Friday, 6 December 2013

Party Time

It comes around so quickly, doesn't it? Yes, next Monday everyone who is anyone will be having a simply wonderful Christmas Time at the P-P Party. Cabaret songs, sketches, Intergalactic Dating, Natasha making Whoopee and Return to the McBates Motel -- plus awards and another pantomime from the much-missed Tim Gambrell. There are also tasty snacks coming to us all from the Three Stags eaterie. Be there at 7.30, Monday 9th, with your £5. Drinks will as usual be from the bar downstairs.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

The Garden Part Two

December 2nd and it's time to get ourselves back to the Garden, after last week's electrifying Part One.

The play is set in a walled garden, somewhere in North London, where our genial Chorus leads us on a journey through time. In our imagination we are invited to picture the garden as a place of present beauty and life as time passes, seasons change, year follows year and people flower and fade and fight for survival. With the Chorus as guide, we are invited to share the dramas faced by some of the vibrant individuals who have inhabited this garden over the years, locked as they are into the vagaries of their times. Part 1 - shown last week – took us from 1805 to 1921 and received outstanding feedback. Part 2, this week, gives us four short plays: 1940 – THEY WON’T BOMB THE DORCHESTER; 1963 – LOVE CHILD; 1981 – WHATEVER LOVE MEANS; 2013 – WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Thursday, 21 November 2013

The Garden

For the next two Mondays we have a series of playlets that have come to fruition via the Collaborative group, entitled the Garden.

The play is set in a walled garden, somewhere in North London, where our genial chorus lead us on a journey through time. In our imagination we are invited to picture the garden as a place of present beauty, as time passes, seasons change, year follows year, and people flower and fade and fight for survival. Moving from 1805 to 1921 over five short scenes in Part One, and from 1940 to the present day in Part Two, we join nine different sets of characters as they battle with the challenges set before them and make their mark on the progress of history.

The Garden is written by Mary Conway, Anthea Courtenay, Victoria Johnston, Caroline Langston, Debbie Mayer, and Peter Vincent. Part One, Monday 25th November, 7.30 at the Three Stags.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Embalmer

‘Art can be whatever you want it to be.’

A man, a woman and a dead body.

After keeping the world’s most famous corpse in tip-top shape for three decades, Viktor plans to retire and grow roses at his dacha. But an unexpected visitor to his laboratory underneath the Lenin mausoleum has other ideas.

 John Morrison’s new play, set in post-communist Russia, asks universal questions about the nature of art.

‘Where’s Lenin? He’s in Poland.’ (Old Soviet joke)

John Morrison first visited the Lenin mausoleum as a schoolboy in 1965. He worked in Moscow as a journalist before and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His last play, A MORNING WITH GUY BURGESS, was staged at the Courtyard Theatre, Hoxton, in 2011.

Whatever you say, things like this do happen in the world; not often, but they do happen.’  (Nikolai Gogol, THE NOSE)

THE EMBALMER will be read at Player-Playwrights on 18 November at 7.30 pm.  The venue is the upstairs room of The Three Stags, 67-69 Kennington Road, London SE1 7PZ (3mins walk from Lambeth North tube station).

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Guilty secret

November 11 is competition night. the theme this term is Guilty Secret. Ten short scripts, all read anonymously, by some of the finest acting talent in London, followed by the all-important vote.

Who wins? You decide.

Monday at the Three Stags. 7.30.


And this is how it panned out, as told by Peter Thompson:

"For the first time this century there were no disqualifications and 10 well-crafted entries completed the course. SALVATION, by Philip Mison, wrapped up a guilty secret in a Country and Western song that was being broadcast on a radio station in the Deep South. All very authentic, particularly the Southern commentary by Cyd Casados and the Willie Nelsonian ballad, but perhaps not sufficiently sophisticated for us Lunnon folk: 10th with 159 points. Just above was Angela Higson’s mysterious play THE WOUND in which junior staff pieced together the domestic secrets that were causing their boss, Silas Hawkins, so much pain: 163 points.
Giles Armstrong treated us to a tale of adultery and colonial uprisings in a beleaguered Indian fort, where Rez Kabir, the faithful(?) native servant, kept serving chota-pegs to Memsahib Courtenay and burnishing her ancient flintlock: 8th with 166.  New member, Katherine Woodrow, wrote CAR CRASH in which Caroline Langston pulled into a lay-by, glugged half a bottle of whisky and confessed to her son Jethro the terrible truth about murdering his father years before.  [Ajay and I gave her a lift home afterwards]  Seventh place with 173 points.  In sixth place, with 178 points was Michael Barry’s  NO GUILT AT ALL, which did what it said on the tin.  The more Carrie Cohen used hypnosis to expose his hidden history of immorality and crime the less guilty her patient, Chukwudi Onwere, felt.  That brought us to Debbie Maya’s MAYFAIR, which has always been a winning investment on the Monopoly board, unless you cheat, of course, as John Morrison always did as a 7 year old when playing his sister, Hannah Mercer.  Fast forward to the 70 year old John and he is still at it.  Only this time Hannah catches him out and he drops dead.  Ha! Fifth with 180 points.  Fourth was another entry by Michael Barry.  It was awarded 197 points and concerned THE FAMOUS FIVE, who made a great living in advertising and in showbiz as quintuplets.  Their guilty secret was that they each had a different father.
Peter Vincent’s entry took us to Bronte-land.  There is much musing below stairs about Mr Rochester’s Byronic philanderings all over West Yorkshire and how he gets away with it.  Governess Jane [Hannah again] decides to go and have it out with Mrs Rochester and THE TERRIBLE SECRET OF ED ROCHESTER is revealed:  there is no Mrs Rochester: she has been invented to fend off talk of matrimony! Third with 202 points.  ONE MAN’S MEAT was a lovely two-hander by Mary Conway, beautifully performed by Natasha Staples and Phil Philmar: two allotment-owning vegans torture each other with talk of steak and even MacDonalds: second place with 223 points.  Top of the class, with 225 points was, of course, Bill Gordon (who else) with UNDERWEAR IN THE HIGHLANDS: Paul Temple and Steve are lost in the Highlands in driving rain looking for McGuffin Grange, or some such.  As night falls they are lured into a mysterious motel by a Psychotic Scot [Silas again] who knows how to hum theCoronation Scot.  Fortunately Chris Prior is on hand to save the day and the patent for Harris Tweed underwear.  Another disaster averted.
Thank you, Natasha, for distributing these engaging scripts to such talented actors and managing a production of 10 little plays, back to back, without a hitch.  Great entertainment.

