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…

The Death of Ivan Ilyich

Probably Unmasked Theatre’s best outing yet for its trademark full use of the Rialto Theatre space

Unmasked Theatre
Rialto Theatre

Adapted and directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill

New Writing South Best New Play Award 2019 Shortlist

Tolstoy’s late novella is here adapted for the stage in a new play written and directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill, and currently shortlisted for New Writing South’s Best New Play Award 2019.

A judge and his family move to a smart new home and all’s marvellous. Until a deftly-staged fall sets off a spiral down to the inevitable conclusion.

Kevin Cherry takes a commanding lead, a fussily precise control gradually stripped away as the dreary inevitability of dying begins its creep. He’s not going gently; raging, questioning and fighting as the dull debris of dying piles up around his central writhing figure.

The family are getting on with being alive, perhaps more urgently now – parties, snogging, dressing up for a posh evening out – because they know they’re helpless.

Time’s fluid – we begin and end at the end, with Ivan’s funeral and we delve back through time to his decline, back to his own childhood, then snap back to his death. The writing preserves a sense of its nineteenth century Russian origins, matched with its present day setting. At the end of life, Ivan delves into some huge solo themes, while the twenty first century life of online gaming, social media and phone-addicted teens whirls around him regardless.

Sarah Widdas is warmth and truth personified as practical wife Praskovya needing a night at the theatre in a gorgeous frock, Bronte Sandwell’s a sweet daughter Lisa flitting and flirting about, and George Todd endears as young Vasya – all’s normal in these teens’ world (apart from this dreadful thing happening in the corner), and there’s great support and range from Matt Turpin and Bradley Thomas, doubling a fleeting cast of friends and doctors.

One of the highlights of the piece is Liam Murray Scott, doubling as smarmy hearty Schwartz, practical diamond Gerasim and unlistening Doctor Jones. He’s an assured and powerful actor who makes this look easy.

Probably Unmasked Theatre’s best outing yet for its trademark full use of the Rialto Theatre space – energy and movement, in-scene set changes, speaking from the audience plus a raised spotlit dais at the back, Ivan’s stage for his death scene. He’s part of the family, yet separate and above them, blue-lit and isolated.

A couple of polishing notes – The dais sometimes meant others turned their backs on the audience to speak to Ivan, which meant we lost clarity, projection and subtext. The play’s more about those affected by death than dying itself, and if they remained looking at us we could see the truth of what was going on beneath their socially careful words as they perform the trying task of chatting to a dying man. I’d like a little more volume and articulation from some – the Rialto’s an intimate space, but still needs those voices to hit the back walls.

In the end, this was exactly how my father’s last few months happened in my family. It’s something we’ll all experience, and we have no training in how to deal with it. The programme apologises for not including a trigger warning on the promotional material. It wasn’t necessary. Audiences have always understood the value of catharsis.

Philippa Hammond
Sussex Playwrights Reviews

Tiptree: No-one Else’s Damn Secret But My Own

Rowe’s fluid writing fleets through glimpses of an extraordinary life

Written and performed by Jenny Rowe
Directed by Nicola Haydn

James Tiptree Jr was the pseudonym used by the American science fiction author Alice B Sheldon. For years this persona fitted in with the male-dominated SF world; where ‘what if … ‘ was the norm, yet including women in those worlds was not.

An actor who hooks our attention and holds it in her hands for an hour, Rowe’s a great storyteller and master of the pause where it’s most effective. Her performance is pacy and upbeat, sometimes very funny, as she transforms into the 70+ Tiptree with ageing makeup and a cigarette-roughened patrician Hepburn drawl; laconic, ironic and wry.

Poking fun at the society she came from and lived through, Alice was always a little at odds, a little bit off. An American in Africa, a girl needing protecting but not being given a gun to do it herself, a bisexual woman in a conservative world of debutantes and finishing schools, a woman in a series of men’s worlds, perhaps none more conservative than the world of American SF.

We know the horrible truth from the start, that this is Tiptree’s last hour before she joins her husband. Rowe’s fluid writing fleets through glimpses of an extraordinary life in that universal solo show agreement between performer and audience – the performer is alone, but talking to us. Whoever we are. And we’re fine with that; we’ve done this before.

www.JennyRowe.co.uk

Philippa Hammond
Sussex Playwrights Reviews

Meeting July 7th 2019

For your diary – Our next meeting

Sussex Goes To Edinburgh!

