Saturday, 19 December 2009

The Winter Programme

is up! Click on the main website, go to the right and click on the right, and the PDF will magically appear. Featuring new plays from such seasoned veterans as Peters McKelvey and Vincent, mixed seamlessly with new works from P-P virgins Lexy Howe, John Anderson and Andrew Bridgmont. Plus a radio script ( it's been an age since we had one of those ) from Michael Mills, and a screenplay from Alison Wilkie. Not to mention a talk given by West End director David Grindley. ( and he really is one, his version of Six Degrees of Separation starring that bloke off Buffy and the coffee ads opens at the Old Vic in January ).

And that's just a taster. This ought to get your taste buds salivating far more than the prospect of turkey and Christmas Pudding. Why waste time circling all those old movies in your double edition Radio Times when you've got this cornucopia of excellence to look forward to?

Merry Christmas! Like it says in the programme, we're back on January 11th at 7.45.p.m.

UPDATE: There's already been a change - the competition has been brought forward a week, and Peter McKelvey's piece delayed by a week. The programme up there now is, right now, the definitive one.

After the Autumn Showcase

I didn't write a review immediately after the showcase, partly because I didn't have as immediate access to the photos, and also, truth be told, I didn't have a vested interest in it: there was nothing by me in it. How selfish. At any rate, here, finally, is my review.

It went very well. Far better than I'd expected, in fact. Indeed, it was probably the funniest showcase I have been to. My recall from the pieces as read originally at the Horse and Groom was that they all had their virtues, but I didn't quite think they'd stand up to a full performance. Well, it just goes to show what rehearsals with an enthusiastic cast and director can do. Or maybe I just got it wrong!

That potential difficulty wasn't of course apparent with the opening piece, seeing as it came in at less than ten minutes in length, being the Competition Play-off winner, Too Many Queens by Bill Gordon. It was a deserved winner, and was an enjoyable aperitif. It was kind of a shame the cast had their scripts in hand, I suppose, but then it was a radio piece.

Next was Role Play. Katy Darby is no stranger to the showcase, and had a very successful performance this time last year with House Call. This time around, we had a play that was half a contemporary satire on business, and half a Pinteresque what-the-hell's-going-on menace piece. For myself I think it could perhaps have been a bit more one or the other, but the stagecraft was undeniable. The cast pulled off a tricky piece with aplomb - even a bottle accidentally smashing all over the floor didn't seem to upset them.

Finally, after an alcohol-fulled interval, we had "Come As U R" by Eddie Coleman. Having undergone a massive cast change because of the December resceduling, the script in turn also required a fair bit of rewriting to accomodate said new cast. In that light, indeed without it, to me eye, it went very well. Peter Picton, in particular, grabbed the role of the rather louche and increasingly desperate wannabe swinger with spectacular relish. The result was a very funny forty minutes. I spoke to a couple of writers afterwards. We all agreed that we wanted to rewrite and develop it afterwards. It really could make a full length play we felt. Not all one act plays have that attribute, but this one really sparked our imaginations.

Well done to everyone. These things are difficult enough to organise even when they go well. When the dates had to be changed, and therefore many of the cast had to drop out, this was only exacerbated. Thanks to Lexie Howe and Amber Homes for persevering with their directing, and thanks again to Tim Gambrell, who is relinquishing his producing hat for the forseeable future. He also acted in one piece, and nobly sacrificed one he had written and that had been originally programmed because of all the confusion. Tim will be a hard act to follow.

Photos were again taken by Kim Sheard. You can see a couple more here at our Gallery, and buy others -and there are hundreds! - from Kim's website. Go here, enter PP Showcase July 09 in the box provided, then press Next.
A gallery of shots will magically appear! Same as last time, there are both the shots taken during the tech time and the shots from the show itself.

All anyone needs to do to purchase prints or digital versions, is simply send Kim an email including the photo reference number (which should look something like "DSC_3110"), the size of print wanted, and the number of copies (if more than one) or simply stating they would like digital copies. They should also include their postal address.

Prices for people wishing to have personal reminders of the evening are only a little bit more than last time and are as follows:

**Standard 6x4 prints cost £6.00, 9x6 are £7.50. Anything larger can be quoted as desired. (postage costs are £1.50)

**Digital copies can also be supplied via internet transfer and cost a base fee of £3.00 with each desired image in both high (print)and medium (email) resolution formats costing £5.00.

If any photo is going to be used as a promotional aid for any person or company, the fee per photo (to be provided digitally in high resolution format and medium web resolution for ease of further use) is £10.

Should someone purchase £15 or more, a complimentary group photo of their choice (6x4 print or file transferred electronically) will be added to their order.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Congratulations are Due

to all the runners and riders in this year's competitions. It was a fun-packed party last night, with turns from Silas Hawkins, poetry from Anthea Courtenay, stand-up comedy from Belinda Blanchard, an excerpt from "Shirley Valentine" with Nicola Hollinshead, an excerpt from "Pepys' and the Playhouse" by Colin Pinney, and as regular as Wizzard and mulled wine, four sketches from The Teak Show, aka Johnnie Hansler and Jackie Stirling.

There was also some excellent food laid on by the staff of the Green Man - as well as some wondrous carrot cake.

Not to mention a panto from Peter Vincent. But you knew that, didn't you?
As for the prizes: Best play was scored by Sam South with Chase's Face, best comedy, by Peter Vincent for Jack in the Box.

Actress of the year was Anthea Courtenay. Actor of the year was Tim Gambrell, for the third year running, tied with Panni Skrivanos.

I got home after eleven. That is a sign of a good party.

We'll be back on January 11th, with a play by comedy of the year writer, Peter Vincent. That should be a good way to start the ball rolling.

And the blog goes on. Just because we've taken a break, doesn't mean you have to. After all, Napoleon is still wowing them in the Gruffalo.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

It's Christmasssssssss!

Okay, after the spectacular success of the showcase there's only one way of following that. And that's a party. There'll be the usual cabaret: comic turns, dancing girls, prizes for best actors, plays and so on. Not to mention the Peter Vincent Pantomime.

I said, don't mention the panto.

Doors open at seven, though the cabaret starts at 7.45. There's no charge for admission, and "as many sausage rolls as you can eat" ( that may be an exaggeration ). If we have half as good a time as these guys, then we'll have half as much fun.

Be there.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Autumn Showcase

Better late than never! Pedants might argue that it's winter now. Well it is, but this was originally planned for 1st November; then it got postponed for reasons entirely out of o our control. There have been cast changes, and one piece replaced with another, but it's still the same format: three short one-act plays, two for the stage and one for radio, with an interval in between. The programme is as follows:

ROLE PLAY by Katy Darby (stage) (“For desperate graduates Steve and Cally it’s all on the line in the most surreal and frightening job interview of their lives”)

which is followed by our competition winner:

TOO MANY QUEENS by William Gordon (radio) (“It is Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee and Sherlock Holmes has only 10 minutes in which to solve the trickiest case of his career”)


Then COME AS U R by Eddie Coleman (stage) (“two couples, one night, no chance”)

Two shows in a week for Eddie, eh? Anyway, do come along to the King’s Head Theatre, 115 Upper Street Islington N1 1QN at 7.30 on Monday 7th December 2009. Tickets are "2 a head for members and their guests (except Industry, who get in free ).

