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


The New Normal?

Now that 19 July (or ‘Freedom Day’) has come and gone – albeit delayed by four weeks – and all social restrictions in England (with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland following suit asap) we can begin to start the arduous journey of getting our theatres back to some kind of recognisable format, of how they used to be… (whatever guise the ‘new normal’ decides to take).

The need for social distancing and the use of facemasks has been eradicated – despite the infection rates going through a third wave – thanks to the NHS’s efficient rollout of the vaccine programme across the UK. If your invited to and able then please, please, please take the vaccine.

For us, this of course means that our auditoriums can, once again, enjoy 100% capacity audiences. Well, that’s the theory anyway. In reality, we’ll need to make sure our audiences are confident to come through our doors again and, in addition, convince our casts and crews that, not only are our rehearsal rooms but also our close-knit dressing rooms and performance spaces, safe places to be.

All of this won’t be easy and arguably won’t come overnight, especially as the mixed messaging from the UK Government tells us that while legal restrictions have now been lifted, we are also encouraged to keep wearing masks and socially distancing when convening in crowded spaces or whenever we feel the situation might require it.

Nevertheless, we can be encouraged by the fact that many of our members, from both sides of the curtain, have already expressed a deep desire to return as quickly as possible. With some societies already well into rehearsals. This can be seen on page six where we have listed a snapshot of productions around the British Isles that have already been announced.

Likewise, the professional theatre industry has already announced its intention to reopen with dates being listed everywhere it would seem. You only need to look at our regular Strike Up the Band! pages to see what we mean. Mind you, with the professional sector involving big money, with many shows reopening as soon as legally permitted, some big productions had to quickly close again due to a member of the company testing positive in a daily Covid test.

Such victims included Cinderella – with Andrew Lloyd Webber being particularily vocal in his dismay, Hairspray at the London Coliseum, Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe and Wonderville at the Palace Theatre.

In an attempt to avoid similar situations arising we are all, almost certainly, going to need to show some kind of NHS ‘Vaccine Passport’ or proof of immunity to enter any kind of auditorium to see a show in the future – by law.
That means no passport, no entry. Which is likely to be part of the new normal for some considerable time to come. (Another is waiting for the banks to revert back to their previous closing times… or stick with their new 2pm deadline forever!)

Meanwhile, welcome to only our second back-to-print edition of Sardines and what has fast-become a bit of a Heathers The Musical special. Not only is our latest cover star the returning Jodie Steele as Heather Chandler, but we also feature a chat with Paul Taylor-Mills, half of the Heathers production team.

Paul speaks very fondly of his strong amateur theatre roots.

Paul & Fariba x



Paul and Fariba suggest that public confidence is the final step in getting back to normal.




Reopening Our Theatres
Eddie Redfern, the LTG’s National Liaison Officer asks how ready we really are to welcoming back audiences.




Getting Back
We asked for your reopening production details and you didn’t let us down. So here is a snapshot of what you told us.




Tamara von Werthern
The Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books features her regular advice column and looks at ‘Devising’ a show.




Why Stay So Tight-Lipped?
Paul Johnson looks at why the amateur theatre sector hasn’t commented on various UK Government Covid announcememnts.




One Step Beyond! No.1
We talk to Paula Clifford about keeping busy and the reason for changing the name of RWB Productions to LnjMonroe Drama.




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




Understanding Changing Consumer Behaviour
Founder and MD of Razzamataz Theatre Schools shares some advice and breaks down the world of franchising for us.




Supplier Directory
Our newest section of Sardines concentrates on bring you some examples of industry suppliers.




Jodie Steele (cover story)
Paul Johnson interviews Jodie Steele (a.k.a. Heather Chandler) and finds out she is the opposite of her onstage persona.




Giles Terera – The Pics
Our previous coverstar, Giles Terera’s book is now published, so here are some backstage pics from his time in Hamilton.




I’ll Be in My Trailer! – Paul Taylor-Mills
Our regular series of coffee-break interviews sees us speak with The Turbine Theatre’s Artictic Director about all sorts of things.




An Understudy at the Opera
Chris Abbott talks to Harriet Burns about landing a job covering a principal at Garsington opera.




Audition Advice
Matthew Malthouse shares some expert tips and advice on how to make the most of the dreaded audition process.




One Step Beyond! No.2
We focus on Amy Clayton of Early Doors Productions and how trained ex-professionals are now working in amateur theatre.




See You Next Year, Coventry
National Drama Festivals Association’s Rod Chaytor reviews a tough All Winners Finals week, but falls in love with Coventry.




Strike Up the Band!
Our attempt at bringing you up to date with what the professional musical theatre industry has in store for us.




Plays, Books & Musicals
New and re-released titles, many of which are now available for amateur performance. From big companies to small.




Index of Advertisers







New Plays, Books & Musicals

New Plays, Books & 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.
Show listings are not proof that respective titles are available for amateur performance. Please make appropriate enquiries with respective licensors.


F: ConcordShows | T: @ConcordUKShows

Samuel French

HADESTOWN by Anaïs Mitchell

Full-Length Musical / F5, M3 / Fantasy / 978 0 573 70885 5 / £10.99

This intriguing and beautiful folk opera delivers a deeply resonant and defiantly hopeful theatrical experience. Following two intertwining love stories — that of young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and that of immortal King Hades and Lady Persephone — Hadestown invites audiences on a hell-raising journey to the underworld and back. Inspired by traditions of classic American folk music and vintage New Orleans jazz, Mitchell’s beguiling sung-through musical pits industry against nature, doubt against faith, and fear against love.


HEATHERS THE MUSICAL by Laurence O’Keefe, Kevin Murphy

Full-Length Musical / F9, M8 / 1980s, Westerberg High School, Ohio / 978 0 573 70382 9 / £10.99

Heathers The Musical is the darkly delicious story of Veronica Sawyer, a brainy, beautiful teenage misfit who hustles her way into the most powerful and ruthless clique at Westerberg High: the Heathers. But before she can get comfortable atop the high school food chain, Veronica falls in love with the dangerously sexy new kid J.D. When Heather Chandler, the Almighty, kicks her out of the group, Veronica decides to bite the bullet and kiss Heather’s aerobicised ass… but J.D. has another plan for that bullet.
Brought to you by the award-winning creative team of Kevin Murphy (Reefer Madness, “Desperate Housewives”), Laurence O’Keefe (Bat Boy, Legally Blonde) and Andy Fickman (Reefer Madness, She’s the Man). Heathers The Musical is a hilarious, heartfelt, and homicidal new show based on the greatest teen comedy of all time. With its moving love story, laugh-out-loud comedy, and unflinching look at the joys and anguish of high school, Heathers will be New York’s most popular new musical. Are you in, or are you out?


IN THE HEIGHTS by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Quiara Alegría Hudes

Full-Length Musical / F6, M6 / Contemporary, Present Day / DIG0000000438 / £4.00 (digital perusal score rental)

In the Heights tells the universal story of a vibrant community in New York’s Washington Heights neighbourhood – a place where the coffee from the corner bodega is light and sweet, the windows are always open and the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music. It’s a community on the brink of change, full of hopes, dreams and pressures, where the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take with you, and which ones you leave behind.


ONE GOOD TURN by Una McKevitt

Full-Length Play / F4, M2 / Present Day / 978 0 573 13270 4 / £9.99

Brenda wants Frank to do his exercises, Aoife wants to go to a wedding of all things, Fiona doesn’t know what she wants and Frank is looking for the gun.
One Good Turn brings us a family on the brink who are keeping the show on the road any which way they can. It is a wry and life-affirming exploration into the ups and downs of family bonds.



