Emma Writer pics_Nov 2017_M Spadafora (1).jpg

Playwriting and Screenwriting

Painting by Emma. Original photo by  Maria Spadafora .

Painting by Emma. Original photo by Maria Spadafora.


Emma is a playwright, screenwriter and dramaturge from Bradford. Her writing ranges between dark political satire for adults and adventure comedy for children. She’s written plays to be performed in houses, swimming pools and graveyards (as well as on stages). Emma has worked with Opera North, Red Ladder, Slung Low, Chris Goode, Leeds Playhouse, Theatre 503, Freedom Studios, Ovalhouse and Paines Plough. Three of her plays have toured nationally and two (Ugly and Animals) are published by Oberon. Emma's play The Things We Wouldn't Otherwise Find (commission to Leeds Playhouse) is currently playing and then tours to the end of November 2018. Emma is also developing a TV dark comedy thriller with Shiny Button Productions. Recent dramaturgical work includes: Woke by Testament and Dancing Bear for Jamie Fletcher and Company.  Emma is a core team member of The Writing Squad, an organisation that mentors elite young writers in the north of England. 

Theatre / TV: Current Work

The Things We Wouldn’t Otherwise Find: Directed by Tess Seddon. Commissioned by Leeds Playhouse to celebrate The Leeds Library’s 250 year anniversary. It’s a 10 -character comedy drama written to be performed by two people in The Leeds Library. The Ghost of libraries past and the Spirit of libraries present await the future, an addict makes amends, a girl finds inspiration and passion spills over the paperbacks. The play is equal parts fun, homage and provocation asking ‘who are libraries for and can they really have a future in the age of the internet?’ Currently playing at The Leeds Library, then tours Leeds Public Libraries until the end of November 2018.

Valuable: Directed by Tom Wright. Produced by Little Mighty in association with Mind The Gap.
A punk rock musical in collaboration with Zara Mallinson who is a learning disabled artist. The show is about my learning disabled Aunt Gill who came from a long line of artists. Valuable explores why we value the artist and the artistic impulse in some people and not in others. It’s a personal story about loss and regret. It’s about finding out if its possible to make things right in the world when you realise you’ve messed up.

Dropping Off – A 3-Part TV Dark Comedy Thriller in development with Shiny Button Productions.

Theatre: Archive

The Big Sing: Musical Direction by James Bingham Commissioned by Opera North.
A World War One themed singing project interwoven with the narrative of a modern day man who discovers a forgotten box of family heirlooms and letters his grandfather wrote while fighting in the trenches. The narrative and songs were performed by school children and the Opera North Chorus at Leeds Town Hall. June 2018 

Tiny Shoes: Directed by Jacqui Honess-Martin. Composer: Nicolas Lewis. Commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse & The Bronte Parsonage Museum. A binaural (3D surround sound) drama designed to be experienced in the churchyard at Haworth. Listen to Tiny Shoes here.

Hello Moon: Commissioned by Paines Plough for Come To Where I’m From: Otley.
A short play for one, about Kiki Dee, Bradford and me. The CTWIF commissions see Paines Plough challenging playwrights to write and perform their own work. A recording of Hello Moon can be found on the free CTWIF app here

Animals: Directed by Lisa Cagnacci. Produced by Theatre 503, London. Published by Oberon Books.
A darkly funny satire set in a world where everyone over 60 is tossed on the scrapheap and being a “burden on society” is the ultimate crime. London City Nights: **** “Animals is as funny as it is relevant…a winner”. WhatsOnStage: “As dark and sweet as Philip Ridley or Martin McDonagh”.  LondonTheatre1: ****  “Emma Adams’ script is witty and multi-layered”

Home Sweet Home: Directed by Tom Wright. Co-produced by Freedom Studios & Entelechy Arts.
A magic-realist, multi sensory theatre experience interconnecting 7 stories of ageing. Based on interviews with older people, care professionals and dementia researcher Dr Clive Ballard of Kings College. Home Sweet Home featured professional actors and a community cast from Bradford, Deptford and Stockton. The Yorkshire Post: **** ‘There is a bubbling undercurrent of anger at injustice in Adams’ writing that makes her more compelling with every new piece of work’. What’s On Stage: **** ‘A remarkable piece of work’. The Guardian: 'The show is a mix of funny, touching, chilling and heart-warming'. You can watch a short film of the play here.

