by Yorkshire Forward. Jan – March 09. CD available.
Raining old women and sticks/Mae’n burw hen wragedd a ffyn. Tri-lingual play (English, Welsh, Punjabi) for North Wales Stage (Bangor)/Theatre in the Mill (Bradford). 5 person, full length middle scale touring piece, toured by a professional cast in Wales and England, February – March 2006.
All plugged in and nowhere to go. Opening play for the new purpose built million pound Burnley Youth Theatre. Cast of 32 young people aged 12 – 19. Performed June 2005. DVD available.
Not a lot of fish, a youth theatre play for Peshkar, as part of Contact Theatre’s ‘Contacting the World’ project, linking with Black Fish Theatre, Karachi. Oldham/Manchester, July 2004.
Gods, Monsters and Body Ironing, a play about a Kurdish refugee from Syria for Burnley Youth Theatre. Performed 2004 and 2005 in NE Lancs and the South West. DVD available.
The Ghost Lesson, a multi-lingual play commissioned by Chol Theatre in collaboration with Bradford International Festival. Premiere: Bradford Alhambra Studio, June 03 and cross regional autumn tour, including London and Newcastle: Sept – November 2003.
‘Adam Strickson’s emotive polemic on the angst that riddles youngsters of all cultures has a lasting impact at any age…articulate and amusing.’ (The Stage – November 2003)
Dancing with Razor Blades, a play commissioned by Burnley Youth Theatre, performed by young men, aged 15 to 23, from different cultural backgrounds. Premiere: BYT, June 2003, prior to tour and National Association of Youth Theatres’ Festival (July 2003).
The Beautiful Violin 2001 Full length musical play based on traditional Bengali love story.
Commissioned by the Oldham Coliseum and Peshkar Productions.
Nominated for Manchester Evening News Best New Play Award, 2002.
Some recent writing projects
June 2019. 'Assam Aroma', poetry and copy writing for a new range of Bangladeshi/British fusion perfume.
November 2014. Poetry films (‘Goodbye to the leaves’) with children and Impossible Arts for CODEX giant electronic book.
May 2014. Commission to re-write traditional love stories as narrative poems from Alchemy Anew.
May 2012. ‘Tag’ poem for Games in the Park. A commission from Alchemy & Bradford Metropolitan Council.
February 2012. Writing about refugees with New College, Huddersfield, a Kirklees MC commission.
May – June 2011. Loca writing and gardening residency in Moldgreen School, Huddersfield
June 2010. Schools’ Poet in Residence, Bridlington Poetry Festival.
April – July 2010. ‘Step away before be explodes’, dramaturge and drama adviser for Manasamitra on this play and film about young people and extremism in Batley and Dewsbury
August 2009 – July 2010. Writer and editor of exhibition, ‘Fieldhead Past And Present’, Safer and Stronger Communities, Kirklees MC.
January 2009. ‘Drawing Oradour’. Poetry commission for Holocaust Memorial Day, Kirklees MC.
October 2008 – December 2008. ‘Johnny’s Allerton Yards’. Animated film with poetry about the hidden yards and corners of Northallerton, commissioned by Integreat Yorkshire and funded by Yorkshire Forward.
April – June 2008. ‘Burlington Dreams’. DVD film and poems about people in Bridlington Old Town, commissioned by Integreat Yorkshire and funded by Yorkshire Forward.
January 2008. ‘These eyes’. Writer of performance piece based on testimony of a Sudanese ex child soldier. Collaboration with composer Emma Nenadic and percussionist Tom Merry. Commissioned by Kirklees MC for Holocaust Memorial Day Event, Huddersfield Town Hall.
August 2007 – January 2008. ‘The Cage’. Writer and producer for installation, performance and film about child slaves in the UK and EU for Sixth Forms; 2008 Abolition of Slavery festival. Commissioned by Aimhigher Humber in collaboration with the University of Hull.
March 2007 – October 2007. Competition director and book editor for Aimhigher Humber year 10 writing competition, ‘A box full of after’, in collaboration with the Beverley Literature Festival.
