Sussex Playwrights

Welcome to Sussex Playwrights

For writers, producers, directors, actors and anyone with a passion for plays

Sussex Playwrights Writers Link

We promote new writing for stage, screen, radio, audio and on-line.

Our purpose is to encourage new work from writers throughout the English speaking world.

Sussex just happens to be where we started, in 1935.

More about Sussex Playwrights…

Meeting October 6th 2019

For your diary – Our next meeting

Monthly networking for writers, producers and makers of new drama for stage, screen and audio

Sussex Playwrights October 6th

Our meeting programme is currently under construction.

Check back for details, and do ‘like’ the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page, too.

Future plans

We’ll be bringing up the volume again on play readings over the autumn  and winter. We’d welcome works in progress or finished pieces around 10 – 15 minutes long. Later in the year we’ll be featuring longer pieces – 45 minute plays or suitable extracts.

Please let us know if you have a piece you would like to propose for a reading at a meeting [chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk].

Philippa

All welcome
Sussex Playwrights members free
Visitors £3 (£2 Equity card)
Includes wine/juice

New Venture Theatre Bar
Bedford Place
Brighton

(Note – Sussex Playwrights is not part of the New Venture Theatre group itself)

For your diary – our future meeting dates

6 Oct, 3 Nov, 1 Dec, 5 Jan, 2 Feb, 1 Mar, 5 Apr, 3 May, 7 Jun, 5 Jul & 2 Aug.

December special guest: Honorary President and Vice President William Nicholson

Sussex Playwrights Honorary President and Vice President …

Latest news: William Nicholson will be our special guest speaker at our December meeting!

Playwright, novelist and screenwriter William Nicholson

Author of

His latest film Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis
Shadowlands
Les Miserables
Gladiator
First Knight
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

is our Honorary President.

About William and his work: www.williamnicholson.com

For many years the late Sir Peter Shaffer was Sussex Playwrights’ Honorary President.


Honorary Vice President

In a role previously held by the actor Paul Moriarty, our Honorary Vice President is a long-term Sussex Playwrights member

Playwright and screenwriter Judy Upton

Author of

Ashes and Sand
Sliding with Suzanne
Bruises
Sunspots
People on the River

Her plays are published by Methuen Drama

About Judy and her work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Upton

Thank you to William and Judy for their support of new writing in the region

from Chair Philippa Hammond, Secretary Thomas Everchild and the Sussex Playwrights committee and members

Take part

How to have your work read and discussed at a meeting

Work in progress or for sharing

We’re looking to members and guests to take part in meetings and showcase their work

If you’d like to have actors read an excerpt from your latest script in progress for discussion [10 minute slot]

If you’d like to read an excerpt from your latest fiction or non-fiction on the night [10 minute slot]

If you’d prefer to have someone read it for you, if you’re happier writing than speaking

Please contact us chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Ideas for guest speakers

If you can suggest a great guest speaker for one of our meetings – please get in touch with us.

Ideas for workshops

Are there any particular workshops you’d like to have as part of a meeting?

Suggestions so far include:Reading aloud to an audience – For authors, being able to deliver an excerpt from your poetry, fiction or non fiction to an audience can raise your profile and increase your sales

Acting script-in-hand for beginners – being able to take a script and bring it to life with a group reading is a great skill for writers, and can help you appreciate what makes dialogue playable

Crowd funding your writing – how writers can create their own fundraising project online to support themselves and their creative work.

Audio drama performance skills – an essential toolkit of skills for anyone interested in performing audio drama

Please contact us

Follow and share

Send us your latest news and successes to feature on social media

‘Like’ the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page for the latest news and links

Follow us on Twitter @PlaywrightsClub

Brighton Actors Networking

Castings are announced on the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page and on Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page and Group.
The Group is open to all aspiring, training, pre-professional and professional actors and anyone in related fields.

Brighton Actors Networking Group and Sussex Playwrights

Sussex Playwrights casts its readings from actors in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.