SIX by Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss

Full-Length Musical / F6 / Present Day, 16th Century – Elizabethan

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.
The Electrifying New Musical Phenomenon! From Tudor Queens to Pop Princesses, the SIX wives of Henry VIII take the mic to reclaim their identities out of the shadow of their infamous spouse, remixing five hundred years of historical heartbreak into an exuberant celebration of 21st-Century girl power.Nominee:

  • Five 2019 Olivier Awards, including Best New Musical
  • Winner! 2019 Whatsonstage Award for Best Off-West End Production
  • Winner! 2019 BBC Radio 2 Audience Award for Best West End Musical

Rodgers and Hammerstein

PAL JOEY by Richard Rodgers, Lorenz Hart, John O’Hara

Full-Length Musical / F4, M2 / 1940s – WWII / DIG0000000500 / £4.00 (digital perusal score rental)

The penultimate Rodgers & Hart collaboration introduced the first anti-hero to propel a musical. Joey is an opportunistic cad, but he always seems to land on his feet. He elbows his way into a job at a seedy Chicago nightclub and is soon juggling the affections of a naive chorus girl and a wealthy society dame who just happens to be married. Once Joey has charmed the socialite into setting him up in his own joint, he ditches the chorine and is riding high, playing the big-time operator. When a punk threatens to spill the whole business to the socialite’s husband, she decides that she’s bored with Joey anyway, dumping him and the club. Having had a taste of his own medicine, you’d think Joey would head back to the sweet kid who really loves him. Wrong. Some things never change, but you know what? He’s still on his feet.


SHOW BOAT by Jerome Kern, Oscar Hammerstein II, Edna Ferber

Full-Length Musical / F8, M9, 1 Girl / 1920s, 1910s – WWI, 1900-1910, 18th Century / DIG0000000522 / £4.00 (digital perusal score rental)

Spanning the years from 1880 to 1927, this lyrical masterpiece, centered around the Mississippi show boat Cotton Blossom, concerns the lives, loves and heartbreaks of three generations of show folk and their lifelong friends. Show Boat follows the story of the Hawkes family, including the captain’s naive daughter Magnolia, who wants to be a performer, as she marries a gambler and moves with him to Chicago. When his debts compound, he deserts her and their young daughter. Magnolia’s selfless best friend Julie, a performer on the Cotton Blossom, faces arrest on charges of miscegenation, which is illegal, and she spirals into despair. The passing of time reunites Magnolia and her now-grown daughter with Magnolia’s estranged husband, who returns offering a second chance at familial happiness.



Tams Witmark

BARNUM by Cy Coleman, Michael Stewart, Mark Bramble

Full-Length Musical / F3, M2 / 1835 – 1880. America and major capitals of the world / DIG0000000360 / £4.00 (digital perusal score rental)

P.T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman on Earth, combines razzle-dazzle with charm and brass to sell “humbug” to cheering crowds. A joyful and moving musical portrait of the nineteenth century’s greatest show-biz legend, Barnum is a colorful, dynamic spectacle with heart. Cy Coleman and Michael Stewart’s rousing score includes “There’s a Sucker Born Every Minute,” “Join the Circus,” “The Colors of My Life,” and “Come Follow The Band.”
Concord Theatricals has collaborated with Subplot Studio to create high-quality artwork that complies with your license. Promoting your show has never been easier!


PORGY AND BESS by George Gershwin, DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin

Full-Length Musical / F4, M4 / Charleston, South Carolina. The early 1930s

Known worldwide as a masterpiece and an “American Folk Opera,” Porgy and Bess® was George Gershwin’s final work for the musical stage. Based on DuBose and Dorothy Heyward’s play Porgy, Porgy and Bess® combines elements of jazz, classical, and American folk music. Musical numbers include “Summertime,” “A Woman Is a Sometime Thing,” “My Man’s Gone Now,” “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’,” “It Ain’t Necessarily So,” “Bess, You Is My Woman Now,” and “I’m On My Way.”


TITANIC by Peter Stone, Maury Yeston

Full-Length Musical / F14, M23 / The RMS Titanic, between 10 – 15 April 1912 / DIG0000000299 / £4.00 (digital perusal score rental)

Titanic is available for licensing in two versions:

  • Titanic (Original): Designed for a large cast, with 14 lead roles and at least 23 supporting roles. Presented on Broadway with a cast of 37 performers.
  • Titanic – Ensemble Version: Designed for a total of 20 actors, with performers doubling or tripling on roles.

Concord Theatricals has collaborated with Subplot Studio to create high-quality artwork that complies with your license. Promoting your show has never been easier!

The sinking of the Titanic in the early hours of April 15, 1912, remains the quintessential disaster of the Twentieth Century. A total of 1,517 souls – men, women and children – lost their lives (only 711 survived). The fact that the finest, largest, strongest ship in the world – called, in fact, the “unsinkable” ship – should have been lost during its maiden voyage is so incredible that, had it not actually happened, no author would have dared to contrive it.
But the catastrophe had social ramifications that went far beyond that night’s events. For the first time since the beginning of the industrial revolution early in the 19th Century, bigger, faster and stronger did not prove automatically to be better. Suddenly the very essence of “progress” had to be questioned; might the advancement of technology not always be progress?
Nor was this the only question arising from the disaster. The accommodations of the ship, divided into 1st, 2nd and 3rd Classes, mirrored almost exactly the class structure (upper, middle and lower) of the English-speaking world. But when the wide discrepancy between the number of survivors from each of the ship’s classes was revealed – all but two of the women in 1st Class were saved while 155 women and children from 2nd and 3rd (mostly 3rd) drowned – there was a new, long-overdue scrutiny of the prevailing social system and its values.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the 19th Century, with its social stricture, its extravagant codes of honor and sacrifice, and its unswerving belief that God favored the rich, ended that night.
The musical play Titanic examines the causes, the conditions and the characters involved in this ever-fascinating drama. This is the factual story of that ship – of her officers, crew and passengers, to be sure – but she will not, as has happened so many times before, serve as merely the background against which fictional, melodramatic narratives are recounted. The central character of our Titanic is the Titanic herself.
Peter Stone


Musicals: Youth & Teen Editions

AMÉLIE: TEEN EDITION by Craig Lucas, Daniel Messé, Nathan Tysen & Daniel Messé, Jean-Pierre Jeunet & Guillaume Laurant

Full-Length Musical / F5, M7, 1 Girl / 1970s & 1990s Paris and the mind and imagination of Amélie Poulain / 978 0 573 70865 7 / £10.99

Amélie is an extraordinary young woman who lives quietly in the world but loudly in her mind. She covertly improvises small but surprising acts of kindness that bring joy and mayhem. But when a chance at love comes her way, Amélie realizes that to find happiness she’ll have to risk everything and say what’s in her heart. Be inspired by this imaginative dreamer who finds her voice, discovers the power of connection, and sees possibility around every corner.


