Katie Mccullough Talks and Writes

Words will get written here and some videoblogs will appear. You don't have to look but it would be nice if you did.

Firehouse Films – The Result! July 6, 2013

Here’s the resulting film from the Firehouse Film Creative inaugural film challenge I was invited to do. Six writers, six directors, one room. We’re all paired off after being picked at random from a hat and we’re all played the same stimulus. It’s a recording of a woman talking about how she remembers her grandmother being the life and soul of the party, a real chatterbox. But as age takes over she slowly begins to talk less and less, a former shadow of herself.



So there was our stimulus which we could take anyway we wanted. I was paired with director/producer-duo Dave Thomas and Nell Garfath-Cox who were living in Worthing when we started the project together. I’ve mentioned before how I like to have imposed restrictions as it gets the ideas flowing thick and fast, so this was no different. Although I’d never had to do something so restrictive over a prolonged period of time. A month. One month to write, shoot, edit and finalise a short film with no budget. I was worried that the initial adrenaline rush would drop once we were out of that room and as the days ticked over. But I knuckled down to the script and vomited something down as soon as I could so the momentum would tide us over. And collaboratively myself and Dave worked great together – we’d email the drafts with notes and work out where we both wanted to go, and it worked. People seem to avoid particular areas of collaboration because they feel exposed, or that they feel they have to bend to somebody else’s whim. That’s definitely not the case. You discuss points and open them up. You never have to take on every note, but you’ve got to have a good reason for going against it. And if you can articulate that reason well, then there’s nothing to worry about.
Anyways. Script done.
Then we had an issue with a location. I’d written the script for one location, but it was proving difficult. So much so that the script that was written so soon after our initial meeting… Was actually shot on the last weekend of the month. It was so close to not happening at all. But then the lovely Beatrice Curnew stepped in and saved the day by letting us take over her house (and cook a whole roast meal) for the short. Thank you Bea!
Here are some shots of the filming in action.








I thoroughly enjoyed watching Ingvild Deila, Ian Houghton, Dorothy Lawrence, Oliver Malam, Dave Thomas, Nell Garfath-Cox and Sarita Tam all work. I know that I’ve made some friends from this, and there’s more delights to come.


DROPPED SEQUINS for #FUTURESPARK is cast! July 2, 2013

I’m thrilled to say that my short play DROPPED SEQUINS for How It Ended Productions’ FUTURESPARK has been cast! Let me introduce the superb ladies…
First up (above) we have the delightful Stephanie Overington, a fresh young actress based in Luton. I recently worked with Stephanie on a charity video to raise awareness of self-harm. She has the right spark of naturalism and plays that vulnerability to suit the part of Natasha brilliantly. I’m really looking forward to working with her more directly and on some new writing.
Then we have Rachel Jackson who I’m really excited to be working with. I saw Rachel in a Coming Up (Channel 4) episode from a few years back, then saw her in a short play as part of RedFest last year, and both times she’s stuck out for me. She’s got the feistiness in her for sure and the boldness that completes the part of Gemma.
Two actresses who will bring my work to life under the direction from the lovely Madelaine Smith. Niceness.


LONDON PRIDE is cast… AND ON SALE! March 16, 2013


Yup, it’s all auditioned out and we have our stellar cast. It was great sitting in on the auditions and meeting some of the talent out there. And as always you want to use everyone and have an interchangeable cast because you don’t want to send anyone away… But we whittled it down to a cast that I’m very excited to be working with. The most thrilling aspect of auditions for me, is when it’s the character talking in front of you and not the actor. They make me forget what I’ve written and make it seem like I’m snatching snippets of other people’s conversation. Definitely.
So without further ado, here be the cast:

Fiona Skinner

Fiona Skinner as SHELLY

Tom Slatter

Tom Slatter as PAVEL

Martin Berhman

Martin Berhman as JOE


Details of where and when and how much (including the rest of the programme for the Wandsworth Arts Festival & Fringe) can be found here: clicky linky (we’re on page 15, just so you know)
Tickets can be grabbed here: clicky-clicky-booky-booky
See you there? Mine’s a pint of gin.


Interview With A Playwright (Part Two) December 7, 2012

Regular readers (if there are such a thing) of this blog will remember that I was interviewed by a lovely French lady called Vanessa Jaunet back in August. The first part can be read here: Interview With A Playwright (Part One)
Maybe because it’s the translation of the French to English, but I find Vanessa’s questions really pure and quite probing. Their simplistic nature catches me off guard, like when you think you know how to get to somewhere but then as you start off your map unravels…
Vanessa has kindly said I could post the second part of the interview up here.
Do you believe that the main character of a story is always connected with the writer’s personality?

