Represents script call out

Whoop’n’Wail’s new showcase Represents… launched in November at Waterloo East Theatre and sold-out. Consisting of six fifteen-minute shorts, each piece of writing must pass the Bechdel Test – they must include at least two named female characters who, at some stage, talk to each other about something other than a man. Inspired by Alison Bechdel’s 1987 comic strip, The Rule, the Bechdel Test has become a common test for gauging fair representation on stage and screen.

The launch featured work by both established and emerging playwrights and directors invited by the curators to kick off the inaugural event. For future nights, each will have an
overarching theme, with pieces selected via an open submission process. Each submission will be read, six pieces selected, and successful writers paired with a director.

Whoop ‘n’ Wail have committed to achieving gender equality on the UK stage by creating a night of entertaining, engaging theatre with all plays having significant roles for women.

For the next showcase, Whoop’n’Wail are looking for 10-minute plays using the subject of desire as  a stimulus. This opportunity is open to male and female playwrights.

The rules…

* Stage plays – either complete short plays or a self-contained extract from a larger work.
* Plays written by individuals or writing teams.
* Plays that pass the Bechdel Test:
There is no limit to the number of characters your play can have, however at least two must be female. We will accept gender-neutral characters, provided a female-female interaction can be achieved through casting.
The qualifying female characters must have names (not ‘wife’, ‘mum’, ‘woman’, etc.)
Two female characters must interact with each other directly about a subject other than men.
This interaction should be significant and have a bearing on the plot.

(NB: Plays do not need to be all-female to achieve this. It is entirely possible to pass the test and have male characters in the play and we welcome submissions that achieve this.)

Submit scripts in Word Format only via email to by the deadline, 17:00 on Friday 2nd January 2015. Submissions sent after the deadline will not be read or considered.

* Attach a character breakdown, including each character’s gender, and a three-line synopsis.

Any queries, please email Whoop’n’Wail.

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Some London plays you could see by female writers

Some interesting new plays by women writers you could go and see if you are in London, over the next few months.

·         3 Winters by Tena Štivičić at the National Theatre (Lyttleton), playing until 3 February. Info.

·         God Bless the Child by Mollie Davies at the Royal Court, playing until 20 December. Info. 

·         Liberian Girl by Diana Nneka Atuona at the Royal Court, playing 7 – 31 January. Info.

·         Islands by Caroline Horton at the Bush Theatre, playing 15 January – 21 February. Info. 

·         Chimera by Deborah Stein and Suli Holum at the Gate Theatre, playing until 20 December. Info.

·         The Chronicles of Kalki by Aditi Brennan Kapil at the Gate Theatre, playing 8 – 31 January. As part of the female-centred Who does she think she is season. Info.

·         Golem by Suzanna Andrade at the Young Vic Theatre, playing until 17 January. Info.

·         The Heresy of Love by Helen Edmundson at Shakespeare’s Globe, playing 31 July – 5 September, public booking opens 9 February, 10am. Info. 

·         Miss Havisham’s Expectations by Di Sherlock at Trafalgar Studios 2, playing until 3 January. Info.

·         Di and Viv and Rose by Amelia Bullmore at the Vaudeville Theatre, playing 22 January – 23 May. Info.

·         Silent Planet by Eve Leigh at the Finborough Theatre, playing until 20 December. Info.

Listing compiled by Hannah Roe. Please email 17PercentEvents if you have any relevant events you’d like us to review or list. 

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December newsletter

The 17Percent newsletter has just been published and you can find it here.

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Round-up of playwriting competitions

There are a good number of competitions and opportunities open at the moment, so if you fancy a break from eating turkey, tofurkey or Christmas pudding here are some places you could send your plays.