Thursday, 31 October 2013


Neil Rhodes was a winner in our INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR competition last term, and is coming all the way from Llanymynech, Powys for a reading of the play, Result, on Monday, 4th November. It is a medium length stage play about a local newspaper that is struggling for survival by creative news-reporting. Jane, the beautiful and highly principled freelance photographer is unhappy about this at first, but soon gets the hang of it and of other things too.

It's in the Evelyn Waugh vein and has more laughs than the Leveson report.

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Sunday, 20 October 2013


There is no reading this week as it's the AGM. So if you want to rant or rave, get something off your chest, or bang the desk in approval, now's your chance.

Monday October 28th at 7.30 at the Three Stags.

It's also the deadline for the competition. So, get writing!

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

At The Heart of Everything

Monday 21st October is, of course, Trafalgar day and at Player Playwrights we have decided to celebrate by bringing you the latest drama from Mary Conway's hugely productive collaborative group. This one is written by Mary in association with Barry Fyfield, and we'll be seeing two episodes of a tv series:

"It’s Nigel’s first day on the senior management team of Runcible Further Education College. He arrives full of hope and a high minded determination to inspire the joys of learning in the masses.

However, nothing has prepared him for the realities of a management team lost in the mire of personal quirks and limitations, systemic failure and silent resignation.

Set in and around the college management boardroom in the space of one day, two half hour episodes of this TV series remind us of all the dysfunctional meetings we have ever attended as the managers try and fail to stamp any kind of control on a dramatic situation that is fast spiralling into an orgy of chaos and farce.

As the day progresses, we see the senior team intent on their own survival at all costs. Meanwhile Nigel dissolves into despair, his hopes derailed and his professional pride in tatters.

Familiar or what?"

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Frequent Seismic Activity

Monday October 14th brings us a new play by PP debutant Andy Moseley, who is a graduate of UEAs Creative Writing Masters Programme. He has written several performed plays including Casual Encounters, which enjoyed a sell out run at Etcetera Theatre, Camden in 2013, Are You Lonesome Tonight? A Bridge Game Too Far (winner of the Roy Purdue New Writing Trophy at the Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond, 2011) Heart Shaped Box and Going For Gold. His book, Around the States in 90 Days was published in 2009, and is the true story of a road trip across the USA and Canada in 2006. So he's been around the block. Here's what he says:

"Frequent Seismic Activity is a play about a family holiday at the time of the Ash Cloud that caused flight cancellations and disruptions for weeks in 2010. The family’s relationship mirrors that of the Eyjafjallaj√∂kull volcano, with issues and tensions that were building up before the holiday started, causing minor eruptions when they reach their destination. The fallout from these combine to make a major incident inevitable once the real ash cloud makes escape impossible. Whether things settle down afterwards, or whether the volcano remains active is open to question".

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Writing for Performance & Exit Through the Window

This Monday, 7th October, we have an enticing double bill. First up is our guest speaker, Gill Adams, who has writen for both stage and tv, including those trusty stalwarts Doctors and EastEnders. Her current claim to fame is Keeler which incidentally has a run at the Charing Cross Theatre starting at the end of October. Gill also does workshops on writing, which is how we have come to engage her for the evening.

After questions and an interval, we then have the return of Kevin Connor. He hasn't had anything read at P-P since “Harry and John” last November, his play about John Lennon. Could this be even better? It's a 30 minute stageplay in which "Two ageing gay men attempt to pass off an alcoholic Glaswegian graffiti artist as “Banksy” in a modern homage to George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion ". Has your appetite been suitable wettened? Come along on Monday to the Three Stags to have it satisfied.

Friday, 27 September 2013


A mere two weeks after Debbie Nagioff presented Showdown, she's back with Bottle, a one hour tv drama, co-written this time with the living legend himself, Peter Vincent.As Debbie explains:

"The idea of a mysterious manuscript found in a bottle has teased us ever since Edgar Allan Poe sent his hero to a horrifying death, allowing him only time to finish his story and hurl a bottle (and his story) in the general direction of posterity.

"But what if the bottle is found in The River Thames - and the manuscript is in a foreign language? Two kids from Essex, Beth and Ethan, cared for, As you might expect, by a nasty aunt, have to overcome the aunt and her slimy husband, school kids who don't like them, a total lack of money and a sneering parrot to solve the mystery of who sent the bottle and why. Are they seeking some imprisoned Princess? Or is it really their missing Mum they long for? A knowledge of the railways of Bulgaria might help you find The Princess before they do. A small cash prize for the best solution has been considered and rejected. You're not in this for the money, are you? By the way, no parrots were harmed in the making of this story but only because we couldn't catch the so and so."

7.30, at the Three Stags.

Monday, 23 September 2013


Monday 23rd brings us a piece by Carmen Harris, who is surely one of the more prestigious writers to have graced our doorstep. She is a published children’s author, and as well as writing 13 episodes of her own primetime BBC1 sitcom ‘Us Girls,’ she has written for numerous TV soaps, including 10 years as a team writer on EastEnders. Over recent years she has written several episodes of ‘Rastamouse,’ and has been employed as a Voice/Dialogue coach by the BBC, Disney, and the Bond franchise.

Babylicious is her new comedy series, and, as Carmen explains: "BFFL teens Kandia and Sherelle are out to prove to themselves, the world, and Miss Prinsley, that they are life’s winners. Most of all, they’re going to show those two absent women who had the temerity to render them motherless, just what they gave up".

