Thursday, 27 January 2011

BookLovers Revisited

Two years ago Kevin Mandry's BookLovers was a tremendous hit, going on to the annual showcase at the Kings Head. Well now, a rather different version will be read shortly. It's on Wed Feb 2, upstairs at the Blue Posts Pub, Rupert St, just off Picadilly Circus, at 7pm. ( Yes, I said 7, much earlier than P-P. ) Costs a couple of quid, but PP stalwarts Phil Philmar and Belinda Blanchard will be reprising their original roles.

See you there!

Competition Play-Off

It's that time of year again, whereby the winner and runner up from each of last year's three competitions play off against one another in a winner take all play-off. In the early rounds it's all anonymous, but now the gloves are off, the burkas have been revealed, and faces and emotions are exposed for all to see. Who's going to win? Come along on Monday at 7.45 to find out. And remember, who wins, you decide. If it's anything like this, then it'll be something very similar.

UPDATE: And the Winner, just for the record, was Roger Mayhew, with Another Kitchen Sink Drama. Well done to Roger, and all the entrants. I thought they were a very good bunch. And he didn't over-react, like Ms Field above. I think we were all grateful.

Wednesday, 19 January 2011


Phil Philmar has starred in more short films than I've had hot dinners. Check this one out. He doesn't get to speak, but he does do a fancy trick with a milk bottle.

Barbara Finds Happiness

Remember the absurd theatre of the fifties and sixties? Not just Beckett and Pinter, but Ionesco and N.F. Simpson? Well, bravely following in the footsteps of the latter two comes Eddie Coleman, with his comedy ( there weren't many absurdist tragedies, were there? ) Barbara Finds Happiness.

Eddie usually gives up a more normal, realistic kind of a comedy, so there is a welcome departure. It's a bit like when Bob Dylan went electric. Some will like it, some won't... but hey, that's the literary muse. Who knows where she will take you.

Of course, happiness is a difficult issue. If you don't fancy coming along on Monday at 7.45 you could always stay home and watch this guy. He can make you happy, and make you more money too. One of the good guys.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Danae and the Shower of Gold

Art lovers among you will no doubt be familiar with the accompanying image, and will therefore be anticipating the first piece of 2011 with particular relish. It's a radio play by new writer Sam Phillips ( and son of P-P stalwart Peter ) and is set among the ruthless go-getters of the London art market.

Accompanying this, is a short film script by P-P regular, Lexy Howe, entitled London.

Come along on January 17th, and enjoy.

A Change to the Programme

As ever there is a slight change to the programme as originally published, but this time it's a good and uncomplicated one. No switching of pieces, merely an addition, with Michelle Flower coming in to give us a talk on February 28th, which is the same night we get the very latest sitcom from Peter Vincent and Dana Morgan.

Michelle was originally asked to come to the Fringe Panel so ably arranged by John Morrison last September, but had yet to recover from running the Camden Fringe with fellow Etcetera Arms organiser, Zena Barrie. But now she's got her voice back, and will give us the low-down on everything else you wanted to know. I myself had a play on last year, as did Eamon McDonnell, as did Julia Collyer, as did Philippa Tatham, as did Eddie Coleman. The list is endless.

I found it a very exciting, interesting, and most crucially, non-bankrupting exercise, and would encourage anyone with a piece or collection that comes in at under an hour to give it a go. But if you're still doubtful, come along on February 28th to find out all you need to know.

It's going to be longer this year, with more venues. And people are already applying!

Thursday, 6 January 2011


Any nightowls out there wondering what to do on Saturday night could do worse than to pop along to the London Short Film Festival this Saturday, 8th January at the Rio Cinema in Dalston, where our very own Caroline Langston is acting in 'Leftovers'. There are 11 other films being shown as part of a late night 'Dark Shorts' programme, and the fun starts at 11.30pm, with the whole programme running at 88 minutes.

A Morning With Guy Burgess

A year ago this drama by our Chairman John Morrison was read at P-P. Back then I was predicting great things of it, and so it has come to pass, as it's hitting the stage next week at the Courtyard Theatre, 40 Pitfield Street, Hoxton N1 6EU from January 11 to 30, with performances from Tuesday to Sunday at 7.30 pm. Tickets are £15 and £11 concessions from the Courtyard's website, or by telephone at 0844 477 1000. The theatre has free seating and the bar opens at 7 pm.

Pitfield Street is a five minute walk from Old Street on the Northern Line (take street exit 2 from the tube station). The theatre entrance is on Bowling Green Walk.

Here's some of the blurb:

‘Most people who come here adore the Russians but don’t like the system. I’m the other way round. I think the system is wonderful but the Russians drive me up the bloody wall.’