  • The Oxford Samuel Beckett Theatre Trust Award is an opportunity for an emerging company or individual to create a show either for the Pit Theatre, Barbican or a site-responsive non-traditional show to take place in East London. The winning show will be part of the Barbican Theatre 2016 season. All scales/lengths of productions will be considered. The Award comprises two R&D grants of up to £2,500 each, a production grant of up to £32,000, a project mentor and in-kind support from the Barbican including press, marketing, tech support and admin. Application details are available from the Award’s website. Deadline: 19 December at 5pm.
  • Heavy Weather are accepting submissions for their new-writing night, Lover, as part of the Black Box Festival at the Etcetera Theatre in January. They are looking for four ten-minute long plays with minimal tech requirements and a same-sex relationship at its core. A cast of up to four actors – two female, two male – will perform all of the plays so do take this into consideration. Send your play to before 22 December.
  • Lost Theatre is open to applications for its ‘5 Minute Festival’ which will run from 2– 7 February. They are looking for emerging/newcomer playwrights, poets, spoken word artists, comedians, actor-writers, physical performers, etc. who have something different or interesting to say and are looking to get their work out to a wider audience. Whatever you submit must be less than five minutes in length, have a narrative thread and either the writer, director or cast must be under twenty-seven years old. Each successful applicant must pay a non-refundable fee of £10 to cover costs of the festival and a £50 guarantee cheque must accompany it, but this will be returned when your performance is completed. Deadline: 28 December. For full details of the application, festival process and entry rules, please visit:
  • The East End Literary Salon is a monthly new writing night at Ophelia, Dalston, featuring rehearsed readings and semi-staged performances from emerging playwrights. Texts submitted should be ten to twenty minutes long – can be short plays, extracts or monologues with preferably no more than three actors as the stage is very small. They operate a profit-share model to keep the salons accessible. Please send expressions of interest, queries and submissions to Deadline: 31 December.
  • The North Wall Arts Centre, Oxford, is offering an in-depth residential experience to talented young writers and directors with a genuine commitment to working in the theatre. The TheatreCraft Easter project brings these two vital roles centre-stage, offering them a team of professional actors and highly-experienced mentors to work in a safe and supportive space. The residency will run from 23 March to 4 April and is completely free of charge, including accommodation and all meals. The work created on the residency will be showcased to a public audience at a scratch performance evening at the end of the residency. Places are strictly limited. Writers must submit a maximum of two short scripts/extracts (up to ten pages) to support their application. Deadline: 31 December. Shortlisted applications will be invited to interviews which will take place early in the New Year. If accepted, you will need to complete a rehearsal draft of your script so that it is ready for Easter. For further information and to download the application form, visit:
  • The Sussex Playwrights’ Club’s Constance Cox Playwriting Competition. Submissions must be original new plays from any genre (except musical theatre) lasting seventy-five to one-hundred minutes in length. As this is a competition launched for the eightieth anniversary of the Club, the script must contain the word ‘eighty’ somewhere in the text. All entries should be unproduced, written in English and for the stage with a maximum of seven roles (including any off-stage voices). Monologues will not be accepted. There is a fee attached to enter so each entry must be accompanied by a cheque for £7 made out to The Sussex Playwrights’ Club. There will be three prizes of £280, £180 and £80 with a rehearsed script-in-hand reading for the first-placed play being given as part of the Club’s anniversary celebrations. Send your entry to: The Constance Cox Playwriting Competition (SPC), c/o Mr J. Attwood, 42 Abbey Road, Sompting, West Sussex, BN15 0AB. Deadline: 24 January.
  • Amsterdam-based theatre company, Orange Tea, is accepting rolling submissions of full-length plays for a production in 2015/2016. They are looking for plays sixty to ninety minutes in length for a cast of two to four. Plays should be contemporary and reflect global society. Topics might – but don’t have to – include the environment, social issues, cultural differences or politics. Funny is good but not obligatory. Send your play to

    Listings compiled by Hannah Roe. Please email 17PercentEvents if you have a competition or opportunity we should know about!