Yes. I also had to google BFFL. 7.30, at the Three Stags.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Cutting the Ties that Bind & Showdown

Monday 16th Jan brings us a double bill. First up is Nicola Hollinshead's One Woman Show, Cutting the Ties that Bind, which had to be postponed from last term. In June, Nicola gave the log-line:

"In an attempt to move on from her past, Anna goes on a New Age retreat."

Nicola shall be performing it herself.

Then, after the intermission, comes a play by competition regular, Debbie Nagioff.

"Show Down is a story about fear of commitment. It will ring bells with many couples, and not wedding bells. It is Leap Year and Marion has brought Charles (her partner of many years) to their favourite restaurant in order to propose marriage. What we hear is not only the proposal, but the inner dialogue between their heads and hearts. What will happen in the end?"

Come along to The Three Stags on Monday 16 September and find out.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Exit Strategy

It may not feel it but soon the summer will be gone and we'll all be playing conkers and roasting chestnuts. After all, football's back, so why shouldn't Player-Playwrights join in too?

The new season starts on September 9th with a comedy play by debutant John Hill. I say debutant, John has had much success in his short career. His first play won a new-writing competition at the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre. Another was shortlisted for the Channel 4/Oran Mor Comedy Drama Award in 2012 and long-listed for the Windsor Fringe Kenneth Branagh Award for new drama writing. Other plays have been performed by TheatreLab at the Shaw, Andersson Productions, Insignificant Theatre, ScriptSpace, Tiny Dog Productions, Artists Anonymous, Nameless Theatre, Script Readers, and RealDeal Theatre. John also wrote two episodes of a 12-part sitcom called Marshal’s Law, which is currently being broadcast on Sky. There have been two sitcoms taken on for development by the Comedy Unit, and stage versions of both made it to the finals of the Sitcom Trials.

As to Exit Strategy, well it's a comedy set in a lift, centring on "Paul, who has just made the biggest decision of his life and just wants to be left alone. But a power cut leaves him stranded in a lift with three strangers - a religious double-glazing salesman and a couple going through an acrimonious divorce".

7.30, at the Three Stags.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Inappropriate Behaviour - The Results

Peter Thompson writes:

"What fun! We finally brought our globally advertised Short Play competition to a conclusion on Monday 15 July 2013, with six authors in search of acclaim, filtered out from a field of 36. The results were as follows:

POLES APART was an absurdist play by Michael Ayers, which came sixth. It was set in a restaurant, in which Chris Prior tried to engage an ice-cold Michelle Frost, at the next table, in conversation about Polish ancestry. Her frigidity survived a room temperature of 82 degrees, in old money, until eventually she walked out on the arm of the waiter, Max Warrick, who had been goose-stepping round like Basil Fawlty. Hmm.

RECYCLING by Cyd Casados and Melissa J Woodside was fifth. It starred Rebecca Sidwell who was preparing for divorce, by passing on a few old things to her best friend, Suzie Kendall, including her twitchy old husband, Kevin Mandry. But the hidden agenda was to wreak revenge on the two of them for their past infidelity. The Bright Young People laughed and clapped. The old and dim are still working on it.

I DO LIKE YOUR TIE was a neat little police interview drama by Kelvin Fawdrey. The suspect, a feisty performance by Cyd Casados, was making a fool of PC Dave, Rob Maloney, while Inspector Kate, Denise O’Leary, tried to see that the right things went on to the tape. Lots of laughs at the beginning, as the suspect flirted with the PC, but gradually we realised what she had been up to: she was taking her revenge for her husband’s giving her HIV, by passing it on to a series of married men, because they deserved it. Fourth place.

MASTERSON AND SONS INTERDEPARTMENTAL CHRISTMAS PARTY was a broad comedy by Chloe Austin. Fiona McKinnon, was up before the department manager Phil Philmar for inappropriate behaviour. Nothing to do with the way she used a baby-wipe to remove hypo-allergenic night-time eye gel from the crotch of a customer’s trousers; everything to do with a “brutal and debilitating attack on a co-worker” at the Christmas Party [exciting flashback]. Fortunately the manager was persuaded to let her off with a warning and two nights’ overtime stock-taking if only she would do that little thing for him… And then Giles Armstrong walked in and caught her administering a back waxing. He had come to present her with the Oatmeal facewash multi-pack Christmas Bonus award. A happy ending. Third place.

FOOD ON THE FLOOR was a chilling piece by Neil Rhodes (from Wales) about child abuse. At the start we hear horrible sounds of violence off stage and then silence. The mother, Nadia Nadif, waits for it to be over and Andrew Ward comes in to report that the little girl is sleeping and not to be disturbed. During the next ten minutes we gradually learn that Yes, he may have hit her and she probably has a bruise, but she’ll be all right in the morning whilst mother says she is sure it was an accident and she’ll take the blame herself but she must call a doctor. Back and forth with outbursts of violence and all kinds of inappropriate pressure: the courts, the social services, the neighbours. This disturbing play won the author the runner-up prize of £150.

THREE WOMEN was a very funny piece about three Glaswegian women making ends meet by shop-lifting. Fatima Uygun’s highly original take on inappropriate behaviour was put over with gusto and courageous accents by Carrie Cohen, Anthea Courtenay and Elizabeth Trueblood. A worthy winner of £250, which went some way towards covering the drinks in the bar afterwards and the train back to Scotland.

Laurence Marks presented the prizes for the two best plays and, to loud applause, the additional prizes to the most nominated actor, Andrew Ward and actress, Fiona McKinnon; and he threw out a general invitation to come and see the latest [and final?] series of BIRDS OF A FEATHER being recorded at South Bank studios.

This was a very slickly presented evening’s entertainment that was hugely enjoyed. It was orchestrated by a small group of senior members [Chair, Secretary, Eamon McDonnell, Peter Vincent and Carrie Cohen] and those fantastically energetic and effective Casting Secretaries: Suzie Kendall and Natasha Staples. Well done all.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Inappropriate Behaviour - The Final

And so we come to the last Monday of the term, and we end with a bang not a whimper. Yes, it's the long-awaited finale of our global competition. £250 to the winner, who will be presented with the cheque by our distinguished presidents, Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who will still be glowing from their recommissioning of Birds of a Feather.