Nick Hern Books

T: 020 8749 4953
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F: NickHernBooks | T: @NickHernBooks

Alexander Technique for Actors: A Practical Course by Penny O’Connor

Theatre book / 978 1 848 42758 7 / £14.99 (£11.99 direct from publisher)

Written by an experienced teacher of the Alexander Technique, this comprehensive, supportive and highly practical book takes you step by step through a series of eleven guided lessons, each exploring different elements and principles of the technique. With dozens of exercises and assignments to help you immediately put what you’ve learned into practice, and featuring illustrations throughout, this is the ideal introduction to everything the Alexander Technique has to offer – and its potential to benefit not just your work and career, but your entire life.
‘Penny O’Connor’s approach to the Alexander Technique is mindful and meaningful. She brings great skill, experience, wit and humanity to her work. I have learnt a great deal from her.’
Jeannette Nelson, Head of Voice, National Theatre.


Getting, Keeping & Working with Your Acting Agent: The Compact Guide by JBR

Theatre book / 978 1 848 42941 3 / £8.99 (£7.19 direct from publisher)

Perfect for any talented and committed amateur actor looking to make the leap into working professionally, this empowering, informative guide explains everything actors need to know about agents – how to find one, what they do, and how to work with them effectively to help you succeed if you want to make acting your career. Also included are invaluable tips on how to write a great CV; obtain attention-grabbing headshots, showreels and voicereels; prepare for and excel at auditions; embrace social media; protect your mental health; and much more.



Hamilton and Me: An Actor’s Journal by Giles Terera. Foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Theatre Book / 978 1 848 42999 4 / £16.99 (£13.59 direct from publisher)

A unique, personal account of researching, rehearsing for and performing in the London production of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton – by Giles Terera, the actor who won an Olivier Award for his performance as the West End’s Aaron Burr. It offfers an honest, intimate and thrilling look at everything involved in opening a once-in-a-generation production – the triumphs, breakthroughs and doubts, the camaraderie of the rehearsal room and the moments of quiet backstage contemplation – as well as a fascinating, in-depth exploration of now-iconic songs and moments from the musical, as seen from the inside.
‘Masterful and excellently written… offers audiences and readers the chance to not only be in the “room where it happens” but also to smell the sweat, feel the pulsing hearts and hear the resonance… deserves a permanent place on aspiring musical theatre performers’ bookshelves’
The Reviews Hub


How Plays Work (revised and updated edition) by David Edgar

Theatre book / 978 1 839 04031 3 / £14.99 (£11.99 direct from publisher)

In this fascinating masterclass for playwrights and playmakers, distinguished playwright David Edgar examines the mechanisms and techniques which dramatists throughout the ages have employed to structure their plays and to express their meaning. This new edition brings the book right up to date with analyses of many recent plays, as well as explorations of emerging genres and new innovations in playwriting practice.
‘An essential accompaniment for anyone fascinated by the craft of dramatic storytelling’
John Yorke



Learning Your Lines: The Compact Guide by Mark Channon

Theatre book / 978 1 848 42971 0 / £8.99 (£7.19 direct from publisher)

This accessible, systematic guide will teach you how to memorise your lines quickly and effectively, and let go of the fear of forgetting them – helping you build confidence and focus, and reducing anxiety and stress around auditions, rehearsal and performance. Discover dozens of tips, tricks and techniques, along with exercises and examples to illustrate how they work in practice.



What Country, Friends, Is This?: Directing Shakespeare with Young Performers by Max Hafler

Theatre Book / 978 1 848 42803 4 / £14.99 (£11.99 direct from publisher)

A highly practical, comprehensive guide to exploring Shakespeare with young people, or indeed performers of all ages – ideal for directors, youth-theatre leaders, workshop facilitators and teachers. Beginning with a series of workshops that introduce the skills and principles of voice and acting, this book sets out, step by step, how to use devising, develop short scenes, explore soliloquies, and unlock the themes, characters, stories and language of the plays. There is also useful advice on preparing for a production, editing and transposing the text, rehearsing scenes, and fostering an ensemble.
‘A must-own… full of exercises and advice to explore’
Teaching Drama on Max Hafler’s book Teaching Voice: Workshops for Young Performers


Music Theatre International (Europe)

T: 020 7580 2827
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F: mtieurope | T: mtieurope

Hans Christian Andersen Music and Lyrics by Frank Loesser. Book by John Fearnley, Beverley Cross and Tommy Steele

Countless generations of children have been raised on the fairytales of Hans Christian Andersen. From “The Ugly Duckling” to “The Little Mermaid.” Now with music by legendary composer Frank Loesser, Hans Christian Andersen is a musical storybook that brings the timeless tales (and the man who created them) to life onstage.
A struggling cobbler in Denmark, Hans Christian Andersen is better at making stories than shoes. As he discovers his potential as a storyteller and writer, he ultimately gets the help he needs from the people who love him to make a future for himself.
A family-friendly show with generous ensemble roles for both adults and children, Hans Christian Andersen is a timeless treasure. It is based on the 1952 film starring Danny Kaye and features classic songs such as “I’m Hans Christian Andersen,” “Thumbelina,” “Anywhere I Wander,” and more!


A KILLER PARTY: A Murder Mystery Musical Music by Jason Howland. Lyrics by Nathan Tysen. Book by Kait Kerrigan and Rachel Axler

A Killer Party: A Murder Mystery Musical is an online, performance-ready show based on the successful streaming musical. This hilarious and irreverent send-up of the classic Murder Mystery features an all-star creative team that includes music by Jason Howland (Little Women), lyrics by Nathan Tysen (The Burnt Part Boys), and a book by the illustrious Kait Kerrigan and Rachel Axler.
MTI’s licensable version of this online show is a 90-minute, single piece designed to be pre-recorded and edited together for a streaming production shown on the platform.
When Varthur McArthur, the artistic director of a failing theater in Duluth, invites his troupe of disgruntled actors and collaborators to the first read of an “immersive murder mystery dinner party,” no one knew that he would be the victim. Or did they? Enter the eager, determined, and untested Detective Case. After sequestering the guests into separate rooms (because, you know, social-distancing), she gets down to finding out whodunnit, uncovering secret affairs, life-long grudges, backstage drama, and a lot of musical theater song and dance. Sifting through lies and red herrings and a truly baffling murder mystery script left by the deceased, Case vows to find the truth and secure her future as a great detective.


A-Wop Bop A-Loo Bop: A jukebox celebration of the early days of Rock & Roll! Book by Mark Brymer and John Jacobson

A-Wop Bop A-Loo Bop takes us back to the late 1950’s as Rock & Roll is taking the airwaves by storm. Roberta “Ruby” Lester and her friends are spunky teenagers with dreams of making it big in the music business. But sometimes dreams don’t go as planned. When the local radio station announces that “Rock‘n’Roll has got to go”, the kids take a stand for the music they love.
A-Wop Bop A-Loo Bop offers plenty of roles, along with a flexible ensemble you can tailor to your casting needs. Featuring hit songs like ‘Rock Around The Clock’, ‘Jailhouse Rock’, ‘Tutti Frutti’, ‘Up On the Roof’, ‘The Loco-Motion’, ‘I’m Sorry’ and ‘Land of 1000 Dances’, this new jukebox musical will get a whole new generation of rockin’ around the clock!