Good question. My response is that I rarely put all of my personality into my characters as that can be extremely painful (or at least odd) to hear aloud or see. What I will say is that I thread in elements of my being more than I realise, but I don’t do it purposefully. At a post show Q&A for my play, “I Still Get Excited When I See A Ladybird” I was asked if there were any bits of me in it. And there were – fragments of my life or my thoughts or those close to me. But I’d never flag them up as to what they are because that’s not what a play should be about. It should be about what it reflects onto the audience and what they take away from it. I think the main purpose of writing is to excavate ourselves as humans – we’re unfurling an idea of how we’re trying to understand the world. So to a point you do write with a connection, but it could possibly be the disconnection of yourself to those around you and we’re seeing the exploration.
And do you think we write to speak about something hidden inside us as a therapy?

I think I personally write to understand myself a bit more, to understand myself as a human and the effect we can have on each other. Other playwrights will disagree, but I don’t think you can rely on writing as a therapy. Even if you were to write nonsense you’re still confining yourself to sentences, punctuation, grammar and the urge for a structure. I do, however, feel that you unlock different caveats of innermost thoughts when you write… But it could be that you never use them but the journey was there to inform your writing.
What do you find more fulfilling writing plays or seeing your plays on stage?

Writing plays is a long stint of anything I do and seeing them on stage is the goal obviously. But that doesn’t always happen so you become mother to these piles of pages that you desperately want to morph into real movements on a stage… So I’d say, for me, it’s a strange concoction of the two. I realise the ultimate goal of any script is seeing it on its feet on a stage in front of an audience… But there’s also a perverse notion of whittling down your idea in your head on to the page and the motion you take as a writer to do so.
What do you feel when an actor acts your words?

My brain is always looking to work on the next project so as soon as I’ve finished one script, I’m on to another. What this means is that I more than often don’t remember what I’ve written. Actors could fluff whole paragraphs of text and I may get the notion that they’re saying it wrong, but I wouldn’t be able to tell them what is correct. It is an alien sensation to watch something that you have pinned to the page, as a two-dimensional act of printing words on paper, suddenly unfurl into real living human beings. I feel extremely grateful whenever I’m in that position because the theatre industry is a busy one, and when you get the opportunity to truly see your work come alive, you realise why you still do it. No matter how many times it happens, the first time I watch a piece of my work with an audience my heart sits at the back of my throat and beats loudly, my ears feel like they’re breathing. You’re an unidentified speck in among a crowd and no one knows you’re the one responsible. You try and not make any sudden movements, breathe too loudly to not draw attention to yourself. But at the same time you’re trying to read your audience – are they focused on the action? Are they laughing? Are they crying? You find yourself trying to decipher different types of silences. Your body becomes this sensor and overrides your ability to sit and receive it like the rest of an audience. That’s what it feels like to me and I crave all of that.


Zimmy Ryan in ‘mph’ at Battersea Arts Centre


Josh Darcy and Geraldine Alexander in ’18+’ at The Miniaturists


Dan Abelson reading ‘The Thump You Feel When You Fall’ for Soup To Nuts Theatre Company


If you could choose any actor for your plays who would you choose?

I’ve always wanted to work with Eddie Marsan. I think he’s got such an intricate way of expressing his character, his face especially. He’s a really physical actor I think. I’ve seen him play fragile and also gut-wrenchingly disgusting and his range is superb. I’d be very happy if I got to work with him, I’d be ecstatic!
Peter Capaldi is another actor who I have huge respect for because of his range, his eyes are so expressive. Alfred Molina is someone who I would openly beg to be in one of my plays, his voice is brilliant. Philip Seymour Hoffman is another actor that I would do anything to get to work with. I’m being cheeky here and listing more than one!
Female wise I’d really like to collaborate with Laura Linney, I adored her in The Savages (a film I wish I had written, Philip Seymour Hoffman plays her brother) and she is phenomenal in You Can Count On Me (also a phenomenal film). I’d jump at the chance to write specifically for Julia Davis, she inspires me with her approach to writing when she merges the dark with the tragicomedy of life. Tilda Swinton, now there’s a lady I would sell what little I have to put on a stage with my words, she’s powerful. And who wouldn’t want to work with Olivia Colman? She is superb.
Would you been interested to write a movie? Or even to direct one of your plays on big screen or TV?

