Joseph Coelho. Photograph by David Bebber

5 July 2022

Congratulations to Sedos alumnus Joseph Coelho, who’s been announced as the 12th Waterstones Children’s Laureate 2022–2024.

Joseph joined Sedos in 2005 for Six Degrees of Separation, by John Guare, part of our centenary season. The show was part of sell-out two-week run at The Union Theatre, before transferring to the Roman Eagle Lodge at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The play was part of a double bill of one-act plays, with Sexual Perversity in Chicago (also by Sedos) its companion piece.

Time Outs’ review said: “In Luke Simonds’ production, John Guare’s highly polished exploration gets some added emotional charge from strong performances by Katey d'Ancona and Joseph Coelho.”

Six Degrees of Separation was directed by Luke Simonds and featured James Newall and Katey d’Ancona as Flanders and Ouisa Kittredge, a couple who let an injured young man (Joseph) into their home in the middle of the night. They open the door on a new and enticing world, but is it really what it seems?

Guare's witty play scratches beneath the surface of a world obsessed with money and fame - how can anyone be sure that people are who they say they are? Inspired by the real life story of a flamboyant con artist who convinced wealthy residents in Manhattan that he was the son of actor Sidney Poitier, the play is a captivating study of society's pretensions exposed by one man's self-confidence and imagination.

Six Degrees of Separation also featured Tom Brennan, Bridget Cross, Jonathan Hyde, Helen McBain, Doug Smith and Dan Waters.

Joseph also worked on four productions with Sedos' previous Charity of the Year, Half Moon Theatre.

Joseph is an award-winning performance poet, playwright and children’s author. He was presented with the bespoke silver Laureate medal by outgoing Waterstones Children’s Laureate, Cressida Cowell MBE, at a ceremony held at The Unicorn Theatre, London, on Monday 4 July 2022.

At the ceremony, Joseph who is acclaimed for his work including the Luna Loves picture books, middle grade series Fairy Tales Gone Bad, YA verse novel The Girl Who Became a Tree, as well as poetry collections for all ages including Overheard in a Tower Block and Poems Aloud – revealed that his tenure will celebrate the power of poetry, showcase new authors and illustrators to diversify bookshelves and inspire bookmakers of the future, and champion public libraries and the role they play in communities.

“Poetry is powerful, it is the medium we turn to at weddings, funerals and new births because it goes beyond mere words, poetry translates the soul. I want to use the prestigious platform of the Waterstones Children's Laureate to highlight and celebrate the power of poetry. To invite the nation, young and old, to write poems, to become poets,” said Joseph.

“I want to ensure that every child has the opportunity to see themselves in books and as bookmakers through the plethora of new and exciting voices we have coming out of the UK - to diversify bookshelves so that every child can imagine themselves as writers, illustrators and poets. And, finally I want to hug every library, these miraculous institutions where new horizons line the shelves, where minds go to grow.

“Libraries made me a writer and make communities thrive - I wish to champion the services of these essential launchpads of learning.”

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