Hats off to everyone involved, competitors and judges, and enjoy your summer! P-P may be dormant, but we are present, as ever, at the Camden Fringe and elsewhere, and as the news and dates and details of first nights and so on comes through, remember, this is your first port of call.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Making A Film

Ever fancied taking lots of cocaine, living in Los Angeles, and having a really big swimming pool? Then come along to the Three Stags on Monday and you might end up as, if not the next Quentin Tarantino, the next Cecille B.  DeMille? How so? Well Mark Brown and Nastasha Staples are giving a talk on how to make a movie. These days it's a lot cheaper than it used to be, what with digital cameras and the like.

Here's one Mark wrote. You may recognise the starlet.

Monday 8th  July, at 7.30.

Monday, 1 July 2013


We received 36 entries for this Short Play competition on the theme INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR. They came from all round Europe and included suspenseful drama as well as comedy, all of a high standard. A panel of adjudicators has now sifted out six for the finals to be staged and judged upstairs at the Three Stags, 67-69 Kennington Road SE1 7PZ from 7.30pm on Monday 15 July 2013. They are

Food on the Floor by Neil Rhodes

I Do Like Your Tie by Kelvin Fawdrey

Masterson & Sons Inter-departmental Christmas Party by Chloe Austin

Poles Apart by Michael Ayers

Recycling by Cyd Casados and Melissa Woodside and

Three Women by Fatima Uygun.

Casting for these plays is in the hands of Suzie Kendall and Natasha Staples [ppcasting] and all paid-up P-P actors are eligible. There will be prizes for the best performances [£50 each for best actor and best actress] as will as £250 for the writer of the best play and £150 for the runner up.

For further information contact the Secretary, Peter Thompson: [020 8883 0371]

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

The Leading Man

We have a change of programme for 1st July, since the writer of the scheduled play, Orpheus Rising, is out of the country. It will be rescheduled for the autumn. Instead we have a 60 minute play by Peter McKelvey, entitled The Leading Man. Peter needs no introduction to P-P allumni. He's won virtually every P-P writing prize going, he's even acted on a few memorable occasions, and probably scored pretty highly there as well. Here's his blurb:

"It is Easter and it is snowing. Bellamy's restaurant in the shadow of St Paul's in the City of London is closed to everyone except the leading man. Ask not for whom the bell tolls..."

I trust your appetite is truly whetted. Imbibe some more at 7.30 on Monday at the Three Stags.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

In the Middle

Monday 24th June brings us another P-P debut from Chloe Austin, though she has a wealth of experience elsewhere. As well as coming third in our Re-Writing History competition she's had  'Running with Wolves' given professional readings both at The Courtyard Theatre and at Trafalgar 2; 'The Other Day' was produced at The White Bear, and 'Virgins - Sex , God and the 6" Rule' at Intermission Theatre/Hanbury Hall Brick Lane. Chloe also trained as an Actor at Arts Ed. and founded and ran production company Golden Theatre, where she also directed 'Heroine the Musical'.

In the Middle is an hour long drama, and is "set in the luxurious ex-pat community of Doha in the Middle East, and follows the romance between two British workers who are living away from their families. Amongst the luxurious hotels, parties, Souks and deserts, Chris, a TV news anchor and Lizzie, a Teacher and Mother begin to evaluate what a 'high quality of life' really means for a recession hit 2013".

As the nights start to draw in following the longest day of the year, what better place to cuddle up than the Three Stags? 7.30, Monday night.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Cutting The Ties That Bind

Monday June 17th brings us a couple of late entries for the Will You Marry Me? Competition, plus a new play by Nicola Hollinshead, the long-awaited follow up to her debut, Doorway which I remember from over two years ago back at the Phoenix
Here's her precis:

'In an attempt to move on from her past, Anna goes on a New Age retreat'.

Succinct and to the point. It's a one woman show and she'll be reading it.

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Junction 26

Monday June 10th brings us a double bill of cinematic experience. First, we have a reading of a script by film critic turned writer, Adam Thursby, who was a finalist in the 2013 BlueCat Cordelia Competition (top 6) awarded to the best screenplay received from the UK and semi-finalist in the overall 2013 BlueCat Screenplay Competition which puts it in the top 60 of 3391.

Adam's script, Junction 26 "is a non-linear ensemble murder thriller set in the urban hinterland of London’s M25 motorway, in which the lives of a group of strangers intersect at key moments, unwittingly connecting them all to a grisly Truckstop murder". 

Adam Has previously written "The Caravan Trilogy” starring Ian-Puleston Davies and David Warner, directed by Andrew Gunn.

Second, once that's done, we can all rush home to catch another showing of "Don't Worry About Me", on BBC1 at midnight, the script that received its world premiere at P-P, all those moons ago.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Flowers of the Field

I remember Kevin Mandry once saying that he refused to allow his work to be read at our last home but one on account of the lousy acoustics. Happily, the Three Stags passes muster on the auditory front, and so, at long last, we can all bear witness to the world premier of Flowers of the Field, which takes place in 1916.