A summer’s morning, Moscow 1963. As the Soviet Union’s first woman cosmonaut is feted in Red Square, exiled spy Guy Burgess refills his glass and decides that twelve years in the socialist paradise is enough. His liver has reached the point of no return, his Soviet controllers have lost interest in him, and even the prospect of umpiring Donald Maclean’s cricket match no longer appeals. But his dreams of returning to his old haunts in London are interrupted by an unexpected visitor -- who also has a story to tell.....

Written by former Reuters foreign correspondent John Morrison, who was based in Moscow for several years during the 1970s and 1980s, A Morning with Guy Burgess paints a fresh picture of the outrageous life and times of the spy who never really wanted to defect at all, and asks wider questions about the nature of belief, loyalty and betrayal.

This premiere in the Courtyard Theatre’s Main House is directed by Georgian director Dimitry Devdariani ( and a P-P protege ), whose work in the UK includes The Gift by Eamon O'Donnell and Denise O'Leary's Pandora's Boxes in a radio broadcast on Resonance FM, as well as projects with Russian Theatre-studio Alkonost.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

A Message from our Chairman


We are now comfortably settled in our new venue, the highly theatrical Phoenix Artists Club in Charing Cross Road. They have made us very much at home, installing soundproofing, a small stage and extra lighting. Our thanks to Maurice and his team for creating such a good atmosphere. Our Monday night entry charge has gone back down to £2 as a result of our change of venue, and we now have Player-Playwrights membership cards available (ask the Treasurer Tony Diggle) which will guarantee entry to the Phoenix at any time.

Our Christmas party, organised by Lynne O’Sullivan, went with a bang, thanks to Tim Gambrell’s melodrama, which warmed the cockles of all our hearts. We were lucky enough to hear songs from Janice Day and Katy Darby. Katy also brought along the highly talented Erica Guyatt to sing a number from Katy’s musical All I Want For Christmas. This was an extra treat for those who didn’t make it to the Jermyn Street Theatre in December to see the show.

Katy also took her share of our annual awards, winning the best writing trophy for Girlfriends, while Peter McKelvey won the best comedy cup for Tipperary. Chris Prior was best actor and Lynne O’Sullivan best actress.

Tim Gambrell’s melodrama The Goodly Dilemma included a chance for the audience to vote on the next twist and turn in the plot – a dangerous mix of democracy and drama. Happily for all of us, it was soon apparent that – just like on TV – the results had been rigged beforehand. Phew!

It was nice to see Napoleon Ryan back on this side of the Atlantic with lots of news of the well-paid dolce vita which is available to British actors in L.A. Sherrill Turner, our other sadly-missed Hollywood exile, tells us she is having a fab time and really loves it, writing, reading and filming.

Christmas saw many of our members out and about performing in London. There’s still time to catch Nicola Hollinshead at the Lion and Unicorn in Camden Town, where A Christmas Carol runs to Saturday 8th January. Fans of Olivia Hill can see her in the final two weeks of A Woman of No Importance at the Greenwich Playhouse.

I hope some of you will find time to visit the Courtyard theatre in Hoxton (Old Street tube) to see my play A Morning With Guy Burgess, directed by P-P member Dimitry Devdariani. It opens on Tuesday January 11th and runs until January 30th.

A very happy 2011 to all our members; we resume on January 17th and I look forward to seeing you all again.

John Morrison

New Year’s Day 2011

New Years Honours

Back in May Peter Cox came to give us a talk that was very well-received. On January 1st Her Majesty saw fit to appoint Mr. Cox a Member of the British Empire. Are the two events linked? Perhaps not. At any rate, hearty congratulations to Peter. As our Secretary Peter Thompson wrote to him:

"You gave us an excellent talk last May about the importance of re-writing and a willingness to do it intelligently and with a good heart. It is an important message which you could have spent a whole evening on, but you gave us enough examples from your own experience to convince. We all enjoyed it and I hope we are better writers, and possibly better people, for the excellent advice.
You were not properly rewarded by us for the time and effort you put into the talk so we are very pleased that higher authority has seen fit to honour your work for Community Arts with an MBE. Congratulations. It is such an important area of creative artistry [my daughter is engaged in it in Ladbroke Grove] but it receives relatively little public acknowledgement. So well done you for raising the standard: a well deserved and appropriate honour, restoring one's faith in the system".

Well done to PT for writing this, well done for Belinda Blanchard for suggesting PC as a speaker, and well done, most of all, to Peter Cox himself for all his work. He even sent us the basic notes for his talk, long after it was done. I don't think anyone else has ever done this. It's well worth looking at again.