For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur


The State of Amateur Theatre
Survey results. With the professional industry having the occassional wobble, our latest survey asks you for your opinion.



Tamara von Werthern
Nick Hern Books’ Performing Rights Manager features her regular advice column and looks the power of amateur theatre.



Theatre’s Healthy in Eltham
Susan Elkin visits the Bob Hope Theatre and is impressed by the venue’s professional attitude.



The Story Behind the Story
Playwright Frederick Webb recounts a race against time to film Saffron Lady before the next set of restrictions come in.



Ote Mabuse – I Am Here
Double Strictly champion, Ote Mabuse, recalls her tour, and looks forward to seeing her choreography on The Cher Show.



Your News
News stories relevant to amateur theatre-makers around the UK. Some amateur, some professional, some youth / student.




Supplier Directory
Email for more information. It’s the most cost-effective way of advertising in Sardines.



The Review – Beaufort Players
This week we bring you Ealing’s Beaufort Players and its production of Tom Wells’ The Kitchen Sink.



Omid Djalili – cover story
Touring for more than a year, the stand-up comedian gets some dates at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in place.



I’ll Be In My Trailer
Linzi Hateley and Jac Yarrow are touring Joseph. Linzi returns to the role of Narrator after a whopping thirty-eight years.



Intimate Combat
Susan Elkin talks with Haruka Kuroda and finds out what an Intimacy Director does. But where does ‘Combat’ come into it?



So You Wanna Be an Actor?
Paul Johnson speaks with Sean Holmes, director of the first ever professional tour of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone.



Strike Up the Band!
What the professional musical theatre industry has in store for us over the coming weeks and months.



The Review II – …Little Voice
Usually we don’t publidh reviews of professional shows but our previous cover star, Christina Bianco, deserves the plaudits.



The Playwright’s Journey
Jemma Fennedy gives some great advice on playwrighting as we read an extract from her new book.



Plays, Books and Musicals
New and re-released titles, many of which are now available for amateur performance.



Index of Advertisers

Post-pandemic… the State of Our Society

Post-pandemic… the State of Our Society

We couldn’t resist unleashing a new survey on you. And, with over one hundred poeple taking part, it looks like you were ready for it too – with or without the incentive of a free six-month digital subscription also bagged by over one hundred people.

The reason we asked you again how things are faring is because at Sardines we continue to receive invitations to various major press nights which, pre-pandemic, we wouldn’t have stood a chance of attending (oh, that we were the Daily Telegraph or another national newspaper).

Add to that when we recently attended Woking’s pit-stop for the tour of Dreamboats and Petticoats: Bringing on Back the Good Times which was only attended by around sixty-five percent of theatregoers on press night, and you begin to sense that there may still be a problem.

If the professional theatre industry is still suffering you can bet the amateur sector will surely be following suit.

The reason is simple; it’s the audiences at these professional show that represent the memberships of amatuer societies. And, at the end of the day it is public confidence that needs to be remedied to complete our recoveries.

So here we are. The first two questions were simply a matter of names and email addresses required to activate the digital subscriptions. The six questions you see here are the real meat of the survey. We did ask, with a final brace, for some comments, which most people sidestepped, but we have included the top answers given.

Straight away it’s important to notice that every single surveyee has an amateur theatre background in some way. Secondly, while nobody said that they ‘won’t be going to the theatre again yet’, the split was identical between people wanting to get back to normal and those who said that ‘COVID is still very much with us so we have to be careful’.

The rest of the answers you can see for yourself but it’s very interesting how we received the following from a society in Grimsby:
“You asked a while ago if people were having trouble filling seats. We certainly are, at the Caxton Theatre in Grimsby. Our story so far – first play after we reopened, July 2021, dreadful ticket sales.
September 2021, better.
October 2021, worse again.
December 2021 – much better.
January 2022 – worse.
March 2022 – better
April 2022 – back to the level of July 2021 (i.e. dreadful)
“The real scare was our June production, Double Top, the sort of play that pre-pandemic would have had between 70% – 80% ticket sales. 48%! Truly abysmal and coinciding with the COVID rates going through the roof again. It does seem that COVID is still dictating whether people will go to the theatre or not. Even if they aren’t afraid of being really ill, if anyone has for instance holiday plans, from about two weeks before the holiday they’re practising some self-isolation to make sure they can go.
“We believe it will be a long haul back and the increase in utility prices won’t help. It seems that every time there are signs of recovery – not just for our theatre but entertainment in general – something leaps up to bite us. Omicron, then huge rises in gas and electricity prices and now COVID taking off again. These have almost certainly played a large part in people cutting back on theatre-going or stopping altogether, hopefully temporarily. Plus we all have the spectre of COVID threatening our rehearsals and, worse, our actual shows. So far we haven’t had to cancel but we did have a very last-minute shuffling of cast in one show, which brought the director onstage for the entire run and, in another, the director had to perform on two nights, owing to absences because of COVID.
“I hope all remaining amateur theatres can hang on. It’s very sad to hear that some have been forced to close permanently.”

Questions 1 – 6:

Q7. If ‘yes’ in a few words what is your society doing?
A1. Installing air filters.
A2. Early Bird tickets for reduced ticket prices in early booking months.
A3. Offering to transfer tickets if unable to attend due to COVID.

Q8. Anything else to add?
A1. We have not attracted audiences back to our plays. We have lost actors too and are finding it hard to fill casts.
A2. I am less keen to go to other theatres than I was pre-COVID.
A3. Caution is fine, fear mongering is not!

Oti Mabuse – I Am Here

Oti Mabuse – I Am Here

By Vicky Edwards

Oti Mabuse in 2018 before her back-to-back wins on Strictly Come Dancing

A bundle of zesty energy, Oti Mabuse may be on a rare day off when we meet but she’s still operating at warp speed. But then the double Strictly champion has good reason to be so happy and animated.

Currently enjoying the brand-new production of The Cher Show, directed by national treasure Arlene Phillips and with a book by Tony and Olivier Award-winning Rick Elice (of Jersey Boys fame), Oti has choreographed the show, which is nowtouring until April 2023.

Telling the story of the Armenian American truck driver’s shy daughter who rose to global stardom, The Cher Show charts superstar Cher’s meteoric rise to fame. And of course there is a cracking soundtrack. Packed with thirty-five of her biggest hits, it’s part-show / part-party.

“It’s the story that so many women connect with, but it’s also the songs and the clothes. It will be epic!” beamed Oti, when I spoke to her before the tour began, adding: “It has to be bigger than anything because it’s her; it has to live up to Cher’s iconic status. She has been such an inspiration to so many people and this musical is going to be a celebration of everything people love about her.”

And so was down to Oti to weave that star quality into the choreography – a challenge that she was absolutely thrilled with.

“What I love about choreography is that, when I’m dancing, I am only part of the picture, but when you are choreograph-ing, there are so many elements that are so exciting. Creating a storyline through dance means you go through the smallest details – is there a connection or a secret between the dancers that we need the audience to share? What props are there? What is the dancer at the back of the stage doing?”

As for the music, Oti’s exuberance ratchets up yet another notch when we started talking about Cher’s hits.

“I grew up with a family that always listened to music, and we all loved Cher’s music. Her songs have stories behind them and I LOVE choreography that has a story behind it! It has an intention you can then give to the movement. It makes everyone in the theatre part of the story. And everyone connects to Cher’s music because it is timeless. SHE is timeless!

“The show starts from the beginning of her life and comes to present day, so if you don’t know Cher’s story you will learn it. There are so many great songs that will make people feel uplifted too. And the show is going to almost every theatre in the country because Cher is an international phenomenon!”

While Oti won’t be on the road with The Cher Show, she‘s just finished touring with her own dance production, I Am Here.