Castings are announced on the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page and on Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Group.
The Group is open to all aspiring, training, pre-professional and professional actors and anyone in related fields.

We encourage

Networking

Sharing opinion and advice

Casting news

Services – classes, workshops, photography etc – relevant to actors

Debates and alerts to issues

Performance news

Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page

 

Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page and Group were founded and developed by Thomas Everchild and Philippa Hammond [secretary and chair of Sussex Playwrights].

‘We knew there was a big and active community of actors in Brighton and Hove – but there was nowhere online for networking and sharing.

A chance conversation at an event in 2013 sparked the idea to create a Facebook Page and Group for actors in the city.

We created the Page that evening and by the end of the first weekend had over 100 members.

The Group followed quickly, and together they have over 2000 members today.’

Philippa Hammond

September 2019

Kick off a dramatic autumn with Sussex Playwrights

Kick off a dramatic autumn with the next Sussex Playwrights meeting this Sunday September 1st – all welcome.

Our special guests had all just returned from the Edinburgh experience, with audience and critical acclaim to their credit!

We discussed their work producing, writing and performing new drama at the Fringe.

Magician, comedian, actor, writer, corporate presenter, paranormal sceptic, bon viveur Paul Zenon discussing

Trust Me!

‘The master at work …’ Must See Show [Fringe Review]
Review

Different Theatre – Writer, producer, director, actor Sam Chittenden discussing

Sary

‘a beautiful piece of theatre, crafted with elegance and passion …’ [Fringe Review]
Review

Metamorphosis

‘Assiduously constructed and impressively acted, Different Theatre’s female-oriented Metamorphosis rings with a new voice …’ [A Younger Theatre]
Review

Bite-Size Plays – Producer and driving force behind this Brighton and Edinburgh phenomenon, Nicolas Brice discussing and performing with Philippa a short play from the menu; ‘Vintage’, by Lucy Kaufman.

The Big Bite Size Breakfast Show

‘a winning formula for good plays … guaranteed good theatre.’ [The British Theatre Guide], shortlisted for the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award

Review

August 2019 meeting report

Writers’ Night

Sussex Playwrights was established originally to read and discuss writers’ plays.

Now we’ve re-established it as a great place for writers, performers, producers and makers of new stage, screen, audio and online drama, we’re going to be weaving this idea back into our monthly meetings schedule over the next few months. We’ll be keeping the mix of networking, special guests and guest performances too. Monologues, dialogue, sketches, screenplays – we’ll be inviting writers to come along with short examples of your writing to be read and discussed on Writers’ Nights.

August 2019’s meeting was a Writers’ Night.

We featured playwright and poet Simon Jenner, in discussion about his work with a reading of his first short play Stemming the Flow, an encounter between Byron and Keats, with Simon as Byron, Russell Shaw as Keats and Philippa Hammond as the Doctor, a reading by Simon of his latest piece My Shit Year and some in depth group discussion on the writing and reading of the works.

We’ll be featuring more play readings over the autumn and winter – please let us know if you have a piece you would like to propose for a reading at a meeting.

Philippa  chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Numbers

Mercury Theatre Productions

Oxford University National Tour Production

Written and directed by Alex Blanc
Featuring
Jack: Henry Waddon
Michael: Joe Woodman
Brianna: Abi Harindra

Rialto Theatre, Brighton (Edinburgh preview)

‘… a lighthearted, honest look at male mental health in the 21st century, and we’re really proud to be working in association with the UK’s leading mental health charity SANE on the production. It aims to show that recovery is possible; in the midst of a crisis in mental health, Numbers’ core message is one of hope.’ (producers)

We think we’ve seen this before – three young actors, three chairs, an Edinburgh-focussed hour on a black box stage. But this goes above and beyond expectations. Writer/director Alex Blanc’s tale of three troubled young people is sharply observed and written in a fluent, natural voice.