As Kevin puts it: "To a remote farm in rural Sussex, a reluctant soldier comes on a pilgrimage, seeking the music that he believes defines an England threatened by war and worse...and which, he believes, will express both its and his own soul...only to find his belief in home challenged and his search thwarted aside by the urgent needs of another lonely pilgrim".
7.30, Monday June 3rd. Be there.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Re-Writing History - the result

Here's the results and report on Monday's competition, as described by Peter Thompson:

"It looked so straightforward: take a celebrated historical event and re-write it to give it dramatic form and moral purpose. But the devious minds of our authors wanted to write about something else and unhappily two of those that came closest to doing what the competition-setter asked had to be disqualified! Peter Skyte’s THERE IS NO ALTERNATIVE was a witty little dialogue in a Finchley tea tent in 1964 involving a black parish priest called Desmond and an ambitious grocer’s daughter, Margaret, discussing the ending of apartheid in South Africa. Unfortunately it over-ran. So did Francis Beckett’s play THE HOLY FOX about a broadcast in 1940 by the Earl of Halifax, egged on by Diana Mitford, Lady Mosley, as he prepared the people for surrender to Hitler and moving Parliament to Stoke on Trent. Again well within the spirit of the competition, but well over time. The other over-runner was TIBERIUS HEFT by Kevin Mandry concerning an unmeritorious campaign to have the unpublished and illiterate plays of this ignorant scribbler put on at the National. No celebrated historical event, but some good play-titles of Heft’s like Six Authors In Search of a Toilet.

Michael Barry, winner last time out, came 5th with 201 points for a play about the Battle of Hastings called OUR HISTORY. Only it wasn’t a re-enactment of the battle, just a young couple falling out over little known facts like the name of William the Conqueror’s wife [Matilda of Flanders, since you ask, mother of nine children]. In fourth place was Tim Gambrell who scored 220 points with MONA LISA’S TITS. This was an interview with a Professor Bolocks, a filthologist who contended that all great works of art concealed the artist’s pornographic leanings: the Mona Lisa was a typical cover-up. No celebrated historical events there. Thank goodness then for Chloe Austin who came third, with 231 points for WE ARE ALL BERLINERS. When the wall went up in 1961 it separated a little boy and girl: but when the wall came down 28 years later they were still waiting for each other. Not a dry eye in the house; and well done Chloe for making something romantic out of a world event.

Peter Vincent made second place (237 points) with WE MET NEXT YEAR, a time-travelling love story, beautifully played by Lynne O’Sullivan and Phil Philmar with Caroline Langston as the soon-to-be-cheated wife. Not much about times past, but a tantalising glimpse of the future.

You may wonder that there has been no mention so far of Dr Watson, Mrs Hudson and the Baker Street irregulars. No, Bill Gordon took a rest in order to give more time to his entry for the INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR competition, closing date 3rd June. Instead, Debbie Maya gave us ARTHUR LOSES SHIRLEY. What’s that? Arthur must be Arthur Conan Doyle but who on earth is Shirley? Why, Shirley Holmes, of course, the Great Detective, who had to have a change of gender to please the publishers and also Oscar Wilde who happened to be passing: the winner with 271 points. Well, I suppose the incredible truth had to be told. Or is it, like the giant rat of Sumatra, a story for which the world is not yet prepared?

Time now to thank our fearless teller, Giles Armstrong, who has the disagreeable responsibility of disqualifying over-runners and the no less onerous task of adding up the marks of those still in the race. And finally the infinitely serene Natasha Staples, who conjured up eight plays, in perfect order and impeccably cast for our delight. Many, many thanks".

Friday, 17 May 2013

Rewriting History

Back in January we had a reading of a script by Roger Mayhew entitled History. Now, it's competition time with the theme of Rewriting History. Whether anybody has decided to rewrite Roger's unimprovable masterpiece will be discovered on Monday 20th May, when we have the first competition night of the term. And will Sherlock Holmes make an unscheduled, if keenly anticipated, appearance? Come along at 7.30 to the Three Stags to find out.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Cool River

Monday 13th May. Let P-P newbie Jodi Nelson explain:

"Cool River chronicles the trials and tribulations of a group ofdowntown Los Angeles 30-something urbanites surviving daily dramas west of the LosAngeles River - in a city that never sleeps and where vanity is the most important attribute they own".

It's a reading of a 70 minute internet serial. And iof you don't know what that means you are a square. For more information on Jodi Nelson:

7.30, at the Three Stags.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Whatever Happened to Rick Marks?

It's over four years since Whatever Happened to Rick Marks? last played at P-P. Long enough to deserve a second go. Then, it came it at under half an hour. Now, it's a full-blown hour. As writer Francis Beckett explains:

“In 1968, Marigold, Anne and Rick rioted in Grosvenor Square, occupied the university administrative building, smoked a lot of dope and had sex with each other. Forty years on, they find that the sexual tensions and jealousies are as painful as ever they were, the desire to change the world as urgent – but neither are as innocent as they used to be. Whatever Happened to Rick Marks? Is a comedy about the decline of the baby boomer generation.”

Francis knows a lot about the baby-boomers. I remember the last reading well, and recall thinking how many different directions it could go. Come along on Monday 29th April at 7.30 and we can all find out.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Sight-reading Workshop & In The Cellar

There's a double bill of excellence at P-P on Monday 22nd of April, with an early, six thirty start for a workshop for actors explaining the ins and outs of sight-reading, run by Carrie Cohen. Then after a breather, we continue with a reading of a script by Carrie's nom de plume, Carolyn Eden. It's act one of In The Cellar.

As Carrie explains:

'The story follows Barbara Caswell’s quest for a reason as to why she miscarried.  Appalled at the cavalier attitude of organisations dealing with environmental pollutants and her husband’s insensitivity, she seeks refuge in the cellar of her new home with tragic consequences. The story is mostly set in the near future in a small English town where trains rattle through at night carrying nuclear waste and farmers spray their crops; all perfectly health-and-safety checked, a long way from Fukushima prefecture".

Monday, 8 April 2013


Brutal (working title) by Lexy Howe is a work in progress and based on a true story of abuse. The first act will be read on 15 April.


Just to confirm what is also now on the front page of the main website, P-P is running a competition entitled INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR?

The winner gets £250.


The final will be held on 15 July 2013, with the winner being judged by our members.

Scripts must be sent by email to by 3 June. There is no entry fee. A shortlist will be announced by 24 June. Shortlisted writers will be required to become members of the group.


1 Player-Playwrights invite entries for a Short Play Competition. The Finals will be held at 7.30 on 15 July 2013 at The Three Stags, 67/69 Kennington Road, London SE1 7PZ [nearest underground Lambeth North]

2 The theme of the competition is INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOUR? and the entries must be written for stage production.