“This is very exciting because it’s my first official tour,” she said just before the tour began. “It’s such an honour. It’s going to be loud, funny and truthful, and people will meet the real me. We have a live band, great music and a cast of great dancers.

“I love touring and the audiences make it for me. People have paid to come and be entertained and it’s lovely to do that; to create a memorable moment in their lives.”

It seems, Oti relishes the educational aspect of touring life. “I love learning and when you tour in the UK you learn crazy things like whether you put cream or jam on a scone first!” she tells me. “I love hearing the different accents and the different way people greet each other depending where you are.”

With an infectious chuckle she added: “I think touring is the best way to understand human beings!”

“All the theatres my shows are visiting are so supportive of people who come to put a show on; they are so welcoming and so, so hard working. After lockdown and the terrible time that theatres had, it is so lovely to be taking The Cher Show and I Am Here on tour.”

But even with two stage shows hitting the road, our human dynamo is still thinking ahead. “I have a lot of things that I want to achieve in life, and I am lucky that my parents raised me to be driven and ambitious,” claims the dancer. “But my goals come from a good place, and I really enjoy the journey of pursuing my dreams. Anyone who hires me knows that I will be the hardest working person in the place. For instance, there were very few books about dancing for children, so I wrote one.”

And that’s by no means all. Born in South Africa in 1990, Oti has been dancing since childhood. From making a name for herself in South Africa as the undefeated eight-time South African Latin American champion, she also managed to train as a Civil Engineer while competing in dance competitions. Winning awards and championships across Europe, TV soon beckoned and Oti joined the German version of Strictly Come Dancing. After two successful seasons, she joined the original BBC version of the show. Winning the coveted trophy in 2019 with actor Kelvin Fletcher, the following year Oti became the first Strictly Pro ever to win the Glitterball two consecutive years, alongside her partner Bill Bailey. TV and theatre work continues to flood in, which she juggles with running The Oti Mabuse Dance Studio, but, I ask, was performing always the dream?

“I wanted to go into musical theatre straight from high school, but my mum said I should be first academic and then pursue my passions. Since she was paying the bills, I didn’t have much choice!”

Reflective for a moment, she adds: “Engineering and dance are both about problem solving and precision and I love them both equally. I’d love to do a TV show about it.”

A TV show about engineering told through the medium of dance? If anyone can pull that off then it’s Oti. Stand by for the Reinforced Concrete Rumba!



Theatre’s Healthy in Eltham

Theatre’s Healthy in Eltham

All photos: Courtesy of Bob Hope Theatre

By Susan Elkin


The expression “punches above its weight” might have been coined for Eltham’s 200-seat Bob Hope Theatre. Its front of house facilities – big bar, spacious foyer, nice loos – would be the envy of many a west end or fringe theatre and backstage, of which more shortly, is like Tardis.

Owned by Eltham Little Theatre Ltd. – a registered charity and company limited by guarantee – it is governed by a Board of Management. BHT is a wholly amateur theatre in that all performers, management and ancillary workers give their services without payment. And of course, it’s a public theatre licensed by Royal Borough of Greenwich attracting audiences from all over South London and North Kent.

The building started life as a church hall in 1910 and was reborn as a theatre in 1946 when Eltham Little Theatre, founded three years before, took it on lease. Then in 1979 it came under serious threat. The lease from the Parochial Church Council expired and the premises were up for sale. Closure seemed imminent.

Enter Bob Hope who was born in Craigton Road, Eltham in 1903. Resident in America since 1907 he always maintained his links with his birth country. “To cut a long and complicated story short,” says archivist Jim Shepherd. “Bob offered to split the proceeds from his 1980/81 Bob Hope Classic Golf Tournament between us and the charity now known as Scope. We got £58,000 which enabled us to buy the building outright and to spend £8,000 on refurbishment.”

Bob’s commitment to, and enthusiasm for, the theatre, which he visited several times, lasted for the rest of his life. And that has meant that reburbishment has continued. “In August 1991 Bob donated £28,000 from the Benefit Performance he staged at London Palladium to raise money directly for the theatre” says Jim. “That enabled us to build the bar extension, rebuild the foyer, refurbish the front of house facilities and auditorium and to renovate and decorate the exterior of the building”. There were other donations too.

Since Bob’s death, aged 100, in 2003 his family has maintained contact. The Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation for example, alongside support from the local community enabled further improvements in 2016 including new frontage, improved disability access, a new scene dock and additional toilets. Linda Hope, Bob’s daughter who chairs the Foundation, attended a Gala Night to celebrate the new facilities in 2018.

John Goodwin, membership secretary, showed me round the theatre’s impressive backstage facilities which include the spacious George Tapp Studio where the company’s youth theatre group The New Stagers (Jude Law cut his teeth with them) is based. There’s now a mezzanine floor over the old scene dock to provide storage for costumes and props. It’s roomy, neat, immaculately organised and – like everything else at BHT – very professional in the best sense of the word.

Today BHT, which has around 200 members, stages about eight or nine shows a year of its own. Auditions are open but anyone who is cast is expected then to join and pay the £10 annual membership subscription plus a £20 performance fee. At the time of my visit Mike Bartlett’s Charles III was in rehearsal.

“In addition to that” chair, Jenny Simms tells me, “We have a number companies who hire our premises for their shows.” An example of this is Ferrier Operatic Society’s The Pirates of Penzance which I reviewed for Sardines earlier this summer.

BHT is therefore usefully busy. “We’re really pleased to have British Theatre Academy here too,” adds Jim. “They teach classes to under-18s in Penge, Eltham, Lewisham, Dulwich, Charlton and Bromley and are gradually spreading. They come to us for their shows – a total of five weeks this year with another two weeks booked next spring. They are very professional and it helps to bring new audiences into our premises”

So does the company, given all this activity, manage to balance the books? All three of the people I’m now chatting to over cups of tea and coffee seem faintly surprised by the question. After a pause Jenny, who is also chair of Rose Bruford College in Sidcup, says: “Well, yes we do. Ticket sales bring in income and we sell merchandise, drinks, teas, coffees, raffle tickets and so on. We hold events in the bar too. And we had a Cultural Recovery Fund grant during Covid. Bear in mind we pay nobody except the cleaner for three hours a week. We are definitely solvent.”

John Goodwin adds that the Pandemic provided a good opportunity for further improvements. “We redid the seating in the auditorium and managed to get a few more seats in. At the same time we put in safer side aisles with hand rails so people are comfortable getting to the higher rows of the raking,” he says. It certainly looks smart and businesslike. Having recently seen two shows there I can also attest to its comfort. Even with extra seats there is plenty of leg room.

Of course this is an amateur theatre which has been blessed with a lot of luck in the form of Bob Hope but he had nothing to do with the day to day running which seems seamlessly efficient. And I think many amateur owned/run theatres could learn from it.

Let my three interviewees have the last word. Almost in chorus they say: “We’d really like to welcome some new directors to our theatre. We want fresh blood and ideas.”
Anyone out there fancy trying his or her hand at Bob Hope Theatre?

Bob Hope Theatre
Wythfield Road, Eltham, London SE9 5TG
Box office: Tue – Sat 10am – 1pm
020 8850 3702

The Story Behind the Story

The Story Behind the Story

as performed by the Lyndhurst Drama & Musical Society

THE PLAY: Saffron Lady is a charming love story about an artist ‘Truffle’ who is commissioned to paint a portrait of a recently divorced aristocratic lady in her 60s, ‘Saffron Lady’. Their blossoming love is deeply frowned upon by Saffron Lady’s daughter, Daphne, but Daphne’s husband, Bernard, is pleased that his mother-in-law has found new love as he rather yearns for a little more romance from his wife himself! Daphne tries to enlist her brother, Marcus, to put a stop to the romance and she constantly interrogates the Butler of Saffron Hall, Oliver, as to what exactly is going on between her mother and an impoverished artist who, in her opinion, could be a threat to family inheritance.

