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ECHOES FROM THE EAST

 BBC RADIO PLAYS FROM MENAGERIE

Menagerie and BBC East have developed a unique collaboration to create 12 new plays for radio.  As part of our Arts Council-funded 2010-11 project to bring new writers into the company alongside Menagerie ‘veterans’, we commissioned the 12 to pen a short play for radio with one stipulation: it had to be located somewhere in the East of England. Patrick and Paul worked alongside each writer, helping to refine the pieces for recording.  The final dramaturgical input came from BBC producer Faith Collingwood, who directed all 12 plays in the BBC Voices Studio in Norwich. The plays were recorded by Menagerie Ensemble actors and have now been broadcast on the BBC network along with writer interviews.

Actors: Trevor Nichols, Jasmine Hyde, Martin Austin, Danusia Iwaszko, Theo Daveney, Bethan Walker, Patrick Morris

Director: Faith Collingwood

Editor: Alisdair McGregor

Commissioning: Paul Bourne and Patrick Morris


To listen to any of the plays please click on the links below:

BBC

01 Track 01 Rich Chilver – A Place of Importance

A story of remembering and betrayal, set on a Summer’s day in Colchester.

An Arts Council Escalator Award-winning writer based in Colchester.


02 Track 02 Benjamin Morris – Architecture

A young convicted murderer and his lawyer share a final conversation, on the way to court, before sentencing.

A writer of fiction and drama, who divides his time between Cambridge and Mississippi.


03 Track 03 Kate Miller – Circlemakers

A gentle comedy which pokes fun at lovers and crop-circle hoaxers in a barley field in East Cambridgeshire

Freelance feature writer for The Times, The Guardian, The Stage and The TES, and author of several non-fiction books.

She is based in Hertford.


04 Track 04 Tim Hughes – Four knocks at the door

She’s got a knife and she needs his money.  Now.  It’s late, outside a nightclub in Norwich and fear is in the air.

Tim Hughes is a young writer who recently completed his BA Scriptwriting Degree at UEA.


05 Track 05 Alan Dignam – Good Old Nick

A brief encounter on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn train, with a devilish twist in its tale.

Alan is Professor of Corporate Law at Queen Mary College, London.  He has written 4 non-fiction books, has articles published in The Times and The Guardian and he won Menagerie’s Hotbed 2009 One-Page Play Competition.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Alan is currently based in Cambridge.


06 Track 06 Kay Blayney – Gown Land

Town and Gown fight it out during the fireworks of Cambridge University’s 800th anniversary celebrations.

Kay Blayney is a Drama teacher at the Parkside Federation in Cambridge.  She has been a performer and writer for many years.  She was the winner of Menagerie’s One-Page Play Competition at Hotbed 2008.

Kay was born, grew up and lives in Cambridge.


07 Track 07 Craig Baxter – Isle of Eels

Set in 1835, in the west tower of Ely Cathedral, this captures the final battle of wills between the architect Basevi, and the then Dean of Ely, Peacock.  A watery end to one of their lives…

Craig is a well-established playwright with productions by Menagerie, Pursued by a Bear and commissions from Birmingham Rep.  In 2010 he won the prestigious STAGE award – an international competition for plays about science and technology.  His play, The Altruists, was chosen by Noble Laureates and Pulitzer prize winners to be the best of 225 entries from around the world.

Craig is a trained zoologist, based in Cambridge.


08 Track 08 Tamsin Astbury – Love For Lorne

Lorne’s been walking his donkeys up and down Lowestoft Beach for over 40 years.  His life, his love, his dreams mix in with the crashing waves.  Time passes.

Tamsin is a writer who recently completed the prestigious Mphil Playwriting course at Birmingham University.  She has had radio work read by BBC Development Producer Fiona Kelcher and a trial Archers script read by Julie Beckett.  In 2008, she was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Award at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre.  That same year, she was also part of the Soho and Royal Court Young Writers Programmes.

She is based in Cambridge.


09 Track 09 Michelle Golder – Options

A wistful, romantic comedy of hi-tech manners, set in the Grand Arcade car park, Cambridge.

Michelle Golder is a freelance writer and chair of Cambridge scriptwriters’ collective, WRITEON.  The author of several plays, she also produces and directs.

