What Happened Before Macbeth?

Three witches predicted Duncan would be king. The prophecy came true, but now rebellion is threatens to topple him. Worse, the witches have a new favourite. But who?

Come along to Chapel Arts, Andover, at 7.30 on 12 September 2014 to see the premier of Duncan Dreams, a prequel to Macbeth, written by Roy Chatfield, performed by John Baxter and directed by Ian Flintoff of Shakespeare United.

To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/duncans-dreams-a-one-act-play-by-roy-chatfield-tickets-12395618629

This is one of a series of free events presented by Big Up Words at Chapel Arts. Others are:-

9 September – Poetry open mic for poets to read poems inspired by WWI

To book to read clickhttp://doodle.com/wip3azs9sbnc7bt3

 To reserve a place to listen click –  http://bit.ly/1owhvCl

11 September – When The Lights Went Out. Twenty-five poems by twenty-five writers who experienced the war at home or in battle.

To reserve a place go to




When The Lights Went Off In Europe

A young mother watches a newsreel
Moonlight floods the trenches
A soldier dreams of his girl
A firing squad shoots a deserter
A munitions worker celebrates good wages

Rupert Brooke to Wilfred Owen; Robert Graves to e e cummings –
25 poems by 25 poets giving their experience of a world at war.

A free event at Chapel Arts, Andover, at 7.30, 11 September 2014.  To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/when-the-lights-went-out-25-world-war-1-poems-by-25-world-war-1-poets-tickets-12203907215

This is one of a series of free events presented by Big Up Words at Chapel Arts. Others are:-

9 September – Poetry open mic for poets to read poems inspired by WWI

To book to read click – http://doodle.com/wip3azs9sbnc7bt3

 To reserve a place to listen click –  http://bit.ly/1owhvCl

12 September – Premier of Duncan Dreams, a prequel to Macbeth, written by Roy Chatfield and performed by John Baxter.

To reserve a place go to https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/duncans-dreams-a-one-act-play-by-roy-chatfield-tickets-12395618629

Yale Drama Series Open For Entries

The Yale Drama Series is seeking submissions for its 2015 playwriting competition. The winning play will be selected by the series’ current judge, distinguished playwright Nicholas Wright. The winner of this annual competition will be awarded the David Charles Horn Prize of $10,000, publication of his/her manuscript by Yale University Press, and a staged reading at Lincoln Center Theater.

1. This contest is restricted to plays written in the English language. Worldwide submissions are accepted.

2. Submissions must be original, unpublished full-length plays written in English. Translations, musicals, and children’s plays are not accepted.

3. Playwrights may submit only one manuscript per year.

4. Plays that have been professionally produced or published are not eligible.  Plays that have had a workshop, reading, or non-professional production or that have been published as an actor’s edition will be considered.

5. Plays must be typed/word-processed, page-numbered, and in US standard play format. http://yalepress.yale.edu/yupbooks/standardprofessionalplayformat.pdf gives details of what this is.

The Yale Drama Series Competition strongly urges electronic submission. By electronically submitting your script, you will receive immediate confirmation of your successful submission and the ability to check the status of your entry.

If you are submitting your play electronically, please omit your name and contact information from your manuscript.  The manuscript must begin with a title page that shows the play’s title, a 2-3 sentence keynote description of the play, a list of characters, and a list of acts and scenes. Please enter the title of your play, your name and contact information (including address, phone number, and email address), and a brief biography (optional) where indicated in the electronic submission form.

If you would like to submit an electronic copy of your manuscript please go to:https://yup.submittable.com/submit.

Closing date is 15 August.

The Wrong Direction

Theatre readers and literary managers constantly complain about the stage directions in new plays sent to them for reading. there are too many of them.

Perhaps it’s the influence of Samuel French, who publish plays heavy with stage directions. But these are intended for amateurs who lack experience or confidence.

Some don’ts:-

  • Professional actors won’t stand still just because you haven’t told them to move. Trust them to do what comes naturally.
  • Directors don’t need your help blocking the play. If you have directions like ‘X moves downstage left’. cut it.
  • Don’t choreograph fights. That’s the Fight Director’s job. He will also know whether the actors are right or left handed.
  • Don’t state the obvious. If X says ‘have a seat’, Y will sit down. It doesn’t need a stage direction.