I initially trained in writing for film and television at Bournemouth University and would love the opportunity to write for the screen. I’ve dabbled with short films as they’re cheaper to do and more flexible, but I haven’t put my heart and soul into anything larger as my heart is truly in theatre. If someone where to give me the opportunity though I would definitely jump on it. As for directing, I have done some in my time but I would never take on that role right now. Not whilst I’m still trying to make a name for myself with my writing. There are plenty of other people who do that job well and sometimes having a fresh set of eyes on a piece can raise it higher than you realised.
Have you ever considered writing a book using photographs you have taken because I understand you are a keen photographer?

When I write I’m always thinking of the visual impact on an audience, what they will see and always aim for striking images. So I suppose I’m very visually led and I often get distracted by colours or naturally framed objects when I’m travelling around. I’m a very spontaneous photographer. If I tried to go back to using proper cameras and plan things I wouldn’t get what I’m after. I use my iPhone and nothing more. It’s handy because I always have it and I can take pictures of people without them realising too. And if I’m honest I take photographs for my own pleasure, things that catch my eye, and then share them online (Facebook/Twitter) if they’re interesting or representative of where I am. People seem to enjoy them, but they’re just moments that I’ve seen and tried to capture. A bit like holiday photographs really, for some people it’s interesting and for others it’s boring.
I like taking photographs when I’m out and about. I live in a rural village so there’s lots of natural beauty, but I would never call myself a photographer as such. When I was at school I studied it as an A Level topic and the frivolous nature of it all appealed to me. I could wander with a camera and just see what stories unfurled before me. Occasionally I’ll look at a situation that’s going on around me and I’ll reference photographers in my head, “oh that’s very Martin Parr” or “that reminds me of Bresson”. Aside from that I’ve forgotten all knowledge of the darkroom, the chemicals, the lenses. It’s sad really, I’ve forgotten a lot of the things that I used to do when I was younger. I miss painting but my attempts now would seem idiotic, painfully naive. I also miss dance, that too would be a horror to see me do.

If you could be collaborated with another playwright who would you choose?

Good question! I have a feeling that it fluctuates every time I see or read something. But I’ve always wanted to melt my brain with Martin Crimp’s and see what came out. I’m pretty sure I could write a raucous collaboration with Simon Stephens too. 


48 Hour Film Challenge… London! September 23, 2012

I was kindly asked by new collaborator theatre director Ahmed El Alfy to be his designated scriptwriter for the 48 Hour Film Challenge in London. And of course I took him up on the offer. All the actors involved were Mountview graduates and from a theatre background, some had even graduated that same day. We met at Alfy’s flat.

FRIDAY 9:30pm – We’d been given the following elements to complete for our entry:
GENRE – Drama
PROP – Cream
LINE – “Let me tell you a secret”
CHARACTER – Charlie Cipriani (a minor celebrity)
Faced with 6 actors we then set about meandering our way to a story. I got everyone to take a few moments and think of something that had happened to them that day which they considered a drama, no matter how large or small they were. This opened up discussion from each story and then it was rapidly approaching midnight.
SATURDAY 12:00am – Straight into an improvised ensemble scene. I wrote down an intention for each actor to have in their pocket that only they would know and got them to interact in small groups. It was interesting to watch (I only knew one of the actors) and to grasp people’s abilities and strengths. I sat at the sidelines and scribbled anything that caught my eye and ear.
1:30am – We sent the actors home to return at 7am. Then it was up to me. The more I thought about it the more I realised I didn’t actually have that long. With such an early call time for the actors I needed to get a move on and fast. I definitely decided that it would be a collection of vignettes rather than a standard narrative. With 6 actors to juggle I wanted everyone to have a balanced story and I was never going to get that with everyone and keep it under 7 minutes.
2:30am – I sketched down ideas. I listened to Spiritualized (Let It Come Down). I listened to Nick Cave (Abattoir Blues). I listened to PJ Harvey (Is This Desire?). I didn’t know the password to the Internet connection at that point which was probably for the best. I had grasped a rough template of what I wanted to achieve and I nudged Alfy who was tweaking his first short film next to me. We discussed it and he asked me questions about the moments I had chosen to explore. Then I went back and fleshed out the story. The sky is an odd colour.
5:30am – Sitting at the computer I tapped, typed, took my time but ended up finishing a script. I woke Alfy from his slumber and we were both happy with the end product. I tentatively point out that I’ve written two exterior scenes, I ask what the weather’s going to be like later today.