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Photos from Politic Man

Some photos from Alison Mead’s script in hand reading of  her new play ‘Politic Man’ at She Writes at Roundabout Nights. Thanks to Marilyn Simpson for the photos.

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Passionate, poetic, political playwright: interview with Sarah Hehir

Sarah Hehir photo

Sarah Hehir

Sarah Hehir is a Medway based poet and playwright whose first radio play, Bang Up, won the BBC Writers Prize in 2013.

For the past two years she has collaborated with Sam Hall, 17Percent’s founder, to write short plays which made up 17Percent’s portmanteau Rochester Litfest productions: in 2013, she wrote the parable-like The Fourth Circle,  and in 2014, Blood Red, a twisted Romeo and Juliet story which is revealed backwards.

Sam caught up with Sarah to find out about the progress of her first full-length stageplay: Child Z. Sarah and Little Pieces of Gold production company have recently successfully raised £4,500 via a Kickstarter campaign to support an Arts Council England application for touring the play next year.

In 2012, Sarah first heard the story of ‘Girl A’ on Woman’s Hour. ‘Girl A’ was one of up to 50 young girls who were groomed by a paedophile ring of nine men in Rochdale. After repeatedly alerting the police, Girl A’s complaints were finally listened to, and the gang were jailed in 2012. But only after a frontline whistle blower, tired of reporting the scandal to the police and managers, and getting nowhere, went to the papers.

Sarah has a link to the area, her first teaching job was in Rochdale, and it struck her that she had worked with a lot of vulnerable young girls of a similar age, so was enraged by the apathy and sloppiness which had failed the girls in the case. Sarah says there was a culture of believing that the young girls were making ‘lifestyle choices’ and ‘voting with their feet’. Although, how was that possible, she asks, when the girls were only 14 and 15?

There was an attitude from police and high up within social services that these usually poor, working class girls, often with behavioural problems and troublesome (or troubling) backgrounds, were just not important, or not a priority target area, in a cash strapped, target driven area where, not long after ‘Baby P’, the focus was on safeguarding very young children.

With the recent Rotherham case echoing the Rochdale one, the play is becoming more topical and important, an indictment of a system which repeats its mistakes over and over again. Sarah says “I worry that small media storms, such as happened after Rochdale, blow over. When it came to the Rotherham scandal, Rochdale was hardly mentioned.”

Sarah’s response was to write Child Z – to expose the issue and ask ‘why’ about the many disturbing aspects of the case.

The playwriting process

After a 15-minute short play written by Sarah, March, was selected to be showcased at Little Pieces of Gold (LPoG), producer Suzette Coon heard about Sarah’s idea and asked her to write a 45-minute play for the LPoG rehearsed reading series, which was performed in November 2013 at The Drayton Arms. As a result of tweeting about it, Simon Danczuk, the MP for Rochdale, got in touch and invited Sarah to Rochdale, to talk to him and Sara Rowbotham, the whistle blower social worker, from the Rochdale Crisis Intervention Team. The social worker was interviewed in 2012 at the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation. Sarah also interviewed the father of Girl A.

Child Z, however, is not a straight dramatisation of the facts of this case, but inspired by it, though the factual details do remain close to the true story. She says the original 45-minute play is a very different one to the play now: it has gone through over 20 rewrites, and starts where the first play left off. The challenge has been to make 3D characters of all the individuals portrayed in the case, when it would be easy to portray a stereotype, for example, of an indolent, Fat Cat Council Leader, out of touch with his staff and the situation.

Sarah then watched the Select Committee inquiry, and spent time researching further, then she wrote and rewrote, making the characters and structure of the play suitable for doubling, so it can be performed by just three actors. The play was then given another rehearsed reading at Bread and Roses theatre, where further feedback was given.

The most surprising thing about the play is that although it necessarily covers some very heavy material, “you can’t shy away from acknowledging that these young girls were raped, repeatedly…” that it is also a play with much humour and compassion, and the usual richness and depth of language that Sarah, an accomplished poet, always uses.

