What we do…


Throughout Karena’s she has worked with artist to develop their skills and work including roles dramaturg, critical friend and mentor. She has created a number of structured development programmes including First Bites at Oval House and Script This… and facilitated a numerous of writers groups.

Projects include: Master Classes BREAKING CYCLES working with hip hop artists on theatre making skills; Mentoring, Dramaturgy and Master Classes on BLACK AND ASIAN DIRECTORS COURSE and Dramaturg and Facilitator CONTACTING THE WORLD FESTIVAL.

“To have Karena Johnson teaching on PROCESS international hip hop theatre workshop was invaluable. She brought her expertise of nuance theatre making to young makers and dancers who lapped up her visceral style and unwavering gaze on the human condition” BENJI REID

  “Karena’s creativity and guidance have been instrumental in my development as a writer. ” JONNY ONEILL



Karena has worked as a theatre director for 16 years gaining critical and popular success. Her list of credits include UNDER THEIR INFLUENCE by Wayne Buchanan, sold out production of FORTY by Angie La Mar at Hackney Empire and SWEET YAM KISSES by Courttia Newland and Pat Cumper critically acclaimed UNDERNEATH – NOTHING AS SILENT AS SNOW commissioned for the Seas Festival in the Ukraine, Bulgaria, Romania and THE KEY GAME by Pat Cumper

“Working with Karena during both the workshop and rehearsals for The Key Game was an enjoyable process. Her dramaturgical input, strong casting and perceptive direction strengthened the play immeasurably” PAT CUMPER



Karena has supported many emerging artist to make their first works getting careers launched. An example being Dipo EARLY MORNING identified by a number of literary mangers as having potential. Karena took this play raise the funds put together a creative team supported a young director to stage this political comedy at Oval House. This production launched Dipo’s professional writing career and he has since been commissioned by Soho Theatre, West Yorkshire.

  “Early Morning was my first play. Karena produced and programmed the show. It was the show that brought me to national attention. Karena’s support was invaluable. Early Morning was not the kind of black show you saw on the British stage. To start my career with such a play needed the right kind of support. That’s what Karena gave me. OLADIPO AGBOLUAJE



SPIN was a season of work that responded to the UK elections both the national context and local race in Barking and Dagenham between Labour and the official opposition the BNP.  This season was book ended by new play ‘DAY AT THE RACISTS’ and 30-year-old hugely relevant ‘SUS’.  The season included music artistic intervention by the youth council. The season brought together people from all sides of the debate through art that engaged, entertained and challenged. All the work in the season was accompanied by discussion with the audience.

TMA Special Award nomination for “theatre with cojones”



The Broadway was a loss making organisation with dwindling audiences and a demoralised team. Karena took it to a company making a surplus and audience increases of 22% in a year and a highly motivated award winning staff team. 54% Arts Council England increase and inclusion in the National portfolio of organisations. secured commercial sponsorship and other funding awards

Highly commended business person Barking and Dagenham Business Awards

Arts and Business Award