Writing for Health Week 3
Short course at Newcastle University

CLARA sits waiting outside of an office on a row of seats. She checks her watch.

Fifteen minutes now. You might call that rude.
I understand, though.
If I’m quiet I can almost hear them in there but it doesn’t sound heated. It doesn’t sound like something that should take this long. So.


So, this is free time!
Minutes that the universe has gifted to me.
What do I do with these special bonus minutes?
I could go somewhere else.
Well, not in these here minutes but I could plan it.
Think about it, at least. I could close my eyes and be – where? Somewhere at night. And running. To get somewhere else. Running with someone, or to them. Like who?


Like where, then?
Well, not here. As far from here as possible.
As far as passport and bank balance allow.
As far as existing wardrobe will accommodate.
Because I don’t have any hot weather shoes and, blisters. I cannot stand blisters.
Somewhere lukewarm then.
Somewhere like here but just a little less so.
With galleries. With at least one gallery.
And I mean it doesn’t have to be grand, I don’t want Da Vincis or anything just something I haven’t seen here, that hasn’t done the circuit that always takes this place in. Starts there, comes here, goes on to so-and-so.


I’ve never actually been to so-and-so.
That’s quite bad isn’t it? When it’s so nearby.
When it has all the things I like.
The shops and the restaurants and the cinema and the theatre, just like here. They’ve got all of that there too. And it’s not that far when you drive. You could be there and back in a day, probably in less than 3 hours. Like you’d hardly been anywhere at all.


There are beaches near here.
Trees. Woods, actual forests. Landmarks. Ruins. Castles.
There are rivers. Bridges. Towers.
Things to walk over, things to climb.
Things to jump into.

She checks her watch.

Sixteen minutes.

Writing for Health Week 2
Short course at Newcastle University

A woodchip wall glows white
Sliced by a shaft of hot winter sun
that will never reach your farthest side.
You are safely rooted here.
Legs like knotted string
rattle within limp polyester tubes.
Eyes closed, you call out an answer and smile.
The question has been asked on every channel.
You know you’re right.
Look out
Look up
But rarely where your seat directs you.
An indoor rockface
Hung with a sparkling miners lamp
that never saw the dirt.
You sour in the waiting
For tea, for biscuits
For what they cannot schedule.

I’m currently participating in a short course on ‘Writing & Health: Writing for Groups’ led by Cynthia Fuller at Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts. This course is designed to equip students with understanding of the therapeutic benefits of creative writing workshops, and provide them with a method bank of exercises and tasks for use in group settings. I’ve been dipping my toes into the world of poetry (as many of my fellow students are predominantly poets) and it’s been really fascinating to explore the lines between therapeutic and literary writing.

Work Ethic
The Short Sharp Festival – New Playwrights Laboratory, ARC Stockton

Actors Elizabeth Robinson, Mark Morgan, James Senior and Jonny Bussell rehearsing with director Scott Young

I’m the one you should be worried about, I’m the one who has to do it. However good or bad this thing goes? He won’t be filling in any feedback forms afterwards.
Audience feedback
‘Fantastic piece, very thought provoking and different.’
‘Loved this. Great idea, engaging’
‘Great look at a fascinating, controversial topic with a moving end.’
‘Powerful, had me on the edge of my seat!’
‘Interesting and engaging take on a solid political issue, tightly written, funny and serious.’

For 15 weeks, a group of 10 playwrights (me included) have been participating in the New Playwrights Laboratory at ARC Stockton, led by writer & director Andy Willoughby. The short plays we have developed using the techniques and approaches explored during the course are going to be presented as script-in-hand readings at The Short Sharp Festival at ARC Stockton on Saturday 19th May.

My play is Work Ethic: ‘65% of the UK population want it back so here it is – referendum called, votes counted and the first victim lined up. But how do you administer a sentence of an eye for an eye?’

Get your tickets for The Short Sharp Festival on the ARC Stockton website.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Allison Davies who won the Short Sharp Festival with her play ‘Toast’! You can see videos of ‘The Rookery’ by John Chadwick, ‘Bring the Noise’ by Dan Perry, ‘The Observation of Marie Farrar’ by Scarlet Pink and the Festival winners announcement on actor Chris Stewart’s Youtube Channel. The New Playwrights group is endeavouring to continue in some shape and form, as we all had such a great time and learnt so much during the course – watch this space!

UPDATE: An extract from Work Ethic was selected by 24:7 Festival Big Idea as part of a series of readings during the July 2012 Festival in Manchester!

The Last, Before
The Ovation Awards, Halifax

No, look, you see? Now you’re looking at it too, this is what I’m talking about. This is exactly what I didn’t want.

My short play has been chosen as one of the 12 finalists for the 2011 Ovation Awards! I am now seeking a cast and director (gulp, never done that before) as I have been invited to stage my play on the awards evening of Saturday 12th November, at the Squarechapel Centre for the Arts in Halifax, West Yorkshire. Find out more about the Ovation Awards at their website, and book your tickets for the Awards at the Squarechapel website.

UPDATE: The fabulous Helen Ferguson (who previously directed my play One Shot for 4Play) will be directing The Last, Before!