Originally from California, she is currently based in Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire by way of Wellington, New Zealand.


10 Track 10 Helen Mort – Brian and Colin

A student and a local man try to work their way around a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ difficulty outside the gates of Kings College in Cambridge

An award-winning poet whose most recent piece, A Pint For The Ghost, was produced by Menagerie in 2009.  She is currently Poet-in-Residence at Dove Cottage (William Wordsworth’s house) in the Lake District.


11 Track 11 Yvonne Sampson – Wall Music

An isolated cottage at night.  Jenny’s hearing voices again.  Next door, Sheryl’s just trying to finish her play, but her kid’s playing up.  Somewhere, there’s a connection.

Yvonne is a secondary school drama teacher.  As a playwright, she has had productions at New End Theatre, Hampstead and Watford Palace Theatre.

She is based in Watford.


12 Track 12 Carl Miller – Window

A drama about welcoming new faces and fearing strangers, set in rural Cambridgeshire.  Compassion and mob rule in medieval and modern England.

Carl Miller is an established playwright, with productions from Birmingham Rep, Menagerie, Unicorn Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds & Kennedy Centre Washington DC.

He is based in Stiffkey, Norfolk.

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Hotbed Writers 2012

Benjamin Askew

Benjamin Askew trained at the Drama Centre in London.  He is part of the Royal Court Young Writers Programme, and he has been invited to join the Studio Group in 2012.  Benjamin’s plays include: LOVE IN THE TIME OF TEXTING (short play, Theatre 503, 2010); A COMPREHENSIVE TRAGEDY (short play, Theatre 503, 2009); IN BED WITH MESSALINA (Drama Centre London/ Eyestrings, 2009); THE HOUSE OF GINGERBREAD (Arcola, Edinburgh Festival, 2008).  Benjamin’s acting work includes seasons with Shakespeare’s Globe, Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory and Theatre by the Lake along with many other theatre, radio and TV productions.

Benjamin’s Hotbed play is about the witch-hunts that took place during the English Civil War. Two characters are sharing a cell: Matthew Hopkins (the self-styled Witchfinder General) and Elizabeth Malkin, a young woman “discovered” by Hopkins on one of his previous Cleansing Expeditions. Both now stand accused of witchcraft.

 

Tamsin Astbury

Tamsin has been a member of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme (2008); the Soho Young Writers’ Programme (2008) and Royal Court Invitation Programme (2008).  Her play, THE WAKE (2008) was short-listed for the Bruntwood Award at Manchester Royal Exchange and was called back for script development.  Her recent work includes LOVE FOR LORNE, a radio play for Menagerie Theatre’s Echoes of the East project in conjunction with BBC Radio Cambridge.  Furthermore, she has developed two scripts for radio for Fiona Kelcher, BBC Radio Development Producer.

Tamsin studied English at Cambridge University and has an Mphil in Playwriting from Birmingham University, where she received a distinction for radio playwriting.  She has produced, written, directed and performed many pieces for fringe theatre and radio, including MY NAME IS DANIEL and THROUGH THE DARK – two miniaturist radio plays for Bunbury Banter Theatre Company for broadcast on Hayes FM, NuSound FM, Audio Book Radio.

Tamsin’s Hotbed play is called KITCHEN SINK. Katie is a housewife, a Conservative counsillor and child of a single mother who’s just recognised her ‘chains’. Her great-grandmother was a suffragette, her grandmother Dora demonstrated against her Party believing their cuts chain women back to the kitchen sink. Through Katie, come four generations of women’s voices and an exploration of the qualities and inequalities of female experience.

 

Craig Baxter

Craig is a playwright living in Cambridge, UK. He studied Zoology at Sheffield University and Playwriting at Birmingham University. His original plays include St James and the Tattoo ManTaking LibertiesThe Ministry of Pleasure, The AnimalsBig BangRelics and Spearcarriers for the stage and The Thrill of the ChasteMonogamy and Like Confessing a Murder for radioHis work with Menagerie includes Missing MassHard SellSignor CastiglioniRe:Design and Let Newton Be!. His play The Altruists was winner of the 4th STAGE International Script Competition for plays about science or technology.