Surface Press / BANDCAMP


WILD TIME: a radical novelisation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare, Rose Biggin, Keir Cooper


Paperback, signed paperback, e-book:
Ebook (Amazon):

Both funny and sexy on an astronomical scale. The Perfect Summer Read!
Rose Biggin and Keir Cooper’s Wild Time “breaks as many rules as it can”, sparking rave reviews, a must-read for those looking for an hilarious new twist in the tale that packs a punch.
As the theatre industry opens up this season we are seeing many productions of A Midsummer Night’s Dream (one of the world’s most beloved plays), as theatres around the UK welcome back their audiences.
Two award-winning theatremakers have made a “theatrical novel” Wild Time, a witty riff that rewrites the action of Dream, and begins a conversation about the sexual politics of this famous and frequently performed piece, in a wholly unique way.
Their theatrical bookclub at Camden People’s Theatre made the Guardian’s hotlist and Lyn Gardner’s Pick of the week.
Authors Rose Biggin and Keir Cooper offer us a mischievous ride into myth and magic, taking liberties with Greek gods and literary idols as if nothing is sacred.
A witty reinvention of Shakespeare for 21st Century politics and sex-positivity. An ideal world to get lost in this Summer.
The Duke of Athens and the Amazon Queen are getting married in the morning. It’s going to be a big one, and everyone’s invited. The King and Queen of the Fairies arrive into ancient Athens, ready to be guests of honour at the party of the age.
There’s a gifted new Changeling in town — a uniquely talented human who’s attracting some attention. Titania has plans, Oberon’s wound up about it, there’s a long night ahead and naturally it all comes down to who does what. The planets have their own ideas, and elsewhere, deep within the forest, we see a leatherworker and part-time male stripper rehearsing a play that’s ahead of its time…
This is A Midsummer Night’s Dream as you’ve never known it before. A punk revision of Shakespeare’s narratives of pleasure and power, WILD TIME is a new world composed of erotic and theatrical acrobatics, taking liberties with Greek gods and literary idols like nothing is sacred. It’s funny, it’s sexy, and you’ve got a front row seat.

“WILD TIME is a genuinely intoxicating night in the woods. Generous and witty, sexy and extremely smart, it torments Shakespeare with such lascivious glee and trips nimbly through the theatrical canon… To see the universe expanded out in prose, but also subverted and punked and stripped down and re-focussed is a constant joy. I’ve never read anything like it.”
Stewart Pringle, Dramaturg, National Theatre.

“A lusty reimagining of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, WILD TIME spins you at arm’s length in the middle of its heated embrace. Transgression is at its heart: this new version does its best to rip off the shackles of its originator, but pays homage to it too by breaking as many rules as it can – just as Puck and his cohorts are wont to do. It’s like being in a really fun, messy party where I want to be friends – and maybe more – with them all… erotic and direct, joyful and funny, WILD TIME entices as much as it shocks. There are dangerous pleasures to be had here… if you’re bold enough.”
Honour Bayes, Writer & Critic

“Funny and mischievous, WILD TIME is a delightful reinvention… a treat for lovers of theatre and the fantastical”
EJ Swift

“Boldly experimental and daring, not to mention fabulously entertaining… One of the most remarkable aspects of this book is the way it honours its source material: the bawdiness, the humour, the word play, the theatrical chaos – they’re all here, all mined knowingly and inventively and to delightful effect. The authors’ willingness to be bold and innovative in terms of language and form adds extra verve, and their understanding of and appreciation for *theatre* in every sense of the word results in a work that almost demands to be adapted for the stage. The poetry, humour and sheer joy… a book that will raise a sorely needed smile as these dark days encroach.”
Nina Allan

Rose Biggin & Keir Cooper are two experimental theatre artists who work with radical adaptation, literature and histories: between them, productions include a Don Quijote remix (**** Guardian, Time Out Critics Choice), queer flamenco-theatre on the Spanish Revolution, and a performance of poledance and electric guitar, feat. live art veteran Penny Arcade.

WILD TIME is their debut novel. Rose’s short fiction has been published by Jurassic London, Abaddon Books & Egaeus Press.
Their second theatrical novel has been funded by Arts Council England and is currently in development.


Neville Teller

T: 01625 879508
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MORE AUDIO DRAMA by Neville Teller

£11.99 paperback / £4.99 ebook (Amazon)

Neville Teller’s generous second helping of plays for audio. Charging no performance rights or royalties, More Audio Drama author Neville Teller gifts ten beautifully crafted literary classic adaptations for radio and audio to podcast producers looking for prepared audio scripts.
Following the success of the author’s unique first collection of ten radio plays published in 2019, veteran audio dramatist Neville Teller returns with his second helping of plays – More Audio Drama – to delight lovers of radio drama as well as producers, actors and podcasters everywhere.
In these 10 plays inspired by literary classics, Neville’s expert and finely tuned writing skills are displayed to full effect. Whether you are a podcast producer seeking fully realised audio drama scripts, or one of the worldwide listening audience who love radio drama with its power to create images in the mind’s eye, More Audio Drama is a book to treasure and enjoy.
Neville is a veteran radio dramatist, with more than 50 BBC radio plays under his belt and scores more produced and broadcast across America by the San Francisco-based Shoestring Radio Theatre.
Back in 2019 he published his first collection of ten radio plays, Audio Drama. They have been so welcomed that he decided to make another ten available. Here they are – 10 more of Neville’s plays for radio and podcast, all of which have been produced and broadcast. As in his first book, these scripts are offered to podcast producers with no strings attached. The books on which they are based are all literary classics in the public domain. No performance rights are required.
Whether you are a podcast producer seeking fully realised audio drama scripts, or one of the worldwide listening audience who love radio drama with its power to create images in the mind’s eye, More Audio Drama is a book to treasure and enjoy.
Neville says: “These easy-to-read radio scripts provide lovers of radio drama with the chance to create in their own minds the sort of radio drama that they enjoy. As for the worldwide community of podcast producers, here are 10 audio-ready scripts, offered with no strings attached.
“No royalties, no performance rights.”
Neville Teller is a veteran radio dramatist, with more than 50 BBC radio plays under his belt and scores more produced and broadcast across America by the San Francisco-based Shoestring Radio Theatre. Back in 2019 he published his first collection of ten radio plays, Audio Drama. They have been so welcomed that he decided to make another ten available. Here they are – 10 more of Neville’s plays for radio and podcast, all of which have been produced and broadcast. As in his first book, these scripts are offered to podcast producers with no strings attached. The books on which they are based are all literary classics in the public domain. No performance rights are required. Whether you are a podcast producer seeking fully realised audio drama scripts, or one of the worldwide listening audience who love radio drama with its power to create images in the mind’s eye, More Audio Drama is a book to treasure and enjoy.



T: 01625 879508
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What goes on in the Pantheon by John Waterhouse

Full-Length Comedy / F6, M6 (or 3m, 3f with doubling)

Free preview script via Stage Scripts at
The Greek Gods have enjoyed centuries of relative stability under the rule of Zeus, notwithstanding a few affairs and shenanigans along the way. All seems well apart from the fact that Artemis, Goddess of the Moon and the Hunt (as well as chastity) has not been seen for a while.
Karen, a holiday-maker climbing Mount Olympus, enters a portal accidentally left open by the messenger God Hermes on a trip down to the underworld of Hades. Karen bears a strong resemblance to Artemis, albeit with much shorter hair, and the rest of Gods assume she has simply changed her appearance a little (which Gods can do).
Having quickly learnt there are dire consequences for mortals who enter the Pantheon, Karen decides to pose as the missing Goddess. This suits Hades perfectly, who has Artemis a prisoner in his underworld kingdom, as he plots to challenge the power of Zeus on Olympus.



