She Writes to relaunch in Medway

The exciting news is that we are going to relaunch She Writes in Chatham, Kent, and really focus on using it to help writers develop their writing.

The idea will be that writers will come along in the afternoon before their plays are due to be performed (or a day or two before depending on your availability,) to watch the plays being rehearsed, talk to the actors and director, and then receive feedback from the audience after the event (if you would like to, in the form of collated feedback forms).

Because we want to support writers’ development, we are currently only selecting plays from Kent-based writers, or those who can attend the performances, to get the most out of the reading of their play.

You can be kept up to date with when the next She Writes submission period is at our new monthly writing newsletter for Kent:

Please email 17Percent if you would like to be considered for our first showcase on 4 August for which we will be accepting 10-minute plays and 10-minute extracts from plays in progress, on the theme of Roundabouts or Traffic (as loosely inspired as you like). Deadline 25 July.

Please see our guidelines  on what to submit, and how.

After that the next dates will be:

1 September – The theme is holidays / vacations. Deadline 18 August.

29 September – To coincide with the Rochester LitFest, the theme is Byron. Deadline 15 Sept.

If you would like to come along and get a feel for the venue we will be using, then please do come along to the launch of our new Monday writing slot on 28 July, 7-10pm, Upstairs at The Alexandra Hotel, 43 Railway St, Chatham, Kent ME4 6RJ.

She Writes is a non-profit, unfunded initiative and so unfortunately there is no payment or reimbursement of expenses to writers, directors, performers or anyone else involved in the production of each piece.

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Camden Preview: The Thelmas present Ladylogue

Ladylogue imageAnd if you can’t make it to Scotland, there is an alternative taking place in London in August: the Camden Fringe. One of the shows there is by new group, The Thelmas.

Ladylogue! is an evening of one-woman shorts by emerging female playwrights, including Katie McCullough, Maud Dromgoole, Serena Haywood, Sarah Hehir, Tina Jay and Guleraana Mir, directed by Madelaine Moore and produced by Rhiannon Story and Madelaine Moore.

Hilarious, heart-warming, and often agonising, these tales reveal the inner lives of women dealing with whatever the world throws at them, by all means necessary. Whether wrestling with the veritable minefield that is teenage love, going to ludicrous lengths to lose weight or attending their first Islamic speed-dating event, these ladies will go above and beyond to improve their lot… Are their outcomes ever easily predicted? Are they mistresses of their own fates or merely making the best of a bad situation? Be they hopeful or hopeless, these ladies will open up a portion of their world, and will never give up without a fight!

Ladylogue! is the debut production from budding company The Thelmas, who are dedicated to promoting and supporting rising female talent. The gender imbalance in British theatre has never seemed more incongruous and so, much like the characters they help develop, The Thelmas are taking matters into their own hands. They are passionate about seeing more work commissioned which is written by women, for women and their work reflects this. Founded by director, Madelaine Moore, whose recent work has been seen at the Arcola Theatre, RichMix London, and Camden People’s Theatre.

In praise of CAKE, the first of the Ladylogues, showcased earlier this year:

“…highly relatable to many of our awkward and painful teenage memories… Beautifully and cleverly written by Maud Dromgoole, and expertly portrayed by Rhiannon Story.” (femalearts)

Tristan Bates Theatre
1a Tower Street Covent Garden London WC2H 9NP
Tue 12 August – Sat 16 August 2014 6:00pm £12.00 (£10.00 concs)
Book tickets via

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Edinburgh Preview: some to watch

There are going to be literally hundreds of things you could see if you are spending some time next month in Edinburgh. But here are a few female-written/created shows that we like the sound of.

Chef posterChef by Sabrina Mahfouz

Chef tells the gripping story of how one woman went from being a haute-cuisine head-chef to a convicted inmate running a prison kitchen. Sabrina Mahfouz’s distinct award-winning lyrical style and Jade Anouka’s mesmerising performance make this an extraordinary, must-see, new show. Leading us through her world of mouth-watering dishes and heart-breaking memories, Chef questions our attitudes to food, prisoners, violence, love and hope. Inspired by an interview Mahfouz conducted with Ollie Dabbous, Chef studies food as the ultimate art form taking stimulus from Dabbous’ obsession with simplicity and making something the best it can be. Underbelly Cowgate – Big Belly from 31st July at 6.10pm.