Pay at the door!

If you are bringing guests please email Publicity Secretary Peter Thompson with names.

The Long Run

Much-produced P-P writer Eddie Coleman has a contribution to a trilogy THE LONG RUN ( about a small theatre company at 3 stages in its history )being performed at the Landor Theatre ( nearest underground Clapham North ) at 7.30 from today till Saturday ( 1 -5 Dec ) for £12 a go. There is also a matinee on Sat at 2.30 for £8. You can phone the box office on 020 7737 7276 or click on the website and book on line.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Chase's Face

Monday 30th November at the Green Man brings us a first for us, as according to its writer, the prolific Sam South, it is a "RoadRadio - a road movie for the radio.
28 year old beautiful Chase is driving home to Nebraska. He has lived in New York for 10 years and never been back. He lived his life to the full, such a contrast to the quiet country life he grew up in. But Chase is a changed man in many ways, scarred with his experiences, and he has no idea how he'll be received."

Sounds good to me. It also stars Panny Skrivanos. Monday, 7.45. Be there.

All Hail the Presidents

Good news for Messrs. Marks and Gran. First, Dreamboats and Petticoats is returning to the west end next year, after its triumphant run earlier this year. Second, the third in their Grey trilogy ( if that's what it's called ) gets an airing next Monday afternoon on Radio Four. So, book tickets and cancel work in the afternoon. Alternatively, there is always the i-player. One day the BBC will turn their dramas into podcasts. But that may take a while.

Love Horse

Simon Desborough hasn't been with us lately at P-P for the excellent reason that he's been rehearsing a play. It's called Love Horse, and it's getting it's UK premier after a successful opening in Chicago.

"This is a carefully calibrated, exhilaratingly performed piece that takes audiences to their threshold for disorientation and delivers insight into identity, passion, pain, and the power of science", claimed the Chicago Reader, back in 2001.

More prosaically, the actual story concerns Tanner Hicks "on a quest to discover who he really is. When he meets Rita Anne Purcell he is inspired to take a look inside and is stunned by what he finds... Tanner leads a fringe-elite debt collection crew that uses butoh and psychology to convince egotistical but indebted doctors to pay up. In a botched collection attempt he breaks his tooth. The shattered tooth becomes a fissure through which Tanner confronts his dark and startling past".

Worth going just to find out what butoh is. Anyway it opens tonight, and runs through till December 13th.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

One Small Step

Monday 23 brings us the Autumn Competition. Eight short plays, all on the above theme. Let's see how many stick to the title!

After the AGM

Two weeks ago we had the AGM. Here's Tony Diggle's write-up:

"The AGM took place at 7.45pm on Monday, 2nd November, 2009 at the Green Man, 383, Euston Road, London NW1 and ended shortly before 9.45pm.

Attending: John Morrison, (Ch), Tony Diggle, Peter Briffa, Giles Armstrong, Lynne O’Sullivan, Eamon McDonnell, Christopher Prior, Peter Vincent, Silas and Rosemary Hawkins, Belinda Blanchard, Richard Evans, Peter McKelvey, David de Keyser, Denise O’Leary, Richard Tubb, Hans-Jorg Pletsch, Mark Crumpler, Kara May, Mary Conway, Clive Greenwood.

Apologies: Peter Thompson, Caroline Langston, Tim Gambrell, Katy Darby, Daniel Dresner, Roger Mayhew, Napoleon Ryan, Nicole Forbes, Anthea Courtenay, Kevin Mandry.

The Chairman, John Morrison, welcomed those attending, and observed that it had been a bumpy year, particularly with regard to our being required to leave the Horse & Groom at short notice at the end of the summer, and the problems with the autumn Showcase. He added that he felt the ageing profile of the membership was also an issue, and that we needed more younger members. He thanked the committee members and others “for all their work in the engine room” that enabled the group to keep going.

The minutes of the AGM, 10th November, 2008 were approved.

The Treasurer’s Report was delivered by the Treasurer, Tony Diggle, who reported that our reserves were higher than ever, but that we still had substantial expenditures to incur this year partly because of the lateness of the second Showcase. However, the main reason for the high outlay of funds was the agreed investment in our website, and we expected to recoup this through a refund of the Showcase hire fee. The Treasurer stressed that the problem with the double-booking of the venue for the second Showcase was entirely the fault of the King’s Head: we had booked and paid for the venue months in advance. With membership stable, and weekly attendance breaking new records – over 41 per week – he expected by the year end that our actual reserve would be back to its previously established level. However, since our move the Green Man we faced an increase in rent payments of £800 per annum, and he would be proposing some adjustment to our subscription / attendance fees to take account of this.

Belinda Blanchard asked how committed we were to staying at the Green Man. The Treasurer replied that at present we were only committed to the end of the year, and that we normally extended the arrangement with our host on a termly basis. He was not expecting this to be a problem at the present time.

The Treasurer’s Proposal on Subscriptions / Attendance Fees was then put by the Treasurer. This stated that:

“With effect from 1st January, 2010:

i) The weekly attendance fee should rise from £2 to £2.50
ii) The joining fee should rise from £10 to £12
iii) The annual membership fee should rise from £6 to £8

It was suggested from the floor that only the subscription should be raised, but the Treasurer pointed out that this would not raise enough money. It was also suggested that writers might pay for the criticism they received, or that a royalty might be charged on scripts that went on to be successful, but in discussion these ideas were deemed to be inappropriate or unworkable. The proposal was passed with nobody opposed and one abstention.

The Programme Secretary’s Report was presented by the Programme Secretary, Peter Briffa. Once again the average mark had come in at 57 plus, which seemed to indicate that our standard was being maintained. The Programme Secretary continued that too many plays “dropped out” of the programme, and that the first three weeks of the autumn term were only filled at the last minute. While it was felt that these issues were more “variations on the usual blips” rather than signs of a more deep-seated malaise, there was still a shortage of new scripts. No radio plays had been presented this year. Looking ahead, at least most of the early part of the Spring Term had been filled, some by scripts from recently joined members.

In discussion, it was suggested that we might undertake a marketing initiative to writers’ classes such as those held by the City Lit or Morley College. These often attracted young people who were rather cast adrift when the course ended. The Writer’s Guild Website was also another channel to market. A more comprehensive relationship with a college was not thought viable, because of the compartmentalised nature of course administration. A competition open to non-members with a cash prize, such as the one that had been undertaken during the Jubilee celebrations in 1997, was also put forward. On the subject of radio plays, it was pointed out that one reason for the current shortage might be increased realisation of the difficulty of getting one on, since the first round of the BBC’s commissioning process now consisted of adjudication on the basis of pitches and not scripts themselves. Peter McKelvey volunteered the information that the chances of getting a radio play on were now 12,000 to 1.

It was agreed that ways of addressing the shortage of scripts / active writer members would be considered further at the committee meeting in January.