Available at and for Sardines readers at a special price of £8 + £2 p&p by using code: GhostClub8

Despite the mind fog of these Covid times, can you, like me, just about remember the 16 March 2020? That’s when the first lockdown started and shows, even those that had survived multiple cast changes, came to a grinding halt.

I’m a freelance Company Stage Manager and like the vast majority of my fellow workers in the business had to accept I had even more time on my hands than usual.

The belief things would improve in a couple of months turned from hope to despair at times but I was cheered by a consistent story in the theatre’s trade papers and websites.

It seemed that though actors and audiences had vanished, there was still one thing performing nightly as long as managements had paid their electricity bills. It was that age old symbol of stage superstition, the Ghost Light. Every theatre now seemed to have one defiantly alight, keeping the dark shadows of dread and emptiness at bay.

Their stories made me want to emulate them. I wanted to do something positive to help lift my spirits and an idea began to form. As I couldn’t partake in shows or watch live performances, what about dead ones? It so happened that I had been collecting ghost stories of the theatre for most of my career and I saw this as an ideal opportunity to tell some of them. There was no lack of variety. After all, if I added up all the casts of Les Mis, Phantom, Mamma Mia! and The Mousetrap, they still couldn’t top my Chorus Line of ghosts.

I started going through my collection and quickly realised it would be unfair to only concentrate on past performing phantoms. I needed to broaden my outlook more widely. And so I added stories from backstage and also from the auditoriums. After all, spectral spectators abound throughout the land.

My list of sightings and experiences grew and grew and to accommodate a selection of the best I decided to divide my book in two. Starting in the West End, it visits many playhouses where multiple hauntings have been reported including the Adelphi, the Haymarket and Wyndham’s.

An interval is next where individual stories are related, and afterwards the book goes on tour around the country, before ending of course with a finale set in the most famous haunted theatre of them all, the Theatre Royal Drury Lane.
The end result is entitled Stage Ghosts and Haunted Theatres. It’s an illustrated paperback with a foreword by Richard O’Brien of The Rocky Horror Picture Show fame. It covers over fifty theatres and includes a host of terrors and apparitions that have been seen, felt, heard and even smelt. Those lonely lights onstage may be beginning to be turned off now as shows are cautiously re opening, but that does not mean the ghosts themselves have ever left the buildings…



“You can put your own stamp on any show – but ‘devising’ offers the chance to create a true one-off!”

During lockdown there have been so many interesting and creative ways of making theatre, even when meeting in person was impossible: digital performances taking place over Zoom, fusions of film, theatre and audio, installations popping up, socially distanced performances taking place outside… But there’s one technique which we saw much less of, because it requires a group of people to gather in a room, throw ideas around, try things out and construct a piece of theatre together: devising.

As amateur theatre-makers, you’re probably most familiar with being part of script-based productions. Whether it’s a brand-new piece, or a show that your company has licensed, the play or musical you’ve chosen already exists in a largely fixed form – actors audition for a specific role, learn their lines as written, rehearse the show scene by scene, and then stage the production as written. If it’s a new play, the script can change as things are tried out and reworked in the rehearsal room. But most of the time, in amateur theatre, the director and cast will probably already know what the show will largely be like before they start. This is the dominant model in professional theatre in the UK, too – but it’s by no means the only one.

Devised theatre involves those who are part of the production – which can include the actors, a director and sometimes other roles such as a designer, composer, choreographer, and so on – collaborating to create the piece from scratch. There may be a starting point – perhaps a historical period or personality, or a location, or topic, or object or other artwork. From there, a process of improvisation and development leads to the finished production. Devised theatre can often be physical and movement-based, but many companies involve a writer to turn this creative process into a script, which records what the play has become in the rehearsal room.

Devising is used by everyone from internationally famous theatre companies such as Frantic Assembly and Complicité, all the way through to secondary school pupils, as devising is a key component of GCSE drama. And if the script has been written down and published, then it’s available for amateur groups, schools, youth theatres and others to later pick up and use to make their own production of this collaboratively created show.

For anyone involved with a time-stretched amateur or youth-theatre group, devising a whole play this way might feel unachievable. Luckily, there’s another, ‘hybrid’ model, which you can use to create a show that’s uniquely your own, but with a bit of a head-start. For a few years now, one of the UK’s leading youth theatres, Company Three, has been producing what they call ‘blueprints’ of their productions. These give groups who license the plays the tools they need to take the original script, and then insert the licensing company’s own, newly devised material – so they end up with a play that draws directly on the performers’ individual experiences, but doesn’t require you to create absolutely everything.

Company Three’s show, Brainstorm, for instance, investigates how teenagers’ brains work. It was devised with a group of young people, in collaboration with a neuroscientist, with the production performed at the National Theatre in London and broadcast by the BBC. The ‘Blueprint’ of the show retains the play’s framework, with scenes that explain the scientific elements, but also provides games and exercises which companies can use to generate personal material from the young people taking part. So far, dozens of groups worldwide have used this Blueprint to create their own, unique versions of Brainstorm, and no two productions have been the same!

This is also the approach behind Company Three’s current project, When This is Over, which other youth-theatre groups can now sign up to perform. Created in response to the International Climate Conference (COP26) which will be held in Glasgow this November, When This is Over sees the young performers in the production stand on stage and tell their own, personal stories to an audience – all the way from the very beginning (maybe at the moment of their birth, or well before that), through to the present day, and on to when they think their story ends (be that their death, or thousands of years into the future). It’s not a play directly about Covid or the Climate Emergency, though of course the shadows of both, and their impact on this new generation just starting out, loom large. It’s about amplifying these young voices, and reminding us that the decisions we make now will massively affect those who don’t get a say in them.

Company Three are currently working on their own production of When This is Over. But they’re also inviting youth-theatre groups, schools and others to sign up to create their own parallel versions of the play, using the games and exercises in the When This is Over Blueprint to create a show that will share the same basic structure as everyone else’s, but will be unique to every individual group that takes part. The idea is that companies will then all perform the show around COP26 at the end of 2021 or start of 2022, to create a massive platform for young people’s voices, simultaneously all around the world. The groups involved will also be linked together to create an online community, sharing your experiences of making the show and seeing how others are getting on, too. Nick Hern Books is really proud to be partnering with Company Three on When This is Over – so if you’re involved with a youth-theatre group, and this sounds of interest, you can read the full Blueprint online now, for free, and then sign up to create your own version of the play.

It seems to me that right now is the perfect time to be making this kind of theatre. For so much of the past eighteen months, we’ve been isolated from each other, and with avalanches of often-scary news and information coming at us constantly, it’s been easy to feel invisible and unimportant in the face of this massive thing we’re all living through. So a devised show like When This is Over, which gives its participants the chance to be involved in the creation of the play, and to tell their story, seen and heard by an audience, is about as ideal an antidote to Covid isolation as I can imagine.

The bulk of your season is always going to be plays and musicals, and those are brilliant, with countless different ways to be creative and put your own stamp on a show (though if you’re looking to make any major textual changes, remember to run those by us for approval first). But shows like this, that allow the performers to tell their own stories, and be listened to, offer an alternative experience and the chance to create a genuinely one-off production you can truly call your own. So as you look to how you’ll get back to making theatre now that – at least at the time of writing! – the major restrictions have come to an end, maybe consider throwing in something different too. It might be just exactly what you needed.

Tamara von Werthern has been Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books since 2005. She is also a playwright, screenwriter and theatre-maker.



Image: Paula Clifford holding the Premier League Trophy at the Manchester Football Museum.