Half a Can of Worms by Deborah Frances-White

Comedian Deborah Frances-White was adopted when she was only ten days old. Until late 2012, she knew nothing about her birth family. Then she stumbled across some information that led her to embark on a round-the-clock treasure hunt, drawn into her past like a magnet. When Deborah finally made contact with her birth mother, she exposed a part of the past that had been hidden for decades. This is her true story. Turns out, you can’t open half a can of worms! Pleasance Dome from 1st August (except 12th) at 3.45pm.

Hiraeth by Buddug James Jones

In the summer of 1989, a farmer’s wife gave birth to a baby girl. In this moment Buddug James Jones became heir to her family’s three hundred year old farming dynasty. Now as a modern young woman, Bud is desperate to change her destiny. Leaving five generations of tradition behind, she sets out alone into the big smoke encountering men, heartbreak, drama and hilarity along the way accompanied by live music and Welsh cakes. Through one woman’s struggle to escape and let go, Hiraeth explores the decline of Welsh identity and tradition. Hiraeth is a winner of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award 2014. Underbelly Cowgate – Big Belly from 31st July (except 13th) at 4.50pm.

Mock Tudor by Lily Bevan

Jess, Sophie, Nic and Sam re-enact Henry VIII’s weddings, feasts and river pageants. They take pride in authenticity. Well, they try. But, now ‘Visitor Operations’ have ideas about ‘the future of the past’ and want to replace the actors with a computerised experience. It has never been more vital to keep the Tudors alive. From the writer of Stephen & The Sexy Partridge comes a comedy drama about historical re-enactors. Pleasance Courtyard – Beneath from 30th July (except 11th) at 1.45pm.

Spine by Clara Brennan

From award-winning playwright, Clara Brennan (Soho’s Channel 4 Playwright in residence 2014), comes the world premiere of a hilarious, pan-generational and heart-breaking call to arms for our modern age. Spine is a funny and touching monologue, charting the explosive friendship between a ferocious, wise-cracking teenager and a mischievous activist pensioner hell-bent on leaving a political legacy. Originally a 15 minute short as part of Theatre Uncut 2012. Underbelly Cowgate – Big Belly from 31st July (except 12th) at 3.30pm.

The IdeasTap Underbelly Award

We’ve also spotted that the four winners of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award - which offers funding and support from IdeasTap, a prime location at Underbelly Cowgate during the Festival, and mentoring from leading theatre practitioners as well as Underbelly staff - have all been written by female writers. All winning plays share the theme of identity, both personal and national.

You can see Karla Crome’s Mush and Me, Rachael Clerke’s How to achieve redemption as a Scot through the medium of Braveheart, Buddug James Jones’s Hiraeth and Jacqui Honess-Martin’s We Have Fallen, at the Underbelly.



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Preview: Crossing Lines at Face to Face festival

Debs Klayman promo imageScottish playwright Deborah Klayman (who may be familiar to you as she is one of our regular She Writers, as part of Whoop’n’Wail,) performs three short plays she’s written as part of the Lost Theatre Face to Face festival.

Crossing Lines is a suite of monologue plays that take us inside the mind of stalkers and their victims. Two of these plays, Smash & Grab and Lock Up Your Sons will be performed as part of the Lost Theatre’s July Showcase, along with another short play, Civil.

Smash & Grab: Mike is madly in love with Claire, the beautiful barmaid at his local pub. He hopes their friendship can turn into something more – is it time to let her know?

Lock Up Your Sons: When Mel meets Tim on a night out she thinks she has finally found the man of her dreams. How far should she go for true love?

Civil: The Civil War rages at home, but S can only wait by the phone for news of friends and family.

Deborah is a playwright, actress and voice artist based in West London. Plays include: Smash & Grab, Lock Up Your Sons, Civil, Para, Cause for Alarm, and Eve & Lilith (with Jessica Martenson). Deborah recently completed a twelve month attachment as one of the Traverse Theatre’s ‘Traverse Fifty’, and was previously a member of the theatre’s Young Playwright and Class Act schemes. She has recently finished her first full-length play, The Boundary.