The Showcase Producer’s Report was presented by the Chairman as the Showcase Producer, Tim Gambrell, was indisposed and unable to attend. The July Showcase had been a great success and eight people from the industry had attended, although no photographs had been purchased from our photographer, Kim Sheard, apart from the standard set bought for P-P’s “archives”: arrangements here might need to be modified in future. Thanks were recorded to the “nameless sponsor” who covered the cost of the interval drinks. The November Showcase should have been a lot simpler to arrange, as preparation for both shows had been done before the first one “to get …. the widest selection of actor members taking part (to try to avoid where possible using the same actors in both Showcases as had happened the year before).” Due to the error by the King’s Head in double-booking us, it had become a saga of itself with few actor members available because of the change of date, and the possibility that non-member actors might have to be used. In addition, two of the pieces originally selected had been pulled by the writers for personal reasons. Tim said that he would be standing down as Showcase producer for the time being once the second Showcase was finally performed, and recorded his thanks to Casting Secretary, Caroline Langston, for all her help and support. Discussion of Showcase related matters was deferred until later in the meeting.

Election of Officers and Committee Members

A number of changes to both the officers and ordinary committee members were necessitated by various resignations. Caroline Langston (Secretary – Casting) and Tim Gambrell (Assistant Treasurer) were not standing for re-election as officers. Elizabeth Yuill had already been replaced by Lynne O’Sullivan as Competitions Secretary, but was re-standing as an ordinary committee member. Katy Darby and Nicole Forbes were standing down as ordinary members, as were Lindsay McGill and Sherill Turner, who were both pursuing careers abroad, and Napoleon Ryan, who was also planning some work abroad. The following Officers and Committee Members were elected by a series of unanimous resolutions.

Chair John Morrison (proposed Chris Prior, seconded Peter Vincent)

Other Officers (proposed Denise O’Leary, seconded Peter Vincent)

Secretary Peter Thompson
Treasurer Tony Diggle
Programme Sec Peter Briffa
Competitions Sec Lynne O’Sullivan
Awards Sec Giles Armstrong
Publicity Officer Peter Thompson
Ordinary Committee Members (proposed Giles Armstrong, seconded Tony Diggle)

Daniel Dresner, Silas Hawkins, Roger Mayhew, Eamon McDonnell, Christopher Prior, Peter Vincent, Elizabeth Yuill, Victoria Johnston, Niall Spooner-Harvey and Belinda Blanchard

Any Other Business

Showcase Discussion

Denise O’Leary felt that the ethos of the Showcase had changed for the worse. Originally, the idea had been to put on an event which would attract industry to our work, but this was no longer really happening. Given the time people were putting in to rehearsing a production as opposed to a reading, it was not worth the effort. She suggested an alternative such as taking a slot at the Camden Fringe Festival and putting on four or five performances to an alternative paying audience. This would reach a wider public and be more rewarding. Eamon McDonnell commented that the cost for a one hour slot for several performances at the Camden Fringe was £350, but you would need to pay for a techie as well. It was also suggested from the floor that another alternative would be to run each Showcase for two nights so that members could bring more guests. Denise also had a second point: that the current casting arrangements meant that the writer and director had no say in the matter, and in her view this had led to people being seriously miscast to the detriment of the production.

Responding from the chair, John pointed out that the last attempt to interest the group in a more substantive run had found little support among the members. Tony added that while he also felt that the prime object of a Showcase type production should be to draw industry attention to our work, the financial parameters of a more ambitious event would need to be thought through carefully. He agreed that while the casting objective was to give as many acting members as possible the chance to appear in a Showcase, this shouldn’t be taken too far. No decisions were taken by the meeting.

John Morrison closed the discussion by formally recording a vote of thanks to Tim Gambrell for all his hard work this year, in which the meeting heartily concurred.

Venue Discussion

A number of concerns had been raised about the new venue: the acoustics, background noise from the refrigerators and the ventilation system, and the general ambience. The discussion considered concerns about the general layout of the room, the seating, and the ambience further – Eamon referred to its “Feng Shui” – and the possibility of better venues in the Marylebone High Street area, Victoria or Pimlico. Peter Vincent felt that it was worth paying even more than we were paying now for a more suitable venue. David de Keyser pointed out that for the AGM meant everyone was able to sit round in the area in front of the bar, and this felt better. It was agreed that we should try performing in front of the wall opposite the bar, and Belinda said that her play due on in a couple of weeks was suitable for this. Tony pointed out that the refrigerators had also been switched off at our request for the first time, and this made a notable difference.

In conclusion, John said that if members came up with promising alternatives, officers would be prepared to follow them up. Tony pointed out that he and a number of other members had explored / visited a considerable number of prospective venues over the summer, and the Green Man was the best option by some margin. It was up to members to come up with well-researched proposals if they felt another move would be helpful at this stage.

Christmas Party

Lynne explained what needed to be done by the organiser. No-one had as yet volunteered for the role.

Script Discussion

Belinda expressed her concern that the criticism of the opening play of the autumn season had been voiced in terms that had so upset that the writer he had resigned from the group. She felt that criticism should always be given in a constructive way. She also felt that people should put their names on the marking sheets so that comments received were not anonymous, and that receiving sheets with just a very low score of 0, 1 or 2 with no comments was unfair on the writer.

In response, John said that he had felt that the comments on the evening in question were within acceptable limits. Tony did feel that the comments had gone too far on this occasion, (and added that the writer had not been the only person upset by them) but said that this only happened very rarely, and usually the ructions were smoothed over quietly afterwards. This had also happened on this occasion: there had been further communication with the author since. He agreed that criticism should be couched in a constructive manner.

It was suggested that the anonymity of the forms was not significant as the writer should be able to tell genuine criticism from someone getting on his high horse about something. Enough people made comments for the forms to be worthwhile, and the score was a general guide. It was pointed out that some members did not find it easy to collect their thoughts on a script immediately after the reading, and that people could always submit a form later.

Tony Diggle
6th October, 2009"

Claim and Shame

Polly Toynbee-baiting journalist Francis Beckett is back. He's had a number of one act plays produced over the years, and "Claim and Shame" is his third to be directed by Joanna Turner. It's certainly topical:

"Newly elected Labour MP Meg Jones finds herself in the front line of the expenses scandal, while her husband Doug falls for a classic newspaper honey trap. Their lives and their marriage disintegrate before the relentlessly cruel headlines. But was it all their fault - or are they convenient scapegoats for much bigger fraudsters? The financiers who surrounded them were having their own troubles, and the journalists who exposed them were not as clean as they liked to sound".

It gets a three night run at Theatre 503 in December. Book early, book often.

Call of the Hunter

Marvellous. You wait ages for one Johnny Hansler movie and what do you know, two come along at the same time. Following fast on the footsteps of Innocent, comes Call of the Hunter. It stars the man himself in the unlikely role of the good guy. Read all about it here.


Remember Flyaway, by Helen Blizard? It had a warm reception at P-P, followed by a sellout run at a theatre in Hampton Court. Then began the long process of turning it into a film. It's finally finished, and is now called INNOCENT and includes contributions from such as P-P legends as Johnny Hansler and Richard Banham, as well as roles for other people you may have heard of: June Whitfield, Suzy Aitchison, and of course Helen herself - who also co-directed with Julian Friedman. It receives its premiere at the Odeon Kingston on Saturday morning (21 Nov) and Helen would love to see you there. Here's a trailer.