In his monologue for Hotbed 2012, The Apologist, a high flying banker attempts unsuccessfully to apologise on three separate occasions: during a press conference, a restorative justice meeting and a therapy session. Craig has drawn inspiration for the piece from some of the great apologisers of history including Abraham Lincoln, Tony Blair and Dr Liam Fox.

 

Alison Carr

Alison has written plays for a number of prestigious companies and venues, including:  BBC Radio 4, The National Theatre, York Theatre Royal, The Old Vic and Paines Plough.  Her work includes: WHEN IT FALLS (Soho Theatre, 2011); THE GIRLS FROM POPPYFIELD CLOSE (Live Theatre, Newcastle upon Tyne, 2011); NEVER RAINS BUT IT POURS (People’s Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2011), which was commissioned for the Centenary Season celebrations.  Her award winning work includes: YACKETY YAK (Live Theatre, Newcastle Upon Tyne, 2010), which was the Winner of ‘A Million Short Cuts Event’; MONKEY AND ME (Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, 2007), which was Winner of the Yvonne Arnaud playwriting festival and a Finalist for The Journal of Culture Newcomer of the Year Award 2006.

Alison’s Hotbed play is called THE SURPRISING GERMINATION OF ANDREA FITZGERALD.  In the play, a tree grows in the belly of a woman.  ‘We all know that if you swallow the apple pips a tree will grow inside your belly.  And if we all know it, then it must be true’.

 

Ed Harris

Ed is an award-winning playwright, radio dramatist and poet.  He was commissioned to write his first play, SUGARED GRAPEFRUIT for the Brighton Festival Fringe 2005. Ed has since been Writer-in-Residence at Chichester Festival Theatre. He was shortlisted for the Meyer-Whitworth Award in 2008 for his play NEVER EVER AFTER, and his new play, MONGREL ISLAND was commissioned by Soho Theatre and opened Steve Marmion’s first season as Artistic Director in July 2011.

For radio, Ed’s first commissioned play PORSHIA was broadcast in 2007 to widespread acclaim (including Radio Times/Time Out ‘Pick of the Week’, Daily Telegraph ‘Review of the Year’), and he has since been continuously under commission to BBC Radio 4. His fourth radio play, THE MOMENT YOU FEEL IT, was shortlisted for the 2010 Tinniswood Award, and he has just won the Writers’ Guild Award for his playTROLL. His first series broadcast in 2011.

Ed’s Hotbed play is called PIGLET. It is about an artist who buys a painting by one of the British Masters, intending to destroy it. He argues that its destruction will increase its true value to the world, therefore the value of art as a whole, because (as he’s about to learn for himself) you don’t know what you’ve got till its gone.

 

Danusia Iwasko

 Danusia is a writer, director, producer and actor for theatre and television.  Her play ONE GLASS WALL (Studio 503, 2004), directed by Crispin Bonham Carter, was short-listed for the Pearson Prize and published by Oberon Books.  Her recent work includes: HEADLANDS (Mercury Theatre Colchester and The Cockpit London, 2011). It has been written and directed by Danusia and is an Arts Council funded co-production with the Mercury and The Hal Company (Danusia’s own Company set up in 1992).  The play is an exploration of the mind using text, movement, film and music.  Other work includes: BETWEEN THE CRACKS (Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds, 2010) and LINCOLN ROAD (Eastern Angles Theatre Company, 2010).

Danusia was an attached writer at The National Theatre Studio (2006).  She is an Associate Writer, Director and Actor for Menagerie Theatre Company and has worked on a number of youth projects and productions.  A recent youth project is: THE FORCE OF NATURE (Theatre Royal York, Polka Theatre, London; The Drum Theatre, Plymouth and Dundee Rep. 2011), a writing commission for The Playhouse Festival.

Danusia’s Hotbed play is called ASCENSION. Henry Denton is a modern day Sisyphus, he pushes a bolder up Primrose Hill in Camden, London.  When he reaches the top, it rolls down again and he is obliged to start the journey again. ASCENSION is an exploration of work, drive and struggle.

Danusia wrote the monologue STILL LIFE about a woman who never moves and wanted to write a companion piece about a man who never stops moving. Human beings often become “human doings”: why? Is it a love of work, a need for struggle or keeping busy to avoid feelings, memories?

