As a director, writer, and actor, my work also includes theatre productions, some of which are featured below.
BORDERING ON CHAOS – MAC & ATTENBOROUGH ARTS CENTRE – FEB-MAR 2019
Lucy Hayward’s play focuses on the emotional impact of a significant loss to three people united by their bereavement, and each coping, or failing to cope, in their own way. Fate and circumstance brings them together on a dark and stormy night, to confront their losses, their weaknesses, and their emotional connections.
Directing it was a joy, especially as Lucy, as a visually impaired artist, works hard to make her work accessible as possible without relying on audio description. Collaborating with her to translate some of the creative non-verbal decisions into text that didn’t feel expository, and providing additional sound effects, was a revelatory experience, and will certainly inform all my work moving forward.
I directed a new full length drama written by Tom Allsopp, This is Margaret.
The play focuses on Bill – an elderly man coming to terms with his wife Margaret’s dementia, and reminiscing about their life together. His family – children and grandchildren – are struggling to cope with the changes in Bill and Margaret, and the approach of the end of their life.
The difficulties of this universal experience have created some serious tensions within the family.
DANCING ABOUT ARCHITECTURE – FEBRUARY 2017 ARENA THEATRE/OLD JOINT STOCK/ COURTYARD THEATRE,
Love. Sex. Is there anything more human? We chase it, find it, lose it, regret it, do it well or do it poorly, write bad poetry about it, and all along wonder what the one has to do with the other.
In this comedy, a woman and her closest friends struggle to figure out the difference between what they need, what they want, and what they get – facing uncomfortable truths and decisions that stretch their loyalties to breaking point. Oh, and there’s a prostitute – when in doubt, always consult a professional.
It’s the first full length play I’ve written, and was directed by Neil Reading; performed at the Arena Theatre in Wolverhampton, the Old Joint Stock in Birmingham, and the Courtyard Theatre in London.
WOLVERHAMPTON – THE ARENA THEATRE – JUN 2019 – This year I was invited to write – and was thrilled to see my two pieces, Talk About Me and Inside Voices brought to life.
I directed two joyfully silly new plays – The Edge by Tom Allsop and One Night Only by Jessica Lovett. The Edge featured a very unsuccessful pirate ship and her crew, and One Night Only was a gloriously funny piece about a struggling circus, and a very dour clown.
LEICESTER –THE Y THEATRE – NOV 2018 – I made a brief appearance at November’s 14/48 as a victim in a train wreck.
I also directed two pieces – Jonathan Collings’ pensive Mirror Mirror, and the crowd-pleasing broad comedy Bigging Up the Black Country by Emma Purshouse.
LEICESTER – THE Y THEATRE – MAY 2018 I was delighted to appear as Avila, a farcical version of Che Guevera in Ivo de Jager’s broad comedy Pig Deal, and in his more serious piece considering a couple fighting over leaving a cult in Year of the Tiger, as Phobos (aka Cam).
LEICESTER – THE Y THEATRE – NOVEMBER 2017 For the first time at 14/48, I joined the epic design team – tasked with creating the set and props that bring these rapidly shaped plays to life. My proudest moment was making a scarily accurate dummy 5-year-old, using cardboard, tape, clothes, and a wig – which gave an already eerie play an additional unsettling level. And of course, taking part in the running crew for the shows was an exciting new experience – instead of last minute line run-throughs, I was staring at sketches on the wall dictating what needed to be moved where. Fun!
14/48 FOR LAUGHS WOLVERHAMPTON – THE ARENA THEATRE – October 2017 14/48 For Laughs is a one-night/one-show only part of Wolverhampton’s Comedy Festival Funny Things. Hosted by the absolutely incredible Barbara Nice and featuring only 4 plays, interspersed with some brilliant stand up comedy. I was delighted to be acting in the closing play, entitled ‘Psyc’, by Karen Collins and Helen Duff. It’s not often you get to break up with someone dressed as a pizza and get carried off-stage by a leather-clad pizza deliveryman.