After the Accident

"Julian Armitstead’s play After the Accident is one of the best pieces of new writing I’ve seen all year and a bright-shining highlight of Theatre West’s season at the Alma Tavern".

And so it should be, given that it won an award from Amnesty International. It's just started a three week run at Theatre West, Bristol ending 21 Nov. [8.30 Tue to Sat: tickets here.

Earlier in the year, we had a reading of Julian's latest play, Philoctetes. It's now been rehamed as "The Angry Wounds", and is getting a rehearsed reading at 3.15 in the Lecture Hall at the Classics Faulty 66 St Giles, Oxford on Tuesday 17 January 2010: contact if interested in attending.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

John Tydeman & Moondust

Monday 16th brings us a spectacular double bill. First we have a talk from radio's legendary producer John Tydeman. These are just some of the writers he's produced or directed for BBC radio: Beckett, Pinter, Stoppard, Arthur Miller, Bernard Shaw, and Noel Coward. He knows his stuff.

Then, after a ten minute pause, there's the first act of a new play by enfant terrible David Carr. He's only been a member since February, but his double bill of one acters, Tango in the Dark and Bone White went down very well in the summer. His interventions and critiques in the post-show discussion have gained him notoriety too. Now the boot is on the other foot. Bring your raw eggs and tomatoes and prepare to let rip!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Regime Change

November 9th brings us the above, by the winner of the P-P play of the year for 2006, Roger Mayhew. It's a short film of 50 minutes or so, and is we are told, a bit of an experiment. At one level it's a simple straightforward story (based on a real event) about an elderly man facing a fundamental change in his life style. But there is a broader meaning to all this...

Whether it has any political dimension, who can say. But if you want to know, come along on Monday, and find out more.

One Small Step

The AGM went swimminglyish last night, with all attendees finally leaving all blurry eyed as the lights darkened, just before the last tube. Or so it seemed.

At any rate, one thing we did learn that there have been only four entries for the competition, meaning ( for the mathematically challenged ) that there are still six spaces left. First come first served as ever, but it isn't such a bad title, is it? I hope not, as it was mine.

Anyway, get writing!

11/11 UPDATE: There are now two spaces left, and the deadline has passed. However, to make up the numbers, if any of you have one left do still send it in. Lynne is prepared to take two more until Monday morning.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

The Napoleon Complex

Those of us with Sky tv may like to tune in on Tuesday to that celebrated channel OH tv, ( channel 199, in case you'd forgotten ) at 10 PM to watch our very own Napoleon Ryan in a show modestly entitled "The Napoleon Complex". It also features the ubiquitous Mr. Gambrell.

Episode 2 follows two days later, on November 5th at 11pm
Episode 3 is on November 7th at 7pm, with the final episode at 11pm the same night.

Crazy scheduling or what?

Anyway, here's a preview.


No show this Monday. Instead, it's the usual sight of angry shareholders taking the microphone and complaining about fatcat chairmen, overpaid secretaries, and undeserved bonuses.

Or even, your chance to congratulate those who deserve it, and, if there are any problems and defects, helpfully suggest remedies.

The Showcase Must Go On

Here's the latest, in case you didn't know: the Autumn Showcase has now become the Winter Showcase and is still being held at the King's Head, but has been moved to December, on the 7th. So pencil that in your diary.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

The Crooked Road to Paris

As has fast become the norm this term, next week's scheduled programme has been changed. Instead of Breakfast on the Med, a double bill of stage plays, we have The Crooked Road to Paris, a screenplay.

Still, it's the same writer, the esteemed Peter McKelvey who explains:

"THE CROOKED ROAD TO PARIS is a 70 minute film storyline. It is set in 1947 in Sussex. A young hitch-hiker loses her way and finds the unexpected in the form of a man who finds himself. No bonking, no car chases, few expletives but thrills galore".

Oh well. You can't have everything. Be there.

The Showcase has been Postponed

Unfortunate news. Owing to a double booking, our Showcase which was planned for the first of November has had to be delayed. We don't yet know when or where, but if a solution is found, rest assured that you will be the first to know.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Pride and Prejudice

Some of you will have read the book. Some will have seen the tv series. But have any of you seen in on stage?
Here's your chance. Fresh from writing a play about Jane Austen's love life, and seeing it produced a couple of year's back, and published by Samuel French, one of the our finest legal mind's Joanna Norland has returned to P-P to bring us her own interpretation on Ms Austen's most acclaimed novel. If you don't own a tv, haven't got an old Everyman mouldering away dust at the bottom of your bookcase, then for an hour and a half of your time, this may well turn out to be the definitive version. Who will be Darcy? Who will be Lizzy? Come along on Monday to find out.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

End Days

Next Monday, 12th October sees a new play by Tony Killaspy. It's been a while since Tony last gave us a play. In fact so long ago was it I'm not sure I was even a member back then. At any rate, I've read the new one, and it's about... well I don't want to spoil it. But the clue is in the title. I think I can say, though, that it's about a threat that doesn't get much media coverage now, which is odd considering what it's about.

But what is it about? Come along on Monday, and find out.

Ron Hart

Ron Hart died on September 14th. I can't say I knew him very well, but I did once chair a reading for one of his last plays with us. He'll probably be most remembered in the theatrical world for Lunch Girls, which was a joint winner of the Verity Bargate award in 1982. Peter Thompson did know him, though, and penned this tribute. He emailed this to the group the day after he was told, and I think it deserves to be given some kind of permanence here on the web.

"I have just heard from his son Jonathan that Ron Hart died yesterday, just short of his 80th birthday. He was a member of Player-Playrights for many years and at the time of joining he was already a successful playwright (LUNCH GIRLS is still being produced all over the world, as is his play MEN ON FIRE about Mahler). He had many styles of writing. He brought us at least one farce, many comedies, one surreal exercise, a thriller which went straight into our Showcase and a poignant poem about a young army officer’s boots. All of these were read with enthusiasm at our Monday nights and they were instructive and hugely entertaining.

We were in the process of trying to get his thriller BOYS CLUB into production when his health gave way over a year ago and he has been housebound and increasingly frail ever since, but still intellectually vigorous. He was an interesting and witty person, with a lively mind, who made a major contribution to our activities. He will be sadly missed and our sympathies go to his widow Carmel Hart, to Jonathan and to the rest of the family".


This term, as well as a change of venue, we also had a change of Competition Secretary, with Elizabeth Yuill abandoning us for the lush pastures of Hamburg, where she is playing in Ronald Harwood's Quartet. As well as one review that described her as "zauberhaften" ( that's "magical" for all you non-polyglots ) there's also one in the Hamburg Express. For those who can't be bothered to register, here it is in full:

"Last Thursday, September 11, the English Theatre of Hamburg premiered the new play of the season - Quartet, by Ronald Harwood. The play is set in a retirement home for opera singers and addresses both the troubles of getting old and the nostalgia for former success. Ronald Harwood, having worked both as an actor and backstage, created a sort of insider story that gives meaning to the transition from youth to old age.

The play begins with three old opera singers, Cissy, Wilf and Reggie, going about their usual business, which includes jokes about sex intertwined with reflections on the meaning of art. Soon they are shaken up by the arrival of a major star Jean, who was once unhappily married to Reggie. The reason for divorce and the length of the marriage remain a mystery until the end of the play.