7:00am – People start arriving and trickling into the living room. I’ve still not slept but don’t feel tired. I’d gone to bed late Thursday night and slept in till Friday lunchtime to conquer this.
7:40am – First read through of the script. It was a real treat seeing people notice some of the moments and dialogue they’d crafted from the improvisation seep into the script. Everyone seems happy with what we’re going to be working with.
8:30am – Actors are tasked with being off book asap. Most of them, if not all, do this within half an hour.
9:00am – Some folks have the brilliant idea of cooking sausages and fried eggs with bread rolls en masse. We are beginning to not be so concerned about the mammoth task ahead. Eggs and sausages make everything alright. This fuels us to chat more about individual scenes and character motivations and collectively scout for locations. I’ve written one pub scene, one park scene and one street scene. People soon realise they will be multitasking throughout the shoot.
10:45am – We arrive at the pub where scene two (and a small scene three) are set. The landlady’s been nice enough to let us in before the pub opens for business and this is through one of the actors who works there (and is also in this scene).

12:15pm – The pub opens for the general public and there’s football on. The locals are inquisitive and accommodating and surprise us all. They creep around like mice and watch the actors work. This amuses me greatly and I smile knowing there are nice folks. Things are taking time because the pub is next to a main road which meant lots of excess noise. We sit outside in the sun. It is sunny, my interior monologue high fives Ra.
3:15pm – Second location for us to find – a park with a free bench. We stroll to one near the pub… Which is small and filled with children. We walk to the other one close by and find a football match happening and a free bench just past them. We walk. Someone asks about the props for this scene… No one’s bought them. Off someone goes to the shop. People are beginning to feel more tired. I’m surprisingly awake still. I wasn’t even going to stick around the filming but I’m glad I did. We start shooting scene four, the last scene of the film.

4:00pm – One elderly jogger runs around us several times making sure to avoid the camera. Another younger jogger runs straight through shot each time on every lap. He does stupid arm exercises each time he gets to our patch. I laugh as I say that Alfy and Jack look like French auteurs as they smoke whilst working – they clamp the cigarettes between their teeth.
4:45pm – The squirty cream used as a prop has no squirt left in it. The strawberries look mushed to fuck. I buy Red Bull for myself and Alfy.
5:30pm – We head off to the last location to film the opening scene for the film. A dodgy street to film a mugging where in real life it’s known as a mugging hotspot. Great, authenticity. At one point we have to wait for two policemen to walk past before rolling.

6:30pm – It’s cold and I wish I had a coat. Still not slept, but still not feeling the need to. Everyone is so lovely and there’s no tension at all. One actor has to ‘mug’ the other actor many times and be shot from different angles each time. The last take he stacks it and falls to the ground, rolls it out and pegs it down the street as planned. The scene carries on and he jogs back. We don’t shoot that segment anymore (we don’t need to.)

7:00pm – It’s a wrap. We head back to one of the actor’s for well earned cups of tea and congratulate ourselves for the hardwork. Alfy looks like death and it’s only then that I feel my body stiffening with something that can only be described as reluctance to move.
9:30pm – I’m still at Alfy’s because I can’t be bothered to make the trek home. My gait has slowed and my eyes look like I’ve been crying for days. Still not slept.
10:00pm – I leave Alfy and Jack to start the long process of logging everything and syncing sound to start the mammoth intense session of editing. I’m on a bus heading to St. Pancras and sleep and nonsense are beginning to invade my limbs.
10:20pm – I stand at the ticket machine for a good 5 minutes before realising I was trying to buy a ticket to St. Pancras and the reason that wasn’t happening was because I was standing in St. Pancras. I buy a single journey ticket for St. Albans.
11:00pm – Dad comes to collect me from the station. I warn him that if he keeps the car this hot that I will fall asleep.
SUNDAY 12:01am – I’m emailing Alfy and Jack (producer) some music to be considered for the film and clambering into bed. I’m finally tired.
We then get word Sunday afternoon that there’s been technical difficulties. We won’t be able to hand in a version of the film to be considered for the competition because there’s no time to amend and edit before the cut off time. No one is angry, we’re all respectful of the hardwork we’ve all put in and are still excited by what we created. We’re all happy to have been involved in something great in a short amount of time and even though it won’t be part of the competition, we made a film and had a brilliant time doing it. A film is still a film and once it’s done and ready for folks to see, you’ll see it. I loved every second, shot, film roll, sound roll, and sleepless hour I got. 36 hours with no sleep and a bunch of new friends and a film. That’s not bad going considering we were all doing it for the experience… I think we’ll have to credit the sausages and the eggs. 