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

We’re delighted to welcome our July 7th special guests:

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

Miles Mlambo, discussing his new play Dancing in the Moonlight, on the life of the late Phil Lynott

Venue

The New Venture Theatre bar
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

All welcome

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Visitors welcome – £3 on door / £2 with Equity card [including drinks]

You can join on the night [£15 / £12 with Equity card], which entitles you to free entry to every meeting and event, including drinks, and an entry into our next playwriting competition.

Please note: Sussex Playwrights is a separate organisation from our friends the New Venture Theatre, and does not share membership.

If you’d like to present and discuss an extract from your play at a future meeting, please contact

Philippa Hammond

chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk.

For your diary

The dates for Sussex Playwrights meetings over the next few months:

7 July 2019 [Sussex Goes To Edinburgh – Fringe special]
4 August 2019



June 2nd 2019 Summer party

For your diary – Our next meeting

Our June 2nd summer party meeting is under construction – details soon.

Venue

The New Venture Theatre bar
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

All welcome

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Visitors welcome – £3 on door / £2 with Equity card [including drinks]

You can join on the night [£15 / £12 with Equity card], which entitles you to free entry to every meeting and event, including drinks, and an entry into our next playwriting competition.

Please note: Sussex Playwrights is a separate organisation from our friends the New Venture Theatre, and does not share membership.

If you’d like to present and discuss an extract from your play at a future meeting, please contact

Philippa Hammond

chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk.

For your diary

The dates for Sussex Playwrights meetings over the next few months:

2 June 2019 [Summer Party]
7 July 2019
4 August 2019

Sussex Playwrights

Supporting and promoting new drama in the region since 1935

Our meetings

If you’d like a taste of what we do at our meetings … here’s a little run down of the last few events:

 

Our next meeting will be happening during the Brighton Fringe – Check out our April meeting report for details and responses to five of the upcoming shows we previewed at that meeting.

Members’ news

Protect and Survive

Sussex Playwrights’ writers, actors and producer collaborate on this major online audio drama series. Contributors include Russell Shaw, Sorcha Brooks, Philippa Hammond, Robert Cohen, Simon Jenner and TBC Audio producer Simon Moorhead.

You can hear the whole cycle 7 to 19 May as part of Brighton Fringe, in the Jubilee Library.

Imagine what life would be like in Brighton following a nuclear attack on the UK? The chaos, the anguish, the resilience….

What would you do to survive?

As the UK is hit by 160 nuclear warheads, The Other 1% takes you in and around Brighton from the day before to 1000 years after the attack. Systems at the local council collapse, the hospital can’t cope with the human tide and the postman is conscripted to maintain law and order. What exactly is the farmer feeding her pigs, what struggles will humanity face hundreds of years after a nuclear holocaust and how will language and our relationships evolve?

Brighton-based award-winning producer and director, Simon Moorhead: ‘The entire series is produced, cast and recorded in Brighton and Sussex. We are fortunate to have so much talent on our doorstep.’

Details

May Guests:

A celebration of writing and performance during the 2019 Brighton Fringe showcasing two more upcoming Fringe shows and an award-winning short monologue, featuring performances and conversations with

 

Jenny Rowe

Jenny performs and discusses an extract from her solo play

‘Tiptree: No-one Else’s Damn Secret But My Own’

Details

Most Curious Productions

Tristan Woolf presents an extract from his new play ‘The Hunters of Ghost Hall’, with writer and actors in conversation.

Details

Joshua Plummer

Writer, actor and stage combat tutor Joshua performs and discusses his short solo piece ‘Samaritans’ – one of three winners of London Theatre Podcast’s New Year, Same Me competition. Joshua will also be giving some insights on dramatic combat on the night.

Details

The Harbour Theatre Company

Eddie Alford presents and discusses an extract from his upcoming play ‘Hello Who’s Calling’

 

April 2019 meeting – now over

Brighton Fringe preview, featured extracts and discussions on:

Risqué! by Timothy Coakley

Directed by Murray Hecht

 

Meet the strip club owner who can’t get the staff, the incompetent sex line operator, the lift attendant with a secret, the man who wants a bigger one, Desperate Denise, inappropriate behaviour, the girl who can’t stop, the wife who can’t believe her eyes, the doctor who gets a shock, and the swingers who want to try something new!