The plot takes off as the three try to persuade the newcomer to sing with them the Quartet from Rigoletto, which they once were famous for, during Verdi's Anniversary Gala. The story is complete with reflections on the past and the mistakes of youth, as well as many insights into the sexual life of the characters, which gives it a certain edge.

One of the challenges for the actors was to seem convincingly old, both in speech and in actions. While they repeated themselves regularly and portrayed vividly the typical outbreaks of paranoia, their movements were less influenced by their characetrs' age. The result was that the mental lapses seemed almost too much in the absence of physical disabilities.

Nevertheless, the actors performance struck well with the audience. Elizabeth Yuill as the lively Cissy appeared most "mentally affected" and also most good-humoured. Both Alan Booty, as sexually-preoccupied Wilf, and Stephen von Schreiber, playing the austere Reggie, added a note of sensitivity to their characters. While Jean, played by Katrina Norbury, remained a diva despite the old age.

Finally, the actors gave a great opera performance at the end of the play, lip-singing to a record. The lights and the sound transformed the modest set, and the final act appeared both emotional and convincing. I believe it was the most important aspect of the play, because had it been any less powerful, the idea of art transcending through age would have been lost among the comicality of being old".

I think that just about qualifies as a rave. Anyway, get your skates on over to Germany.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Daniel Defoe: Him to the Pillory

July 31st 1703, Charing Cross: Daniel Defoe is pilloried for upsetting Anglicans and Dissenters alike with his satirical pamphlet The Shortest Way With The Dissenters. Does he survive?

October 5th 2009, The Green Man: Come and fling stones, rotten vegetables and animal excrement* at Defoe as he argues his cause, discusses life in early Eighteenth-Century London and challenges you to consider your own views and beliefs. This one man show is written and performed by Tim Gambrell.

* not obligatory!

That lot was written by the great Gambo himself, so I have nothing to add. Well, except this. Any excuse, really.

The Gift

Fresh from his artistic and - even more important - his commercially successful run at the Etcetera Arms with Safe House, Eamon McDonnell has hit the ground running, and brings The Gift to the Greenwich Playhouse. It first appeared as Calum and Ned, then got retitled for last year's showcase, where it played in an edited form, but this is the full unexpurgated version. Once again, Eamon is bringing in such P-P stalwarts as Victoria Johnston, Chris Prior, and Phil Philmar, and it's being directed by Dimitry Devdiani, who's directed his fair share of P-P showcases.

According to the flier:

"The Gift is a hauntingly lyrical one-act drama set around the Irish borderlands, where lonely, widowed farmer Ned works his land, not so much for wealth as to wash away the days. When Belfast stranger Callum inherits a nearby farm, Ned looks forward to making friends with his new neighbour, only to find the other man is a reticent loner.

"Callum carries a burden of guilt. But as the drama unfolds, we discover he is not alone in harbouring a dark secret, for Ned has one of his own..."

Yes. I remember. I think I even chaired the discussion afterwards. Anyway, I shall certainly be going, and I suggest you do too. It's a four week run, from 13th October, to 8th November at 8 o'clock with a four o'clock showing on Sundays. Tickets are 12 quid, and 10 quid for senior citizens, registered disabled, students and the unemployed.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Monday brings us a new, one act play by Kevin Mandry. Kevin's previous play for us, CLIMBING MOUNT MCKINLEY was shown in February. Let's see how this one goes down on Monday 28th. 7.45. at the Green Man. Be there.

Don't Worry About Me

Remember The Pool, a play by Jamie Brough and Helen Elizabeth that premiered at P-P three years ago? Since then it's gone from strength to strength. A Fringe First at Edinburgh, followed by a run at the Arts in Soho. It's now been turned into a feature film directed by David Morrissey. It's now called Don't Worry About Me, though it still contains the original duo.

The film is being shown as part of the 2009 London Film Festival in the New British Cinema category, and we have three dates at the end of October:
Saturday 24th October at the Vue, Leicester Square, 18.30 (£12)
Monday 26th October at the National Film Theatre, 14.00 (£9)
Thursday 29th October at the National Film Theatre, 19.00 (£9)

Booking opens to the public on Saturday 26th September, and I would recommend booking early as one of the venues in particular is quite small and won’t seat many people.

You can book online, or call 020 7928 3232 from 09:30 - 20:30 daily.

If you unfortunately can't make it to see it on the big screen, worry not!! It is also to be shown on BBC tv towards the end of November.

Here, to whet your appetites, is a short clip.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Tourist Trap

Next week, Monday 21st, brings us the above play, by me. Daniel Dresner asked last night what kind of play it was and in keeping with the comments of the evening, we agreed that unclassifiable would do nicely.

At any rate, it concerns a couple of English people, Paul and Maggie, who have just arrived at their holiday home on Ibiza, where they meet American couple Joshua and Melody.

What could possibly go wrong?

The last time I used this photo it was for Peter McKelvey's Scorching. This time, it's even more suitable, as we do indeed have a pair of sun-loungers in the staging. Not this evening, but if it ever got produced, those are the most significant pieces of scenery.

Anyway, for this reading we shall be having Clive Greenwood, Belinda Blanchard, Paula Gilbert, and making his P-P debut, Richard Danum.

Come along on Monday, and enjoy! If not, slag me off afterwards in the discussion. But be warned. I bite.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

Jack in the Box

Hello once again. We're back on Monday in our new home at the Green Man with a full length stage play by one of our most distinguished writers, Peter Vincent.

The fun starts at 7.45.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

The New Programme

It's finally up, and after much fine-tuning, as I rewrite this on September 15th, this is DEFINITIVE.

So, see you on Monday at our brand new home. THE GREEN MAN!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The Green Man

P-P may be resting over the summer, but you can be assured that there has been a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to make sure that the SHOW GOES ON.

For those who aren't aware, our agreement with the Horse and Groom came to an unexpected end after we broke up for the summer. Instead of heading to Blackpool with our buckets and spades, some of us have been scouting around a number of fringe venues trying to find somewhere to replace it. Finally, last night, our treasurer Tony Diggle and a team of consultants settled on the Green Man in the Euston Road. It's sixty yards from Great Portland Street tube station, and not much further from our previous domain. I donn't yet know it, but I am told it has a bigger space, and you can still get a pint before, during, and after the readings.

That's me satisfied.

So, thanks to everyone who did their bit. I won't name names. You know who you are. It goes without saying though, that it hasn't been easy. There have been endless emails and phone calls and deputations, but a decision has at last been made.

We start again on September 7th, and the programme will be announced by August 31st. It would be earlier, and may yet be, but there have been problems with that as well.

Onwards and upwards!


Chairman John Morrison wants to thank all P-P members who helped in the search for a new venue, saying:

'We have decided to move (at least for now) to the cellar bar at the Green Man opposite Great Portland Street tube station. It's conveniently situated, larger than the Horse and Groom and has a small raised stage area. It's soundproof, has good silent ventilation, and will be available to us from 6 pm on Mondays which will facilitate last-minute rehearsals. There is a good mix of seating BUT we will have to rearrange the chairs and sofas before we start and put them back afterwards. So I'd like to appeal to all able-bodied members who don't suffer from backache to lend a hand, either between 7 and 7.15 or between 10 and 10.15. If enough people volunteer then I hope we will be able to avoid introducing a formal rota.'