January 2007 – March 2008. ‘Your Story’. Life writing workshops and compiling and editing 2 book publications (‘True Colours of Gilroyd’ and ‘Life Turns Around’) with community groups in Barnsley. Commissioned by Signposts, Sheffield.
June 2006 – March 2007. ‘Going out in Boston’. Community writing residency and publication of illustrated stories and poems as a set of drinks mats and place mats for Boston, Lincolnshire. Commissioned by Blackfriars Arts Centre, with funding from ACE, Boston Borough Council and Lincolnshire County Council.
March 2006 – November 2006. Poetry performances at the Huddersfield, Derbyshire, Leigh and Wigan, Ilkley and Vaasa literature festivals; at Nidderdale Festival and at Newcastle Lit and Phil.
May – July 2006. ‘Creative Heights’. Creative writing workshops and script with four Colne Valley Junior Schools, performed at the Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield, July 5th 06. A collaboration with Satellite Arts.
February 2006 – May 2006. ‘Matters of the Heart’. Writing workshops with South Asian residents in Halifax; editing of illustrated, multi-lingual booklet and commissioned poetry for The Square Chapel Arts Trust.
April 2006. ‘Tales’. Commission from Alchemy: 3 stories for the ‘Prelude’ exhibition linking contemporary South Asian Art and the permanent collection at Cartwright Hall, Bradford.
January – February 2006. ‘Arking Back’. 3 short plays for performance by young people. Commissioned by Slaithwaite Moonraking Festival.
October 2005 – February 2006. Writer’s placement with Birmingham Repertory Theatre.
June 2005 – January 2006. ‘Double portraits’. Scripting and directing a 45 minute DVD linking Holocaust Survivors in Yorkshire with refugees and asylum seekers. A Kirklees Community History Service project, funded by KMC and Yorkshire Museums and Archives Council. Shown at Huddersfield Art Gallery, Jan – March 2006. Shown at The Guildhall, The Quayside, Newcastle upon Tyne, Jan – March 2007, Brent Cross Shopping Centre, Barnet (North London) Jan – March 2008, Dewsbury Museum June – October 08.
July – November 2005. Poet in Residence for Ilkley Literature Festival.
May – August 2005. ‘The Wooden Horse’: Reading, writing and visual arts residency with young Travellers in Shipley. A ‘Bookscape’ project for Booktrust, funded by Paul Hamlyn.
A selection of publications
October 2011: ‘His bloody materials: Reasons for adapting Yasuzo Masumura’s Red Angel into a tragic opera set in 1990s Sudan.’ Journal of Japanese and Korean Cinema, 3:1, pp. 55–64, doi: 10.1386/jjkc.3.1.55. Intellect Journals. ISSN 1756-4905
March 2011: Tear up the lace, 2nd full length poetry collection, edited by Nicholas Bielby. Published by Graft Poetry (Leeds) ISBN 978-0-9558400-3-6
September 2010: Featured writer in Ten Years Forward: A Celebration, Moving Worlds, Volume 10 Supplement 2010. Published by Moving Worlds at School of English, University of Leeds. ISBN 978-0-9553086099
May 2009: Featured writer in Sama Ghazal Salaam UK, UK Poetry rooted in Persian, Arabian and Islamic writing traditions. Published by electraglade. ISBN 978-09551307-7-9
May 2007: We reckon we could rule the world. A non-fiction book documenting innovative arts and media projects with young people, commissioned by the Academy for Sustainability and Integreat Yorkshire for Yorkshire Forward.
October 2006: Interland (Six Steps Underwater). A collaborative publication with 5 other writers from Yorkshire and Finland. Published by Smith/Doorstop.The book was launched at the Ilkley Literature Festival (Oct) and the Vaasa Literature Festival, Ostrobothnia, Finland (Nov). ISBN 1-902382-81-1
September 2006: Wuthering Heights. A script adaptation of Emily Bronte’s work as a graphic novel; a collaboration with the British Nigerian artist, Siku. Launched at the ‘Radical Brontes’ Festival in Haworth and Bradford. ISBN 0-946657-25-4
July 2005: England Once More (The life, death and unexpected return of Joseph Priestley). Educational play for Leeds and Philadelphia, filmed and published by the Priestley Society. Performed in Morley, Birstall, Leeds and Manchester; July 2005, July 2006.
