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more about femi

Femi Keeling (née Martin) is a British Caribbean playwright and theatre maker born in London, based in Surrey.


Femi began her career performing flash fiction on the spoken word scene before becoming the Dickens 2012 Young Writer in Residence in February 2012. “Famous for her work in this growing genre” – Southbank Centre, Femi has performed her flash fiction across the UK at various venues and festivals including Bristol Old Vic, Theatre 503, and Camp Bestival. In January 2016, Speaking Volumes named Femi as one their 40 Stars of Black British Literature. and in 2017 she featured in their brochure Celebrating British Writers of Colour.

The Achalasia Diaries, a documentary about the development of Femi’s chronic illness and her decision to pursue her writing career, aired on BBC Radio 4 in June 2015 and was a selected BBC Radio 4 Highlight of the Week. Femi went on to host the BBC Radio 4 podcast, Seriously, from February to October 2016.


Femi’s solo theatre show, How to Die of a Broken Heart, premiered in October 2016 at Battersea Arts Centre. Written and performed by Femi, and directed by Jerwood Directors Award recipient Yael Shavit, the show has received warm praise from reviewers and audiences alike. How to Die of a Broken Heart was developed with support from Battersea Arts Centre and Talawa Theatre Company and is touring nationally in 2017/18.

Femi’s short play about the impact of racial microaggressions, Dislocate, was developed and showcased during a Barbican Open Lab in January 2017.  Her first full length play, I Am Not There, was developed with support from Talawa Theatre Company, Soho Theatre, and The Carne Trust.


Femi has partnered with various organisations to devise and deliver creative writing workshops including Arvon, Barbican and The Southbank Centre. She specialises in working with people from vulnerable groups and marginalised communities, and has worked extensively with asylum seekers/refugees, youth offenders, and prisoners across the UK. Through her initiative Full Circle Projects, Femi delivered the My Search for Meaning project across five London prisons in 2015/6. Funded by Arts Council England, and in collaboration with English PEN and the Prison Radio Association, My Search for Meaning shared prisoners' voices with the general public at a sold out event at Goldsmiths. Femi is passionate about access to the arts in criminal justice settings and is a member of the National Criminal Justice Arts Alliance, and sits on the Koestler Trust board. In November 2016 Femi was invited to present a short talk at an All Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing roundtable discussion at the House of Lords.

Femi performs Dig

Writers' Lounge, Jan 2012

Femi performs Coffee

Literary Death Match, Sep, 2011

Femi directs the lead actress in Dislocate

Barbican, Jan 2017

Photo credit: Jemima Yong

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