Mama Quilla Productions—Arts for Change

Theatre, film, digital art installations, workshops and print

Artistic Director/Executive Producer: Kay Adshead

Powerful passionate committed piece of theatre that if seen widely enough may change hearts and minds. – The Guardian


This is political theatre at its best. – Scotland on Sunday


Political theatre is alive again.  – Evening Standard

What We DoMama Quilla is an award-winning woman-led performing arts company spotlighting human rights issues. It was founded by Kay Adshead and Lucinda Gane in 1999 to offer a female perspective on the big issues of the day.  It also recognizes and seeks to combat the waste of resources and talent in female theatre practitioners over the age of 40.

Our first three major productions, The Bogus Woman, Bites, and Bones were all performed at the Bush Theatre and published by Oberon Books. All were subsequently  produced internationally,  The Bogus Woman (La Femme Fantôme) and Bones (Bones (Les Os)) by La Compagnie Yorick and Bites (Morsi/Bisse) by Teatrificio.

Actors who have worked with Mama Quilla include Noma Dumezweni, Sarah Niles, Ishia Bennison, Karena Fernandez, Chris Jarman, and Pauline Moran. Mama Quilla shows that theatre still has the capacity to address public issues. – The Guardian

In the CommunityMama Quilla works in the community with the vulnerable and dispossessed, creating innovative street/site-specific performance theatre, celebrating their voices and exploring their experience.

Mama Quilla has a ten year creative relationship with the Crossroads Women's Centre, which is home to WAR (Women Against Rape), LAW (Legal Action for Women), and the All African Women's Group, as well as many other organisations.

In partnership, we explore issues in workshops: Buried Pasts, Put Yourself in Our Shoes, The Wookarooka, etc., often creating miniature performances.

We also lead awareness raising events. A Night Out of the Asylum at the Tricycle Theatre, June 2007, highlighted the plight of women and children in detention in the UK.

We create platform events (days of debate and performance): We Women Speak the Words of Ordinary Libyans at the Broadway Theatre, Barking, Theatre of Protest at the Roundhouse, London, and Should Prostitution be Decriminalised? for the Working Girls Project at the Crossroads Women's Centre.

Mama Quilla has built its reputation tackling issues deemed thorny. In so doing, it has become an invaluable resource providing a voice for those who are rarely heard. – Cari Mitchell, Crossroads Women's Centre






  • Fringe First
  • Manchester Evening News Best Fringe Performer
  • Adelaide Best Play of Fringe
  • Adelaide Fringe Sensation
  • Nominated for Susan Smith Blackburn award twice
  • EMMA

Mama Quilla Initiative

In April 2011, the Mama Quilla Initiative was launched by Kay Adshead and a company of ex-acting and creative students of the City Lit. Operating as a pod inside the company, its aim is to create and perform rapid-response theatre, producing original, innovative, mixed-media performance responding to the times and to provoke debate. Initially, it aims to create seed or workshop productions some of which will be further developed.

Mama Quilla Initiative blog



In EducationIn education, Mama Quilla devises original, often large-scale,  productions from young people's own experiences. Since 2007, we have worked in partnership with the Barking College of Performing Arts making two epic productions a year involving over 50 students in each production: Lady Chill, Lady Wad, Lady Lurve, Lady God, originally an RNT commission, and War Song, Stuffed, Five Crimes Reconstructed, Woolworths the Musical, Boys Talking, Sweet Papaya Gold, and If Anyone Recognises These Young People, all new plays devised and directed by Kay Adshead and performed at The Broadway Theatre, Barking.

 I didn't know until working with Mama Quilla that you could make theatre yourself about things that really mattered in your own life and perhaps about things that you might want to change.  – Rhianna Powell (age 16)


Our Mission Women are not free anywhere in this world until all women in the world are free. – Leymah Gbowee

© Mama Quilla Productions 2009. All rights reserved.