 

Kit Lambert

Kit Lambert is an award winning writer for theatre and television.  His play GULLIVER toured the UK with Hijinx Theatre Company and he wrote for Red Planet Pictures on their recent BBC Wales TV drama CRASH, created by Tony Jordan.  He has written for BBC’s DOCTORS and is currently under option for a new ITV drama series with Jellylegs Productions (LIFERS) and a new sitcom with Hat Trick (LIMELIGHT).

Kit has previously written plays for Paines Plough, Sherman Cymru, Likely Story and Wildcard Theatre Company, and collaborated with four other writers on True Fiction’s production of THE EXQUISITE CORPSE (Edinburgh Festival 2008 & Southwark Playhouse). His play INCIDENTAL was read as part of the recent Catalan-Wales Drama Festival.  Kit was the winner of the inaugural Script Slam competition at the Sherman Theatre in 2005 with his first play, THE CUSTOM HOUSEwhich was subsequently shortlisted for the Kings Cross New Writing Award.  His most recent play, ONCE UPON A TIME, is touring this Christmas with the Arts Council of Wales’ ‘Nights Out’.  Kit has a Masters Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Exeter.

 

Chris O’Connell

Chris O’Connell is a multi-award winning writer: Winner Fringe First Award 1999, CAR, Edinburgh Festival; Winner Fringe First Award 2001, RAW, Edinburgh Festival; Winner Time Out Live Award, 1999, CAR, London; Awarded Theatre Writers Bursary – Arts Council of England, 1996; Winner of Pearson Television Writers Bursary 1999; Writer in Residence Paines Plough Theatre Co. 1999-2000; Writer in Residence/Tutor Birmingham University M(Phil) Playwrighting 2004-2006; Lead Writer/Tutor Transmissions Festival, Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2006.

Chris is the co-founder of Theatre Absolute (1992-present day) and the co-founder of the company’s Shop Front Theatre, Coventry (2009 to present day).  His work has been performed all over the world and by companies such as Frantic Assembly and the RSC.  He has written for BBC television and BBC Radion 4.

Chris’ Hotbed play FORGIVE OUR PARANOIA takes place in the open air on a secluded coastal beach. It tells the story of sisters Beth and Joy, and their friend Ash. They have arrived from the city in a desperate bid to end the cycle of violence that is controlling their lives.

 

Janice Okoh

Janice is an award winning playwright.  This year, her play THE REAL HOUSE (THREE BIRDS) won the Bruntwood Prize and was short-listed for the Verity Bargate Award and the Alfred Fagon Award.  Her recent theatre productions include: TOP BRASS (Theatre 503, 2010), a short play written in response to The Charming Man by Gabriel Bissett-Smith.  Her recent radio plays include: REUNION (BBC Radio 4 Extra, 2011); CARNIVAL, a short play for the From Fact to Fiction series (BBC Radio 4, 2010) and SE8 (BBC Radio 4, 2010).  A co-production between Menagerie Theatre Company and SOHO Theatre of Janice’s stage play EGUSI SOUP is planned for 2012 as well as an adaptation of Malorie Blackman’s novel Noughts and Crosses for the Saturday Play (BBC Radio 4).

Janice’s Hotbed play is about a young graduate taking desperate measures and
seeking advice on how to cheat an interview from a larger than life Mr fix-it type character. It is inspired by the difficulties graduates face in today’s job market.

 

Esther Shannon

Esther trained as an actress, dancer and scientist as well as a writer.  Recently, she completed the MPhil(B) Playwriting at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Steve Waters.  She has belonged to a number of writing groups including: Paines Plough, the Royal Court and Stephen Jeffreys masterclass.  Her plays and choreography include: THE NATURE OF THINGS (The Place, London); INSULIN (dance film presented at The Royal Society); THREE CRYSTALS (Arcola Theatre); PINEAPPLE (short play for Theatre Absolute); AFTER LIGHT; (rehearsed reading, Trafalgar Studios); HOLLOWAY ROAD (short play for National Youth Theatre, Soho Theatre).

Esther’s Hotbed play is called MIND DETOX

My body is a bit.. bollocks. Would you call that a negative belief?

As a peace offering to her ex-boyfriend, Nicola sees a Mind Detox therapist to discuss her relationship with her body. They search for the moment in time that snowballed her down the path of negativity.