Interview With A Playwright (Part One) August 9, 2012

I recently received a request from a lovely French lady called Vanessa Jaunet. She asked if she could interview me for an article as part of her studies which would include translating my English into French. Vanessa’s questions were interesting and she’s allowed me to post the first part of our exchange here for you to read if you fancy it…
For how long have you been writing plays ?
I’ve been writing since I can remember to be honest. I have a peculiar memory where I remember smells, moments and feelings rather than huge swathes of my childhood. So I can remember very clearly the moment I spelled the word, ‘holiday’ all by myself. When I was at primary school we were very oversubscribed with students so our teachers didn’t have enough time to spend with us on the subjects we found difficult. They would tell us to go and do something we enjoyed so I always ended up writing or painting. I would end up writing the stories that the teacher would read to us in the afternoons. So I’ve been writing since I was very young, but I suppose I’ve been writing theatre seriously since 2008.
What inspired you to write plays?
For me the idea of a story being performed in front of you live is thrilling. My university degree was three years of Scriptwriting For Film and Television and to be honest I was fed up with writing screen. It felt very limited and I wanted to have a more freeing experience of bringing it to an audience. I wanted to be in the rehearsal room to see what was working and what wasn’t and to help untangle the story and shape it with others.
Also I wanted, and still do, to bring in a different audience to the theatre. It still has the ‘middle-class’ stigma attached to it and it’s something that I want to dispel. We can learn a lot from theatre like we can from any media. But the power of theatre is that it is in front of you, anything can go wrong. There are no multiple attempts to get the scene right, no pause button – it’s all there for you to experience and I think that is admirable. I also think it can have more of an effect because it is immediate and as an audience member you can see another human being portraying a story with all the guts and glory that you cannot hide from.

I saw on your website that you use boards. I would like to know how you use them. For example do you use them just when you have got an idea or do you develop you plays?
Ah, my whiteboards! I love them. I’m a firm believer in writing down and talking about ideas. Our brains are very clever in quashing an idea before it’s fully formed so by writing it down (even if it doesn’t work) we’re narrowing the chances of figuring out what does work. It’s a simple case of elimination. With whiteboards you can erase things quickly so it doesn’t hang heavy on you if you’re struggling with an idea. Also the physical act of writing does wake up the brain even if you write absolute rubbish. It’s a bit like breaking down the barrier, brushing off the cobwebs, before you then hit your stride and before you know it you’re writing your idea and you wonder why it took so long to get on with it.
I have four large whiteboards hanging on my walls. I usually have at least one with fragments of ideas or snippets of dialogue that I’ve either heard or thought. I’m writing a play at the moment which needed a lot of research so I used all the whiteboards including a fifth one that I have resting against my desk. I think it helps to be able to see everything at the same time so you can tell if you’ve missed something or if a part of the plot doesn’t work, or maybe doesn’t resurface again.
How would you describe your method of working? Are you a ‘‘junkie writer’’ or an organized writer? For example are you someone who sticks to 9-5 routine or do you write when an idea comes to you even if it’s a middle of the night?
I used to write in the middle of the night when it was quiet and no one would disturb me. I would write from 12am till about 5am. But then that would ruin me for the next day. I also needed to be awake for work so I had to stop doing that when I got a full time job. Finding time to write can be hard, but essential. Some writers work from 9-5 but I find it depends on what you’re working on. If I’m writing a commission for someone else then I schedule time because someone is expecting a draft for a particular date. If I’m writing my own ideas then I tend to be more relaxed about it and organise it around my work. I work freelance as a Film Festival Distributor so every week is different. Some weeks I’ll be working on a script for a few hours in the evening and sometimes just a weekend. The important thing for me is that I’m enjoying what I’m writing. If I’m really enjoying a script and I have a busy week then I will wake up at 5am to do some writing before work. If you enforce a strict writing method it can sometimes backfire and you don’t get any work done.
I’m definitely more level-headed than I used to be. I’d start several projects in one go and spend weeks getting very little sleep. But now I have to consider my sleep for my work which earns me my living. I’m much happier now than when I was writing at university and I think that’s because I’m allowing ideas to formulate rather than forcing them.
What do you feel when you write?
I feel knackered from having all these new, and sometimes not particularly nice, people in my head. But I also feel like I’m a problem solver and that rejuvenates me. Because you’re using your brain to separate different characters and travelling through time, in a literary sense obviously, it can be quite disorientating. You can get so engaged with what you’re writing that hours can fly by and you don’t realise. That’s when you know you’re on to something good. When you’re counting the minutes until you can do something else, that’s when you have to worry.
Which kind of emotions do you experience?
It can be quite emotional finishing a play, and sometimes even a draft. You do become very aware that these people you’ve pinned to the page would not have existed if it hadn’t been for all your hard work. As a writer you’re conjuring people from thin air and adding layers to their life so they are real, so the world they exist in is as real as you can make it. So of course it’s tiring always having to think and second guess what they’re going to do and how to get them through the story. You often hear writers say, “I’ve become too close to the story” and it’s easy to see why. You’re having to drop yourself in the middle of lives and explore and mine for the story. It can play on your mind when you’re out shopping or talking on the telephone and sometimes cloud your judgement. All the thinking you do away from the page is just as important as the words you order on the page.
What do you need to write? Which kind of atmosphere?
I can drown out any noise by being focused. I come from a very noisy house so have become good at tuning it all out. But what can cause my attention to waver is if the television is on or if someone is talking to me. I think it’s a visual thing. I think if I’m staring at the computer screen then I still acknowledge I’m doing work. The moment I start watching a film or television then it completely takes my attention off what I’m trying to do. Which is probably why I don’t watch television and for me, to watch a film is a treat. I don’t always use my laptop. At the beginning of my writing career I wrote everything by hand and typed it up. If it’s a sunny day or I need a change of scenery I’ll resort back to my trusty pen and paper. I listen to music sometimes – I like putting on an album that I know like the back of my hand because if it gets to the end and I’ve noticed I’ve hardly listened to it, I know I’ve been working hard. It’s a good gauge of how invested in the project I am.
As much as I would love to be more focused on my work I also need stimulus in other areas to get me motivated. Twitter is a good one for me because I can dip in and catch up with folks and also moan about having to write. It’s a typical writer thing to do, moan about having to write. I know a lot of other playwrights and authors on there so it’s good to have a chat and a laugh. Making tea is always a good stimulus for me too, I use it as a goal. ‘If I can just finish this scene then I can have a cup of tea…’ that kind of thing. And most of the time it’s a good excuse to step away from a play and sit with my dog for a bit or bake. I do a lot of baking because it’s something I can do on autopilot and allow my mind to wander. You’ll find that just as you think you’re relaxing and taking your mind of your play, the answer you’ve been searching for tumbles into view.