Deborah is one of the founding members of Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company, and has co-authored a number of plays with Ali Kemp including: eXclusion, Losing Light, My Bloody Laundrette, Majesty, and Cascade of Baubles. Their plays have been performed at The Canal Café, the Edinburgh Fringe, Waterloo East Theatre, Rochester Literature Festival, and South Hill Park Arts Centre.

Weds 9 July, 7.30pm (Crossing Lines, plus other plays)
Sat 12 July, 7.30pm (Civil, plus other plays)

LOST Theatre
208 Wandsworth Road
London SW8 2JU
More info here.

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Preview: The Helen Project premieres in UK

The Helen Project (photo by Amy Clare Tasker)

The Helen Project (photo by Amy Clare Tasker)

A post-modern, feminist retelling of the story of Helen of Troy, The Helen Project will have two performances at the LOST Theatre’s Face to Face Festival of solo theatre this July. Co-creators Megan Cohen and Amy Clare Tasker are continuing the development of the piece in London after a developmental workshop in San Francisco last spring.

Visitors to this blog may be already familiar with Amy’s work, as she directed 17Percent’s She Writes: What’s through the door? last year. Returning to her native England last summer, Amy has partnered with London director Sharon Burrell, actor/producer Angela Bull, and actors Rachel Handshaw, Pearl Mackie, Anna Martine, and Georgina Panton (also seen in What’s through the door?), to transport The Helen Project across the pond.

The Helen Project is written in fragments of text for five performers, all playing Helen of Troy. Megan Cohen explains, “We see Helen at four ages, on four important nights in her life.  These four Helens are the actual historical person, Helen of Troy; they speak her untold story in our original text, they have psychological depth and sensory experiences.  There is a fifth figure who is essentially the archetype, the eternal and immortal figure ‘Helen.’”

Two different versions of these fragments, the “Build Your Own Helen of Troy Play Kit,” will be performed at the LOST Theatre’s Face to Face Festival of solo theatre this July. An hour-long version on Friday July 11, will explore the possibilities of interconnected solo performances in a traditional proscenium space; on Sunday July 13, the company will experiment with one-on-one immersive performances of the same fragments.

Amy adds: “There is something fascinating about allowing the artists and/or the audience to “construct” their experience of Helen in the same way we construct the idea of the icon “Helen” – or even construct ideas about “beauty” and “woman.” So we’ve decided not to put the fragments together to make a definitive play script, but instead leave that construction work to each production to choose the pieces that resonate with their time and place, to tell their own story of Helen.”

The Helen Project has already been years in the making, and with each passing day, it seems to become more and more relevant. The piece critiques beauty standards, victim-blaming, female agency within patriarchy, and even the way we create myth.

Venue: Lost Theatre, 208 Wandsworth Rd, London SW8 2JU (nearest tube: Stockwell)

Dates & Times:
Friday, July 11 @7.30PM (proscenium performance)
Sunday, July 13 @2PM, 3PM, 4PM, 6PM & 7PM (one-on-one performances)
Tickets: £5.95
Box Office: 0844 847 1680 or

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Preview: 17Percent to present plays at the Rochester Literature Festival

The Spirit of my Dream flier

The Spirit of my Dream

Last year as part of the Rochester Literature Festival, 17Percent presented She Writes: What’s through the door? our 4-star show based on a short story by HG Wells, which received rave reviews.

“I thought the quality of the overall writing was very good and very entertaining – and the acting was outstanding.”

This year, we are pleased to present another trio of plays by female writers, loosely inspired by a poem by Byron ‘The Dream’.

The writers have this year used Byron’s poem as their starting point and written three very different plays, which also reference Lady Caroline Lamb’s infamous description ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’.

More information will be posted about this event, as we work on the production over the summer. But for now, put the date in your diary!

The Spirit of my Dream
Saturday 4 October, time tbc
Chatham Boys’ Grammar School
Holcombe, Maidstone Road, Chatham, ME4 6JB

Free onsite parking in the CBGS carpark, Letchworth Avenue.
Booking information will be available shortly.

More information on this year’s Rochester Literature Festival.