THE MAKING OF THE FILM: Prior to the pandemic Stevie Parker, a member of Lyndhurst Drama & Musical Society and a friend of Frederick Webb, had read Saffron Lady, and had wanted to make it her debut in directing. However, the Society’s Committee had previously been sent the script and the play had not made it into the future productions list at that time.

Freshly edited, Saffron Lady was re-presented to the Committee to be performed as a ‘radio play’ in lockdown, to be aired over Zoom to the society’s loyal followers. The Chairman agreed. Delighted that his play would be performed for the first time, Frederick wanted to film the actors in action, as a future promotional tool for the play.

Rehearsals were initially over Zoom and, when Covid rules allowed, the small cast of six continued at the Vernon Theatre, socially distancing. To adhere to Covid rules, Stevie became both actor and director. Prior to the proposed filming, Frederick and Mike Clarke, the cameraman, came to a rehearsal to see how this could best be achieved. It was then agreed that the costs involved did not justify filming the actors with scripts, on a stage with no appropriate set. An option was to make a more professional sound recording. However, with the country on the verge of being locked down fully again, there was no time for the cast to get photographic stills to go with a sound recording. The prospect of a lengthy ‘Zoom’ audio production, without photographic stills to give some visual interest, was not ideal. The decision was made to shelve the project until after lockdown when filming without scripts could be achieved.

In the Spring, with the easing of some restrictions, the original cast got together again. A suitable venue was found for filming but this could not take place until Covid restrictions were due to be lifted at the end of June 2021. The window of opportunity for filming at the venue was very small. Finding a date to suit all cast and crew proved an impossible task. Reluctantly, three out of six cast members had to be changed in order to secure a filming date. The 26 June was set. Rehearsals with the new cast continued at the Vernon Theatre using a few basic chairs to create a Withdrawing Room.
It was a huge blow, when filming on 26 June had to be cancelled due to the Covid rules extension. It was astonishing that all involved were able to agree another date, 24 July. But this date would be the last chance for the film to be made. If it didn’t happen on 24 July it wouldn’t happen at all.

As the date grew nearer, so did the rise in ‘pinging’ and people having to isolate. What were the chances of all cast, crew, helpers and venue owners being ‘alright on the night’? One ping and the filming would be off. Everyone was on tenterhooks!

The first dress rehearsal at the venue on 19 July was on one of the hottest days of the year. It was decided not to do all the costume changes as everyone was ‘melting’. With only a few days until filming, health and safety of the cast was imperative! The second dress rehearsal, two days before filming, and still very hot, was in front of Frederick and Mike the cameraman. A nervous time for the cast as this was the moment when Frederick would give the go ahead for filming! It was also the first opportunity for Mike to see all the scenes, and to work out how best to film it all.

Frederick gave the go ahead and Mike instructed the cast as to what to expect with the camera work and microphones. With only one day to film there would be no time for endless takes. Scenes would be filmed out of sequence. He warned about the need to be mindful of continuity. It was going to be a mighty challenge to get Saffron Lady filmed in one day.
There were still forty-eight hours to worry about ‘pinging’. Would someone be pinged? Lateral tests were being done with bated breath. No one involved would have been able to live with themselves had they brought Covid to filming day.

By some miracle no one was pinged. Filming took all day, from 9am to 9pm on Saturday, 24 July. The kindness and generosity of the venue owners was extraordinary. Their home was turned into a buzzing film set!

It was a remarkable day for an amateur cast, made easy by the calm and patient professional crew, and some extremely kind volunteer helpers.

Saffron Lady filmed in one day. A special day indeed. Come and see it when you can!

Plays, Books and Musicals

Plays, Books and Musicals

Our regular up-to-date selection of recently published books as well as new or re-released plays and musicals,, many of which are now available for amateur performance.
Listings are NOT proof that respective titles are available for amateur performance. Please make appropriate enquiries with respective licensors.


F: ConcordShows | T: @ConcordUKShows


Beacons by Tabitha Mortiboy

Full-length drama / 2f, 1m / Present Day, New Millennium-21st Century / 978 0 573 13361 9 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
“See those stars at the edge? Those three in a line. That’s me, and you, and Julie. We’re a constellation.”
Julie sells ice cream on the cliffs at Beachy Head and searches for love online. Her friend Bernard walks the clifftops and can’t seem to settle.
When sixteen-year-old Skye arrives for the summer and decides to stay, the lives of all three become unexpectedly entwined. But when memory takes hold, will their buried secrets force them apart?
Tabitha Mortiboy’s magical play tells of love, loss and midnight ice-cream sundaes under the starlit skies of the South Downs.

THE BORDER GAME by Michael Patrick, Oisín Kearney

Full-length dark comedy / 1f, 1m / 978 0 573 13273 5 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
On a farm on the border, a fence is in need of repair after being destroyed by vandals. When Sinead finds Henry hungover in her field, she ropes him in to help. But rebuilding a fence is more complicated than it seems. What begins as a simple task soon turns to talk of their past, a reliving of old memories, and a relentless competition to come out on top.
A timely and powerful reflection on 100 years of the border in Ireland and how it has impacted those who live along it. Inspired by 100 testimonies from real people who live on the border.

CELEBRATED VIRGINS by Katie Elin-Salt and Eleri B. Jones

Full-Length Drama / 3f, 1m / 18th Century / 978 0 573 13356 5 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
When Eleanor and Sarah found each other, they were forced to leave their homes and cast out by society. Taking up residence in Llangollen they became minor celebrities, forced to witness their own lives written about by those who could never understand. Now, they are back, ready to take back the story that’s rightfully theirs – on their own terms.


CITY MELODIES by Lorna French.

Full-Length Drama / 4f, 3m / Contemporary, Waterloo, London / 978 0 573 13355 8 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
London, 2013. Anya, a young Romanian woman, has been in London for several months struggling to improve her English and finds a job as a music teacher. She moves in with her black British boyfriend Wes, and together they are trying to hold on to Anya’s dream of being a music teacher and Wes’ dream of succeeding as a jazz musician. This is their story and of the people they meet, all connected by tragedy to varying degrees. Everyone will be changed for ever by the events they live through.
City Melodies themes concern the fragmented sense of home and the impermanence of life as explored through the experiences of first and second generation immigrants to London. Other themes include the negative repercussions of putting people into boxes based on a prejudiced response to the unknown. Finally, the theme of persevering despite adversity and pursuing your dream is also explored.
The play is composed of a series of interlocking monologues, straight to audience address sections and traditional duologue scenes.

FIRST TOUCH by Nathaniel Price

Full-length drama / 2f, 5m / 1970s / 978 0 573 13244 5 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Clayton James, a 17-year-old Nottingham lad, dreams of becoming the next Viv Anderson. With a prodigious talent, the offer of a professional contract at a First Division club and a growing romance with girlfriend Serena, he appears to have the world at his feet.
But life in the late 70s isn’t easy for Clayton and his family, trying to make it in an era of racism and hooliganism. And Clayton’s steelworker dad Patterson faces an uncertain future as the Thatcher government faces off against the unions.
When his charismatic and powerful former coach, Lafferty, returns after four years away, Clayton is forced to confront painful memories of the past. Can he protect his loved ones from the truth of what he endured?
A world premiere, inspired by the recent football abuse scandals, First Touch is a gripping and heartfelt drama about what it takes to fulfil your dreams, by screenwriter Nathaniel Price (BBC’s Noughts and Crosses and Sky’s Tin Star).