A therapy group’s a classic storytelling setting. We’re the other members of the circle, hearing Jack and Michael sharing their stories of who they are and what’s happening to them, with the message that boys too suffer emotional distress and tortured self image.

The writing slips between monologues and conversations, with Jack sometimes commenting on the story and moving the scenes along. On a directorial note, it’s sometimes a little on the nose – characters saying how they feel in an appropriate tone of voice – and a more contradictory reading of the lines might add intrigue and deeper layers, while at times, rapid speaking meant words and meaning were difficult to catch. That great performance energy and a very simple pared down staging kept the pace zipping along, while the few issues with the lighting can be easily polished ready for Edinburgh.

As Brianna, Abi Harindra’s sincere, giving performance is the initially ‘all about me’ girlfriend who gradually comes to a deeper understanding of what’s happening and matures into her new more adult self.

There’s ambiguity too in Michael’s story, Joe Woodman’s tightly-wound portrayal of the all too familiar tale of a gay teen rejected by his parents and seen as a problem to be solved by their church. Is he telling the truth, though?

In the lead role, Henry Waddon’s Jack is a young man struggling to deal with life. Little setbacks, a lost football match, trigger a spiral into depression, anxiety and bulimia. Waddon delivers a physically relaxed and vocally assured exploration of explosive emotional depths engagingly flavoured with a sweet sense of humour. One to watch.

The Numbers tour continues:

Edinburgh Fringe, C Aquila Temple: 1-26th Aug
Oxford, Old Fire Station: 4-6th September

Philippa Hammond

July 7th 2019 meeting report

Sussex Goes To Edinburgh!

Playwrights, performers and producers in Sussex are preparing their shows for the long journey to Edinburgh this August.

We were delighted to welcome our July 7th special guests:

Emily Carding, winner of Fringe Review Outstanding Show award at the 2019 Brighton Fringe Awards for Quintessence

Simon Jenner’s review: Quintessence Fringe Review

Roger Kay and Lauren Varnfield of the Rialto Theatre

Lauren is writer, director and performer of Myra, the solo play on the story of Myra Hindley

Our review: Myra Sussex Playwrights

Roger and Lauren invite shows scouted at Edinburgh to the Rialto each year

Actor/playwright Jules Craig, in discussion with Philippa and Emily Carding about the experience of playing Shakespeare’s iconic male roles. Jules is currently playing Shylock for the Brighton Shakespeare Company.

The Merchant of Venice review by Simon Jenner

 

The Merchant of Venice

Sussex Playwrights Reviews

The Merchant of Venice
Brighton Shakespeare Company
BOAT, June 2019

The hottest day of the year slanted through a green amphitheatre lends occasion to comedy lanced with shadows. Brailsford’s Brighton troupe – the Brighton Shakespeare Company – make BOAT the Shakespeare go-to in late June. Last year’s vigorous The Comedy of Errors darkens this year with The Merchant of Venice from 1597.

The title role’s taken by Paul Moriarty (also Duke of Arragon), Shylock by Jules Craig. With Amy Sutton as Portia – a role she rightly claims she’s born to play – Kerren Garner’s raucous Nerissa and Duncan Drury’s ardent Bassanio, it’s a line-up that almost guarantees distinction.

Moriarty’s melancholic voice commands distinction from the first, as gadflies Lorenzo (Andrew Crouch, excellent) and Stewart Barham’s skirling Gratiano float round before the entrance of Bassanio. The initially quiet Crouch livens up when courting Rachel Mullock’s joyous, flirty Jessica.

Drury and Moriarty render the homoeroticism latent and affectionate, the latter fatalistic and weary from the first, his young friend in Drury’s reading. Drury’s not quite the ruthless go-getter, his feeling for Antonio and later Portia is genuine and alter (with the ring scene) conflicted. There’s no sense that Moriarty’s delicate but firm underlining of his feelings are reciprocated or perhaps recognized. Drury’s Bassanio is casually venal, entitled to a degree, an attractive insider-dealer heedless of consequence. But he’s neither cruel not within his limits insincere. As we find.