Non-traditional structuralist

At this reading, and knowing Sarah’s short plays, another aspect of her writing really struck me – that is, an interest in structure, and in non-traditional, non-linear narrative storytelling.  The play is designed for three actors to play all the roles, with interjections of off-stage sound montages. As structure, is something I am also very interested in, I asked Sarah about this.  “I’m glad you noticed that,” she says, “because I work very hard on it.” After criticisms of the structure of her early pieces, Sarah now consciously does a lot of planning, she also finds that non-traditional structures work better in the context of low budget fringe productions, it gives you the opportunity to ‘think more creatively’. She also enjoys the challenge of limitations and deadlines, in both the plays we collaborated on for the Rochester Literature Festival, there was a series of rules to follow, or elements that had to be included.

Future plans include a play called Zero Down,  for Abla George: a play set in a nursing home, amongst what appear to be health workers. The idea at the play’s core is to ask can life be reduced to a single tweet in our soundbite culture? She is also working on a TV series.

Child Z will have a short run in London, in June 2015, followed by a national tour. Please watch this website for further details.




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Female Arts present Female Arts Scratch

Female Arts Scratch poster


Our friends over at the very excellent gender equality arts magazine Female Arts present an evening of exciting work-in-progress short plays, comedy and performance, on Sunday 23 November. Female Arts Scratch includes rehearsed readings of new work from  associate artists The Minty Crimples and The Thelmas. Also from Mind Your Head and SYS theatre. New writing from Shapour Bernard, Serena Haywood, Naia Headland-Vanni, Sophie Porter, Effie Samara, Amie Taylor and Wendy Thomson. Comedy from Carmen Ali and Lotta Quizeen.

Female Arts was founded in 2011 at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. This is their first production featuring work from their talented review team who are also playwrights, directors, actors, theatre-makers, comedians and artists, striving to improve the representation of women on stage and screen.

“Statistics show that for every 3 men on stage, there is 1 woman. We’re reversing that trend, until we get to gender-equality on stage!”

Female Arts Scratch
23rd November 2014, 7.30 – 9.30pm
Ticket price: £5
Book online
Bread & Roses Theatre
68 Clapham Manor Street, Clapham, London, SW4 6DZ
Nearest Tubes: Clapham North / Clapham Common

Twitter: @femalearts @BreadandRosesTC #FAScratch

Read our earlier post on Female Arts.


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Whoop’n’Wail Represents…

Whoop'n'Wail Represents...

Whoop’n’Wail Represents…

Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman of Whoop’n’Wail theatre company have collaborated with 17Percent before, on our evening of plays inspired by HG Wells, She Writes: What’s through the door? produced in 2013, and several of their short plays have been showcased at She Writes. We are very happy to announce our support for their new showcase, Represents…

With brand new plays from both male and female writers, Represents… is a showcase with a difference.

Consisting of six fifteen-minute shorts, each piece of writing must pass the Bechdel Test – they must include at least two named female characters who, at some stage, talk to each other about something other than a man. Inspired by Alison Bechdel’s now famous 1987 comic strip, The Rules, the Bechdel Test has become the benchmark for gauging fair representation on stage and screen.

The Launch features work by both established and emerging playwrights and directors invited by the curators to kick off this inaugural event.

For future events, each night will have an overarching theme, with pieces selected via an open submission process. Each submission will be read, six selected, then Whoop ‘n’ Wail will invite applications from directors and pair them with playwrights.

Whoop ‘n’ Wail have committed to achieving gender equality on the UK stage by creating a night of entertaining and engaging theatre. Represents… is both timely and of paramount importance while equal representation is at forefront of the industry’s consciousness. It is presented in association with 17Percent and with the kind assistance of Waterloo East Theatre.