UPDATE 2: The also-fabulous Peter Swales and Helen Anderson have joined ‘The Last, Before’ playing Jamie and Gail. Thanks to ARC Stockton for giving us rehearsal space the weekend before the Awards!

UPDATE 3: Congratulations to the winners of the Ovation Awards in acting, writing and directing – sadly our wee company did not win any awards but we did have a very entertaining day out in Halifax!

Big Picture: Short Cuts ‘Two Rings’
Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

And it was quite early in the evening. Or, late in the afternoon. Depending on how you look at things. Glass half full, glass half empty, no glass at all and just a cider bottle on the floor…

My 10-minute play inspired by Gillian Carr’s photograph was selected for Live’s new-format Short Cuts, and was performed as a reading at Live Theatre on Thursday 17th February 2011.

UPDATE: Two Rings was chosen as the winning new Short Cut! Thank you to all the audience members who voted for my play, and to the actors who performed it (including the fabulous Anna Bolton who also starred in my 4Play ‘One Shot’). You can find photos of the actors’ rehearsal process on the Online Short Cuts Ning site

UPDATE 2: Two Rings has been selected for the 2011 Off Cut Festival at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith!

UPDATE 3: Two Rings won the audience vote to become a finalist in the Off Cut Festival! The 8 final plays will be showing again from 11-14th October before the judging on Saturday 15th October.

UPDATE 4: Two Rings enjoyed a fabulous week in the Off Cut Festival finals! Congratulations to my fabulous cast (Natalie Bromley, Ellie Dickens and Barry Wilson) and director (Michael Wilding) and to the many worthy winners (full details at the Off Cut Festival website. You can see photos of Two Rings in performance at Large Print Photography.

Here’s a blog post by Scott Matthewman on how Two Rings and the other Bloggers’ Choice plays were selected for the Festival.

Here’s a review of the Festival final from RemoteGoat

Here’s a review of Two Rings’ first showing and a very nice review of the final from blogger Ian Foster (and not just because it suggests Two Rings should have won 😉

And Eat It
A homeless short play

You know why that is? It’s because you’re a coward. Incredibly sweet and an incredible coward. And that’s why we’re just incredibly lucky, aren’t we? That I’m so incredibly brave.

KERRY suddenly tears open the box.

Ed (yelps)

I wrote this script for the DryWrite/Bushgreen ‘What’s in my box?‘ call, but got the deadline mixed up and so missed the chance to submit it. Rather than let it go to waste, I thought I may as well post the play here so it gets some kind of airing.

• Opening Scene (PDF, 86KB)

The task was to write a play featuring a sealed box. The first 10 minutes must ramp up the intrigue around the box, ending just before the box contents are revealed. The audience at the event will vote for the box they want to see opened, and the last 3 minutes of the winning play will then be performed. I thought this sounded like a really entertaining and interactive evening of theatre (although I know a few people who would be driven absolutely mad by those 6 unopened boxes!).

Your thoughts/comments/scathing critique on this sad homeless little play of mine would be more than welcome. Is there any intrigue? Do you care what’s in this box? If anybody does then email or tweet me to receive the ending!

Writing for Radio
Short course at Newcastle University

(FX) Footsteps pound up the stairs
44. RACHEL: Here he is Charlie. Here’s your little… oh my god.
45. DANNY: Charlie?
46. CHARLIE: What? What’s the matter?
47. RACHEL: N…nothing Charlie love. It’s just. It’s been so long since we’ve seen you. You look so. Different. Just look at you. (Hisses) Look at her, Danny!

I recently took a short course in writing for radio with Margaret Wilkinson at Newcastle University, and this is an extract from my final piece A Brother Briefly. I was very pleased to get a 78/100 for it (Never got a grade like that in either of my design degrees…)

Live Theatre New Writing Festival: ‘Halved’
Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne

Hiding in the long grass, lying in the dirt, I used to tell you all sorts. And you would still carry me.
Last time we met.

Rehearsed reading of an extract from a one-act play, developed during my attendance at Live Theatre New Writer’s group

Playday: ‘When the Water…
Customs House Theatre, South Shields

I don’t mind being the frog in the relationship, if I get him as my princess –


Well, you should mind! You’re not a frog Gemma. And it’s not the end of the world if it’s just you.

Rehearsed performance of a one-act play following one day of development with the cast and director Anne Orwin. You can read about my experience of the PlayDay at the Cloud Nine Theatre Company website.

4Play: ‘One Shot’
Alnwick Playhouse, Northern Stage, Queens Hall Hexham, Darlington Arts Centre, Customs House Theatre, Washington Arts Centre

Chill out darlin’! I’m not some alcoholic!
I do this all the time!

North East tour of 4 new one-act plays performed and directed by InterACT, the Northern Region’s Theatre Training Ensemble.

The People’s Play Award shortlist: ‘Ribbons’

There’s scientists could take this picture and show me what she’d look like in ten, twenty. Fifty years even. They do it with people who are missing. They could show me a face that’ll never exist. Her whole life, a long line stretched out waiting to happen and it got – snipped off. Folded up. Pinned on everyone’s shirt collar.

My full-length play made it onto the final shortlist for this biannual award from The People’s Theatre and New Writing North, who subsequently supported me with the further development of the play through feedback and a script development day with a director and actors.