GIRLPLAY by Sarah Richardson

Full-length drama / 3f / Present Day / 978 0 573 13364 0 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Lucy is average, awkward and unassuming. And, when it comes to sex, what she lacks in experience, she makes up for in curiosity. That’s all set to change. On a night of firsts, she opens the door to a world of relationships and sex that she had only ever dreamt about. But is the reality all she had hoped it would be? GirlPlay is an exploration of love and sex spun out in slam.


HOUSE OF IFE by Beru Tessema

Full-length drama / 3f, 2m / Present Day, A London flat / 978 0 573 13292 6 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
‘See that’s the problem with this family innit, we never wanna talk real about Ife.’
In the wake of the sudden death of their eldest son, Ife, one family is forced to confront the traumas, they’ve long tried to bury. As the sun beats down on their cramped North London flat, and the head of the family arrives from Ethiopia for the funeral, tensions rise, cultures clash and past betrayals are unearthed.
A tense, funny and explosive drama exploring what it means to belong, and what happens when a family’s secrets shake its foundations.

JACARANDA by Lorna French

Full-length drama / 1f, 1m / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13275 9 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
‘Sometimes it feels so exposing just walking in the village. I told Jimmy to ignore it at first, he tried to, but it’s isolating he said, eyes on you, not a word spoken. Even when you meet their eyes they don’t look away. Like they have a right to, like you’re a spectacle, an object.’
Olivia has recently moved into her great-uncle’s farmhouse. She’s not local, but she knows her way around. Matty is a gamekeeper, but he doesn’t often tell anyone. He’s wary of newcomers. These unlikely strangers find themselves beside a stream on the longest night of the year.
Pentabus and Theatre by the Lake present a brilliant new drama from award-winning playwright Lorna French which explores loss, love, prejudice, race and belonging.

LOTUS BEAUTY by Satinder Kaur Chohan

Full-length drama / 5f / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13353 4 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Lotus Beauty follows the intertwined lives of five multigenerational women, inviting us into Reita’s Salon where clients can wax lyrical about their day’s tiny successes or have their struggles massaged, plucked or tweezed away. But with honest truths and sharp-witted barbs high among the treatments on offer, will the power of community be enough to raise the spirits of everyone who passes through the Salon doors?


MALINDADZIMU by Mufaro Makubika

Full-length drama / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13272 8 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
For Faith and her teenage daughter Hope, it seems as though growing up inevitably means growing apart. So Faith makes the drastic decision to move the family back to her native Zimbabwe to start over. It’s home for her but not for Hope – at least, not on the surface… Will the powers that have drawn them back to their roots help them find each other – and themselves? Mufaro Makubika’s, Malindadzimu is delicate, witty and epic in equal measure – travelling from Nottingham to Zimbabwe exploring a mother and daughter’s search for belonging, their struggle with a multicultural heritage, and a haunting history that cannot be ignored.

MORENO by Pravin Wilkins

Full-length drama / 4m / Contemporary, An NFL locker room, sideline and field / 978 0 573 70985 2 / £10.99

August, 2016. The NFL is being shaken by Colin Kaepernick’s monumental decision. While other players join him in taking a knee, star running back Luis Moreno is all about his game – and his pay check. A record-breaking season is in sight… but America’s leadership is changing. When a destructive new reality hits close to home, Luis is forced to ask whether politics have a place on the field, and if he is willing to risk his career to take a stand for his own community.
Pravin Wilkins’ stunning debut play was the winner of the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. It was chosen out of 1,719 scripts sent in from 45 countries by a group of independent readers, the 503 team and a panel comprising Erica Whyman (Chair of Theatre503 and deputy artistic director, RSC), producer Caro Newling, actor/director Daniel Evans, arts journalist and reviewer Sam Marlowe, playwrights Roy Williams and Vinay Patel, and Theatre503 artistic director Lisa Spirling.

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman, Joel Horwood

Full-length drama / 5f, 6m / Present Day, 1980s, Fantasy / 978 0 573 13279 7 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Adapted from Neil Gaiman’s bestselling novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a thrilling feat of storytelling in which fantasy, sci-fi, myth and imagination combine in an adventure that unfolds right here, in our world.
Returning to his childhood home, a man finds himself standing beside the pond of the old Sussex farmhouse where he used to play. When he meets an old friend, he is reminded of a name he has not heard for many years: Lettie Hempstock. And is transported to his 12th birthday, when Lettie claimed that this wasn’t a pond at all, but an ocean…
Plunged into 1983, our young protagonist struggles with the ripples of a disturbing event that makes him question his deepest assumptions about his fractured family. Striving to come to terms with his newly unknowable world, together with his new friend Lettie he must reckon with ancient forces that threaten to destroy everything and in turn learn to trust others to find his own feet. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is a thrilling feat of storytelling in which fantasy, sci-fi, myth and imagination combine in an adventure that unfolds right here, in our world.

A PLACE FOR WE by Archie Maddocks

Full-length dramatic comedy / 4f, 7m / New Millennium, 21st Century, 1990s, 1980s, 1970s, A building in Brixton / 978 0 573 13274 2 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
“There’s five generations of tradition in these walls.”
A pub. A funeral parlour. An urban-zen enoteca and conscious eatery. One building in Brixton tells the story of London’s changing communities over three very different generations.
Trinidadian funeral director Clarence and fifth generation pub owner George don’t want things to change. But everything around them is changing. Do they adapt to survive? Or stay true to their roots and risk it all…family, tradition, business?
In the wake of the Windrush scandal, Archie Maddocks’ bittersweet comedy holds a mirror up to the ever-changing face of London’s communities in search of their common beating heart.

A PRETTY SHITTY LOVE by Katherine Chandler

Full-length drama / 1f, 1m / Present Day / 978 0 573 13360 2 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Inspired by true events that shook Wales and reverberated around the world.
A new play by acclaimed playwright Katherine Chandler about dreaming of love, living in fear and finding the strength to pull yourself out.


SAFE HOUSE by Lorna French

Full-length drama / 4f, 2m / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13290 2 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Safe House is set in the present in an undisclosed part of England. Tommy is a policeman who comes face to face with Kelly, a young man whose crime and painful situation stirs up his past. As Tommy interrogates Kelly he is forced to face the ghost that still looms large in his life, making him fear there may be something monstrous inside him too. Tommy must confront his demons or they will destroy his relationships with his wife, Alex, sister, Steph, and especially his stepdaughter, Hannah.



Full-length comedy / 8f, 8m / Farce, Mystery, Thriller, contemporary / 978 0 573 13285 8 / £10.99

Shakespeare’s characters are real…
The RSC is a branch of the government (a bit like MI6 but with better costumes).
Iago is trying to destroy the world…
And mankind’s last hope is a travel agent called Martin.
Dive into a most lamentable, epic, comic, romantic tragic comedy in a world where Shakespeare’s heroes and villains have been waging a secret war, after being inexplicably being brought to life over 400 years ago. If the rules of theatre are broken, it will bring about the end of the world. It all hinges on a prophecy about The Last Descendant, who has no idea about any of this until the night he meets a girl at a party.


Full-length comedy / 4f / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13296 4 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Bonfire night 2019, Sheila, Denise, Julie, and Fay are Team C in Pennine Mineral Water Ltd.’s annual outward-bound team-building weekend. Somehow, Sheila has been nominated team leader, and, using her cryptic crossword solving skills, has unwittingly stranded her team on an island in the Lake District.
Our intrepid heroines find themselves manufacturing weapons from cable ties and spatulas, and create a rescue flag with plastic plates and a toasting fork.
Questions are asked; truths are told; dirty washing is aired.
Is it possible to build an adequate night shelter with a prom dress and a sleeveless jumper? What is Julie’s husband really up to in Aldi? And why are they on this bloody team building exercise when they could be at a spa?