Brimming/The Enough Project: Directed by Alan Lane. Designed by Barney George. Produced by Dep Arts.
A dark comedic story about a dysfunctional family’s attempt to survive a dinner party.  British Theatre Guide: ****  ‘Brimming is a little gem… It’s not often a play hits so many targets. Emma Adams is very clearly a name to look out for’. Plays International: ‘One of the most interesting theatrical voices emerging from the north’. 

Ugly: Directed by Rod Dixon. Commissioned by Red Ladder Theatre. Published by Oberon Books.  
A dark comedy about climate change set in a dystopian world, where food and water are dangerously scarce. Mrs Mason, a disgraced food science teacher, banished from her much loved school and jettisoned in a ‘death zone’, stumbles upon two former star pupils and sees a chance of using them to return to her old life. UK Tour. 

Northern Big Board: Directed by Alan Lane. Commissioned by Chol Theatre and co-produced by Slung Low.
A comedy time travelling adventure for families using headphone technology and performed in Shipley Swimming Pool featuring a professional and community cast.

Forgotten Things: Directed by Rod Dixon and John Barber. Commissioned by Red Ladder Theatre. Short -listed for the 18th Meyer-Whitworth Award for playwriting 2009. An intergenerational dark comedy / surreal tragedy. When Toby, a suicidal teenager, does something ‘unmentionable’ his parents go to into therapy to attempt to find out why he would do such a thing, without ever thinking to listen to Toby or asking him why. UK tour /Edinburgh Fringe/ UK re-tour.  

Freakoid: Directed by Sarah Applewhite. Commissioned by Ovalhouse.
A one woman multimedia/live action / Sci-Fi /Interrogation room who-dun-it, set in a future England where synthetic biology has brought us sentient machines who desire to be loved for who they are, not just used for what they can do.  Off West End Theatre Award nominated for Most Promising New Playwright. Exuent: **** ‘If Freakoid is anything to go by, the future looks pretty cool.’

You: The Player: Directed by Mimi Poskitt. Commissioned by West Yorkshire Playhouse/ Transform/ Look Left Look Right.
Creating an interactive gaming adventure for audiences behind the scenes at West Yorkshire Playhouse. 

Fix This: Directed Sarah Applewhite. Produced by Space2 Leeds.
A one woman / multi character play based on research with teenagers and parents living with self harm exploring what self harm is and the options you have if you decide to try and stop.  Fix This toured Leeds schools for 3 years.

Angels and Aliens: Directed by Alan Lane. Co-Commissioned by I Love West Leeds Arts Festival & Slung Low.
A radio play recorded in front of a live audience about two lonely souls. A misunderstanding when stargazing throws up the unexpected chance of a life changing friendship. Yorkshire Post: **** “Emma Adams’ typically ambitious story… Achingly beautiful. Poignant and funny, it was a joy. ”The recording can be listened to online here.

Leaping To Conclusions – A Tribute to John Keats: Commissioned by The Keats House Festival to be read aloud alongside writers Valeria Bloom, Simon Mole, Carol Ohemaa, Raymond Antrobus, Nick Field, HKB FiNN and Fleur Adcock. Leaping To Conclusions explores the links between fear and love and is part memoir, part exploration of the inspirations that fired Keats and part record of an ill judged decision on my part to perform a low risk stunt at Shipley Swimming Pool near Bradford. 

Screenwriting Archive

The Big Bad Feature Film - Writer
A comedic fantasy for children: Development funding gained from Screen Yorkshire. Optioned by Afan Films April. Co Production deal with Future Films – January 2008.

Ripe 10 min Digital short – writer/director
Shown at the ICA / Halloween Short Film Festival in London.

Elipticus 3 ½ min Super 8 and SVHS short – writer/director
Shown at the Leeds International Film Festival, Bang Short Film Festival, The Taos Film Festival in New Mexico, The Leeds Short Film Festival, Cinematexas International Short Film Festival  and Antimatter – Festival of Underground Short Film and Video.

Residencies /Initiatives

CBBC New Voices initiative 2015.
West Yorkshire Playhouse 2015.
Lowry Accelerate Programme for Artistic Development 2013/14.
Off West End Theatre Award nomination - Most Promising New Playwright (for Freakoid produced by Ovalhouse) 2013   
Royal Court Invitation Group  2012/13.
Shortlisted for the 18th Meyer-Whitworth Award for playwriting (Forgotten Things) 2009.
Berlin Talent Campus 2008.