Tickets

 

Four Thieves Vinegar by Christine Foster

Directed by Margot Jobbins, FourTails Theatre Company

Four Thieves Vinegar is a black comedy about the black death. Set in the dingy depths of Newgate Prison, 1665: the height of the plague. The play finds its four characters – three prisoners and their jailer – in one of the few places currently untouched by the disease rampaging throughout the land. One prisoner, an alchemist, believes he has found a cure for the plague and implores his fellow inmates to help him make it. But to do that they’ll need gold, and to get that they’ll need to make good use of the only resources at their disposal: sex, wit and lies.

Tickets

 

The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm

A twisting, taut psychological drama. Heather has made a success of her life. Carla is out of cash and she is willing to take part in an unusual proposition. The two women meet up for the first time since leaving school and the intrigue and manipulation begins. The Wasp by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm had its original production at the Hampstead Theatre in January 2015.

Tickets

 

Chain Written and directed by Peter Gardiner, Two Bit Productions

From the team that brought you 2018’s “Bully Beef” comes Chain, a contemporary play with audio drama interludes. A group of anti-war activists commit themselves to radical new tactics, when they lead to consequences none of them could of for-seen it pushes their beliefs to the edge and threatens to tear the group apart.

Tickets

 

Further Education by Pete Barrett

Directed by Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill, Unmasked Theatre

1985: Frank the miner likes doing his job and reading the Sun. Unfortunately, Maggie is after his job and his new housemates definitely don’t like him reading the Sun. In a riotous clash of class, morals and feminism, very traditional Frank finds himself bunking down with three very modern students at the heart of the picketing wars.

In a country seeking to eradicate his livelihood, Frank must decide how he would like to be remembered once the line is inevitably drawn.

Award-winning Brighton company Unmasked Theatre returns with a winner from the highly successful Brighton Scratch Night.

Tickets

 

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Sunday March 3rd 2019 19.00 – 21.00 pm

It’s approaching that time of year again – the Sussex Playwrights AGM is here.

Please could all current paid members come to the meeting. Come along and have your say!

You will be very welcome to attend, speak, propose and second, and all current members are eligible for election to the 2019 – 2020 posts.

Could you let us know if you would like to stand in the election?

Posts and current holders are:

Chair – Philippa Hammond

Vice Chair – Robert Cohen

Secretary – Thomas Everchild

Treasurer – Keith Holman [Keith is an accountant and the son of long-serving Sussex Playwright the late Olive Holman. He is looking after this role in her memory].

Committee members

Please could you send any items for the agenda, and any motions you’d like to propose?

Non members are welcome too – although you won’t be able to vote or stand, you can get a feel for what Sussex Playwrights is all about, enjoy a glass of wine and networking conversation – all for just £3 / £2 with Equity card.

You would of course be welcome to join on the night!

Membership is £15 / £12 with Equity card.

Contact: Philippa Hammond chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Venue

The New Venture Theatre bar
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

All welcome

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Visitors welcome – £3 on door / £2 with Equity card [including drinks]

You can join on the night [£15 / £12 with Equity card], which entitles you to free entry to every meeting and event, including drinks, and an entry into our next playwriting competition.

Please note: Sussex Playwrights is a separate organisation from our friends the New Venture Theatre, and does not share membership.

Our March guests

Lena Richardson Hill presents

an extract from and discussion on

The Thrill of Love

by Amanda Whittington

We’ll also be hearing from Christine Foster about the new production of her play

Four Thieves Vinegar

which will feature in 2019 Brighton Fringe.

Writer / actor Joshua Plummer in conversation.

Joshua was one of the winners in the London Theatre Podcast’s “New Year, New Me” Writing Competition.

Play readings at future meetings

If you have a short play or excerpt, work in progress or finished piece [up to 10 minutes long] and would like to present it at a future meeting for discussion and feedback, or you would like to read on the night, please email us in advance at chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Next meeting date

3 March 2019

————————————————————–

February 3rd meetup – finished

Networking and conversation for writers, actors, creators and lovers of stage, screen, audio and online drama

This month:

An extract from a new play in progress, Requiem for a Ratcatcher’s Daughter by Jules Craig, featuring Jenny Rowe and Sian Webber, followed by discussion with Jules Craig and the actors.

Jules Craig trained as an actor at Rose Bruford College, and as a voice coach at Central School of Speech and Drama. Recent credits include Marjorie in ‘Sisterhood’ (Kriah Arts) and Mustardseed/Snout in ‘Midsummer Nights Dream’ (BSC at BOAT). She teaches Voice at ‘ACT’, Brighton and ‘Identity’ Drama School, London. Writing work includes: short stories for ‘White Rabbit’s’ ‘Are You Sitting Comfortably’ (Basement, Brighton), contributions to ‘Brighton, A Graphic Novel’, and ‘Backstage Brighton’ (QueenSpark Books), and ‘Edith, Elizabeth and I’, (One woman show), which she produced, performed and toured nationally in 2016.