SHEWOLVES by Sarah Middleton

Full-length comedy / 2f / Present Day, New Millennium, 21st Century / 978 0 573 13367 1 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
Ever thought you should run the world, even though you’re ‘only fourteen and a girl’? Priya and Lou have. And they’re ready to bite back against any adult who doubts them. Armed with a backpack full of Pop-Tarts and a hunger to tackle climate change, they embark on a covert expedition into the wild. But when the wilderness closes in around them, can Lou and Priya overcome their differences to make their voices heard?
SHEWOLVES is an uplifting, funny and empowering play about forging friendships when you’re a bit weird, the power of hope and the underestimated smartness of teens.

SIX: TEEN EDITION by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

Full-length dramatic comedy musical / Present Day, 16th Century, Elizabethan / 978 0 573 13289 6 / £10.99

SIX: TEEN EDITION is a full-length adaptation of Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss’
international phenomenon SIX, modified for performance by teen actors for family audiences. Please note the following restrictions:

• Amateur primary and secondary school productions in the UK and Eire only.
• Actors ages 19 and under only.
• Performances on school grounds only (no outside venues).
• No replica productions (do not replicate costumes, scenery, choreography or staging from the original production)

Divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the mic to remix five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st-Century girl power! This new original musical is the global sensation that everyone is losing their head over.
The New York Times says SIX is “pure entertainment!” and the Evening Standard hails SIX as “the most uplifting new British musical I have ever had the privilege to watch.”
At its heart, SIX is about celebrating the talent and individuality of the women and non-binary people onstage. The Queens should therefore be played by cis women, trans women, trans people and people who exist beyond the gender binary in any capacity, who feel on a personal level that this is their story to tell.

TIL DEATH DO US PART by Safaa Benson-Effiom

Full-length drama / 1f, 2m / Contemporary, Present Day / 978 0 573 13352 7 / £10.99

This title is not currently available for performance. To be informed as soon as it becomes available in the future, please submit a license application.
After fifteen years of marriage, Daniel and Sylvia find themselves drifting further apart with each passing day. Until one morning, they find themselves abruptly united by every parent’s worst nightmare…
The shoes have been polished, the vases are full and the phone is ringing off the hook, but there’s one thing they’re still missing…answers. Forced into a confrontation, years of resentment and things long left unsaid rise to the surface as they question the circumstances that brought them to this point, and what happens to your relationship when the only thing holding you together, threatens to tear you apart.
A timely spotlight on love and loss, Til Death Do Us Part is the debut play of Safaa Benson-Effiom, and was a finalist in the 2020 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award and Soho Theatre’s 2019 Tony Craze award. Originally presented as a Theatre503 and Darcy Dobson Productions coproduction.


Nick Hern Books
T: 020 8749 4953
W: | E:
F: NickHernBooks | T: @NickHernBooks


8 Hotels by Nicholas Wright

Full-length play / 2f, 2m / Hotel rooms throughout America in the 1940s / 978 1 848 42855 3 / £9.99 (£6.99 direct from publisher with code SARDINES30)

Celebrated actor, singer and political campaigner Paul Robeson is touring the United States of America as Othello. His Desdemona is the brilliant young actress Uta Hagen. Her husband, the Broadway star José Ferrer, plays Iago. The actors are all friends, but they are not all equals. As the tour progresses, onstage passions and offstage lives begin to blur. Revenge takes many forms and in post-war America it isn’t always purely personal – it can be disturbingly political too. Based on true events, this fascinating play by the writer of the Olivier Award-winning Vincent in Brixton was first staged at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester, in 2019, in a production directed by Richard Eyre.

‘Explores with great subtlety the complexities of an infernal triangle’ Guardian

Beginning by David Eldridge

Full-length play / 1f, 1m / Single built set (can be simply staged) / 978 1 350 06126 2 / £10.99 (published by Methuen Drama)

It’s the early hours of the morning and Danny’s the last straggler at Laura’s party. The flat’s in a mess. And so are they. One more drink? This sharp and astute two-hander, featuring two funny and fantastic roles for performers, takes an intimate look at the first fragile moments of risking your heart and taking a chance. It was first staged at the National Theatre, London, in October 2017, before transferring to the West End.

‘A hilarious bittersweet rom-com. A modern classic’ Radio Times

The Last of the Pelican Daughters by The Wardrobe

Full-length play / 5-7f, 3m / Can be simply staged / 978 1 848 42935 2 / £10.99 (£7.69 direct from publisher with code SARDINES30)

Four sisters are trying to come to terms with their mother’s death – and divide their mother’s house between them. Joy wants a baby, Storm wants to be seen, Sage wants to be paid, Maya doesn’t want anyone to find out her secret. Granny’s in a wheelchair on day release – and Mum’s presence still seeps through the ceiling and the floors. The Pelican Daughters are home for the last time. This irreverent and touching play, by the company behind popular amateur shows Education, Education, Education and 1972: The Future of Sex, was first staged at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019.

‘It’s hard not to be seduced by this oddball family drama, with its heart firmly in the right place’ WhatsOnStage

The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Kate Mosse, adapted from her own novel

Full-length play / 6-9f, 9-12m plus optional extras / Various locations in 1912 Sussex / 978 1 839 04083 2 / £10.99 (£7.69 direct from publisher with code SARDINES30)

A darkly atmospheric Gothic thriller, based on the internationally best-selling novel. In an isolated house on the Sussex salt marshes, Connie Gifford lives with her father. Robbed of her childhood memories by a mysterious accident, she is haunted by fitful glimpses of her past – whilst her father has become a broken man, taking refuge in the bottle. A strange woman has been seen in the graveyard – and a few miles away, two patients have, inexplicably, disappeared from the local asylum. As a major storm hits the coastline, old wounds are about to be opened as one woman, intent on revenge, attempts to liberate another from the horrifying crimes of the past. The Taxidermist’s Daughter first premiered at Chichester Festival Theatre in April 2022.

‘Atmospheric and riveting… There are surprises and shocks at every turn’ British Theatre Guide

Wuthering Heights (stage version) by Andrew Sheridan, adapted from the novel by Emily Brontë

Full-length play / 3-5f, 4-5m, plus optional ensemble / Flexible staging (minimal requirements) / 978 1 848 42922 2 / £9.99 (£6.99 direct from publisher with code SARDINES30)

This gripping reinvention of the classic novel is a searing and ferocious celebration of passion, of desire – and of the female imagination that created this indelible masterpiece. When two souls collide, the impact can resonate for all eternity. So it was – and so it is – with Heathcliff and Cathy. But if they can’t be together, the world that struggles to contain them will simply shatter and burn… Exposing a very different but essentially truthful side to literature’s most electric couple, it premiered at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, in February 2020.

‘Superb… Sheridan’s script distills and elevates the emotional core of the book, bringing the story to fresh life’ The Reviews Hub

The Playwright’s Journey by Jemma Kennedy

Theatre book / 978 1 848 42580 4 / £14.99 (£7.69 direct from publisher with code SARDINES30)

A clear, supportive and comprehensive guide to the whole process of writing a play – based on the author’s long-running playwriting masterclasses, as taught at the National Theatre. The Playwright’s Journey leads you through all elements of the craft – such as theatrical tools and techniques, creating characters, choosing a dramatic structure, constructing great scenes, writing engaging dialogue, and more – with exercises to help you practise what you’ve learnt. It provides examples from classical and modern plays, plus insights from other contemporary playwrights into their own writing journeys. There’s also advice on what to do once you’ve finished your script – including redrafting, receiving feedback and taking notes – and how to navigate your play’s progress towards production.