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Photos from Kim

Our photographer was Kim Sheard, and if you'd like one, two, or more, have a look at her website. Enter PP Showcase July 09 in the box provided, press "Next" and a gallery of shots will magically appear! Same as last time, there are both the shots taken during the tech time and the shots from the show itself.

All anyone needs to do to purchase prints or digital versions, is simply send Kim an email including the photo reference number (which should look something like "DSC_3110"), the size of print wanted, and the number of copies (if more than one) or simply stating they would like digital copies. They should also include their postal address.

Prices for people wishing to have personal reminders of the evening are as follows:

**Standard 6x4 prints cost £6.00, 9x6 are £7.50. Anything larger can be quoted as desired. (postage costs are £1.50)

**Digital copies can also be supplied via internet transfer and cost a base fee of £3.00 with each desired image in both high (print)and medium (email) resolution formats costing £5.00.

If any photo is going to be used as a promotional aid for any person or company, the fee per photo (to be provided digitally in high resolution format and medium web resolution for ease of further use) is £10.

Should someone purchase £15 or more, a complimentary group photo of their choice (6x4 print or file transferred electronically) will be added to their order.

After the Showcase

The showcase is over, and what do we think? The first man to quote is our producer, Tim Gambrell who sent the following email the next morning:

"I would like to thank you very much for all the hard work, blood, sweat and tears that went into creating an excellent Showcase last night. From the writers who wrote and the directors who directed to the actors who acted and the front of house ladies who front of housed, you all gave a great deal and the results were clear to a very large and satisfied audience.

I feel it was a very fitting way to close P-P for the summer and I hope you all feel, despite the limitations under which we have to work, that the end result was well worth it".

Exactimundo! I was slightly startled to get this email. Hadn't Tim been the one to thank the most? He'd produced it, and keeping all these egos and personalities and three different pieces all shipshape can't have been easy. I'd have thought it would have been easier to produce a real show. We had an hour and a half get in, remember, for three pieces.

So thank you, Tim!

What about the rest? Well, one of the pieces was mine, Love Me Backwards, so I'll write about that. I was thinking about this yesterday, and I've had a production and a number of readings over the years, but I'd say this was the best representation of my stuff I've ever seen. I didn't feel like I had to apologise for things I didn't believe in, and I didn't feel that any of the changes reduced it. All the direction improved it.

Yes, it was a very hot night, and turning on the fans at the interval did mean that some at the back didn't hear every single word. Nonetheless, I am very grateful to P-P for making this possible, and for Jennie Scott who directed it, and for Nick and Paula who acted.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Postman's Park

Next Tuesday brings us several FREE performances of Postman's Park produced and directed by our very own Ellie Zeegen, under the auspices of The Actors Temple. The event runs from Tuesday 28th July - Sunday 2nd August down at St Pancras Crypt on Euston Road.

If you like it, you can donate at the end!


The first performance of Sixteen by Helena Thompson is tomorrow, with a press night next week, and there's another four weeks after that. It's a site-specific piece of theatre, at the Kensal House Estate, and is FREE!!!

Moreover, if anybody fancies working as an usher on the production, there's a deal going that if you do all the performances you'll get £300 all in, starting tonight. So get your bid in immediately if interested.

Dreamcoats and Petticoats

Term may be over till the summer, but the shows just keep on coming. Opening today is the musical Dreamboats and Petticoats, with a book written by our presidents, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, at the Savoy Theatre in the West End. You can get two for one preview tickets until the weekend. So, book now.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Showcase

Okay, everyone, term isn't over. We aren't at the Horse and Groom this week, but we are at the King's Head, Islington. The fun starts at 7.30.

We have:

Colin Dicker by Dylan Davies

Walking on Water by Kara May

Followed by an interval, and then

Love Me Backwards
by Peter Briffa

Lots of beautiful acting, gallons of inspired writing. And pretty reasonable direction too.

It's the usual two quid a head, though "industry" gets in free. If you want to bring a guest, please email Peter Thompson.

Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Safe House

Remember Safe House? It first featured in the programme four years ago, then it made the 2006 showcase at the Soho Theatre, and now comes its long-awaited and long-deserved theatrical debut, at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden as part of the Camden Fringe Festival. It shows for a week, with six performances from August 18 to the 23rd, at the excellent hour of three o'clock. So you can get drunk before the show, sober up for an hour, then hit the bar for some hair of the dog afterwards.

As the blurb explains:

"Everybody enjoys a drink but nobody enjoys an alcoholic.

In a spectacular drama of kindness, cruelty and cocktails, Johnnie Othringshaw struggles to clutch at reality with a mind so disconnected that his past becomes inseparable from his present. Good job he’s got a sense of humour..."

It stars such P-P luminaries as Niall Spooner-Harvey, Chris Prior and Victoria Johnston, and is directed by P-P actress and former soap starlet, Sue Dawson. It is, of course, written by Eamon McDonnell.

Be there.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Competition Time!

It's that time again. Ten short scripts, all submitted anonymously. It's the chance for all newbie writers and actors to strut their stuff before a sophisticated and discerning audience, battling the street noise outside and a much-loved barmaid going about her everyday chores.

The theme is "The Mouse, the Bitch and the Bathrobe".

Who wins, you decide!

Friday, 3 July 2009

Best of Enemies

Monday brings us two short plays by two new P-P writers.

First, is Shattered, by Susan Hodgetts, which comes in at a punchy ten minutes. Then there's Best of Enemies, a comedy, by Julia Collier. Julia's already done some acting with us. This is her first play.

I don't suppose it's got much to do with David Niven. But we all like a nice photo, don't we?

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Three weeks till the First showcase

I did post this many moons ago, but there have been several requests for a repost. So here is confirmation. On Monday July 20th we have:

Colin Dicker by Dylan Davies
Walking on Water by Kara May
Love Me Backwards by Peter Briffa

and on Sunday November 1st we have:

Role Play by Katy Darby
Two Hands Higher Than A Duck by Hannah Kelly
Greaves and Gribson by Tim Gambrell
Come As U R by Eddie Coleman

It's at The Kings Head, Upper Street, Islington N1. 7.30 start, finish by 9.30.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Tango in the Dark & Bone White

As the nights draw in, Monday 29th June brings us a double bill of one act plays by a brand new - to us, anyway, writer - David Carr. I mentored them, and think them rather good. Very dark, but funny. They've both got a cast of two, and both last about half an hour.

Here's a picture of another David Carr. With a bit of luck we won't be going beyond ten as we have the past two Mondays. Unless the discussion gets out of hand. You never know. Controversies are everywhere, lately.
So be there.

Thursday, 18 June 2009


This week we shall be entertained by a ninety minute stage play, Scorching, from one of our wisest and most distinguished authors, Peter McKelvey. What's it about? Find out at Monday at the Horse and Groom.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Fab Life in the Big City

Monday brings us a double bill. First up, is Fab Life in the Big City, by Sam South. Last term we did her "House on the Hill" a double bill of sitcom episodes, you no doubt recall. This time around we have a stage play. For those who have the printed programme, you have have noted that it was originally down as "Unknown Entity". That's because it didn't have a title then, because it hadn't even been written. It was indeed an unknown entity. But she's been hard at work since then, and I've read it. I even mentored it.