Sian Webber has worked extensively in theatre and on screen. Recent TV work includes Gunpowder, Silent Witness, Black Earth Rising, Midsommer Murders and Holby City and for ten years she has played the recurring role of Ritchie Scott in Eastenders.

Jenny Rowe is an actor / improviser & writer who performs with Brighton improv group The Maydays (***** Fringe Guru) and Impromptu Shakespeare. She has also guest performed with Whirled News Tonight at the iO Theatre in Chicago. She has toured with Fluxx and runs improv for creative writing workshops. (‘Jenny Rowe excels at the one liners that bring a sketch to a satisfying conclusion.’ Fringe Review, Argus the Musical).

Requiem for a Rat Catcher’s Daughter is a dark comedy exploring ageing, identity, and the pleasures and pitfalls of living alone. EVIE has found her own inventive means of controlling the plague of rats in her garden, creating her own homemade traps. When an unfortunate accident draws the attention of the local authorities, she is plagued with visitors: community police, social workers, and a rat catcher. When REBEKAH arrives, EVIE assumes she is yet another official and hides the bigger better trap that she is building. However REBEKAH is not what she seems, or what EVIE assumes her to be, and EVIE’S independence is consequently challenged.

 

If you’re working on a new script, perhaps in preparation for Brighton Fringe, and would be interested in presenting a work in progress extract or having a scratch reading on the night, please do let us know!

 

For your diary

The dates for Sussex Playwrights meetings over the next few months:

7 April 2019 [Brighton Fringe Preview]
5 May 2019 [Brighton Festival / Fringe meeting]
2 June 2019
[Summer Party]
4 August 2019

Sussex Playwrights

Supporting and promoting new drama in the region since 1935


Previous meetings

Sussex Playwrights January 6th 2019 – finished

Happy New Year!

All about Sussex Playwrights’ January meeting for writers, actors, producers – anyone interested in new drama and all media.

Special guests:

Brighton’s TBC Audio producer / director Simon Moorhead brings all the latest news of his current work – the huge online audio drama project The Other 1%, recently mentioned in the BBC Sounds’ Drama Podcast Report. Essential networking for writers and actors in the region!

Writers, actors, crew, post production work – this series is almost entirely Sussex-created and made.

Fascinating insights and essential networking opportunity for any writer or actor interested in connecting with a commissioning producer working in the city.

Philippa Hammond gives a live performance of Delicacy, a brand new monologue by Grant Gillespie and Laura Lockington, which will also shortly be recorded for the series.

And personal commitments permitting, writer-actor-producer Robert Cohen will be performing a preview extract from his solo show ‘Hi Vis’, which will be running at Sweet Venues in February, followed by discussion on the practicalities of writing, performing and producing solo work.

 

———-

 

Christmas party

Drama, comedy, stories, wine, nibbles, great conversation …

Come and join us for our annual Christmas event!

Take part: If you have a Christmas / winter / ghost themed short story, sketch, short play and you’d like to perform or share them on the night, please email

chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk


November meeting – finished.

A monthly writers’ and actors’ meetup

Different Theatre’s writer/director Sam Chittenden will present and discuss an extract from her latest drama Sary, shortly to feature in Horrorfest, followed by discussion about her experiences around creating new drama, writing for production and performance, and marketing writers’ work.

Featuring Sharon Drain and Rebecca Jones.


We’ll also welcome Luke Ofield and Pip O’Neill – as the Rialto Theatre’s resident company, the award-winning Unmasked Theatre, they run the highly successful The Brighton Scratch Night. A development programme for new writing, the Scratch has seen five plays go on to full Fringe runs, and this year will see a whole lot more.

Ben Baeza and John Black perform an extract from Naked Kittens by Max Wilkinson, directed by Luke & Pip.

Unmasked Theatre are a producing company based in Brighton, with four years’ experience of critically acclaimed productions, with a focus on new writing and adapting classical literature for the modern stage.

 

May 5th 2019 Fringe-time meeting

Our May 5th Fringe-time meeting

Our May meeting happened during the Brighton Fringe – Check out our April meeting report for details and responses to five more of the upcoming shows we previewed then.