WOLVERHAMPTON – THE ARENA THEATRE – 16-14 JUNE 2017 Day one saw me and the other 6 writers tackling the theme ‘going through the motions’ – which of course inspired me to write about the folks at No 10 Downing St. My play, the first I’ve ever written for 14/48 – was a waiting-for-Godot-meets-Yes-Minister comedy called Lame Duck – and told the story of 4 Tory staffers and one No 10 cleaner on June 9th – as May gave her ‘let’s get to work’ speech.
Our second theme ‘everything’s fine’ was more of a struggle – and having decided that I needed to write something with more heart than witticisms, I focused on 4 swearword-loving siblings at their mother’s wake – in a play called %@^$*#*%(*#)$^ [Expletive]. The script was weaker, I confess, than the first, but in the safe hands of director Bob Christer, the actors brought it beautifully to life.
14/48 TAKEOVER INTERNATIONAL WOLVERHAMPTON – THE ARENA THEATRE – MAY 2017 In this incredible event – three groups of 8-12 year-old kids in Seattle, Wolverhampton, and Leicester wrote 4 14/48-style plays, to be produced and performed in typical 14/48 fashion – but, incredibly, in all three cities on the same day. I had the honour of directing the Wolverhampton-written piece in Wolverhampton – Milk, Spies, and Suspicious Guys – about a grime-loving OAP, an incompetent spy, and a Sun Horse God that’s actually a traumatised donkey in disguise – and a mission to kick a sudden plague of ‘horses’ off dairy farms, so that the cows would go back to producing milk. Kids these days, eh?
14/48 LEICESTER – THE Y THEATRE – MAY 2017 I performed in Elixir of Life by Matt Beames, as Trapezitam of the Golden Hall, an exhausted finance battling monsters to get to the local Starbucks; and Humble Beings by Michael Southern – as Bea, a bee! Running the hive with an iron fist while the Queen is ill – paying the ultimate price (and featuring the most over-the-top death since I appeared in Candide as a high school Freshman) when I push a worker too far.
14/48 SEATTLE, JANUARY 2017 – HOO IS WATCHING HOO and INTO THE FOG – At my first 14/48 in the home of the festival, Seattle, I was privileged to perform in two delightful comediesby Nick Edwards, and directed by David Gassner. My electric co-actors were Brandon Felker, Erin Stewart, Amy Esober, Aimée Bruneau, Kathy Hsieh, and Jaime Roberts.
The first play was a physical comedy where a parliament of musical and sleepy owls was infiltrated by a sly fox. The second was a futuristic, post-apocalyptic dystopia where society had returned to an Old American West style lawlessness, and where men had died out, putting the species on the line.
LEICESTER – THE Y THEATRE – NOVEMBER 2016 Don’t Leave Me This Way and Grandma in Grandpa’s Tales. In one I was singing a cappella for the big finale, and for the other I was a sprightly gran with the best carpet slippers and most comfortable classy pyjamas. It’s all excitement at 14/48
TO HAVE OR TO HAVE NOT and ISN’T IT OBVIOUS – 14/48 WOLVERHAMPTON, JUNE 2016 Directing again at the brilliant 14/48 Wolverhampton (at the Arena Theatre, with all of the techie toys you could dream of), and I lucked out by picking both of Therese Collins‘ phenomenal plays.
The first, To Have or to Have Not, was a comedic ensemble piece about class, smoking, and the NHS, played with delight and a nod to the audience by my exceptional cast, Amy Christer, Jade-Leanne Pearce, Aaron Perry, Jamie Wells, and Sam Simkiss. With a brilliant tongue-in-cheek gross-out slideshow by Mike Puljung.
The second was a deeply understated and moving bit of friendship drama, looking at two best mates, played by Jamie Wells and Shaun Hartman, whose small bittersweet tragedy was rooted in a culture that denies emotional expression in masculinity. And another delight technically, as the team were able to produce the subtle realism to create the mood that wouldn’t distract from the acting.
