The story of a young man’s difficult upbringing on the streets of Tyneside after leaving his home in Zambia is currently being developed into a contemporary TV musical drama.
Kema Kay’s production of “Shine” received rave reviews when it played at Newcastle’s Live Theatre and subsequently earned him an award at the North East Culture Awards 2022.
Now a collaboration between Newcastle production company Scattered Pictures and Bristol based Seven Seas Films is working with Kema to bring the play to life on the small screen.
Scattered Pictures is run by talented North-East actor, presenter, writer, and producer Kim Tserkezie. Kim’s focus is firmly on promoting underrepresented talent both in front of and behind the camera lens. From her early acting days with BAFTA award winning, children’s TV show, Balamory, she has worked in several roles within the industry from acting to production. In 2022, she was named in the top 10 most influential disabled people in the UK (Shaw Trust Power 100) while in 2020, she won a Royal Television Society Award for best drama performance for her leading role in Obsession (BFI Network).
Co- producer Simon Lupton also has a distinguished pedigree to bring to the partnership. As a comedy commissioner he was responsible for high profile sitcoms including Marley’s Ghosts and two series of Red Dwarf. His producing skills were also used working on comedy dramas with Catherine Tate and Anita Dobson. Musically he has also produced major documentaries about rock legends Queen.
Kema is currently working on the TV script for the new production of “Shine” which tells of his experiences of leaving Zambia when he was just three years old to start a new life in Newcastle. The story illustrates how his family started to make a new life in new surroundings in a place where their culture didn’t always fit in. It’s a story of being different and having to work extra hard to achieve your dreams. The original play also featured Kema’s own music and hard-hitting lyrics which illustrated his life in an evocative and moving way which he will also feature in the musical version.
“I love performing my music, but it’s important to keep each song in context. Every lyric I sing has a story behind it based on my life and simply performing it without drama takes away some of the meaning. It needs the expertise of Kim and Simon to bring the storytelling to life and to mould it into the fabric of the drama,” said Kema.
“Once Kema has created the script, we can then begin the process of approaching commissioning editors with the idea. We have received funding from BFI’s Young Audience Content Fund so that Kema can concentrate on writing without any other distractions. He has an original authentic story to tell and a lot of talent so when you combine the two, we have the potential for a major musical drama series, “said Simon. “It is such a unique project that we hope to get broadcaster interest at a very early stage.”
Kim has been working closely with Kema as a mentor for a number of years and has watched his career blossom with a lead role in I, Daniel Blake, through to his musical talent and the stage production of “Shine.”
“Kema and I both grew up in working-class, North-East council estates with big dreams of working in the entertainment industries. We have bonded over commonality for sure, but what instantly drew me to Kema was his unique talents. Thanks to BFI Young Audiences Content Fund, I feel so lucky I have this opportunity to work with him and help nurture his beautiful and important story.”
Kema is delighted to be working with Kim and Simon.
“When I met Kim, I knew she was the right person to work with. She is so passionate about the North East, and she genuinely wants to help me to be the best that I can be. I’ve discussed the project with other producers but Kim’s honesty and wealth of experience over her entire career makes this partnership feel right and of course it’s great to be working with a fellow Geordie too. Her network of contacts is astounding and that’s how I met Simon too who has brought a different dimension to the project.”
“My name Kema is from my tribe, and it means” the one who shines” that’s why I called the play “Shine,” and it’s also about inspiring other people to find their shine too. I’m delighted that both Kim and Simon are helping me to shine through and I’m looking forward to working with them on this exciting project,” he said.