‘[Lays] bare the most complex, convoluted ideas with exquisite lucidity, wit and empathy… A substantial and rare aesthetic achievement which every aspiring playwright, producer and director should read and respect’ Joe Penhall, playwright and screenwriter (Blue/Orange, Sunny Afternoon, Mindhunter), from his Foreword


T: 01625 879508
W: | E:


The Toad Society – A comedy about life, love and toads by John Waterhouse

Full-Length Comedy / 2f, 2m / Free perusal link at

The Harpington Toad Fanciers Society is a small, very select group who meet in secret to share their fascination with Toads, either behind closed doors or undertaking nocturnal visits to ponds. The group have only ever congregated for Toad-related activities, under the leadership of Norman, a Toad expert. Natasha is new to the group and suggests a social night, which means talking about non-Toad subjects. Norman is unsure but think Herbert and Alice its’ a great idea.
The group discover that they have more in common than just Toads as suppressed feelings coming to the fore. Consequently, the society is reconstituted as TARTS, with a view to undertaking sports and expeditions. This leads to an eventful camping expedition as the TARTS get to grips with outdoor living and taking up interesting new sports. The question is whether newly formed relationships will survive the challenges and calamities of living in the wild!



FrederiCk Webb
T: 01590 670645
W: | E:


SAFFRON LADY by Frederick Webb

Full-Length Play / £9.95 / Rights: £75.00, followed by 7.5 % of ticket sales.


         MORE HERE



T: 020 7580 2827
W: | E:
F: mtieurope | T: @mtieurope


CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG JR – Music and Lyrics by Richard M. Sherman and Robert B. Sherman, Adapted for the stage by Jeremy Sams

One Hour Musical (Broadway Junior) | 29 roles (+ ensemble)

The famous high-flying car is ready to land on your stage and save the day in this Broadway Junior adaptation of the blockbuster musical and beloved classic film. Filled with amazing stage spectacle and unforgettable songs, including the Academy Award nominated title song, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang JR. is a high-flying fun-filled adventure that will dazzle audiences and Broadway Junior Stars alike.



GODSPELL (2012 Ver.) – Music and New Lyrics by Stephen Schwartz, Book by John Michael Tebelak

Full Length Musical | 8 roles (+ ensemble opps)

A masterful retelling of the original sensation, injected with contemporary references and dazzling new arrangements. Boasting a score with chart-topping songs, a book by a visionary playwright (John-Michael Tebelak) and a feature film, Godspell is a sensation that continues to touch audiences. Because of its small technical demands and minimal cast size, it has become a staple of theatre companies, large and small.



Young Frankenstein – Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks, Book by Mel Brooks & Thomas Meehan

Full Length Musical | 8 roles (+ ensemble opps)

From the creators of The Producers comes the celebrated West End Version of this monster musical comedy. Thise hilarious Mel Brooks musical is ready to electrify your stage! Young Frankenstein has all of the panache of the screen sensation with an extra theatrical flair. A perfect opportunity for a production company to showcase an array of talents, you’ll be “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and having a monstrously good time.


T: 020 7101 9596
F: TRWMusicalsUK | T: @trwmusicalsuk

Curtains – Book, Additional Lyrics: Rupert Holmes. Music, Additional Lyrics: John Kander. Lyrics: Fred Ebb. Original Book and Concept: Peter Stone

Full Length Musical | F5, M8 featured roles (Opportunities for flexible casting in the ensemble) | 1959 | Boston’s Colonial Theatre (onstage, backstage etc.)

It’s the brassy, bright, and promising year of 1959. Boston’s Colonial Theatre is host to the opening night performance of a new musical. When the leading lady mysteriously dies on stage the entire cast & crew are suspects. Enter a local detective, who just happens to be a musical theatre fan! Packed with glorious tunes and a witty, charming script filled with delightful characters, Curtains is a hilarious journey for both performers and the audience. The Broadway production garnered 8 nominations at the 2007 Tony Awards® including Best Musical.


ALL SHOOK UP – Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley®. Book by Joe DiPietro

Full Length Musical | F5, M4 featured roles. (Opportunities for flexible casting in the expandable ensemble) | 1955 | Various simple settings

It’s 1955, and into a square little town in a square little state rides a guitar-playing young man who changes everything and everyone he meets. Loosely based on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, this hip-swiveling, lip-curling musical fantasy will have you jumpin’ out of your blue suede shoes with such classics as ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, ‘Hound Dog’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’, and ‘Don’t Be Cruel’.


THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS – Based on the book by Kenneth Grahame. Book by Julian Fellowes. Music by George Stiles. Lyrics by Anthony Drewe

Full Length Musical / F1, M5 featured roles. (Opportunities for featured casting in the large ensemble) / Early 20th Century / Various simple settings (riverside scenario)

This riotous comedy follows Mole, Rat, Badger, and the impulsive Mr. Toad, whose insatiable need for speed lands him in serious trouble. With his beloved home under threat from the notorious Chief Weasel and his gang of sinister Wild Wooders, Toad must attempt a daring escape leading to a series of misadventures and a heroic battle to recapture Toad Hall. Full of humor, wit, a gorgeous, soaring score, and heartwarming lessons of friendship, The Wind in the Willows is the perfect fit for family audiences.





Stand-up Comedian
Television Actor
Movie Actor
Theatre Actor
Character Actor
All-round Nice Guy

You could pick any of the words above to describe Omid Djalili and you wouldn’t be wrong.
I saw him at the Eventim Apollo back in December when I took my Iranian Father-in-Law to see his fellow countryman. That was part of his ‘Good Times’ tour. He is now finishing it off by playing at the Fringe throughout August.
With film parts in The Mummy, Notting Hill, The Infadel and Pirates of the Carribean, Omid Djalili has become the ‘go-to’ actor when it comes to playing Middle-Eastern or Arabic characters.
We caught up with him before Scotland…

I started by asking Omid how the tour, which he has been performing (somehow) since July last year, has been going, and what Scotland’s Fringe should expect: “It’s difficult to answer that because I have a few surprises up my sleeve,” he answers. “But the main thrust of it is that it’s a celebration of stand-up comedy, and the joy of coming together as a way of catching up on fun we’ve missed out on. I remember having a conversation with one of the producers of the Royal Variety Performance who said more often than not he found someone on stage all by themselves doing stand-up comedy more powerful and magical than a highly entertaining musical number with sixty people dancing around on stage. A stand-up can conjure up a thousand images because your mind is working while you’re listening. So basically my show is a thousand images in an hour and a half.”
I forgot how far the humour dial would be ramped up.

Omid Djalili, onstage performing stand-up

Surely a stand-up comedian’s lifeblood comes from live entertainment, which has been lacking somewhat for the last couple of years. How good is it to be back? “The new normal, as we call it, is extraordinary. The last gig I did was at a beer garden in Colchester,” Omid tells me. “I was only a mile away but because of a road closure I had to go twenty miles around. I was an hour late. When I got there, there was nowhere to park. They told me to park in a car park 500 yards away and I said: ‘I haven’t got time for that!’ so they said ‘ok just come in with the car.’ I drove right onto the stage, parked, got out, walked to the centre of the stage, they passed me a microphone, I spoke for forty minutes, we laughed, I got back in the car and left. I was wearing a suit too so I looked like some Hollywood big shot (or even worse, someone who thinks they’re a Hollywood big shot) coming on, talking for a bit, then buggering off.”