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It’s London LIFT-time

This month (2-29 June) London experiences the LIFT festival. Established in 1981 with a mission to throw open a window to the world, LIFT brings global stories to London, transforming the city into a stage and celebrating the experiences of the many individuals, cultures and communities that call London their home. LIFT has presented pioneering new forms of theatre for over 30 years and has set the benchmark for internationalism in the arts. LIFT curates a year-round programme of work – building to a pan-London festival of shows, special events and talks every two years.

LIFT 2014 platforms a diversity of work that wouldn’t otherwise be seen in London. Work which is political and engages with the big ideas of our times: freedom, justice, and environmental and technological change. Whether it’s thinking about the history of censorship in the Soviet Union, the impact of global warming or the distribution of water, the work is eye-opening, witty and entertaining, with dollops of music, visual culture and animated debate thrown into the mix.

Amongst the many fantastic things happening all month is TESTAMENT by German performance collective She She Pop.

Jewellery, legal succession, family trees, gas receipts … just a few of the topics that rise up when fathers and daughters lay their relationships bare.

Taking to the stage with their real dads, German performance collective She She Pop confront the complex dynamics between generations with frank tenderness. Shakespeare’s King Lear is the backdrop to an audacious show that integrates film, personal testimony, big-band covers and dance to tackle the realities of ageing, inheritance and parenthood head-on. (The Barbican Pit, til 7 June.) You can book tickets here.

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17Percent’s founder presents new short plays for charity

17Percent founder Sam Fentiman-Hall has written two short plays on the subject of trafficking, for London charity Merton Against Trafficking.

The plays tell two stories of different people who have become involved in trafficking in the UK, and will form part of a suite of short plays on the issue, that Sam is developing for use in educational contexts.

You can see a preview of the plays, plus help raise money for the charity, at an event next week, as part of the My Raynes Park festival.

Costa Coffee, 213 Worple Road
£5 – includes a free hot drink.
Buy tickets here.

Our readers for the event are:
Rachel DobellRachel Dobell Rachel’s most recent stage roles include Evelyn, A Wedding Story (Tristan Bates Theatre), Lady Capulet, Romeo and Juliet (Earl Haig Hall); Marion, A Woman of No Importance …. Or Somewhat Little Importance Anyhow (Hen & Chickens); Frau Bergmann/Professor Fliegentod, Spring Awakening (Brockley Jack Theatre).  Rachel’s experience includes musicals, commercials and film, and last autumn she worked with 17 Percent, on She Writes:  What’s Through the Door?, a collection of women’s plays.

Spotlight View PIN:  0455-7868-3083


Henry McGrath photo

Henry McGrath

Henry McGrath Henry has performed in plays such as The Three Penny Opera, The Seagull, and Attempts on her life.  He is currently working with internationally acclaimed Song of the Goat Theatre Company on two projects: Return to the Voice which will play at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 and The Cherry Orchard which will be apart of the Brave Festival, Wroclaw, Poland.
Spotlight View Pin: 5898-5614-0113





Regina Mendes photo

Regina Mendes

Regina Mendes Regina is a visual artist, an actor, director and a psychological astrologer. In her experience all these areas visual, performing and healing arts, complement each other. She is currently developing a series of 700 fabric dolls stuffed by dreams collected from people’s old pillows and by hearts. Please visit

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Goblin Baby presents first full-length play

The Devil And Stepashka imageGoblin Baby Theatre Company are bringing Claire Booker’s 90-minute drama The Devil and Stepashka to London in June and July. The play is based on Tolstoy’s short story ‘The Devil’ in which landowner Zhenya’s obsession for one of his peasant women leads to murderous consequences. He stands trial for murder, but can there be true justice in an unjust society? And is it guilt, insanity or the supernatural that finally haunts him?

The Devil and Stepashka plays at The Space (269 Westferry Road, E14 3RS, Canary Wharf/Mudshoot tube) from Tues 10th to Friday 20th of June at 7.30pm. Matinee 2.30pm, Sat 14th. The play transfers to Ye Old Rose & Crown, (53 Hoe Street, E17 4SA, Walthamstow tube) for Sat 19th July (8pm) and Sun 20th July (6pm). Matinee 2pm, Sunday.

For more information about the production please visit: To book tickets at the Space go to: or tickets at Ye Old Rose & Crown to: Tickets available at the door at £13(£10 concession).

Special Events:
The performances on Wednesday 11th and 18th June will be followed by a Q&A session with the writer and director as well as members of the cast.