Barham’s gravelly disdain is venom contained, less sheerly cruel to Shylock than some and winningly raunch for raunch with Garner’s in-your-face lust as Nerissa, the maid to Portia who unlike her mistress can choose and blatantly does in front of her (no matter decorum would forbid, the emotional truth of it is overwhelming). Her desire’s expressed in dance-offs. In this production the constraints of the ardent aristos are underscored by their servants’ licence (Gratiano’s status cemented after wedding Nerissa). Barham too makes a parodic peacock of the Prince of Morocco.

It’s the same with Crouch and Mullock: flirty, passionate (Jessica grabs Lorenzo from the start) less lusty than sexy. Their playful badinage in V I is beautifully pointed, darkening from mythic classics to parries at ‘pretty Jessica’ fully answered but not really portending any fractiousness. Crouch literally dances attendance and their playfulness is balletic. This Jessica casts few shadows save at the end when she realizes how she inherits what she does.

Directed by Mark Brailsford and with costumes designed by Sean Chapman (Shylock and ‘Balthazar’ striking in black, period robes seamed mainly with old reds and saffron) this production is segmented by a music system directed by Brailsford (Strauss waltzes in the interval, Praetorius period dances otherwise), with Associate director Sarah Mann and Assistant director cast-member Kerren Garner. The set’s by ‘Ethel Mermen’. With minimal props – two benches, three caskets and a set of scales – there’s otherwise just a seductive backdrop panel of Venice with gondolas in yellow and black duo-chrome. The BOAT team supply standard facilities and lighting.

The badinage between Sutton and Garner is exquisite, both in their initial scene together when they parody previous suitors with basso and falsetto voices, and when confronting Barham’s preening Morocco and Moriarty’s rickety Arragon, full of frog Franglais.

Sutton’s distinctly terraced voicing and stage command from purr to latter steely judgement is quicksilver contained in dignity. Sutton never overstates the envelope of a rich woman richly left but inured to one constraint; but she’s deliriously playful within that. She manages though a different entitlement to Bassanio: one who knows the use of things for others’ sake, admittedly easy for her.

It’s here when Drury proves his mettle, quick sincere and decisive in his rejection of the gold and silver to Sutton’s quickening excitement, he chooses true. Drury proves here and in the subsequent trial scene his genuine agonizing and worthiness as much as any Bassanio can deserve the depth of a Portia.

There’s different registers for suitors, for Bassanio – where she breaks decorum when demanding to be claimed with a passionate kiss – and her later avatar: all recognizably different but in character. Thus Sutton’s Dr Balthazar really does seem and look different: by turns a paper-fumbling Colombo, pleading, steely, remorseless. Sutton spares some of the anti-Semitism now attributed to Portia. The text has been lightly edited.

Similarly she and Garner run rings round their hapless spouses in the two ring scenes, where Sutton literally rings with consonants. The trial scene where she takes on Craig is notably powerful: keen, spare, rivetingly lucid – which goes for the production but never more so than here.

Brailsford’s major role is Launcelot Gobbo – a role he takes in the spirit of Eric Morecombe judging by his dancing exits. It’s a characterful almost kindly reading, not as nasty as some and without the anti-Semitic point of the original. There’s a sense in which tis production wants to underscore the summery outdoors of its setting and concentrate tragedy in Shylock alone, but for Antonio’s incurable melancholy.

Garner’s Tubal to Craig’s Shylock. It occasions one of Shylock’s great monologues after an earlier one to Gratiano (‘Hath not a Jew…’). Craig’s Shylock is doubly discriminated against as a Jew and a woman. Craig brings out the desperation and revenge Shylock seeks through the only recourse she has: law. Craig’s quiet tread to judgement is riven by first Antonio’s unrepentant hostility even when making the bond – Moriarty spits in fact. And by the later discovery of Jessica’s betrayal.