Children’s Play, ‘The Whisper Tree’ June 18, 2012

I’ve been tinkering away on a commission for theatre company, Travelling Show, which is an interactive promenade performance written for a set location which is that of a small wood in Wales. What a mouthful. I’ve enjoyed this project. I like the challenge of having restrictions set in place and this was definitely one of the high end situations I’ve been presented with. Three actors, less than 40 minutes, in a wood, interactive, promenade, promote people coming to the forest regularly, informative, to include Welsh myths and legends. All ticked.
We’re about to go into rehearsals soon in London and then transfer down to Wales where rehearsals will take place in the wood it’s to be performed in. The production is part of the Pembroke Festival this July which runs from 12th till the 15th. What makes this project exciting, for me at least, is that this will be some of the children’s first experience of theatre. I try to think back to my first taste of theatre and all I can really remember is playing a green bottle in my primary school’s productions of a Disney medley and then secondary school drama trips (Forced Entertainment, DV8, Trevor Nunn’s Hamlet – my drama department were brilliant). I know that my very first musical was Starlight Express and it’s stuck with me for some of the insane things it tried to achieve. I digress, this will be exciting for me to watch the audience as much as the brilliant actors involved. The breakdown of the festival days are here. I have a feeling that all the tickets are sold out, but there’s no harm in trying. And if you’re down there please give me a shout, it would be nice to meet some local folks.



