I was able to catch Jack Healy’s one man play Shostakovich on its one day visit to the UK. Having written a several one-handers, I was interested to see what his approach would be.

The play focuses on a few days in 1936 and 1937 – a reminder that a biographical play need only cover a brief fragment of its subject’s life. Whether to adopt this approach depends on the your subject’s life and what you want to write about. Healy’s interest was the effect of fear on an artist, for which the narrow concentration was ideal.

One actor plays are typically simple in terms of staging. Healy, however, used extensive audio and visual resources. Unsurprisingly, there was plenty of Shostakovitch’s music. On top of that there were several complex video sequences, including a spoof Movietone newsreel of the purges. It was interesting to see the possibilities, but, of course, these do limit the range of venues. I’m not sure that anywhere below a medium sized arts centre would have the facilities.

This House

As part of NT live, This House, James Graham’s biting, energetic and critically-acclaimed new play is coming to Andover Odeon on 16 May at 7pm.

This critically acclaimed play strips politics down to the practical realities of those behind the scenes who roll up their sleeves, and on occasion bend the rules, to manoeuvre a diverse and conflicting chorus of MPs within the Mother of all Parliaments.

Soho Theatre Announces Verity Bargate Workshops

As part of the lead-in to the 2013 Verity Bargate Award for best new play, Soho Theatre have announced a series of workshops to help with final rewrites. Details are on

I have been to a couple of their workshops in the past and found them very useful.

Five tips For Adaptions

As part of an excellent talk on adapting existing work for the theatre at the recent Theatre Writing South West Conference at Salisbury, Nell  Leyshan passes on five tips  given to her by Kneehigh’s Carl Grose on a British Council tour to Rio. (Being a dramatist can be a hard life sometimes).

Make a list of what you like.
Reduce the synopsis until the story is clear.
Remove language and think of the physical shape of scenes.
Imagine a collision of music, image and language.
Be brave and bold in choices.



Next year we will be remembering the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Theatres be looking for plays commemorating this. Should you be writing one?

Remember that theatres programme in advance. Any anniversary play needs to get to them early.

Think outside the trench. Theatres will be overwhelmed by plays that cover the same ground as Journey’s End. Though it is the war’s defining image, there is  more to it than trench warfare – much of which is yet to be explored on stage..

Artistic directors like plays which say something about now. Observe The Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme by Frank McGuinness is on the surface a trench play (there are many good ones already written), but is equally about the contemporary Ulster and The Troubles.

Finally, bear in mind that most new plays coming to the stage in 2014 will have nothing to do with The First World War. Only write about the war if you have something fresh you want to say.


The Baroque Theatre Company have chosen The Great Santa Kidnap by Roy Chatfield  as one of their Christmas children shows. This Norfolk based company are no strangers to Andover, having visited on two previous tours.  Booking for the tour begins next month. We will be listing venues and dates when they are known.

Writing Plays For Young Audiences

Do you write plays for young audiences, or do you want to? Celebrating 60 years of working with writers to produce outstanding theatre for young audiences, Theatre Centre hosts a daylong conference for writers and theatre professionals on Thursday 20 June at Canada Water Library, London. The keynote speech will be delivered by playwright Bryony Lavery. Other guest speakers include playwrights Amanda Dalton, Rob Evans, Philip Osment and Evan Placey; and industry professionals Anthony Banks (NT), Jonathan Lloyd (Polka Theatre) and Purni Morell (Unicorn Theatre). The cost is £54.

For more information and booking see