27 February 2017

5 Minutes with an Associate Artist: Zodwa Nyoni

We interviewed our Creative Associate Zodwa Nyoni about her career so far and what to expect from her Creative Café on Creating Narrative on Thursday 2nd March 2017.

Zodwa Nyoni
Zodwa Nyoni

How did you become an artist?

Z: By accident, when I was younger I enjoyed English and storytelling and had a brilliant English teacher. I started reading poetry, watching plays and going to spoken word events. I was writing but at first I didn’t perform. Eventually I found out about Leeds Young Authors (established by fellow Associate Artist Khadijah Ibrahiim) and joined in 2005. Within a year, the Leeds Young Authors went to America to compete in a Slam poetry competition. I carried on writing and two years later realised that this is what I wanted to do. I completed my BTEC in Performing Arts at Leeds City College in 2008. I then completed a BA in Arts, Events and Performance at Leeds Beckett (previously Leeds Metropolitan) before doing my Masters in Writing for Performance and Publication at Leeds University. At first I was interested in doing Clinical Psychology, I guess I have a general interest in human behaviour and it was just the field that changed.

Who and what inspires you?

Z: I have a genuine fascination with people and how we live together (or don’t) and I’m interested in how people respond differently to the same events.
I look up to powerful women such Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Author of ‘We should all be feminists’) and Shonda Rhimes and their ability to influence how the audience feels.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

Z: The opening of my play Boi Boi is Dead at the West Yorkshire Playhouse was a big moment for me. It was the culmination of 4 years’ hard work, during which I had no recognition or security that it would be commissioned. It was my first full length play. I learnt a lot about character development and creating a story over 90 minutes. I had been quietly developing the idea in my mind for years and I’m glad that I didn’t quit. It led me to the epiphany that as a writer you must persevere and have patience if you believe in your story.

What do you think are the challenges for young artists?

Z: Finding the right platform  which can help you develop in the long term and with individuals who are committed to seeing you through your development as an artist.
It’s also difficult to find paid work as a writer and transition from doing free work to asking for payment for your services, particularly as there are few people willing to invest in new writers/artists.
It’s easy to stay caught in development schemes as an ‘emerging artist’ and trying to move forward professionally can be frustrating and disheartening. With the uncertainty of being a professional artist it’s all about learning how to work as a freelancer, being open utilising your skills in many areas,  being brave in your ability and knowing that there will be sacrifices (and rewards).

What can we expect from your Creative Café workshop?

Z: My workshop won’t just be for writers. Whether you’re developing and idea or writing is new to you, you should come along. If you want to develop a character, or just like stories you should come along. I’ll be discussing some of the things every writer should have in their ‘writers toolbox’ and we’ll discuss some of your favourite characters (so come prepared with some thoughts). Finally’, we’ll discuss how to create or develop your own characters and their individual narratives.

Where can we find out more?

To find out more about the Creative Cafe and register for updates CLICK HERE!

You can find out more about Zodwa and her work on the following links

Twitter: @ZodwaNy 
Instragram: @ntombizodwanyoni

OR! Check out Zodwa’s latest play ‘Ode to Leeds’ inspired by her time with Leeds Young Authors and taking place at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 10th June 2017-1st July 2017



17 February 2017

5 minutes with an Associate Artist: Christella Litras

We interviewed our Creative Associate Christella Litras about her career so far and what to expect from her Creative Café on Singing and Vocal Techniques this Thursday 23rd February

Facebook Ad christella

How did you become an artist?

C: I’ve always been an artist, I began playing piano aged 6 and my parents paid for my tuition and encouraged all of us to take up music. I made the decision to study music at college and pursue it as a career, but it was when I began meeting and working alongside other artists such as Geraldine that I started to feel like I was a true artist and deserved my place amongst them.

Who and what inspires you?

C: I love artists who are themselves and not trying to write for a particular artist or person or to look cool. I like artists who consciously try to project positive messages in their work to uplift people. Generally, I am inspired by strong people who try to make a difference.
Some of the artists who inspire me are Stevie Wonder, Jill Scott and Prince as well as the Greek folk musicians which my father played on vinyl throughout my childhood and who inspired my interest in world music and harmonies.

What was the proudest moment of your career?

C: My proudest moment has to be performing for Nelson Mandela in Trinidad alongside Carnival Messiah veteran Ella Andall.

What do you think are the challenges for young artists?