For the matinées on June 14th & July 20th the company will present The Verdict is Yours, in which the audience acts as jury and votes for one of two alternative endings to the play.

One year after Goblin Baby’s first project at the Space, they present their first full-length play, The Devil & Stepashka. Founded in 2013, the Goblin Baby Theatre Co. is a London-based activist theatre company not afraid to address taboos and set out to challenge the confines of conventional theatre. They aim to create thought-provoking productions that have the potential to raise social awareness as well as to expose and question the world and society we live in.



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Phoebe Waller-Bridge talks about Fleabag and writing

Marketing image - FleabagFleabag is a multi award-winning solo show by Phoebe Waller-Bridge; both she and the play have won an impressive array of awards since its first showing at Edinburgh: Fringe First Award 2013, The Stage Best Solo Performer 2013, Off West End Award For Most Promising New Playwright 2013, Off West End Award For Best Female Performance 2013 and Critics’ Circle Award For Most Promising Playwright 2014.

Fleabag has been described as ‘Unbelievably rude… extremely funny and confirms Waller-Bridge… as a serious talent to watch’ by Time Out. The play tells the story of a young woman who is outrageously, unashamedly delighting in, and defined by, sex, and the adventures and problems this leads to.  It is a peculiarly zeitgeisty play, capturing a modern feminism with all its contradictions and confusions.

We caught up with Phoebe to find out a bit more about her writing, her theatre company DryWrite, an Associate Company at Soho Theatre, which she runs with best friend and Verity Bargate 2013 winner Vicky Jones. Last year they produced Mydidae by Jack Thorne and after a successful debut at Edinburgh and a run upstairs at Soho Theatre, Fleabag now returns to the main space at the  Soho Theatre  till 25 May.

Tell us about your background – What inspired you to start writing?

I’ve always been interested in writing. I have a collection of horrendous childhood poetry that my grandmother sweetly put together into a little book. I rediscovered it recently. There is a terrible one about a frog sitting on a window sill in a little boy’s room. Makes absolutely no sense, no real rhythm or structure and has a pathetic anticlimax. But I remember I was SO proud of it and it made my Mum inexplicably die of laughter. Sometimes when hesitating about writing something, because I’m not sure other people will get it, I think about that and it makes me go “fuck it”. I liked it. And my mum liked it. That was all that was important.

I’ve also been going to the theatre my whole life, captivated by stories and how they are told. Then I saw Closer, by Patrick Marber and freaked out. I knew I had to aspire to being involved in that kind of play. I still remember the feeling it gave me. I was thrilled, a bit scared, laughing and dying all at the same time, it set the precedent for how I think all audiences should feel, all the time.

Acting really influenced writing. I was frustrated by how few interesting female roles were available to me as a young actor. They were often damsels in distress or damsels disguised as ‘strong women’ because they argued with a man or had a singular controversial opinion. They rarely seemed complicated or true and were often there for someone to fall in love with. I got very bored and very angry and eventually started writing the crazy bitches I wanted to be playing.

What/who are your influences?

I had an incredible drama teacher, parents who insisted on entertaining each other at family dinners, a best friend / co-artistic director who makes me feel like I can do anything, a genius boyfriend who is really hard to impress and some absolutely inspiring friends. Them and Jennifer Saunders, Daniel Kitson, and Olivia Coleman. They can break your heart half way through a laugh. They kill me.

How did you get ‘into’ theatre? What is it about playwriting that you like – rather than other types of writing?

I was always a sucker for an audience growing up, so acting felt like the best way to feed that addiction. When it works, there is a magic about theatre that you won’t find in any other art form. Making people willingly believe something is real when it isn’t, is thrilling to me. It’s cathartic; a way of talking about our lives without lecturing or judging. Theatre makes people think for themselves as well as educating people on a point of view.

I enjoy playwriting because, on the whole, it’s about humans… the words that fall out of their mouths and the effect those words can have on the world and each other. Usually they are trapped between a limited number of locations in theatre so it all has to be about the words, the suspense, the moment to moment interactions.

What do you love or hate most about the writing process?

I love it when it’s finished. I hate everything else, but in an ecstatic, obsessive, euphoric way.

Does your writing run away with you, or do you plan meticulously before you start?

