Academic ~ Playwright ~ Teacher

James Kenworth is a Playwright and Academic at Middlesex University. His plays include ‘verse-prose’ plays Johnny Song and Gob, the black comedy Polar Bears; issue-led plays Everybody’s World (Elder Abuse), Dementia’s Journey (Dementia); plays for young people/schools, The Last Story in the World; and a Newham-based quartet of site-specific/responsive plays: When Chaplin Met Gandhi, Revolution Farm, A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham and Alice in Canning Town.

Photo of James Kenworth

Gob starred former Take That star, Jason Orange, and was Time Out and What's On Critics Choice at The King’s Head Theatre, Islington. In a radical and subversive departure from his boyband image Orange played a 'homeless techno revolutionary in crustie combats and a grubby Che Guevara T-shirt'. Its revival at Edinburgh Fringe Festival earned the distinction of two five-star reviews from Three Weeks and The List, and was included in the feature "Editor's Highlights of the Fringe".

Kenworth was one of eight playwrights selected to take part in the inaugural Tamasha/Mulberry School Writers Attachment Scheme, created and taught by playwright and Tamasha Theatre Company co-Artistic Director Fin Kennedy. The scheme has since become Schoolwrights, the UK's first playwrights-in-schools training scheme, which uses Mulberry School as a training base for other writers.

Kenworth received special permission from the George Orwell Estate to write a contemporary re-imagining of Animal Farm, retitled Revolution Farm, performed on an inner city farm in East London, which The Independent’s Paul Taylor described as a ‘terrifically powerful update…highly recommended' and British Theatre Guide wrote 'If Animal Farm is on the curriculum this term, what better way to introduce it?'

Kenworth's raising awareness play, Dementia’s Journey, won the 2015 University of Stirling International Dementia Award in the category: Dementia & the Arts.

His critically acclaimed series of localist-focussed shows, rooted in Newham’s history, culture and people, have been performed in non-traditional, but site-sympathetic locations in Newham, featuring a ‘mixed economy’ casting of young people and professional actors. The plays range from radical reimaginings/remixes of classic literature to dramatizing Newham’s rich political heritage. Kenworth has originated and devised a Pro-Localist approach to cultural engagement in the borough, in which the plays were partnered and supported by a nexus of funders, partners and stakeholders. These include well-known, local, grassroots organizations and charities, which have substantial roots and ties in the community; local primary and secondary schools; and academics and researchers from Middlesex University.

In 2021, Kenworth was awarded Doctor of Philosophy by Public Works for his thesis, Public Spaces, Public Words: PUBLIC SPACES, PUBLIC WORDS: Contextualising Pro-Localist, Site-Local, New Writing and its roots in a community’s history, culture and people, which explored his creative practice as a playwright and investigated the efficacy of the use of Pro-Localism in a specific urban environment and addressed the question: 'How can iconic literary classics and historical drama/biography be rewritten and ‘localized’ to reflect a sense of a place, people and culture? When Chaplin Met Gandhi is published by small publishing house TSL Publications. A Splotch of Red is published by New Internationalist's Workable, a new publishing imprint dedicated to trade unions and organized workers. Revolution Farm and Alice in Canning Town are published by independent UK publishing house Playdead Press.

The Newham Plays have been filmed, edited and produced by Middlesex University’s Media Department’s BA Film students and can be viewed on Vimeo (upon request).

Kenworth's plays have been reviewed in The Guardian, The Independent, The Observer, British Theatre Guide and Eastern Eye.



"A powerful update of Orwell's classic"
The Independent

"This is a show that mixes history and fiction to craft a fine piece of theatre with a message for our times."
The Public Reviews

"Fast-paced plot and sparkling dialogue...an accomplished piece of theatre"
Edinburgh Evening News

“Funny, feisty and strangely touching”
The Observer

“A 70–minute high”
The Guardian

“A curious, lively piece…an interesting use of rhythm, dropping in faux-Shakespearean couplets and strange lyricism”
The Stage




For any enquiries regarding performance and/or production rights, or collaboration

Email: jameskenworth@icloud.com