May Guests

A celebration of writing and performance during the 2019 Brighton Fringe showcasing two more upcoming Fringe shows and an award-winning short monologue, featuring performances and conversations with

Joshua Plummer

Writer, actor and stage combat tutor Joshua performed and discussed his short solo piece ‘Samaritans’ – one of three winners of London Theatre Podcast’s New Year, Same Me competition. Joshua also gave  some insights on dramatic combat on the night.

[More about Joshua at www.joshuaplummer.co.uk ]

The Harbour Theatre Company

Eddie Alford presented and discussed an extract from his upcoming play ‘Hello Who’s Calling’

[See Simon Jenner’s Fringe Review at http://fringereview.co.uk/review/brighton-fringe/2019/hello-whos-calling/ ]

Jenny Rowe

Jenny performed and discussed an extract from her solo play ‘Tiptree: No-one Else’s Damn Secret But My Own’

[see our review at www.sussexplaywrights.co.uk/tiptree-no-one-elses-damn-secret-but-my-own]

Most Curious Productions

Tristan Woolf presented an extract from his new play ‘The Hunters of Ghost Hall’, with writer and actors in conversation.

[see our review at www.sussexplaywrights.co.uk/the-hunters-of-ghost-hall ]

Members’ news

Protect and Survive

Sussex Playwrights’ writers, actors and producer collaborate on this major online audio drama series. Contributors include Russell Shaw, Sorcha Brooks, Philippa Hammond, Robert Cohen, Simon Jenner and TBC Audio producer Simon Moorhead.

You can hear the whole cycle 7 to 19 May as part of Brighton Fringe, in the Jubilee Library.

Imagine what life would be like in Brighton following a nuclear attack on the UK? The chaos, the anguish, the resilience….

What would you do to survive?

As the UK is hit by 160 nuclear warheads, The Other 1% takes you in and around Brighton from the day before to 1000 years after the attack. Systems at the local council collapse, the hospital can’t cope with the human tide and the postman is conscripted to maintain law and order. What exactly is the farmer feeding her pigs, what struggles will humanity face hundreds of years after a nuclear holocaust and how will language and our relationships evolve?

Brighton-based award-winning producer and director, Simon Moorhead: ‘The entire series is produced, cast and recorded in Brighton and Sussex. We are fortunate to have so much talent on our doorstep.’

[listen to The Other 1% complete portfolio of audio dramas at https://audioboom.com/channels/4966632 ]

Four Thieves Vinegar

Intriguing period drama with a bleakly comic flavour, shining a light on an astounding period of London history.

 

Image: Thomas Everchild

Four Thieves Vinegar
By Christine Foster
Director Margot Jobbins
FourTails Theatre Company
Rialto Theatre

We’re in a tiny, cramped claustrophobic prison cell in the sweltering summer of 1665, the Black Death raging outside and coming ever closer, in a deftly suggested setting of wood, straw and sturdy barrels with a lightly sketched-in soundscape.

It’s rightly cramped and privacy is non existent – the privy takes pride of place and the cast must edge and sidle around furniture and props. There’s a few anxious moments there, plus a great audience heart-in-mouth ‘is he really going to … ???’ build-up to look out for.

There’s an authentic feel to props and frocks, though all the clothing layers do suggest dank chill over stifling heat – maybe fewer layers, more filth, more sweat as the production develops? I’d like a little more greyish light at edges and a more defined sliver of sunlight cutting through, but the natural tones and expressive faces are well offset in this plain black box space.

We never get to leave this hole, but there’s a giant, horrifying world out there, its darkly infernal images only told of and conjured up by Foster’s swift writing.

Char Brockes’ Jennet Flyte is an intense little bird quivering with zeal, curled around her secrets and ablaze with hope, even in this hell.

Liam Murray Scott is alchemist Mattias Richards, driven and poised above all this, secure in his scientist superiority, brushing aside his current situation with an abstracted arrogance that ultimately cracks and breaks.

Director Margot Jobbins’ Gaoler Holt shows pathetic cheery pride in her dreadful little kingdom, clinging resolutely to her fantasy future to the last.

Sorcha Brookes as Nurse Hannah Jeakes blends grim humour and a tough ability to make the most of every opportunity with a rough tenderness and raw vulnerability that’s most moving.

Intriguing period drama with a bleakly comic flavour, shining a light on an astounding period of London history.

Four Thieves Vinegar can next be seen

24th and 25th May at Hillside Barn, the Green, Rottingdean

1st and 2nd June 1pm at the Rialto Theatre, Brighton

Details

Philippa Hammond
Sussex Playwrights Reviews