3 There will be a first prize of £250 and £150 for the runner up.

4 Each entry must be given its own title and should have a running time of about 15 minutes: anything over 20 minutes or under 10 minutes will be disqualified. The play may be set in any place and any time and in any genre.

5 The entries should be submitted by email to and must be arrive by 10am on 3 June 2013. No entry fee is required.

6 A short list of up to six plays shall be selected by a Player-Playwrights subcommittee [from which competitors will be excluded!] by 10am on Monday 24 June and all competitors will be informed of the selection later that day.

7 The writers of the selected plays shall become members of Player-Playwrights, if not members already, and shall cast their plays from Player-Playwrights actor membership. Advice and assistance will be provided by the casting secretary at with a view to organising a rehearsal before the reading.

8 The finalists will be voted on by the P-P membership and prizes will be presented on the night.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Hallo Vera

The Summer term begins with "Hallo Vera", a sitcom by Debbie Nagioff. I dimly recall reading a draft of this a good two or three years ago when it was called "So Sue Me". It has now been through the PP Collaborative Group's remodelling methods and has been transformed "in every possible way", says Debbie. She continues:

"Behind every unmarried Jewish girl, there’s a Jewish mother pushing, pushing and still pushing her to change that status.

Divorcee, Ruth Gold, struggles with acres of anxiety, streams of stress and much low self-esteem. Her mother Lillian, a glamorous 50-something bombshell, is a constant reminder to her about what she lacks in sex appeal.

Set against the backdrop of a law firm, Ruth Gold’s life is one long stretch of disastrous dates, set up by her mother and well-intentioned friends, but things begin to change when she encounters the mysterious Vera, a “woman” with a past.

"Hallo Vera” is a pilot sitcom running approximately 30 mins. Come along to the Three Stags on Monday at 7.30.

Will You Marry Me? The Review

Here is Peter Thompson's report on our Spring Competition from 25 March 2013:

"Our writers were inspired by the title of our Spring competition and we had 10 entries to play off at the Three Stags on Monday 25 March 2013, with lots of new names among the authors and the cast. Madeline Temple’s neat little play FOR BETTER, FOR WORSE unfortunately over-ran due to the inclusion of a superfluous final scene and had to be disqualified. In ninth place, however, with 173 points, was John Coleman’s play about a missing mobile phone, called I’VE LOST IT: the high point was when Max Warrick got down on one knee to make a proposal of marriage with the ring-pull from his beer-can. Just above, with 190 points, was a serious play by Cyd Casados, THE TRENCH, about a WW1 infantryman struggling with a love letter home to a girl in Blighty, unaware of the stronger passion felt for him by his comrade in the dugout.

In seventh place was an extraordinary play about a young man out driving with a girl who has rhinocerine tusks. He runs into a roadblock where the girl is stripped and very nearly flogged to death but then continues her journey to the land of the free, by avoiding the turning for Devizes “where jugs are made”, the title of the play. OK, so I lost the plot, woven together, as you will have guessed, by Giles Armstrong.

Peter Vincent as usual gave us the best title of the evening THE DALMATION OF FAUST and it was good to see Christopher Prior back again, this time as Mephistopheles: proposals of marriage were much in evidence, but there was a complete absence of spotted dogs, putting this entry in sixth place with 206 points. Above that were two plays with challenging accents. SHIPS IN A HARBOUR, by Max Warrick had a French girl, deliciously played by Jenni Hall, agreeing to spent ze night with Dean Ekperigin but “nuzzing eez going to appen”. Well she was wrong about that, but Dean found the next day that he had had to trade in a promise of an early wedding. Zut alors and 208 points. And 8 points above, in fifth place, was a play by Debbie Maya featuring Denise O’Leary and Tim Gambrell as Australian actors raiding the Barry McKenzie phrasebook in their efforts to portray Elizabeth and Mr Darcy. The whole play was well summarised in the title PRIDE AND STRINE.

Bill Gordon’s Delphic title CONSORT WITH HUMOUR turned out to be another Holmes and Watson adventure, this time including the young Queen Vic, an irresistible performance by Hannah Mercer, who kept on fainting in order to receive the good doctor’s “standard treatment for shock” which fell short of an offer of marriage, but not by much: 225 points. First and second places went to newcomers. POPPING THE QUESTION by Rob Fearn and Cheryl Freedman scored 229 points for the sad tale of a shy but besotted old man, Richard Evans, who was schooled in how to propose to the girl in Starbucks only to have her rejection of him recorded on camera and sent round the Internet. But the clear winner was Michael Barry’s THE PERFECT SETTING in which Hannah Mercer found implausible reasons for rejecting marriage offers in all the most romantic locations in the world. Her recurring change of mood was a treat to watch, although many men in the audience were wondering whether she really was worth rescuing from that volcano. Way out in front with 282 and Barry wasn’t even there to give it 10!

There are still 2 more Marry Me plays to be performed on 17 June, because Natasha Staples had already received the maximum complement before they arrived. The organisation of 10 back-to-back plays in a single evening is no mean feat and Natasha did it with no apparent effort at all. What a girl. Many thanks to her and to all who took part in a most entertaining evening."

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Will You Marry Me?

It's competition time! After a long and eventful term involving at least three ( I lost count after we left Islington and I never even saw the place ) different venues the winter term comes to its traditional end with our competition, entitled Will You Marry me? Expect tears, sentimentality, sardonic cynicism, and maybe even a gay marriage involving Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

Come along at 7.30 on Monday 25th March to find out what the inspired minds at PP have come up with.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Highest Level

On Monday 18 March we welcome Helena Thompson back to the fold with a one-act play about disturbing events on a high rise Council estate. Since she last had a script read with us she's had several successes:

(1) a film she scripted, called AFFECTED, which was produced by SPID Theatre Co Ltd with a grant from Mediabox, was shown at La Femme Film Festival in Hollywood (where she met up with the much-missed Napoleon Ryan)

(2) a radio play THE BURNING TIMES was broadcast on Radio 4

and (3) an animated film HIGH ABOVE THE SKY, that she scripted and which was drawn by children attending SPID Theatre workshops,  has been shown at Film Festivals in Germany, Poland, Brazil, Australia and Walthamstow (!) where it won a prize.