This is expressed – to Tubal – in the ring (originally ‘had of Leah’) which is substituted ‘husband’ and ‘his’ not ‘my bachelor days’ of the engagement ring casually discarded by Jessica for a monkey, which Craig laments she would not have parted ‘for a wilderness of monkeys’ Rather quite in the first three acts, Craig is notably commanding in the latter two acts, basilisk-eyed and like Sutton, remorseless in front of Brailsford’s Duke of Venice. Her final ‘I am content’ after judgement is taken after a long pause and a visible shrinking into herself. It’s masterly.

There’s fine support from Katy Matthews as Solario and Gaoler as well as stage manager.

The final scenes as suggested are taken at a light lick. There’s no lingering fear from either Portia or Jessica, let alone Nerissa that things will go wrong. They’ve all commanded their respective husbands and as the final dance-off shows ‘put a ring on it’ to Beyoncé’s bouncy send-off. Despite a very occasional energy drop in Acts Two and Three this is a production of real distinction, one of the best I’ve seen outside the Globe and RSC. Sutton matches any Portia and Craig’s Shylock is a revelation.

Directed by Mark Brailsford and with costumes designed by Sean Chapman (supplied by Gladrags) this production is segmented by a music system directed by Brailsford (Strauss waltzes in the interval, Praetorius period dances otherwise), with Associate director Sarah Mann and Assistant director cast-member Kerren Garner. ASM’s Oscar Smart.

The set’s by ‘Ethel Mermen’. With minimal props – two benches, three caskets and a set of scales, there’s otherwise just a seductive backdrop panel of Venice with gondolas in yellow and black duo-chrome.

The BOAT team supply standard facilities and lighting.

Tour dates TBA.

Simon Jenner
Sussex Playwrights

The production will next appear at Lewes Castle

Brighton Shakespeare Company

_

June 2019 meeting

Sussex Playwrights Summer Party: ‘Achievements’

The Fringe is nearly over for another year – time to gather and talk about what we saw, performed and reviewed over a month of theatre, performance, artists, open houses, music, comedy, dance …

We also featured a theme of writing on film, and we focussed on the various film productions that are happening at the moment and some that have been to Cannes this year.

Special guest producer/director Howard J Ford introducing his new family film Adventure Boyz

Trailer

Special guest Justin Hayward discussing the success of the new film script Z.APP which he is developing in collaboration with screenwriter James Alexander Allen

Myra

Myra
W
ritten, directed and performed by Lauren Varnfield
Pretty Villain Productions

‘I was a normal human being for 18 years before I met Ian’

It’s a full house tonight. That peroxide bob and sullen shadowed glare mugshot is already here live on stage, as we walk in, and we reckon we know this story, told in a tight, edgy forty-five minutes.

But Varnfield’s is a seemingly impossible achievement – research, writing and performance altering the way we’ve always seen Myra the monster.

These days we understand more of the lasting effects of physical and emotional abuse on the developing child and adolescent brain. Details of Myra’s grim childhood and teenage infatuation with the mesmerising psychopath Brady suggest that today, coercive control might actually be a credible defence.

A visit from the police, handcuffs, a holding cell – we don’t learn how they were caught, it’s irrelevant and this isn’t the police story.

Time passes via headlines; politics, social history, public events all stream by while Myra is incarcerated. It’s a great use of projection to create a sense of wasted decades.

The play flickers between scenes, backwards and forwards in time, eloquently showing how the past is always with us. Varnfield’s swiftly shifting performance is superb; brittle young girl, constantly on high alert, confusing excitement, arousal and terror til she can’t tell one from the other, contrasts the ageing imprisoned Myra, still, hunched, the voice low, slow and weary.

So was she really the changed, kindly woman Longford portrayed? We’re left with our own conclusions, guided by the letter from a mother begging for the peace that the truth might have offered.

The final moments are chilling; a video journey along the long, lonely road under boiling clouds up onto the Moor.

Rialto Theatre to June 1st
Philippa Hammond