C: With all the peer pressure young people face I think it is difficult for young people to be themselves, the world is full of distractions and choices and people telling you how to look and how to be-so there isn’t time to meditate and grow as individuals. There are few positive role models for young people, whereas in my generation there seemed to be a lot, also lyrical content seems to be less positive and more abusive or carrying negative messages.

What can we expect from your Creative Café workshop?

C: You can expect a positive, welcoming environment in which to collaborate with like-minded people, explore your own talents and express yourself as an artist. We’ll be doing a series of exercises and vocal techniques alongside other activities. I expect you to come honest and ready to learn with a good vibe.

Where can we find out more?

To find out more about the Creative Cafe and register for updates CLICK HERE!
You can follow Christella and her performance group Caution Collective in the following places…

About Christella:
Twitter: @Christellamusic
Facebook: @Christellamusic

About Caution Collective:
Facebook: @cautioncollective
Website: www.cautioncollective.co.uk



15 January 2017

Announcing the Creative Café Introducing Sessions!


Zodwa Nyoni and Christella Litras
Zodwa Nyoni and Christella Litras

We are pleased to announce our first series of workshops in what promises to be a thrilling year full of new challenges and opportunities!

Our latest workshops are aimed at those aged 14 and over and will bring out your hidden talents! Focusing on technique and your own personal journey to help you become a multi-talented performer.

But we’re not alone, joining us in the workshops are our own multi-talented Creative Associate Artists! Their years of experience will be jam-packed into our 2 hour weekly sessions. Read more about our Artists here

The Line Up!

On Thursday 23rd February 6-8pm
Intro to: Singing & Vocal Technique with Christella Litras

On Thursday 2nd March, 6-8pm
Intro to: Creating Narrative with Zodwa Nyoni

On Thursday 9th March, 6-8pm
Intro to: Writing for Performance with Khadijah Ibrahiim

On Thursday 16th March, 6-8pm
Intro to: Rhythm & Percussion with Claudio Kron 

On Thursday 23rd March, 6-8pm
Intro to: Street Dance with Sammie Rutter

On Thursday 30th March 6-8pm
Intro to: Movement & Physical Theatre with TBC


 @Leeds City College, Park Lane Campus, Park Ln, Leeds LS3 1AA

Come along, explore your hidden talents and add those important extra touches to your portfolio

Register your interest here

Khadijah Ibrahiim and Claudio Kron
Khadijah Ibrahiim and Claudio Kron

31 December 2016

Wrapping Up 2016!

It’s been a whirlwind of a year here at the Geraldine Connor Foundation and we can’t wait to announce the exciting projects coming up in 2017 (Don’t forget to sign up to the GCF Insider for sneak peaks!)


In March this year we welcomed our wonderful new Director, Selina McGonagle. Whilst In the summer we collaborated with Sarah Sarhandi for the Both Universe project.

We successfully delivered three Creative Café’s; performance and film with ChickenShop Shakespeare, monologues with writer and Creative Associate Zodwa Nyoni and most recently Singing and Songwriting with Caution Collective

At our Creative Lab Summer School, our Creative Associate Artists and young people has a brilliant time researching new ideas for Forest Dreaming.

Last but not least, we established the Creative Associates consultation group, who have met twice this year to discuss our future artistic projects, as well as the Ambassadors group, a group of dedicated young people who help to ensure out work remains relevant and interesting.


Much of our work this year will contribute to our exciting plans for 2017. Make sure you’re the first to know by signing up to the GCF Insider!

Happy New Year! 


wth Caution Collective Autumn 2016
wth Caution Collective Autumn 2016

wth Caution Collective Autumn 2016

8 December 2016

Collaborating for a Creative 2017! Creative Associates meeting

On Wednesday 7th December the Creative Associates of the Geraldine Connor Foundation met to discuss the next year of Artistic programming here at the Geraldine Connor Foundation.

The Creative Associates are a team of practicing artists who contribute to the foundation’s workshops and events. Our rich pool of talent features Bafta Winners, Award winning writers,  Carnival legends and much more, all of whom had a personal connection with Geraldine and dedicate their time to continue her legacy.

Over Mince pies and tea we reminisced about Carnival Messiah and memories of Geraldine whilst discussing our exciting (but top secret!) plans for next year.We’re looking forward to a year of intense collaboration, nostalgia and working with our participants more closely to develop their individual artistic journeys.

It’s going to be an amazing year and we can’t wait to reveal all. Stay tuned!


Participant's and Artist's from the Creative Lab 2016