So the play… It’s about a young boy called Rory who is the new boy at school and isn’t quite fitting in. After school he decides he’s going to go into the wood and find The Whisper Tree which is the wisest and tallest tree. It’s going to tell him everything there is to know about everything so then everyone will have to be his friend. Tilly is a classmate who is forever trying to be his friend but her efforts go unnoticed and she doesn’t believe that there’s a Whisper Tree at all. So they venture into the wood to find The Whisper Tree and along the way they meet Ianto who doesn’t realise he’s woken up in a forest, the Wolf who’s hungry and scared of his own shadow and the Old Woman who comes to the forest to collect her thoughts like pebbles and knit jumpers for the birds who don’t fly south. A play about understanding what it means to grow up and separating what you really want from what you really need.
Most of the folks involved are people that I’ve worked with before and it’s great to be working with them again. First up is director Nadia Papachronopoulou and it’s a real treat to be working on something larger and more prominent this time round. Nadia’s been extremely busy recently juggling several plays on at the same time so it’ll be great to get in the rehearsal room with her and see her work her magic. Next up we have Matthew Schmolle playing Rory, who was stupendously great in my play, ‘I Still Get Excited When I See A Ladybird‘ last August at Theatre503 with Papercut Theatre. Also Charlotte Worthing will be playing Tilly and she was superbly brilliant in my play for Box Of Tricks, ‘Let Them Eat Cake!‘ which was performed at the Arcola in 2011. Last but by no means least is a new actor for me, but I’ve seen him in action in the REDFest recently and he’s ace – Matthew Houlihan will be playing Ianto, Wolf and the Old Woman.
Travelling Show is the brainchild of Artistic Director and Designer Vicki Stevenson. “Our work is interactive and inspired by audiences. We love telling stories, and finding the right tools for each show – we don’t specialise in one kind of medium just like we don’t only make work for one audience. Each production is formed with expert collaborators, whether that’s in puppetry, film or dance. This means that our work can be extremely varied while still holding onto our key premise -theatre is for audiences and artists with the best stuff coming from a strong relationship between the two.
Come and ‘like’ them on Facebook to keep up-to-date with all their productions: Travelling Show on Facebook innit  


Ship Notes March 27, 2012

I’ve managed to flex my writing muscle in several ways on different projects, each beneficial in their own way. Twitter, whether you like it or not, features heavily in this flexing. It anchors me down to be as precise and clear cut about what I want to say due to the character restriction. Regardless of content it’s a great way to coerce yourself to be more aware of editing. Plus you can see how other people do it too. It’s not for everyone, but I love it. It’s a case of doing things together, en force.

This has hung in my dentist since I can remember. And I've been going to him as long as I can remember.


This also ties in neatly with Ship Notes. I approached a good friend and fellow creative, Neil Fox, about embarking on a collaboration. It was decided that we would do this. And then the project came about very organically. Myself and Neil have created a fictional relationship out of post-it notes left for one another on a fictional fridge. We’ve conversed in short pithy and poignant post-it notes for an entire year. The relationship we’ve crafted has had glorious moments of beauty and also shitty pockets of malaise through the text. And nothing has been planned. The only thing we were certain on was the fact each note was going to be written on a post-it note so therefore couldn’t be too long, and that we would do it for a year. No stress on how many we had to do, both Neil and myself are busy folks, just await the email in the inbox and respond when you can. The importance on what we wrote was significant. One moment one would be the crutch, the other the victim of selfishness. It really was quite powerful to experience. And when you read the thread back it kicks you around because they are glimmers of a relationship, part of a bigger picture. Things are mentioned that never resurface, recurring moments weedle their way when you least expect it. And all in all it’s a collage of a relationship that both myself and Neil have collectively and instinctively explored. And wow it’s been a real kick to the gut sometimes. The power of a few sentences or even a few words has really made me hone into the language I use in other areas. It’s made me boil down the essence of my long-winded conversations and made me pin it to the mast to act as someone else’s springboard.

Found this and various other cues glued into a book on the shelf in The Arcola.

It’s a project that has left me smarting at times and also completely enamoured. Many times I’ve opened the email to find myself breathless at the next chapter or laughing incredulously. It really has felt like a relationship that I’ve been on call for when the email pops up, an emotional rollercoaster in every way. And I cannot wait to show them off, but we’re not ready yet. We have two brilliant photographers, Laura Wood and Ben Woodall, who are embarking on a similar journey using our notes. But when we’re ready, you’ll be the first to know.



Shifting March 13, 2012

The last couple years I’ve been doing lots of small things, lots of things that have amounted to more things and things that I have been proud of. Things. Yeah, them things. But for the last year I’ve been aching to concentrate on my full length plays because that’s what I’m in this to do, right? Right. I haven’t had time because each year seems to get busier with my career and choices. That’s why I’ve been quiet because I’ve been busy.