I think it is, at very least, interesting. And funny. And clever.

Afterwards, there's a P-P first: a 10-15 minute animated TV cop thing for children called Carlo and the Fed by Mark and Steve Crumpler. Mark himself knows whereof he speaks. He is, as Jimmy McNulty would say, a police.

By day he's out there walking the mean streets saving little old ladies from ne-er-do-wells. By night, he puts away his truncheon, and picks up his quill.

Monday. Be there.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Nicole Forbes

Actress, sometime showcase producer and schoolma'am Nicole is going on a sponsored run at the end of June, in The Race for Life, raising money for Cancer Research UK. It's a charity close to Nicole's heart, as she's running in memory of Kirsten, her step-mother who fought cancer for over ten years but sadly died in September 2007.

Return of the Maids

Back in March I blogged about Clair Spence, starring in a production of The MAIDS by Jean Genet at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden. Well it's transferred to the Greenwich Playhouse opening TONIGHT!!! 9th June until 5th July.

The last time THE MAIDS performed in Greenwich was 35 years ago (at Greenwich Theatre in 1974) with Glenda Jackson, Susannah York, and Vivien Merchant. It was later filmed with the same cast. Can lightning strike twice?

To mark this wonderful occasion the fabulous peeps at Nomads of Bazar would like to offer Player-Playwright members a special offer:

Buy One-Get One Half Price on full price ticket (£12) for the first 6 performances of THE MAIDS by Jean Genet at Greenwich Playhouse between Tuesday 9th June - Sunday 14th June (Tue-Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm). Please call the Greenwich Playhouse box office on 020 8858 9256 and quote PLAYER-PLAYWRIGHTS SPECIAL OFFER. This is subject to booking and availability.

The details are:

The Maids by Jean Genet
Directed by Gael Colin
Starring Emilija Ellen, Irena Grgona & Claire Spence
Greenwich Playhouse
Greenwich Station Forecourt, 189 Greenwich High Road, London SE10 8JA
9th June - 5th July 2009
Tues-Sat @ 8pm | Sun @ 4pm
Tickets: £12; £10 (Conc.)

Box office 020 8858 9256 |
Greenwich Playhouse website:
Nomads of Bazar website:

In the secrecy of Madame’s boudoir, surrounded by a sweet scent of gladioli and mimosa, two sisters viciously plot revenge against their employer...

Loosely based on the infamous Papin sisters, who brutally murdered their employer and her daughter, Nomads of Bazar’s take on The Maids is staged as a truly modern tale of the beautiful and the damned.

Fusing pop culture and our obsession with the media in the 21st century, The Maids challenges the boundaries between love, sexuality and criminal intent.

The Maids stars Emilija Ellen (Blind Fate) as Solange, the eldest sister and driving force in the plot to kill Madame. The bolshie and extravagant employer, Madame is played by Claire Spence (Primeval, Doctors). Completing the line up is Irena Grgona (Bad Cake) who plays younger sister Claire; sensitive, slightly unhinged and easily led by Solange…or so it seems. Directing the cast is Gael Colin (Dangerous Corner, Much Ado About Nothing).

Emilija Ellen comments, “Madame always means well and truly believes that her maids worship the ground she walks on. However, her love for Monsieur consumes her, leaving her completely unaware of the murderous plot the sisters are hatching.”

Claire Spence adds, “It’s been a wonderful challenge to play the role of the feisty Madame and bring Genet’s script to life for a new and contemporary audience. This is a play that will set your imagination on fire and leave you begging for more!”

Nomads of Bazar’s The Maids is a production that will assault all your senses! Fast paced and as time pressured as the world we live in today, it questions, unsettles and moves. Bittersweet and haunting, it stays with the audience long after the play has finished…

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Bad Language

Monday, 8th June, brings us Bad Language, by Michael Ayers. What's it about? Who's it by? No idea. All I know is that it is an eighty minute stage play, and it's rumoured to be rather good.

It's also got nothing to do with this Michael Ayers, caught talking about John Locke and George Berkeley, with eastend boy, TV egghead, and ex-SDP MP Bryan Magee.

No swearing there, either. They don't make tv like that any more.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Big Brother is Back!

More twists than The Wire, more racism than The Black and White Minstrel Show, the Show of all Shows is back. Thirteen weeks, it hasn't even started, and we've started.

Goodbye - The Reviews

The news is that Johnny and Clive's show Goodbye- The Afterlife of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore has had its run extended by a further four weeks. Every Tuesday, including tonight, at the LEICESTER SQUARE THEATRE, 6 LEICESTER PLACE WC2H 7BX Box Office: 0844 487 2475.

"Fresh twist in a fast moving and
fast talking hour..says much about their relationship without resorting to mere biography" (Gerald Berkowitz "The Stage")

"the gags come fast & furious in Jonathan Hansler & Clive Greenwood's hilarious and often moving piece" (West End Extra)

"Hansler's Peter Cook is spot-on" (Camden New Journal)

"I was craving for more - encore!" (Islington Tribune)

" A belly laugh from beginning to end..inspired work...highly recommended" (Morning Star)

"charming and funny...great pace and energy, Cook & Moore relationship portrayed with flair and originality" (Soho Theatre)

"Well performed, fascinating insight into Peter Cook & Dudley Moore's troubled relationship. A must-see for any fan of Cook's work (The Fix Magazine)

"well written - shows an in-depth knowledge of the subject...a comparable tribute to Cook & Moore" (Samuel French Ltd)

Anything that gets a good write-up from the Morning Star can't be bad.

Thursday, 28 May 2009


On Monday we return with Vinland. What's that, I hear? Well, according to this site:

"A thousand years ago, as Europe was emerging from what historians have called the “Dark Ages,” stories began circulating in Europe about a lush, abundant land far across the Atlantic called “Vinland” – the land of wine. For a long time scholars dismissed these stories as fanciful fables but then, in 1961, an indisputable Viking settlement was unearthed at L’Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland, Canada. It was true! The Vikings had been to America 500 years before Columbus “discovered” it. But L’Anse Aux Meadows is not a “land of wine”. So where was this idyllic Vinland where Europe first encountered America?

The Vinland stories originated from an expedition of thirty men and possibly some women who set out from southwestern Greenland to explore lands to the west and south led by Leif, son of Erik the Red. Only fifteen years earlier, in 985 or 986, Erik had led a group of Icelandic families to new homes in southwestern Greenland. That same year an Icelandic trader en route from Iceland to visit his father in Greenland was storm-driven to unknown lands in what we now call North America. Leif Eriksson set out to settle them".

Whether this has got anything do with the entertainment on Monday I have no idea. But I do know it's a full length play, written by Kara May, whose high-scoring piece "Walking on Water" is in the July Showcase. So it ought to be good. Be there.

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Shirley Valentine

Never seen the play? Never seen the movie? Happen to be in Wexford in late July and August?