If your society has done something special, gone the extra mile or perhaps one step beyond! then please let us know and you too could be featured in Sardines.

Simply email us at and please don’t forget to take plenty of photos…


In this One Step Beyond! (No.1) we follow RWB Productions (Royal Wootton Bassett Productions) though a name-change and see how ‘LnjMonroe Drama’ had to adapt to restrictions over the last fifteen months.

Since 2014, RWB Productions’ main focus had always been on producing original one-act plays for festivals as well as four murder mysteries each year for the local steam railway.

On the 16 March 2020 when Covid-19 forced theatres to close, village halls to shut and vintage railways to stop steaming, every stage was empty.

It was, the group decided, the perfect time to reflect on past achievements and establish the future of the group, but how would they fill the void that the pandemic had left?

Companies, both amateur and professional, were exploring audio drama, monologues, duologues and drama shorts. RWB’s Artistic Director, Paula Clifford, had to decide which type of production would be most suitable. After a great deal of thought, monologues and duologues were chosen, to be performed and recorded by actors in their homes.

For many, drama is an immersive experience, and most performances at this time used lockdown as its theme. However the group’s founders, Paula and Derek Clifford, decided that they wanted to move away from the events that were surrounding everybody.

So, the next step was to choose a theme, one that would showcase the group’s acting and musical talents. Paula and Derek have always shared writing responsibility for one-act scripts, with Paula doing any necessary research. Her attention was drawn to an article about the upcoming 75th anniversary of V.E. Day and how the planned celebrations would not be able to take place. Having a collection of letters, cards, newspapers and souvenirs from World War II, left to Paula and Derek by their parents meant this could be the perfect project.

From this came some little vignettes of the lives of various people during the war. Several dramatic shorts emerged: Mrs Tree and Mrs Brett Queuing for Bread, Scottie, 3 Bs (Beer, Bicycles and Blackouts) and The War Poet. Scripts also included historical broadcasts and songs from the time. Members rose to the challenge of singing Don’t Sit Under The Apple Tree, Boogie Woogie Buggle Boy and Somewhere Over The Rainbow.

Recordings were joined to make videos of between three minutes to seven minutes each. Visual elements for the videos included photos of the inspirational letters, original photos and copyright-free images found online. They were then added to the group’s social media pages over the weekend of the V.E. Day anniversary.

On 10 May 2020 lockdown began to ease (little did we know) and the group planned for performances in front of a live audience. But of course local lockdowns kicked in, and by 14 September the ‘rule of six’ was established. So any hope of performing came to a standstill once again. On 5 November a second national lockdown came into force. The group felt that they needed another project to keep everyone occupied.

The decision to change the name of the group came as a result of performance and audience interaction. It needed to be unique and one that could not be confused with other groups. In 2000, Paula and Derek wrote a one-act play for a local drama group under the pseudonym of Liam Monroe and this was used for the new name; ‘LnjMonroe Drama’.

Monologues and duologues were used again. The next project’s theme was inspired by another one-act, written by Paula back in 2018. The Boy I Love, a story of love & football set in 1917, focuses on the lives of three women working in a munitions factory who all play football during their breaks. The last scene is based on the FA’s 1921 ban on women playing the game (not lifted until 1971!) It seemed to be the perfect topic for a set of monologues spanning the history of women’s football – from the late 1800s to the present day.

Almost the whole group wanted to take part which resulted in Paula writing sixteen scripts incorporating the main events surrounding history of the women’s game. She began with a monologue about Nettie Honeyball, founder of the British Ladies Football Club in 1895. The Dick Kerr ladies, the most famous of the teams to come out of the World War I, were next. Paula chose to write a duologue about Alice Norris and her mother. Mrs Norris took in the most famous of all Dick Kerr Ladies, Lily Parr.

Alfred Frankland, manager of the Dick Kerr ladies required his own monologue and so two fictional characters were duly incorporated. Nell and Dot from The Boy I Love. Dot having played football for a factory munitions team with Nell becoming the team’s manager.

Men and women for and against the FA’s ban most definitely had to be included. The first was a fictional FA Council member who voted for the ban followed by Dr. Mary Lowry, a factual doctor who spoke out against it. Lastly, footballer, Harry Hampton, who was also against the ban.

With the ban not being lifted until 1971, it seemed appropriate to include the 1970s in some format. Lucy Hurst was another of Paula’s fictional characters (no relation to Geoff, but whom she still imagined playing for West Ham in 1971 and visiting Mexico to watch the Women’s world Cup the same year).

Women’s football has come a long way since 1971, but still has a long way to go. As such, for the final monologues, Paula wanted to show that women can have important roles in English football today. She created Ashley Lynn who she imagined as the first female Premier League manager; Daisy wheeler, a fictional referee in the Women’s Super League; and Eva Hart, a female historian who having written a book, was guest speaker at a women’s football awards dinner. Paula gave Eva’s book the same title as the project It Took 50 Years. Through Eva’s speech she was able to link some of the other characters dialogue together, and to suggest what women’s football might look like in another fifty years.

The next task was to cast the characters. For members with a musical theatre background, as the May’s V.E. Day monologues, they had the extra challenge of a song. Mrs Norris, for instance, came from Lancashire and sang, A Lassie from Lancashire. Harry Hampton who played for Birmingham City has the club anthem Keep Right On to the End of the Road. Another football anthem written into a monologue was for Lucy Hurst of West Ham Ladies to sing I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.

Completed scripts were sent, with character notes, to the appropriate actor to record. All of the cast working on the project were experienced so Paula was confident they would be able to effectively use voice alone. But if one was struggling, then a video call with Paula was set up for help.

Shorter scripts also included a narrative for each period of history in the form of newspaper reports and crowd chants. One member has his own filming and editing service and has volunteered to put the individual recordings together.

To date two films have been produced: How It All Started and The First World War. The films are much longer than the ones the group produced in May 2020, and were going to require a vast amount of visual elements. Although challenging, suitable props and costumes from the group’s large collection were photographed by Paula, to be added to copyright free images. Because the films were nine and ten minutes long, Paula created a group YouTube channel. Three of the drama shorts created in 2020 were swiftly added to followed by the latest ones.

For It Took 50 Years, the next step is to adapt the monologues into a stage play. When it might be performed is difficult to predict as guidelines are continually being adjusted to meet the ever evolving Covid-19 restrictions.

Looking back, a few actors have reflected on the project. Rob Hall (Harry Hampton) shared some of his thoughts: “Being a football fan, I’ve always been fascinated with the history of the beautiful game right back to its early beginnings. I have to admit I didn’t know much about the early women’s game until I was asked to be involved in this production but after a little research I discovered a wealth of information! The stories of the Dick Kerr Ladies and their star player Lily Parr makes for incredible reading; she really was the Raheem Sterling of her day! It’s been an absolute pleasure to have been involved in this truly inspiring project.”

Long-standing member, Alan Fisher (James Turner), added: “I joined, what was then RWB Productions in 2014 when they needed men for There Just Has to be a Better Way. The process for It Took 50 Years has been so different. Having to record our lines has been a new experience and made it a harder task to get into character. Hopefully we can all get together soon to perform it as it should be.”