We will start at about 7.30, as usual, and anyone arriving before then can enter through the bar in the normal way.  But late-comers will find the doors barred to us and the general public because of an Athletics Club AGM(!)  Don't worry.  You can still get to our upstairs room but instead of going through the bar you will have to go round the pub to a side entrance which will be marked for PLAYER-PLAYWRIGHTS.  Proceed on through and you can go upstairs as normal.

Food and drink can still be ordered and staff will bring it up.

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Philosopher's Tale

When was the last time P-P gave us a farce? I can tell you when the next one is, Monday 11th Of March, when debutant Fauzia Rahman brings us her hour long stage play, which is, according to mentor Peter Thompson:

"a sort of Whitehall Farce in which the Great Moral Philosopher gives a highly acclaimed paper to some Royal Society or other in Brighton and is congratulated by all the dailies for his defence of the moral imperatives such as telling the truth and never breaking a promise.  His satisfaction, on reading reviews in the papers back home the next day, is undermined by the [unfounded] belief that a beautiful student admirer had a passionate encounter with him in his hotel bedroom.  OK so he is very short-sighted, but if it wasn't her, who was it? and why? or was it all a delicious dream?  What should he tell the missus? Oh, unlucky prof!"

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Thomas Wheatley

Monday March 4th is talk time. Let treasurer Jethro Dykes explain:

'For those who want to learn about showbusiness, please come along to p-p to hear Thomas Wheatley talk about his career. A successful actor of the past thirty years and yes, he has been in a Bond film....

Thomas graduated from the Drama Studio in the early eighties and since then has forged his path in TV, film and theatre. He has always been self-deprecating about his success but he can boast of credits such as the Singing Detective, Where Angels Fear to Tread and The Bill. He did indeed play a British agent alongside Timothy Dalton in the Living Daylights. And this was no small part, in fact a major role in the story.

He will talk about the ups and downs of acting, and will answer questions afterwards. You'd be a fool to miss it!'

7.30 at the Three Stags.

Friday, 22 February 2013

That Man

February 25 brings us a rare musical. Let new writer Wendy Gill explain:

"A big band sound and visually stunning, That Man is a contemporary musical about love, lust, loyalty, and deceit, set in and around London. Themes of cultural diversity, romantic ideology and personal values provide conflict and poignancy as the story unfolds with moments of humour, sadness and violent outbursts.

City boys Rick and Graham are the first to take their seats at The European, an expensive cabaret club in the West End of London. Followed by Dominic and three other male colleagues, they are all out to celebrate the forthcoming marriage of Dominic with Larissa. Rick puts his best friend Dominic and colleagues to the test when he suggests a wager, based upon winning the favours of Rosa, the star of the show. When the wager backfires, Rick, who doesn’t like to take life too seriously, faces a serious dilemma. His pride and image among his peer group forces him to take a course of action in total conflict with his desires.

Dominic, Larissa and Graham become concerned as they witness the deterioration of Rick and Rosa. But his friends begin to tire of him as Rick seeks out distractions, in the guise of Katya, a pole-dancer and Zoe, the new intern at the office. Zoe’s office supervisor, Grace and her girls, provide comedic relief as they try to steer Zoe out of trouble. In her quest for survival, Rosa takes matters into her own hands – as indeed she had done the very first time she set eyes on Rick at The European. At the end of the play Rosa reveals the secret which she has tried, but failed to tell both her mother and Larissa. There is a violent outburst between Rosa, Rick, Graham and Zoe as Rick struggles to deal with humiliation and rejection when Rosa makes a pragmatic decision and takes up an offer from Graham".

John Morrison adds: "We don't often break into song at P-P but it may well happen on Monday. Our co-presidents Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran, who know a thing or two about creating hit musicals, will be on hand at the Three Stags to give their comments".

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Infinity Land

7.30 Monday 18th February, at the Three Stags

John Morrison writes:
What I really want is a puffer fish. They’re my favorite. Their eyes face the front, just humans. Bright blue eyes. Real cute.’.

Nick Bruckman has worked as assistant/associate director in several theatres, including the Royal Court where he assisted Dominic Cooke with a Caryl Churchill play last year.  He has also worked with Kerry Michael  and Ramin Gray.  This is what he says about researching and writing a play about the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991:

"I flew to Milwaukee to research the life of Jeffrey Dahmer. I hung out with the giant mustachioed cop who arrested him, got drunk on shots people kept buying me at the bars where he went to pick up guys, and spent my day times at Milwaukee County Courthouse where I had my own little desk to trawl through boxes of court documents.

"I think the play I wrote is about not feeling part of anything. About wanting to connect, but not understanding how to. About burning desires, and not knowing how to quench them. It's about why we are so fascinated by people who commit monstrous deeds, and how that fascination relates to the impulses we suppress. It's about hobbies. It’s about spiraling out of control. And in the end, it's about being left behind."

Dan Davies read the play before we put it in the programme, praising its excellent language and fascinating imagery, but describing it as ‘as sickening as you’d expect for the subject matter’.

This is probably the most challenging piece of work we have read at P-P for some considerable time. Please come along, but expect to be taken outside your comfort zone.

‘You start cutting off the flesh in the leg area or the arm area and you simply work your way down.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Competition Play-Off - Results

Peter Thompson writes:

Monday : 4 February 2013 at the Phoenix Artist Club

Years ago the widow of a P-P member, Doreen McKay, donated a shield to be presented annually to the writer of the best 10 minute competition entry. It is now emblazoned with the names of the country’s most famous comedy writers who have used their success as a springboard to even greater things. Well, something like that.

