Open Call Shortlisting Panel - Unity Theatre

This year our Artistic Director, Gordon Millar, will be joined in the Open Call shortlisting process by members of Unity team and director Gitika Buttoo, writer Laurence Clark, freelance theatre-maker Julia Samuels, and founder of Time Matters Dr Lorna Brookes


Gitika Buttoo



Gitika is a British Indian Theatre Director based in Manchester. She is the Associate Director & Engagement Manager for LUNG Theatre and directs theatre and radio nationally.

Her most recent credits include (Love n Stuff, Sheffield Theatres, Oldham Coliseum, Watford Palace Theatre 2021, Disproportionately Affected, Tara Theatre 2021, The Jungle Book, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre 2021. Runaway, Young Vic Theatre 2021. Northern Girls. Pilot Theatre 2020. Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk, Birmingham Opera Company 2019.) 



Julia Samuels




Julia Samuels is a freelance theatre-maker.

From 2006-21, she was Co-Artistic Director of Liverpool-based theatre company 20 Stories High, where she made a range of award-winning work through collaboration between artists and young people.

Recent highlights include: Buttercup (20SH/Tigerlily Films/BBC Arts – available on the iplayer until April 2022), Offie/Oncomm award-winningTouchy (20SH/Unity/Wellcome Collection) “I told my Mum I was going on an R.E. Trip…”, (20SH/Contact/BBC & selected for Toronto’s HotDocs festival) and She’s Leaving Home (20SH/Phelim MacDermott/Culture Liverpool). 20SH were named in The Stage 100 for their response the pandemic.

Julia’s current projects include creative collaborations on new work with writers Brodie Arthur and Afreena Islam.



Laurence Clark



Over the last few years, I have built on my work an actor, performer and award-winning stand-up comedian to start working as a screenwriter and playwright. I was selected for the BBC Writersroom Writers’ Access Group and 4screenwriting 2021. I am also a finalist in the Triforce UKTV Writerslam 2021 (out of 1600 submissions) and consequently have a pilot script in development with UKTV. I have completed a script for The Dumping Ground shadow scheme (CBBC) and will be writing for season 10. I will also be completing the EastEnders shadow scheme in October.


I have completed placements as a storyliner on Hollyoaks and Coronation Street. An aborted pilot script for my sitcom Intolerable about two inept equality and diversity trainers was commissioned by Channel 4 and developed with Objective Fiction. I had a treatment for a thriller called Help in paid development with Lime Pictures for Channel 4. I wrote a short comedy film, Tick Box about a shopkeeper who takes equal opportunities monitoring way too far for 104 Films. It was released with 4 other films as Magic Hour 4 and premiered at the Edinburgh International Film Festival 2017. My first play, Cured, about a group of young disabled people who rebel whilst on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, won an Unlimited R&D commission and will be produced in 2023. I also wrote additional material and performed in Birds of Paradise’s critically-acclaimed play Purposeless Movements about 4 guys with cerebral palsy at Edinburgh International Festival 2019.


I love and am passionate about the medium of television for drama. It has the power to move people and change minds en masse, enabling large numbers to see the world from different perspectives. When television drama hits a chord with the general public, as often happens, it provokes large sections to discuss and explore issues that they would otherwise never encounter. However, as a disabled person, I get frustrated with many of the portrayals of people like myself that I watch on screen. Whilst undoubtedly, they are beginning to improve, all too often disabled portrayals exhibit well-trod stereotypes or ignore the day-to-day realities of living with an impairment. I believe this is down to a lack of knowledge on the part of the writers and a lack of disabled screenwriters currently working in the industry. I feel I have much to offer as a screenwriter through my personal experience and my wider knowledge of disabled people’s lives gained through my Disability Studies MA.


I am also the Chair of TripleC, a Community Interest Company led by disabled artists which aims to drive up the role of disabled people in the performing arts and the role of the performing arts in the lives of disabled people. TripleC runs the Disabled Artists Networking Community (DANC) project which provides an extensive programme of networking events, mentoring and masterclasses for disabled writers and other artists.


In a previous life I did a PhD in Molecular Biology / Computing. I was born in Manchester but am destined to live in Liverpool with my wife and two children forever because I married a Scouser!



Dr Lorna Brookes PhD MSc PGdip BAhons



Lorna is a senior lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University, lecturing in Education and Early Childhood Studies.

She also has over 15 years’ experience working as a specialist practitioner directly with children and families who are affected by parental imprisonment, and is the founder of Time-Matters UK which offers support to children locally and nationally. Lorna is also a board member for INCCIP (International Coalition for Children of Incarcerated Parents).

Time-Matters UK recently collaborated with AllThingsConsidered Theatre company to co-create the sell-out Unity Theatre show, “8 Hours There and Back” (2022) a verbatim theatre productions which highlights the challenges that many children with a parent in prison experience, that will be going on a UK tour.

Lorna’s support groups were also featured in the BBC 1 documentary “Prison, My Parents and Me” (2016), and she has had numerous journal articles and book chapters published in the field, including a recent children’s story ‘Alex’s Dad Goes to Prison’.

Lorna is also a lover of all things theatre having studied drama herself at degree level.