July 2005: Writing Renewal 2. (The Flowering of Frizinghall) Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber. Book and web. ISBN 09534831-6-2
May 2005: An Indian Rug Surprised by Snow, a full-length poetry collection, edited by Shane Rhodes. Published by Wrecking Ball Press (Hull). ISBN 0-903110-25-4. Accompanying reading tour and workshops: May 2005 – November 2005, including festivals in Leeds, Huddersfield, Harrogate, Birmingham, Nottingham, Cheltenham, York and Ilkley.
April 2004: Stories in a Suitcase: looking back and looking forwards with the people of Ravensthorpe. Kirklees Metropolitan Council. Co-editor and contributing writer (poetry and prose). ISBN 0-900-74683-1.
July 2003: Writing Renewal 1. (Looking Ahead: the everyday life of a Traveller child).
Government Office for Yorkshire and the Humber. Book and web. ISBN 09534831-5-0
Theatre and participatory work
Chol Theatre (1989–2002)
I was co-founder and artistic director of this pioneering intercultural performance and participatory arts company, taking Chol from small neighbourhood arts project in Huddersfield to a revenue funded, nationally and internationally recognised full time company. Six multi-lingual professional touring performances and over seventy arts projects with schools and community groups in Yorkshire and the North-West. Projects in Bangladesh, India, Denmark and Poland.
Selected projects with Chol: The Little Room of the Big Questions: 1998–2000, a magical touring classroom looking at children’s lives and languages in Pakistan, Bangladesh, India and the UK. We worked with over 1000 children aged between 5 and 15 on associated visual arts, writing and media project. Rajpathe Badsha Lear (King Lear on the Street): 1997–98, A multi-lingual play and accompanying workshops for secondary schools and general audiences in Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Waltham Forest investigating links between Bangladesh and Yorkshire. The Riches of the Living Green: 1995, A multi-lingual map and three month programme of environmental arts workshops in schools and nurseries for all children and young people in the Savile Town and Thornhill Lees area of Dewsbury. The Seashore of Worlds: 1990–1992, organised in collaboration with Thornton Lodge Nursery, Huddersfield. A two year programme of story telling, community festivals and creative arts with parents and children.
1988–90, Storybox: Artist in residence (story telling) in multicultural First, Middle and Bradford Secondary schools, developing multi-lingual storytelling. Bradford Education Authority published a paper on this work: The Story of Ushar: strategies for multi-lingual storytelling.
1985–89, Freelance work for Satellites, Village Arts (Cleveland), Theatre of Shadows, Horse and Bamboo Theatre, Welfare State and as an artist in residence in schools: touring performances, creative arts projects, community residencies and educational projects in all types of schools, including an extensive programme of work with children with learning disabilities.
1982–85, Horse and Bamboo, Performer, workshop leader and community projects director for the company, working in schools, hospitals, arts education centres and on rural tours throughout England and Scotland.
1981–82, Frost and Fire Theatre, Co-director of this community theatre company working with schools and community groups in West Cornwall.
<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://ahc.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>
- BA (Hons) Theatre Language, Dartington College of Arts
- MA Poetry, University of Huddersfield
- PhD, University of Leeds/Opera North
- National Association of Writers in Education.
Admissions lead: undergraduate and PGT taught.
I teach at all levels, from Year 1 undergraduates to PhD supervision. Courses: BA Theatre and Performance; MA Writing for Performance and Publication; MA Performance Design; MA Applied Theatre and Intervention.
I am not taking on any further postgraduate researchers after September 2022.
Research groups and institutes
- Performance, Training, Preparation & Pedagogy
- Theatre at Leeds
- Creative Writing at Leeds