On Monday 4 February we lined up the winning entries and runners-up from the year’s three competitions and had them performed again and marked out of 10. The result was extremely close, except that Tim Gambrell trailed in last place with 203 points for THE TOILETS OF TERROR, his entry for the CRISIS, WHAT CRISIS? competition. The story line was, I think, the thwarting of a plot to sabotage the Olympics by blocking all the toilets in Greater London. There were many disgusting puns and much ribald laughter but Tim wasn’t there to give it 10 – it was his turn to mind the baby – and without his support it sank to the bottom.

Peter Vincent’s CRISIS play, IS THE QUEEN AT SANDRINGHAM?, received my personal vote for the best title of the evening. It told the terrifying story of Phil Philmar and Denise O’Leary driving inland to avoid a Tsunami that was heading for Norfolk. Not enough laughs to get it more than 248 points, but well in touch with the leaders. William Gordon deployed Phil again as the great detective of Baker Street, having this time to save the honour of his medical friend, Silas Hawkins, who had been shopped by Mrs Hudson (Elizabeth Trueblood, of course, who played almost as many parts that night as Phil). The title, 50 SHADES OF DORIAN GRAY, tells you all you need to know about the plot (253points).

By a remarkable casting of the votes, Debbie Maya came second and third equal with her two competition winners DIVORCE PARTY PREP, which won the GOING FOR GOLD competition without mentioning the Olympics once, and THE WAITER, which won the CATWALK competition with almost more people on stage than in the audience. We were treated to a great soft shoe shuffle by the eponymous waiter, Jethro Dykes who lost his job as a waiter but got snapped up for the new production of the Chorus Line (261 points each).

The overall winner was William Gordon, not for the first time, with 276 points for WRITING FOR THE OLYMPICS, in which Phil Philmar (ITMA) told the sad story of the Writers Rescue Group and its missionary work amongst authors who cannot stop writing. What a great evening and a big round of applause for Natasha Staples who stepped up as our new Competitions Secretary, having been appointed less than 24 hours before, and gave us a brilliant evening of excellent original writing and fine performances.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

We Are Of The Dark

February 11th brings us our first day at the Three Stags, and we start with a bang: Giles Armstrong's new screen drama, We Are Of The Dark. I don't know much about it, though I do hope it involves vampires. Or at least weirdo space creatures hell bent on the destruction of western civilisation. They mostly come at night, mostly. And maybe this song will play over both the opening and closing credits.

Come along on Monday to find out. 7.30. At the THREE STAGS!!!

Three Stags

As a result of Monday's meeting, P-P has now moved to the Three Stags in Lambeth. The address is
67/69 Kennington Road, London SE1 7PZ.
The phone is 020 7928 5974 and email is

The nearest tube is Lambeth North.

Otherwise it's all the same. 7.30 starts, good company, excellent acting, interesting scripts.

Let's hope we last a little longer than the last venue!

Friday, 1 February 2013

Competition Play-Off

We may not have been here last week but plenty has happened. The first very disappointing piece of news is that our stay at the Florence is over. New owners have just taken over and have closed it immediately.

In the short term we've been lucky enough to return to the Phoenix for a one off reappearance on Monday 4 February 2013 for the Competition Play-off which comprises, from CRISIS WHAT CRISIS?

Is the queen at Sandringham

The Toilets of Terror


Divorce Party Prep

Writing for the Olympics

and from CATWALK:

The Waiter

50 Shades of Dorian Gray

But that's not all. The Committee will be meeting in the Bar of the Phoenix from about 6pm to discuss venues and other issues. Between 7.30-8.45 we will have the Competition Play-off. Then, from 9 we will have a chaired discussion of the venue situation and possible solutions. Then, at about 9.30 the Committee will reconvene and hope to reach decisions.

It's going to be a busy, and important evening. Do come if you can.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Garden of Eden

January 21st at 7.30. We have a ninety minute stage play by P-P veteran, Peter McKelvey.

Says Peter, "The Garden of Eden is a comedy thriller with a moral, set in a Spanish resort. The owners of the rsort find their stability severely challenged when a mysterious stranger, a tycoon arrives to put the cat amongst the pigeons. To find out what happens come along to The Florence".

Sounds good to me.

Friday, 11 January 2013

History Repeats Itself

Monday, January 14th brings us a drama that is even more long-awaited than it was back in November, when it got postponed owing to a double booking. It's by one of our most illustrious allumni, Roger Mayhew.

History is a stageplay that was written in a frenzy of zeitgeist-grabbing topicality. We we can only hope that the intervening six or so weeks haven't made it look quaint and old-fashioned. As Roger then explained: "Abby has gone to the School Prizegiving to see her daughter win an award for History but is unaware that her own past is about to catch up with her".

Come along to the Florence at 7.30 and all will be revealed.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Poop Scoop

Monday 7th January begins our new residency at the Florence, and we will be joined and guided by our venerable Presidents, Lo and Mo who will introduce a sit-com entitled Poop Scoop by the hugely successful Jane Bussmann, most known perhaps for contributing to the legendary Paedophile special edition of Brass Eye. lo and Mo will then answer questions about their success in so many fields: TV, radio drama, sitcom, stage and musicals.

Remember: the Florence Tavern is at 50 Florence street off Upper street N1 2DU. The Almeida is on the other side of the road and the two nearest underground stations are Highbury & Islington to the north and Angel to the south, with many buses going to and from along Upper Street.

We aim to start at 7.30 with the presentation of the Best Writing award (the Cobb Cup). Our Treasurer, Jethro Dykes, will pass among you collecting money and giving out the good news that the annual subs are still only £8 and the decision to hike the attendance money to £2.50 has been suspended [hurray!] so £2 will do nicely.

Rising from the Ashes of the Phoenix

So after two thriling years in the heart of the West End we bid goodbye to the Phoenix. But goodbye is not farewell. Indeed, in this case it's hello. Hello Florence. The address is The Florence Tavern, 50 Florence Street, Islington, London, N1 2DU And the fun starts at 7.30 from now on, which means even more time to drink. Or eat Thai food if you prefer, which goes on offer from 5. Mondays have never been so much fun.