I was and am incredibly proud of both, and extremely lucky to have drawn such rich material to work with – Therese’s writing is rich, subtle, and generous, the technical team and resources at the Arena are a joyful indulgence to someone like myself used to making do with far less, and the actors were all so effortlessly strong, focused, and engaging, I could not have asked for better.
Also! Having the BSL interpreters throughout was phenomenal – I’m thrilled the performance was more accessible, and the interpreters did an amazing job – it’s great to be able to have another element to pull into the world of the play. It’s the first time I’ve directed with sign interpretation, and it’s brilliant.
Just further proof that 14/48 brings out the best.
THE STONES OF JEREMIAH and THE CHASTITY OF THE MILKMAN – 14/48 LEICESTER, 2016
A return to directing in the thrilling and exhausting 14/48 Leicester – having acting in the festivals in November 2015 and February 2016. Two *very* different pieces by Christian Alexander and Rebecca Newman respectively.
Jeremiah demanded a challenging mix of 4th-wall-breaking comedy and high drama, which relied heavily on the audience-charming comedic talents of Kirsty Mealing, the intense machismo of Damien Dickens and sinister power of Shaun Hartman, as well as a smoke-drenched stage, a projection of flames, and a stage bathed in intense red lights.
Milkman, another 4th-wall-breaker, asked for the kind of over-the-top energy and wackiness of children’s television, delightfully paired with an overtly sexual theme. Actors Steve Archer, Perdita Lawton, and Alyssa Muego surpassed themselves with joyful energy and brilliant physicality suffusing Newman’s hilarious script. Also, this piece provided a wonderful chance to play with the 14/48 band – Jade-Leanne Pearce, Hannah Torrance, Dave Morris, David Pearce, Akshay, and Richard Leverton – created the sexiest, dirtiest version of ‘Every Day’ by Buddy Holly imaginable, and it was delightful.
The great thing about both of these is the freedom to paint in broad strokes – there is a time and place for subtlety and nuance, but this was not that time. Go big, or go home.
THE HUNCHBACK’S LAMENT, 14/48 LONDON, 2015
As a last-minute director for the very fastest in theatre festivals, I took part in London’s very first 14/48 theatre festival – where in a mere 48 hours, 14 new plays are written, directed, and performed. I joined in the fun Saturday, to be handed Marcy Rodenborn‘s newest short play, The Hunchback’s Lament. A 3-man bold and happily silly comedy about what happens to the other brother when the prodigal son returns.
After a quick read, I pulled three actors names from a bucket, and luckily selected three gentlemen with very impressive comedic chops: Rhys Lawton, Alex Middleton, and Kieron Tufft. It was a mad few hours rehearsing, throwing together some fantastically OTT lights, sound, and costumes, before opening at 8pm, but strangely I have never had a smoother directing experience in my life.
You can watch the film here!
LOVE, SHAKESPEARE – KDC THEATRE/ THE RAG FACTORY, JUNE 2016
It was an absolute delight to devise the work with the cast, as they brought pieces they were passionate about to the audition, which then formed the skeleton of the piece. We included Twelfth Night, Richard III, Henry V, Henry IV, Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, Hamlet, and a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was glorious.
My cast – Alex Waddington, Francesca Baker, Sarah Beebe, Sarah Dobson, Laura Rae, and Stephen Russell – were exceptional, and working with them to bring out the cross-currents of character and ideas between different Shakespearean pieces was just delightful.
You can see a little bit more on the youtube channel.
ALL IN THE TIMING – KDC THEATRE/THE LION AND UNICORN, APRIL 2015
Embracing the absurd, energetic multiplicity of the text, I cast a company of actors and in many pieces had multiple actors swapping out roles, giving a frenetic energy and playfulness to the already very charming text.
Conversations in coffee shops (Sure Thing), mini golf (Foreplay or the Art of Fugue), death (Variations on the Death of Trotsky), monkeys writing Hamlet (Words, Words, Words), David Mamet (Speed-the-Play), and talking – about love, about life, about possibility (English Made Simple). It’s all there.