So. I’ve been mulling on this idea since I asked my dad, “if I wrote a play about lorry drivers, would you come to the theatre?” He promptly laughed and said “yeah, I suppose so“. Two years later and I’ve finally got a finished version of the script that I’m happy to send out and for people to read. A former (unfinished and horribly clunky) version of the script, which is called Shifting, has been sent around and got great responses:


“This script immediately brings us into a marginal roadside world seldom portrayed on stage and screen. Vivid empathic characters and character-driven dialogue support the script’s ability to mine the drama from seemingly mundane relationships… Overall, I enjoyed this script and the fresh world it portrays.”
Hannah Rodger
New Writing Co-ordinator
BBC Writersroom


“A fascinating world drawn with real compassion and wit and humanity.”
Simon Stephens


“Interesting ensemble piece exploring the lives of long distance truck drivers and their families. The writer captures wonderfully the colloquial comic and brash language of this world creating a setting populated with interesting and original characters.”
Royal Court
Literary Department


“… Here at the National, we don’t normally give formal feedback, but I did want to pass on some thoughts from our readers. We felt Shifting was the most successful, and we enjoyed its sweetness, truthfulness and intimacy…”
Clare Slater
Assistant Literary Manager
National Theatre

It also placed well in the Verity Bargate Award (4th round) and I can safely say it’s the most epic story I’ve taken on in terms of staging, amount of characters and narrative. But I’m proud of it. I’m tempted to say it’s the best thing I’ve written, but I think every writer says that about the current thing they’re working on. Who cares, I’m chuffed I’ve finished it. And thank you to those who read it and gave feedback, they know who they are.



Alongside finishing this and starting the turbulent process of sending it out to people, I’ve made a strong mental decision to stick at home and spend less money and more time on writing all the ideas I have. This means not going into London unless I absolutely have to. Which does make me a little sad, but I kind of have no choice. There are books I’ve wanted to read since I can remember, films I’ve not opened for even longer and scripts I want to rework. I’m a funny fucker when it comes to time, mostly because it scares the crap out of me. But also because I always say I’ll do something tomorrow and I never do. And I mean I NEVER do and I hate that. I’ve now made the difficult decision and in the longterm I’m happy, it feels good. This was a different script for me. Each script is challenging me at every turn. If I compare each script I’ve written in the long form they differ drastically and this excites me. I’m constantly challenging myself and letting the story have its way with me and not mangling it to please anyone else. This script I’ve just finished reminded me of why I want to do this. Now I’ve just got to get people to read it. 


Can You Spare a Story For Nascent Collage? February 18, 2012

I’ve been involved with a project called Nascent Collage for roughly about 2 years now. There are three of us involved: Mary-Anne Pennington and Natalia Wilkoszewska. It’s how I met illustrator Natalia who I’ve worked with on Simone and our newly started project, David. Nascent Collage is something that’s been bubbling under the surface as it’s more of a longer project which will result in a book. You can find out more about my co-collaborators on the blog: http://nascentcollage.wordpress.com/
Nascent Collage is about recapturing the stories of childbirth and making them more than just a time and a location. Sharing these stories allows us to engage with the concept of motherhood as not only an individual experience, but a universal connection. By illuminating the diverse cultural stories in one collection we’re allowing our stories to carry on being told and remembered. Unlike other childbirth books and projects, our focus is on the emotional response rather than the scientific. We’re listening to mothers tell us their stories and passing them on to other mothers around the world.
The book will be a collection of stories from around the world and each will have their own illustration. We’re in the process of collating stories from all over the world so we can capture as many different cultures and experiences of birth as we can. This is where we’re asking you if you can help. Are you a mother reading this that would like to take part? Do you know of anyone who would be willing to share their story with us? We’re after the further flung places rather than in the UK at the moment. We’ve got a brilliant story from a woman who was a surrogate mother for a gay couple who has written a letter to her daughter. We’ve also covered Russia, some areas of the US and are in the process of securing a story from Africa.
Our goal is to create and publish the collection as a book. If anyone would like to offer their services with regards to that or lend their support we would happily listen and welcome your thoughts.
For an example of a story and matching illustration please click here.


Our Objectives
– To connect people by providing a collection of intimate stories that detail the one unique primary event each human shares in common.
– To illuminate the diversity of different backgrounds and cultures with a collection of stories from around the world.
– To provide the opportunity for people to appreciate the uniqueness of each birth.
Our Unique selling proposition
Unlike other childbirth books and projects, our focus is on the emotional and whimsical aspects as opposed to the scientific and physical. It is our humanity that makes us equal and yet unique, and there is nothing so human as being born. Listening to mothers tell the beginning of our stories is an out of body experience that allows us to see something that carries absolute value regardless of what we believe or know about it. By collecting stories from around the world we are providing an opportunity for people to connect worldwide in an emotional and personal way.
I’m not a mother myself, but I do think the conversation of how we came to be very important. No matter how old you are, you are always someone’s child. If you think you can help out please contact us on the blog: http://nascentcollage.wordpress.com/contact/