Lizzy Baker gave consideration to both projects: “Just when our band of thespians were gearing up for a session of murder mysteries on our steam railway the pandemic hit and scuppered all our plans. These little nuggets of history were not only fun to be part of but also full of historical fact. I was involved with two. The first I played Mrs Tree Queuing for Bread at the grocers. Then Paula, who is a huge football fan and has supported Crystal Palace through thick and thin, came up with a series of playlets. The second was a duologue with my daughter, the night before a big match for the Dick Kerr Ladies, where a celebrity was going to kick off the game. Both were totally different from each other and great fun to play with. I used different accents for each character and sung in both pieces. Lots of laughter rang around my house during the recordings and trying to stop my dog from joining in was a challenge. It was great to have something creative to be part of and helped our little company feel connected.”

Jen Fisher who played Lucy Hurst said of It Took 50 Years: When Paula asked if I would like to be involved, I was hesitant, as remembering a monologue seemed a daunting task… However, here was an advantage of the pandemic… I could record it in my lounge with the script by my side and no-one would know. I really enjoyed adding feeling and expression to Paula’s writing and hope I managed to convey the character she had imagined.”

Finally, also reflecting on the project is Denise Humphries (Nell): “As a performer, I really appreciated Paula’s innovative approach and her willingness to think outside the box. This meant that we all felt involved in something even though we couldn’t actually perform onstage. It also helped us to stay in contact so that during lockdown we felt less isolated. Thank you Paula!”

Search YouTube for ‘LnjMonroe Drama’ to watch the videos yourself.

YOUR NEWS – Heart of Hammersmith Rehearsals Underway

YOUR NEWS – Heart of Hammersmith Rehearsals Underway

Heart of Hammersmith company members in rehearsals.  Photo: Nahwand Jaff

By Su-Ann Chow-Seegoolam

Heart of Hammersmith is the Lyric Hammersmith Theatre’s first large-scale community play celebrating true stories of West London with a cast of over forty local people, aged from 11–88 years.
Full casting has now been announced with participants from the adult Community Chorus, Young Lyric Partner Chorus and Amici Dance Theatre Company joining the previously announced Lyric Community Company.
The production will be running in the Lyric Theatre’s Main House from Thursday, 12 to Saturday, 14 August.
Heart of Hammersmith is written and created by Nicholai La Barrie with The Lyric Community Company, directed by Eva Sampson with Alex Hurst with set and design by Charlotte Espiner, lighting design by Shaun Parry, sound design by Lorna Munden and choreography by Diane Alison-Mitchell.
The new show celebrates West London stories past and present. The production started rehearsals in January during Lockdown via Zoom with the Lyric Community Company’s 17 young members, aged 18-25. The production has been developed throughout the year and now brings together a cast of over 40 West Londoners, including an Adult Community Chorus, aged 30-88 years; the Amici Dance Theatre Company of disabled and non- disabled performers aged from 20-70 years; and a Young Lyric Partner’s Chorus, aged 11-18 years.
From lives lived to lives lost, lives forced out and lives brought together, Heart of Hammersmith celebrates West London through all of its hardships and triumphs and the vibrant individuals who make it what it is. Inspired by true stories from West London, the play tracks immigrant arrivals, million-pound homes and social housing sitting side by side, the rise of gentrification and the shadows left by the Grenfell tragedy, the changing of attitudes, facing of tragedies and the rallying of a resilient community. Heart of Hammersmith tells the story of Dieppe Street, a street from West London’s past, and a place that today unites us.
The performances will be socially distanced in line with See It Safely industry-approved guidelines and all tickets are £10 available at .
The adult Community Chorus includes Colm Gallagher, Patricia Mantuano, Denise Clarke-Williams and Nutun Ahmed in speaking roles and Alessio Bagiardi, Francis Cherry, Margaret Cramp, Isobel Leaviss, James Mcauley, Binita Patel, Lizzie Popoff, Priya Narayan, Pauline Singh, Anne-Marie Wedderburn, Jamie Woodard, Donna Wright and Faisal Yusuf.
Amici Dance Theatre Company is a unique dance theatre company integrating non-disabled & disabled artists and performers. The Amici Company includes: John Athnasious, Stuart Cowie, Ekeama Henry-Ferrazzi , Nicolas Serial, Wilma Serial and Delson Weeks.
The children’s Partner Chorus includes: Amaiya Coleman, Luka Jankovick, Nikolas Obradovic, Agnes Suckling, Imiya Summers and Alyssia Tachie-Menson in collaboration with the Young Lyric Partner Organisations Action on Disability, Amici Dance Theatre Company, New English Ballet Theatre, Tri-Borough Music Hub, Turtle Key Arts and Zoo Nation Academy of Dance.
Working together with Nicholai La Barrie (Tina – The Tina Turner Musical Resident Director), the script has been created with The Lyric Community Company, aged 18-25, from West London. They are Gehna Badhwar, Eva Bate, Wes Bozonga, Ömer Cem Çoltu, Tom Claxton, Kitty Cockram, James Douglas-Quarcoopome, Harry Drane, Harri-Rose Hudson, Lex MacQuire, Ella McCallum, Ele McKenzie, Alfie Neill, Priyanka Patel, Danielle Tama, Wilf Walsworth, Aliyah Yanguba.

Twitter: @LyricHammer
Instagram: /LyricHammersmith
Facebook: /LyricHammersmith

YOUR NEWS – Beckenham at the End of the Line

YOUR NEWS – Beckenham at the End of the Line

Founded in 1948, asbestos signals the end of 73-year-old amateur theatre venue

By Paul Johnson

One of the saddest stories I have come across in recent times concerns the demise of Beckenham’s intimate 47-seat theatre situated on the crossroad junction of Bromley Road, Manor Road and Wickham Road.
Around fifteen years ago I personally appeared in three plays over a twelve-month period at BTC, and I loved every minute of it. Cut to 2021 and Covid is not the big problem; the enemy within is asbestos.
However, there maybe some light at the end of the tunnel. Members of BTC are determined to continue despite the harrowing diagnosis, at a new premises.
Earlier this year, Malcolm Jones, Chairman of Beckenham Theatre Trustees issued the following message via the theatre’s website:
“As many of you who attended last December’s AGM and the EGM in 2019 will know, the theatre has been struggling recently in many ways. COVID has, of course, had a huge impact on BTC. We have been closed for a year and it is still unclear on a date when we could re-open without social distancing.
“But for a longer time than COVID has been around, we have had to cope with the problems of declining membership and a failing building. We need a substantial injection of money to deal with the needs of the building survey originally undertaken in 2018. We exist in an environment in which many local amateur theatres are struggling with issues of membership and audiences.
“As was explained at the AGM, before attempting to fundraise for the money needed to repair and update the building, we needed to know the basic structure of the theatre was sound. Unfortunately, an asbestos survey found that we had asbestos in several places. The worst affected area is the cellar which has brown asbestos which, alongside blue asbestos, is considered the most dangerous type. As our Gas and Electricity supplies are in the cellar, this caused further problems as utility companies will not go into the cellar to disconnect our supplies for work to begin. This meant a substantially more expensive cost of working from the street to disconnect.
“As a consequence, the cost of removing the asbestos was moving towards £20,000, and this was before any reinstatement costs were taken into account, which meant the Trustees have had to make the difficult decision about whether this was a responsible way to use the theatre’s capital, especially considering in the last two or three years we have suffered from falling membership and audiences and falling numbers volunteering to act, direct and work backstage. That said, the children’s and youth theatres are still thriving.
“We also spoke at the AGM about the various options open to us, which include selling the land to a developer who will incorporate a community space in the new build (this would give us less money but a possible space to perform in in two years’ time, although not a like-for-like theatre) or simply selling the land to achieve the most money we can from the site.
“We are still awaiting full costs in order to make a final decision but, so as not to stand still and to try to be positive in the situation we find ourselves in, we are having presentations from three estate agents later this month who will explain how we will go about selling the land on which the theatre stands.
“In the meantime, in accordance with the membership’s wishes at the 2019 EGM, we are also investigating the best method of setting up a Trust Fund to use any monies from the sale of the land responsibly and to form a lasting and positive legacy for Beckenham Theatre.
“If the theatre is to sell the land, it does not necessarily mean the end of Beckenham Theatre. There is still money to allow the children’s and youth theatres to hire premises so they can continue and for adult productions to take place elsewhere if there is enthusiasm for this.
“In the end, we need to remember that BTC is not just a social club but a legally registered Charity and we, as Trustees, must be able to report to Companies House and the Charities Commission about our decisions and demonstrate due diligence as Trustees on how we manage the Charities assets, both financial and physical.
“We will keep our membership updated as we continue to explore the options available.”
Despite the grim news, BTC members have been carrying on regardless, conducting online social evenings, play readings and even entering regional online drama festivals.
The bottom line is still that the physical theatre is being sold for redevelopment of the land and, to that end, will not open again as a theatre.
We will bring you more news when it becomes available.