HAMLET – KDC THEATRE/LION AND UNICORN, NOVEMBER 2013
Shakespeare’s most famous play, and arguably his best. This modern interpretation was produced with KDC theatre for their Winter 2013 season.
It’s ‘Hamlet’. You know the story! This production is a modernisation where Hamlet was played as a teenaged girl.
Hamlet’s father dies, and her mother Gertrude marries her uncle Claudius very shortly afterwards. Her father appears to her as a ghost and tells her to avenge his death – her uncle is her father’s murderer. Hamlet, already grief-stricken and full of existential angst, tries to determine what’s right, and do her duty.
Claudius meanwhile schemes to keep her under control, or to get rid of her, getting two of her school friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to spy on her. She pretends to go crazy to hide her planning, only her best friend Horatio knows the truth.
Her affair with her childhood friend Ophelia (disapproved of by Ophelia’s family – her father and close advisor to Claudius, Polonius, and her older brother Laertes) provides both an excuse for her insanity, and an additional source of anguish. Hamlet arranges to have a play performed before Claudius, his reaction to it convinces her of his guilt. Gertrude, shocked by Hamlet’s behaviour, arranges to speak with her privately, but spied on by Polonius. Hamlet turns the conversation and berates Gertude then, hearing Polonius and thinking it’s Claudius, stabs and kills him.
Polonius’ death at her lover’s hand drives Ophelia mad. Claudius sends Hamlet away to be killed. In his absence, Ophelia dies, and Laertes, hearing of his losses, is furious and wants to challenge Hamlet himself. Hamlet escapes Cladius’ attempt to kill him and returns home to find his lover dead. She agrees to fight Laertes, and Cladius plots a way to have her be killed during their ‘friendly’ bout. Poisoned blades and drinks switch hands, and Gertrude, Laertes, Claudius, and Hamlet are killed in the fight.
Horatio alone is left to explain.
Meet the cast here.
STAG NATION – KDC THEATRE/LION AND UNICORN, BEAVER KINGS/COLONEL FAWCETT, SPRING AND SUMMER 2013
Originally produced in conjunction with KDC theatre in Spring 2013, then transferred to the Camden Fringe in London that summer, this original one act comedy by Andy Marchant tells the story of four best mates on the morning after a stag night.
“Gentlemen. This is a stag night. Not just a stag night, not just John’s stag night, but a link in the longest of long chains that bind men together. Another stag night in the history of millions…”
So begins the story of the Lads, four manly, strapping young men, who have just celebrated their virulence – sorry – virility, and overabundance of testosterone on the eve of their Alpha Dog John’s wedding. They wake, hungover, bleary eyed, yet satisfied knowing that they once more, they got more bloody wankered than anybody, ever.
Unfortunately, this headache-y euphoria is shattered when they discover that, to their horror, they have awoken in a strange new world; and not in a good way. They, like Kafka’s Gregor Samsa, have been inexplicably transformed. A strange alignment of the planets, or a quirk of the gods, who can say, but the Lads have a painful day ahead if they’re to come to terms with this shocking new development.
See the cast here.
SISTER MARY IGNATIUS EXPLAINS IT ALL FOR YOU – KDC THEATRE/ET CETERA THEATRE, JULY 2012
Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You is a savage dark comedy, exploring the absurdity of religious fanaticism unmitigated by compassion. Sister Mary, assisted by her current star pupil, 7-year-old Thomas, impatiently explains the ‘rules’ of life as dictated by Catholic dogma and catechism to the audience, and the dire consequences should these rules be flouted.
She is interrupted by 4 of her former students, who present a silly version of the nativity play written by one of the sister’s best students. After their play, we soon discover each has been deeply wounded by the sister’s fanatically strict teaching. This confrontation builds in emotion and tension before exploding in an absurd, nihilistic, and unsettling dénouement. The play is viciously satirical, but also troubling, the audience should be laughing out loud but also slightly appalled that they are.
See the cast here.