Some do’s:-

  • Stick to what’s essential. I read a play in which a character picked up the post and put it on a table, where they lay unopened and unmentioned for the rest of the play.
  • See some recently written plays and read the scripts to see what came from the writer and what from the performance team – but not the acting edition. Some companies sell discounted scripts as an alternative to the glossy programme.

What, then, are good stage directions? That’s for another blog.


Submissions Wanted For Salisbury Fringe

The Salisbury Fringe takes place on October 3rd, 4th, 5th 2014. They
are looking for submissions for evenings of
‘Short Cuts’ to be performed on Saturday October 4th
and ‘Rough Cuts’(Script in Hand) on Sunday October 5th.
Venues to be confirmed.
 We are looking for original, breathtaking new plays…with passion, attitude, comedy on any subject. No monologues.
 No more than 20 minutes. (Shorter pieces very welcome and needed. Longer pieces will be rejected.)
 3 characters max.
 Scripts should be in 12pt font, printed one side of A4, with wide margins left and right, and set out in standard UK stage play format. Pages numbered and securely stapled together.
 Writers should include a list of characters, ages and relationship to each other.
 Minimal sound effects or music
 No or minimal props./costumes, to be provided by the writer, director or actors in consultation.
 Maximum of two plays per person.
 Submission period is now open.
 Closing date is FRIDAY AUGUST 1st, 2014 (Midnight)
 Submissions by post only. Post TWO copies of your script to: Angela Street, 25 Belle Vue Road, Salisbury SP1 3YD (Scripts should not be sent by any means requiring a signature on delivery. Submissions with insufficient postage will not be accepted, so check before sending.)
 There will be no personal conversations with the panel.

The New Well-Made Play?

One of the casualties of the 50’s dramatic revival was the well-made play. Is it returning with a new set of rules? Matt Trueman suggests as much in a recent Stage article.

Rule one is that every character goes on a journey. Rule two is to weave their journeys round musings on some bigger theme. Rule three is to communicate what the play is about by repeated words and themes – not, of course, so obviously that the audience won’t feel a glow of pride at understanding the meaning.

Trueman’s complaint is that great drama doesn’t have a meaning in that sense. It looks at the world and asks ‘what?’.

There is nothing wrong with craftsmanship. The problems start when it outruns inspiration.

Quote, Unquote – One

Here are some of the best theatre quotes from recent months.

I’m an actor. How do I know what a £1000 pay rise feels like?
(An actor responding to an earnings survey)

How refreshing it is to see stomach-turning atrocity in the theatre, where it belongs, rather than on depressing newsreels from around the world.
(Michael Coveney reviewing Titus Andronicus in the Guardian)

Audiences are more curious than they’re given credit for, more willing to try new things, but they need help to access unfamiliar things.
(Maria Aberg writing in Culture Critic)

The risk in going to see the new and the untested untested is that it will disappoint us. The greater risk is that by not going those of us writing about theatre become the gatekeepers.
(Lyn Gardiner writing in the Guardian)

You’ve just changed Croatian history.
(Zrinka Cvitesic on winning best actress in a musical award at the Oliviers)

Performance Lab At Basingstoke

As part of the Basingstoke Festival, the Proteus Creation Space is hosting a show case of new theatre.

Wednesday 2nd July
Dust, presented by Strange arrangements.
Projection, movement and new writing combine in an epic tale of the miniscule.

Saturday 5 July
Little Red, presented by Forward Thinking Company
The story before the fairy tale.

Wednesday 9th July
Falling Upwards, by Kaveh Rahnama
Exploring Newton’s law of motion.
(For children 5-7)

Saturday 12th July
Sundowning, presented by Pursued By A Bear
The effects of Alzheimers on three generations of women from the same family.

Tickets for each production are £3. Shows start at 7.30pm, except Falling Upwards (6.30pm), and last between 20-50 minutes. To book go to http://www.proteustheatre.com/?page=PerformanceLab

Help The Writer

Rehearsed readings give writers an opportunity to try out work in front of an audience and get their feedback. They are also a chance for the audience to be part of the writing process.

If this appeals, come along to the Salberg Studio at Salisbury Playhouse on Saturday 21 June to see a reading of John Yates’s new play Islam.

A high flying banker faces a personal crisis. Change is needed. But how to change?

John has had work performed at the Arcola, Theatre 503 and the Edinburgh Festival.