Only in Colchester, eh… Did he have any other stories? “One of the first gigs I did back was a socially-distanced one in Newcastle, at The Stand Comedy Club, in a 300-seat venue where only ninety people were allowed in and they all had to wear visors and weren’t allowed to speak to me. Halfway through the show I said ‘Look, if you really want to heckle, why don’t you steam up the inside of your visors and write your heckles backwards?’ I quickly lost control of the gig because they weren’t interested in what I was saying any more, they were only interested in writing words backwards. So it’s a real relief to be back on stage with an audience without any restrictions.

Omid Djalili is under no illusions of the importance of being a stand-up: “Every comic I’ve spoken to has come to the realisation that this is a profession you can never take for granted because we have the best job in the world,” responds the funny man in a surprisingly serious answer. “I did Zoom gigs and enjoyed them but you can’t beat the live experience. It impacts you physiologically. When you have a shared experience it has an affect on the mind, body and spirit in a way that is very different to watching things digitally on your phone or on a television. It’s certainly impacted me when I’ve seen it done well.”

In his tour Omid Djalili talks very candidly about the pandemic and learning to do new things. “The Persian language. At least I tried. I was asked to be a guest on a Persian-language talk show recorded in London and broadcast from the Middle East. I’d been asked to do it for many years and always said no, but then when they approached me again during lockdown I thought ‘why not? And it might be fun to pick up a new skill.’ So, I brushed up on my Persian (Farsi), did it and got myself acquainted with a whole new audience. And then they asked me to guest host an episode. The process of delving into my culture in the language of my heritage but with the brain of a stand-up comedian, finding the nuance and turns of phrase in the language, was challenging and exciting. It’s hard enough doing that in English, but to do it in your second language was a thrill. Now there’s an offer to do my own show, which is nothing short of extraordinary. To have my own Persian-language talk show on ‘BBC Persia’, beamed directly into Iran, with a potential global audience of 30-40 million is quite a result after doing something essentially just for the hell of it during lockdown.”

Omid has certainly branched out over the years starring in all kinds of blockbuster movies. The latest addition is hosting his own TV quizshow called Winning Combination which aired last November. I wonder if quizshow host was always part of the dream (and I already knew the answer).

“I went into it kicking and screaming,” is the expected response. “There’s a saying that ‘you always end up doing the thing you’re second-best at,’ the implication being that you have to try lots of different things before you find that thing. The same team that makes The Chase was behind it too so I knew it had to be good. I’d appeared on the celebrity version of The Chase and they offered me this new format straight away in the green room. I avoided them many times but they said ‘just come and watch it, we’ll perform it for you.’ I did and I loved it and the rest is history. I’ve always had great respect for game-show hosts. It’s using three or four different parts of your brain. I just didn’t think I could do it myself. It took me a while to get into it but once I understood the machinery of it I totally bought into the experience. We’ve done a second series too. If I’m honest, I can’t wait to do a third!”
Well, I wasn’t expecting that!

Not appearing thrown (I hope), I ask about Omid’s twenty-five-year career in stand-up: “I was told early on by comedians I respected that it takes about twenty-five years to find your voice,” is the more familiar answer. “You can’t just get up and be funny. I was lucky that I fell into stand-up comedy, an industry that thousands try to get into. I just did it for a laugh and if you make it through it’s like being a sperm that fertilises an egg. So why would you ever discard it? Careers are always hard to navigate but in comedy, as it is in most things, you’re never the finished article. So it’s great to be fifty-five years old and still know definitively there’s so much more room to grow and improve.”

Always in learning mode? “ I like that term. If you’re in learning mode and you keep trying to learn from mistakes, you probably hit your stride about twenty years in. I still can’t watch myself though. I never saw my first Live At The Apollo. Ditto the second one. But that’s probably more to do with my shape and choice of clothes than what I was actually saying.”

And how does that compare with revisiting the Fringe? “There’s a big part of me that is prepared for the mistakes, the terrible things that go wrong on tour. And I’m looking forward to those things as well! In fact enjoying every second of it. We’ve had eighteen months of no live performance so if you don’t enjoy it right now, if you don’t savour every moment, good or bad, you never will.”
Omid is no stranger to the Fringe in Edinburgh and this year’s trip to Scotland cannot come soon enough.

After experimenting with a Zoom gig where he got muted by 639 people and a drive-in gig where he witnessed an audience member get out his car, attach a hose pipe to his exhaust and feed it through the window (I guess you had to be there!); the multi-award-winning comedian and actor is arguably back where he belongs, on a stage.

It’s no secret that Omid Djalili is well-loved for his legendary stand-up shows, with performances famed for their piercing wit – with routines that range from the provocative to the silly. Omid’s stand-up is always highly energetic, incredibly passionate and above all supremely entertaining.

A firm favourite at the Edinburgh Fringe, Omid’s stand-up awards include the Time Out Award for Best Stand Up and the EMMA Award. He’s also been a nominee for a Perrier Award and the South Bank Award. He was also awarded a Best Actor award at the Turin Film Festival for his lead performance in 2010’a The Infidel written by David Baddiel. This marked Djalili’s first starring role where he played a devout Muslim who discovers that he is actually adopted and his real parents were, in fact, Jewish. What a great idea.

Other credits range from Hollywood to television, the West End Stage to his critically acclaimed performance as Tevye in Chichester’s Fiddler on the Roof.

This year, Omid had the honour to host the much-awaited celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, in the privacy of Windsor Castle, alongside a formidable cast of 1,300 people, that included Tom Cruise, Alan Titchmarsh and Dame Helen Mirren.

The second series of His Dark Materials aired recently on the BBC. Omid also starred as the narrator for the Jubilee Show on ITV.

To say this man is one of the most hard-working actor-comedians is something of an understatement.

Also. he’s the kind of actor who isn’t ego-driven; he takes work that pays. His first film was 1999’s The Mummy, in which he ran into a cave wall (remember that! Ouch!). However, his second involved him handing Hugh Grant a cup of tea, the same year, in Notting Hill. Then the next couple of years saw him most notably in Gladiator and Mean Machine, Casanova came in 2005 (with the late Heath Ledger) followed by a voice role in 2006’s Over the Hedge and he even got to dress up in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End in 2007.

His critically acclaimed role in The Infidel came in 2010 followed by another voice role in Shaun the Sheep Movie five years later. He even played a customs officer in 2018’s Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

There are many small film roles inbetween, plus his list of TV credits are even longer with mulltiple appearances as himself, as a guest. Omid has also provided the voices for a couple of video games. National Treasure next!

Omid Djalili – actor, comedian, writer

So You Wanna Be An Actor!

So You Wanna Be An Actor!

Bugsy Malone UK Tour, The Ensemble.  Photo: Johan Persson

Sean Holmes – director of the first-ever tour of Bugsy Malone. Photo: Tristram and Kenton

Paul Johnson speaks with Sean Holmes, director of the first-ever professional tour of Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone

‘Never work with children or animals!’ How’s it all going? You must be rehearsing now?
“Yes, we are in rehearsals. It’s going very well; the most important thing is the story that Alan Parker wrote all those years ago.

“At the time it was a bit of a crazy idea but the fact that it is still being revised forty years later actually shows what a ‘brilliant’ idea it was. And that’s made it such a brilliant and joyful thing to do. Also, a lot of us of a certain age grew up with the movie will always say, ‘Oh, I was Tallulah, Bugsy, Blousey etc. at school always my drama society.’ It’s such a loved piece.

“We are very lucky to do it and because it’s a big piece – we actually did it twice at the Lyric Hammersmith in 2025 and 2016. It played for a total of eight months across both runs and now is a finely honed machine. What I’m saying is we refined it and so we are not looking for the young people all the young adults to play the gangsters and the chorus line as we have them. The steps of the routines are quite well established so it’s a case of, ‘We know what works but you can make it work in your own way.’”

“The composer of the music, Paul Williams, came over to see the show a couple of times and liked it. He’s obviously a bit of a legend at the very core.”