Plays featured in this launch show are:

Dust by Sarah Davies, directed by Norman Murray
The Final Frontier by Sam Hall, directed by John Mitton
Three Women in a Music Box by Dan Horrigan, directed by Alice Bonifacio
On the Horizon by Adam Hughes, directed by Sarah Davies
My Bloody Laundrette by Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman, directed by Paul Taylor
Cause for Alarm by Deborah Klayman, directed by Emily Bush

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…THE LAUNCH

Monday 17th November 2014 @ 19:30
Monday 24th November 2014 @ 19:30

Tickets: £8 (£6 conc)
Waterloo East Theatre
Brad Street, London, SE1 8TG
Box office: 020 7928 0060


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Plays from She Writes 27 October

We had a varied selection of plays at She and He Writes our experiment in male and female showcasing. We had aimed to present a 50/50 ratio of plays but in the end we had more female writers than male. We will repeat the experiment next year when we will open one evening up to male writers and mixed teams.

This was the last She Writes in short play showcase form this year, as the next She Writes (24 November) will showcase just one full-length play – ‘Politic Man’ by Alison Mead.

Plays presented:

Advice to my younger self  by Sam Hall
A 40-year old woman sees her 20-year old self going up the escalator at Angel tube station and is torn by whether she should intervene and change the direction her life went in.

Extremism by Barry Fentiman
Freedom fighter and folk hero Guido Fawkes speculates on how he will be remembered after successfully blowing up parliament.

We could see the sea (extract) by Naila V. Tantinya
A bittersweet monologue dealing with growing up, self-image and loss.

Stay by Dylan Oscar Rowe
A couple wake up in a strange flat, with no knowledge of how they got there. As the play unravels we learn that it’s not simply a story of a one-night stand with too much wine the night before.

I saw him on the 8.55 by Maggie Drury
A dark tale of obsession on the train.

Aphrodite can wait by Sam Rapp
An epic tale, spanning the life of one boy, from his birth to his death.

Safe distance by Allie Costa
A girl has missed the last tube. It’s Alec’s first night working there. He finds not all is as he thought with this pretty young woman.

Nobody by Helen Ryan
Two women meeting in a park. But they are not there just to feed the ducks…

We also had a short ‘flash fiction’ performed and written by Razz Saunders.

Thanks to our readers: Clementine Croft, Dylan, Sam, Barry, Sam, Razz and Malek Montag. Photography by Bill Gooch, Man in the Attic Photography.

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IdeasTap Underbelly Award 2014 winner Hiraeth tours Wales

Photo from Hiraeth

Sunday 26th October – Saturday 15th November

After a much-lauded, sell-out run at the Edinburgh Fringe 2014 (winner of the IdeasTap Underbelly Award 2014), ‘Hiraeth’ is going home to venues and rural village halls across Wales with live music, Welsh cakes and a Twmpath.

“Hiraeth, along with its creator/performer Buddug James Jones, is undoubtedly this year’s find” (The Evening Standard).

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.

Hiraeth is a Welsh word with no direct English translation; it is a mix of longing, yearning,
nostalgia, wistfulness and desire – a pride you feel for your roots and a sadness for the loss of a  way of life. The show rejoices in this universal emotion with which everyone can empathise even as Bud wrestles with the knowledge that her departure marks a time of change and sounds the death knell for the family farm. Through one woman’s struggle to escape and let go, Hiraeth explores the decline of Welsh identity and tradition.

26th – 27th October – Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff
28th October – CARAD, Rhayader
30th October – Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth
31st October – Torch Theatre, Milford Haven
1st November – Garnswyllt Welfare Hall, Ammanford
3rd November – Wells Little Theatre, Wells
5th November – Catrin Finch Centre, Wrexham
6th November – Theatr Soar, Merthyr Tydfil
7th November – Neuadd Bro Fana, Ffarmers
8th November – Gwynfe Community Hall, Gwynfe
12th November – Dragon Theatre, Barmouth
13th November – Magic Lantern Cinema, Tywyn
15th November – The Muse, Brecon


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