Well, pop into the Jerome Hynes Theatre
Wexford Opera House
Southern Ireland
between July 28 - Aug 8 2009
and you get the chance to see our very own Nicola Hollinshead in this one woman show. She's done it before, and this is what they said two years ago:

'Willy Russell has the knack of creating strong women, and never more effectively than in SHIRLEY VALENTINE, in which the eponymous heroine has the only role. But it also plays host to many others, to Shirley's family, neighbours and acquaintances. She contains multitudes, coming vividly alive through the extensions of ther self to them...Nicola Hollinshead, directed by Ronan Wilmot, gives the performance of any actor's life, seducing the audience from the start with a highly individual blend of character, comic observation and self-analysis. She starts out as an angular denzien of a working class estate, whose main escape is literally talking to the wall. After her Grecian apothesis, she has morphed into a serene, beautiful woman of independent character. The process is called acting and it is a delight to experience here'.. Gerry Colgan, The Irish Times, Aug 6 2007

'You will rarely see a better solo performance than Nicola Hollinshead gives in this very funny, beautifully observed and occasionally moving one-woman play by Willy Russell'. Hollinshead loses nothing in comparison with the original screen Shirley Pauline Collins. She can illuminate a story with the simplest gesture as she physically becomes Shirley Valentine'.... *****Michael Moffatt, The Irish Mail on Sunday, July 29 2007

'the accomplished performance of Nicola Hollinshead as Shirley Bradshaw will have your memory of Collins fading as quickly as the memory of last year's sundrenched holiday'...On a barely set stage, Hollinshead takes on this epic struggle for freedom with gusto, offering us a less pointed, more uncertain Shirley than Collins, and it's not long before she has the (pre-dominantly female) audience emotionally entangled in a story that becomes the quest for selfhoood. Hollinshead's portrayal, coupled with the intimacy of The New Theatre, ensures we feel the full gamut of Shirley's emotional life: the painful ennui of urban existence; the raw humour derived from the urgency to 'get through'; the joy and simplicity of finding a happy life'...
****Stephen Mulkearn, Irish Metro, Aug 1 2007 '.

"...and Hollinshead is compelling, despite the familiarity of the material. She has a sure grip on Shirley's feisty, self-deprecating persona, and convincingly segues between coarse humour and touching pathos, giving voice to Russell's poetry of the venacular..." Declan Burke, Irish Sunday Times, July 29 2007

There are currently very cheap flights on Ryanair, says Niki, and she'll even buy you a Guinness!

Here are the details.

Thursday, 21 May 2009


Nothing happening Monday because of the Whitsun Bank Holiday.

Here's Mr. Larkin, reading about the Weddings.

See you next week.

Thursday, 14 May 2009


Meanwhile, back in the real world, Monday May 18th brings us another tv drama from Gary Davis, Hospitality. You may remember Five-A-Side, from the autumn, about a bunch of lads on a weekend away which ended with a football match. Well this one is about the real stuff. You know, the premier league. This time it's the dark, sordid underbelly of corruption, bribes, and dismal sex. Hey, don't we get enough of that every week?

Anyway, here's the best goal of all time. Well, one of them.


We have an announcement! This is how it will be:

Monday July 20th:

Colin Dicker by Dylan Davies (edit)
Walking on Water by Kara May (complete)


Love Me Backwards by Peter Briffa (complete)

Sunday November 1st:

Role Play by Katy Darby (complete)
Two Hands Higher Than A Duck by Hannah Kelly (edit)


Greaves and Gribson by Tim Gambrell (edit)
Come As U R by Eddie Coleman (complete)

For those of you who haven't been involved before, the Showcases are staged at The Kings Head, Upper Street, Islington N1. The shows will go up about 19:30 and need to finish by 21:30. Tim Gambrell is the producer.

More news will follow, as and when it comes. Congratulations to the panel, too. I was on it three years' running, and it was a hell of a lot harder to do than it looks from the outside - particularly when your own script is up for consideration. So, congratulations too, to Tim Gambrell, Peter Vincent, and the chairman himself, Roger Mayhew.

You Pays Your Money

So what do you think of paying people in order to get good at this writing lark? Well, here's three ways of doing it. One, get Steve Gooch on your case. Remember Steve? He came to give a talk last term. Read about his script consulting service here.

Then there's the Lunch Club, which is looking for a ten minute drama script.

Finally there's Janice Day's networking day on May 31st. Check them out.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Don Juan in Soho

Panny Skrivanos is appearing in this revival of Patrick Marber's version of the Moilere classic. It's playing at the Brentwood Theatre in darkest Essex for three nights only, this weekend from the 14th-16th May. Box office is 01277 200305.

"I can guarantee exposed flesh, violence, sex, drugs, decadence and hopefully some laughs (you may wish to edit that as necessary!)" says Panny.

Here's a trailer.

Short Film Scripts Wanted

Did Lexie and Lindsay inspire you? Have you got a short film script loitering in the bottom of your filing cabinet? Ben Hume-Paton wants to hear from you.

"I am a commercials director currently looking for short film scripts to film. It seems to me the most successful short films are ones based around humour but I am willing to look at anything, do you have any scripts that might be suitable? The length should be about 10-15mins long".

A Bright Room Called Day

By day Pete Picton works at the cutting edge of the internet for the world's finest daily newspaper. Peter Andre and Jordan? Douglas Hogg and his moat? The Sun on-line is the place to go.

By night, however, Pete puts down his keyboard, and splashes on the greasepaint. He's playing the devil next week at the White Bear in this Tony Kushner play. It's only on for four days. So go early, and go often.

The Cream Cake

is a "short comedy film written, produced and performed by Lexy Howe and Lindsay McGill through their production company, Red Lexy Yellow Lindsay. The film was directed by Leon Chambers, with original music by Ed Farmer.

The film harks back to the decadence and elegance of the late 1920s, where two ladies enter a tea room and are quickly engaged in a contest to reach the top of the cream tea stand first.

To be short-listed would be a wonderful credit to the hard work that went into making this film by cast and crew and will hopefully gives us a helping hand to continue doing what we love.

We hope you enjoy!"

And I did. If you register you can vote for it in the Virgin Media Shorts Contest. You can even comment. But first, you have to watch it.

Getting it off My Chest

A bit like sausage rolls and the panto, Janice Day and her ukelele is a huge part of the whole P-P Christmas experience. She's been missing from us of late, but that's mostly down to breast cancer. She's written a book about this grisly condition, concentrating on the more positive aspects of her experience. It's called Getting it Off My Chest, and will be published in July.

Good luck, Janice, and keep getting better!

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

The Green Room

After the week off for the bank holiday, P-P resumes on Monday with "The Green Room", by Peter Phillips and Ian Purser. Back in February 2006 they presented "Poetic Justice", which was set at "a creative writing weekend workshop" where "one of the tutors, a rising poet, faces the professional and personal consequences of his past actions". It was later retitled "Stressed Ending".

"Green Room" is the sequel, where "Long-standing animosities come to a dramatic head at a literary festival in honour of a recently deceased novelist".

It runs for forty minutes. So, to supplement the evening's entertainment, we've got the final two holdovers for last term's "A Kind of Loving" competition. By whom, I hear you ask. I ain't telling. But you can find on Monday, when all will be revealed.

7.45, at the Horse and Groom.