The first-ever professional tour of Bugsy Malone! …Have there been amateur tours in the past then?
“The thing is Alan Parker didn’t really like it on stage when he saw it, so for a period of time he wouldn’t give the professional rights away. I met him in 2011 and I spoke with him about the Lyric Theatre and its interest in working with young people and our focus on their development – from all backgrounds – He got quite excited about us doing it. Then, when we did do it he was very pleased with it. Also, when you look at the movie the story isn’t very sentimental or cute. Actually in its own way it’s quite tough; the songs are all about the state and hostility and because it’s set in the depression it’s all quite gritty and grim. So perhaps he simply found other productions quite sentimental and cutesy. Although we changed a lot of stuff, we weren’t trying to recreate the movie and, instead, stayed quite true to the spirit of it.”

Twenty years ago, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, featured a mix of raw talent and stage-school children. Is that the type of cast that you have featured?
“We have a real mixture too. For some parts you want a certain level of singing requirements – that’s for your Blouseys and your Tallulahs. But most of the cast is a real mixture which is absolutely the best thing and the audience can sense that I think. For some roles they can sense the skill and the training in the child while other parts they can definitely sense the ‘uncut diamonds’. It’s very important to have a mixture.”

Have you needed to change anything about the production after first opening it in 2015?
“Very little. Because we revived it in 2016 we changed a few numbers back then rather than now. Because it’s touring the set has had a few tweaks but the story is probably like pulling a thread on a jumper; if you change too much it could go very wrong. So we want to make it as robust and portable as possible. That way, everyone in every venue is getting the same experience.”

You really have done it all haven’t you? Mind you, this’ll be another unique production to tick off?
“Let’s hope so but we have to see how it goes. It’s so important to see how the tour beds in. We have a great children’s casting director. We are very confident and can’t wait to see how things turn out.”

One lad was on The Voice, somebody else is in movies, someone’s gone to be on the West End. Also, what’s nice is that one of our Blouseys from before is now playing Tilly in this production.

How important was it to get the creative team of Drew McOnie & Jon Bausor back?
“The team is vital, and the great thing for a director in a show like this is you have other people doing such great work so you can sit at the back and the biscuits half the time, ha ha. But seriously we were very proud of the show and at the time I remember it felt very collaborative. So it was crucial, yes. I think we have the whole of the creative team back together apart from the lighting designer, James Farncombe, who just wasn’t available because of the dates you. We’ve managed to get everyone else back which is very, very lucky.”

Does it feel a little nostalgic returning to your time at Lyric Hammersmith?
“It’s different in lots of ways but at the same time, the show was very much born of that time so, particularly the Lyric and its inclusivity… giving opportunities to young people.”

So how many adults and children are in the show?
“There are twenty-one kids in the company, that three lots of seven who rotate every few days. Then we have about sixteen or seventeen young adults – or ‘overs’ as we call them. What’s great about that is that they bring a certain amount of delivery and professionalism to the big musical numbers. There are in most of them and it would be difficult just to direct young children in big musical chorus numbers.

“That’s also one of the things that Alan Parker responded to. You’re getting the talent, you’re getting the kids and it’s a really lovely mix. As an audience, because the young adults are all in their early 20s anyway, you get a real attack of youthful energy from the stage.”

I think the thing is not trying to get it right.
People think that the director is the person who tells everyone what to do, but I think the director is the person who makes everyone be the best they can possibly be.

Alan Parker’s film obviously made stars of Jodie Foster and Scott Bayo. Are there any SIMILAR people to look out for?
“There’s lots of very exciting talent. What’s interesting is the group from 2015 and 2016; lots of them have gone on into the industry. One lad was on The Voice, somebody else is in movies, someone’s gone to be on the West End. Also, what’s nice is that one of our Blouseys from before is now playing Tilly in this production. That’s Georgia Pemberton who is now one of our young adults.”

Directing professional theatre must be completely different from directing amateur Are you now a coach?
“Well, I’m not so sure there is such a degree of difference as you might imagine. I know that in amateur theatre a director can become something of an acting coach as well, and to that extent you are right of course but there’s also something very interesting. Like yesterday for instance when I was working with the Bugsys and the Blouseys I gave them just one note: ‘If you’re going to ask a question, really ask it.’ you may know your character doesn’t get an answer but the character doesn’t know that. I probably said that to a room full of professional actors every time for the last twenty years.
“Obviously there is a greater degree of knowledge and experience but it’s still amazing just how much the Venn diagrams intersect. Of course the other thing that’s important is teaching, as long as you don’t make it feel like a chore or that they’re getting some things wrong. The audience will always forgive a few rough edges but what is essential is giving the impression that you own it and everybody is loving being up there on the stage.

Do you have any advice to share with the thousands of non-professional directors up and down the country?
“I think the thing is not trying to get it right all the time. The director is the person who tells everyone what to do, but I think the director is the person who makes everyone be the best they can possibly be. That’s a much nicer place to be. As long as people feel connected and is collaborative and empowered you can forgive the rough edges.”

The Playwright’s Journey

The Playwright’s Journey

As a playwright, you have to find your process – and then trust it.

By Jemma Kennedy

For any writer, the blank page can seem terrifying – it’s both too empty and too full of possibilities. The worst thing that can happen, and often does, is that an inexperienced playwright plunges in randomly after their initial spark of creativity, and then proceeds to write and rewrite the same scene over and over for any number of weeks, months or years, before giving up in frustration.
In my experience, most playwrights usually start in an enthused but creative muddle, and must painstakingly chip away until their play begins to emerge, line by line. Some may already have an entire draft of a play written, but others only a few scenes, a sketchy outline or just a lingering idea that feels full of dramatic potential. Some plays require careful mapping before you start writing. Others will tumble out in a stream of consciousness and then need shaping afterwards. Whatever our starting point, we have to find a writing methodology that works for us.
Developing playwrights often worry that they’re missing some vital universal skill that will enable them magically to complete a draft. They also invariably want to know how successful playwrights go about their business. Over the last few years I’ve spent many fruitful weeks working on various projects as a writer on attachment at the National Theatre Studio. On the top floor of the building there are five small writer’s rooms, equipped with desk, chair and computer; each containing a playwright or director or small creative team beavering away on a new project. There’s usually a certain amount of friendly visiting between writers in their respective rooms to borrow paper, gossip, or offer a tea break.
An observer might notice that when we enter the inner sanctums of each other’s writing rooms, we’re all covertly looking for signs of process. Who has a series of filing cards taped to the wall with each scene outlined on it? Who listens to music while they write and who doesn’t? Who works from a diagram, a flow-chart, a sketch of the stage? Who records freeform dialogue on their phone and then types it up afterwards? Who has a daily page limit, a word count, a map of their play drawn on Post-it notes?
Deep down we all secretly believe that someone else might have cracked the ultimate writing system. For some reason we never consider our own process in any way useful or creative – but we should – at the beginning it is often all we have. You must learn to trust your process from the get‑go, even if you don’t think it’s very professional. There is no vital universal methodology that is a fail-safe route to success.
You will also need to practise patience. Give your initial thoughts, feelings and ideas adequate time and space. Write as many notes as you need; spout monologues, create character sketches or emotional maps – whatever feels fruitful. And don’t be afraid to change your course at any point.

This is an edited extract from The Playwright’s Journey by Jemma Kennedy, out now.
Save 30% and get your copy for just £10.49 plus delivery when you order direct from the publishers Nick Hern Books – head to and enter discount code SARDINES30 at checkout.

Jemma Kennedy is a playwright and screenwriter. Her work has been seen internationally, including at Hampstead Theatre and the National Theatre, London, where she has been both playwright-in-residence and teacher of playwriting.