It definitely runs away with me. I feel like I’m strangling an idea if I plan it. So far I’ve just written people saying things until I get interested then get all those bits together and string them together with a story. That can leave me writing for a looooong time, but it can be worth it! TV is very different as I am discovering… It’s all about structure first… agh.

What is the project you dream of making happen?

I’d love to make Fleabag into a TV show. I’d love to write, direct, produce a film. I’d love to write an epic play and a musical. I’d love to do it all!

What was it like the first time you saw your words onstage – and when was that?

It was the very first DryWrite night. Vicky and I had asked writers to submit a monologue anonymously for actors to read out on the same day they received them. Mine was pretty ropey, but I think I was trying too hard to write like other writers I admired, which is never going to work. It scared me about writing anything else. A couple of years later I wrote something purely because it was something that would make me and Vicky laugh, rather than please a mythical audience. That’s when I got the real buzz. I acted in it as well so I had control over the performance. I’d feel awful putting an actor out there with no idea if what I’ve written even makes sense. Better to take the hit myself the first time!

Have you seen any evidence of a gender bias in favour of men or women since you have been writing?

I hear a lot about it, but I haven’t experienced it firsthand. I think because we produced Fleabag ourselves I didn’t make myself vulnerable to that kind of bias. However, the most infuriating question that I am often asked is “Will men enjoy Fleabag?”. Fucks sake. Really!?

What do you feel has happened to feminism?

I think although sometimes it can feel like we are going backward in terms of the portrayal of women in the media, we are in an exciting new phase. Men and women are speaking up in new ways and in new places. Mallika Sherawat, Jackson Katz, Caitlin Moran, Hilary Clinton all unapologetically talk about women’s rights on massive public stages in regard to abortions, domestic abuse, equal pay, sexual exploitation and gender oppression. Tides are shifting in terms of how we talk about these issues, and people are responding well. Bridget Christie winning the historically male dominated Fosters Prize for her stand up show A Bic for Her, was a fucking glorious moment. I think we need to keep being active and positive about the changes in our country. It’s the horrifying reality of what’s happening on other shores that needs serious attention.

Do you feel there are any trends in women’s writing right now? Are there topics women should be writing about that they aren’t? Or are there just general trends in playwriting?

Last year there were a lot of playwrights writing about the over-sexualisation of women in the media. The brilliant Blurred Lines – devised by a company of women and written by Nick Payne. Of course the utterly heartbreaking and inspiring Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model by Bryony Kimmings and Bridget Christie’s awesome A Bic For Her. Fleabag was about similar themes, so it’s undeniable that there was something of a wave last year in regards to that topic. Makes me feel less alone! I think it’s important that women are written about as truthfully and with as much natural complexity as possible. Whether it is a male or female writer shouldn’t really matter.

What advice would you have for up and coming playwrights?

Just write and write and write until you make yourself react. Don’t try to impress an audience that doesn’t even exist yet. Then show it to someone you trust and respect. It suddenly makes it real. Remember that the scary bits are the best bits and don’t lose heart because you’ve written something shit. If you are anything like me, you are bound to write a lot of shit before you scrabble around in it and find the shiny thing.

What is next for you and DryWrite?

I’m developing a TV series and having a go at a film script. Vicky and I promised we wouldn’t do anything with DryWrite unless we have a good idea. We are still debating if we have one at the moment… reeeeally hoping something will come! Vicky’s Verity Bargate winning play The One really changed things for the company. I hope she writes something soon. We need more of her ideas in the world.

As an actor – do you prefer to play in your own work, or somebody else’s? And do you prefer a particular period or genre?

I enjoy it all to be honest. As long as there are laughs and it feels a bit dangerous that’s all it takes to get me giddy.

 Did you find performing naked in Mydidae a challenge, or was it the theme and issues of the play that was more challenging?

Jack’s writing is so honest and bold it challenges you to stop acting. Once you realise all you have to do is say his words simply and truthfully, he ends up doing all the work – it’s amazing. I also had the brilliant Keir Charles so I was unbelievably well supported.

In terms of the nudity, after the initial “OH GOD I’M NAKED” freak-out wore off, it became the least of my worries. There is something healthy about not being able to hide. It forces you to accept your weird self for who you are, which can only be a good thing in the end!



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