 

Katy Walker

Katy Walker studied English at Edinburgh University, then trained as an actor at the Welsh College of Music and Drama.  After a few years playing to very select audiences in Wales, she got a job by mistake in the film industry and hung out with Hollywood A listers for a couple of years until she discovered clay and gave it all up to become a potter.  All of this is an elaborate displacement activity as what she really wants to do is write.  She is thrilled to be selected for Hotbed 2012.

 

Steve Waters

Steve is seen as one of the best stage writers in the UK today following hits at the Bush, Donmar Warehouse and now under commission to Channel Four Films, Out of Joint, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Birmingham Rep. Steve’s plays include: THE CONTINGENCY PLAN (The Bush Theatre, Radio 3) LITTLE PLATOONS (The Bush, Radio 4), FAST LABOUR (West Yorkshire Playhouse and Hampstead Theatre) and WORLD MUSIC (Sheffield Crucible and Donmar Warehouse); with Menagerie his work includes OUT OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

He also writes for The Guardian, lectures in Creative Writing at UEA and has written THE SECRET LIFE OF PLAYS.

Steve’s Hotbed play DEATH OF A CYCLIST is a poignant, bleakly comic

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Tamsin Astbury

Tamsin has been a member of the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme (2008); the Soho Young Writers’ Programme (2008) and Royal Court Invitation Programme (2008).  Her play, THE WAKE (2008) was short-listed for the Bruntwood Award at Manchester Royal Exchange and was called back for script development.  Her recent work includes LOVE FOR LORNE, a radio play for Menagerie Theatre’s Echoes of the East project in conjunction with BBC Radio Cambridge.  Furthermore, she has developed two scripts for radio for Fiona Kelcher, BBC Radio Development Producer.


Tamsin studied English at Cambridge University and has an Mphil in Playwriting from Birmingham University, where she received a distinction for radio playwriting.  She has produced, written, directed and performed many pieces for fringe theatre and radio, including MY NAME IS DANIEL and THROUGH THE DARK – two miniaturist radio plays for Bunbury Banter Theatre Company for broadcast on Hayes FM, NuSound FM, Audio Book Radio.

Tamsin’s Hotbed play is called KITCHEN SINK. Katie is a housewife, a Conservative counsillor and child of a single mother who’s just recognised her ‘chains’. Her great-grandmother was a suffragette, her grandmother Dora demonstrated against her Party believing their cuts chain women back to the kitchen sink. Through Katie, come four generations of women’s voices and an exploration of the qualities and inequalities of female experience.


Interview with Tamsin

What was the inspiration behind your play?

On 19 November women dressed in 50’s frocks and chained themselves to kitchen sinks demonstrating with the Fawcett Society about cuts made by the Government to alleviate the deficit which would turn back-time on women’s equality. Women like Dora went on that march; women like Katie made them march.

What is your greatest ambition?

To be mistaken for Tom Stoppard. No, seriously, to write as much as I can, and as well as I can, to get my work seen and heard and read, to be a professional and maybe one day a set-text, and be underlined by students in small sixth-form buildings. We can all dream otherwise what’s the point.

When was the last time you laughed out loud and why?

Perhaps watching Spaced, or Gavin and Stacey or Flight of the Conchords, all things that keep me smiling; witty and zany and unexpected, the abnormality of normality,  expressed, really rather well. Or mostly life, day-to-day, which never ceases to amuse.

Who is your favourite writer(s)?

This is an unnecessarily cruel question (but I’m very grateful for the plural). To start with the Greeks, I began with them and will never leave them behind. Tom Stoppard, Samuel Beckett, Chekhov and Ibsen, I have a leaning towards tragedy, and an English degree that wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t, Crimp and Williams (Tennessee), Miller and McPherson, McEwan, Bowen and Woolf. A love affair with Murakami and post-apocalyptic fiction that’s lasted for years and of course I don’t have to mention Milton and Shakespeare…

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Menagerie and The BBC nominated for The Sony Radio Awards

Menagerie and The BBC have been nominated for The Sony Radio Awards
for their radio drama project Echoes From The East. The award
nomination is in the catergory of  “Production  which celebrates the
work of producers and feature makers”.

Listen to the nominated work here

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