Recently, we asked you to send us details of your production plans to reopen and welcome your audiences back into theatres up and down the UK.
You haven’t disappointed us. In fact we almost received too many shows to list.
There are two points why this news is so big:

  1. You must all be confident that audiences are ready to come back into theatres.
  2. Your own societies, casts & crews must also be ready to launch back into performing with aplomb.

We must admit to fearing a bigger level of hesitancy whilst, it turns out, all along, you’ve been waiting to get back to where you belong.
The next thing you need to do id check that your society’s contact ‘Admin’ has uploaded the production to our website. Here are some of your shows:

With somewhere in the region of over 10,000 amateur theatre societies in the UK, this obviously a tiny snapshot of what is going on across the length and breadth of the country.
Many of the societies shown here are listed on the Sardines website directory. However, some have merely responded to our video shoutouts on YouTube and sent us details of their reopening shows, plays and pantos.
If you spot your own society here then why not look on the Sardines website to see if the society and show are listed?

The website can be reached by visiting:

That said, not everybody will be able to upload information to the website. So here are the basic points:

  1. Individuals must register on the website before being able to do anything. However, it’s very quick and easy.
  2. Once registered you can add a society, a new service supplier profile, comment on any post or add a new post of your own. Just click on the ‘Add/Upload/Me’ link once you log in to add or edit something.
  3. Only the main society ‘Admin’ can update and add new details to a society page. This is usually the person who created the original society page, but not always. Email us ( with any queries or special ‘Admin’ requests you may have.
  4. Anybody can apply to be a ‘Co-Admin’ of a society page which means – if approved by the existing ‘Admin’ – they will be able to add productions, auditions and request a Sardines review for a production they have added.
  5. Any registered user can also ‘follow’ a society to receive notifications of additions, changes and uploads made to any particular theatre group.

If you get stuck our YouTube channel has a ‘Video Tutorials’ playlist to help out. Search YouTube for ‘Sardines Magazine’.



‘Freedom Day’ – originally Monday, 21 June 2021 – was the earliest date when the UK Government was to officially ditch social distancing and all Covid-19 restrictions in England. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, although devolved, usually tend to keep their own set of rules closely linked to such announcements.
However, exactly a week before (14 June), the Prime Minister suddenly announced a four-week delay to the easing of these restrictions, putting the date back to 19 July.
The move angered the entire theatre industry – which had been closed for fifteen months in the main – prompting a host of negative comments from prominent figures and companies within the professional theatre sector. Comments came from all quarters including SOLT (Society of London Theatre) and UK Theatre, Equity UK, HQ Theatres, Sir Howard Panter and Trafalgar Entertainment, Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sonia Friedman among others.
Curiously, the ‘amateur’ theatre sector appeared to remain tight-lipped in relation to the delay, except for us of course. We discussed the news publically in our three-times-weekly YouTube videos.
Dismayed by the apparent lack of comment, we asked to speak with various people and organisations at the forefront of amateur theatre to get to the bottom of the situation…


Top-left: Stewart Mison, Chair, National Drama Festivals Association (NDFA) Bottom-middle: Roderick Inness-Chaytor. Council, National Drama Festivals Association (NDFA) and Chair, All Winners Sub-Committee

Whilst NODA (National Operatic and Dramatic Association) bluntly refused to take part in an interview, with a reply possibly on the cusp of being considered rude, Sardines did speak with the Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain (LTG), National Drama Festivals Association (NDFA) and Tony Gibbs, ex-CEO NODA (CEO for eight years until Jan 2016).

NDFA has been going through all kinds of nightmare scenarios surrounding its NDFA All Winners Finals at the Albany Theatre, Coventry from 18 – 24 July. Opening just one day prior to the revised ‘Freedom Day’ meant the festival found itself still subject to social distancing restrictions and promptly decided to socially distance the entire week-long event in line with the public’s lack of confidence in buying tickets to the Coventry showpiece – even with the city being named UK City of Culture 2021.

Being so close to the newly designated date and falling inside the delay period also meant the NDFA ended up cancelling a number of planned live workshops, and that’s in addition to some of the small feeder-festivals also being cancelled up and down the country.

“This has caused complete devastation to perhaps one of the UK’s hidden industries,” Stewart Mison, Chair of NDFA told me. “We have not been able to run our normal selection process for teams to compete in the ‘All Winners’ … A lot of our members have had to cancel their drama festivals.”

“This delay over four weeks; yeah, it’s had a direct impact on us,” continued Mison. “We had a musical theatre workshop, I call it Les Mis in a Day by Dave Willetts – the actor who has performed in both Phantom and had the lead in Les Mis in the West End … We were going to have the Royal Shakespeare Company come in; run three workshops, Understanding The Bard, Directing The Bard and Stage Combat. The RSC, like any good, professional organisation now has a Covid risk-assessment policy. In normal times we would have been ok, but now, because of this extension, we have had to take the decision that we will cancel those workshops. We had no clear definition that on the 19th restrictions were going to be lifted.”

“People are reticent about going into enclosed spaces, like theatres,” added the NDFA Chair concerning the lack of public confidence. “We’ve taken the decision that the All Winners festival will be run with a socially distanced policy … When you’re trying to get people to come into a theatre there will be a hesitation.”

“The Albany Theatre tell us – and other theatres are reporting the same kind of thing – that there is extreme hesitancy, that people aren’t booking in the numbers that would be expected in normal times,” added Rod Inness-Chaytor of NDFA’a National Council who is also Chair of NDFA’s All Winners Sub-Committee.

On my original query concerning the lack of comment from amateur theatre organisations Stewart Mison pointed out that, “We are A-political, so I can’t comment on what H.M.G. is saying as Chairman of the NDFA. I could tell you privately what my thoughts are, Rod knows them, but… it IS a nightmare and we’ve been given a set of rules which we have to adhere to. The little old National Drama Festivals Association is not going to change Oliver Dowden or Tony Hancock – sorry, Matt Hancock – or Boris Johnson’s view on things.”

Top-left: Jo Matthews, Chair, Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain (LTG) Bottom-left: Kevin Spence, Public Relations Officer, Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain (LTG) Bottom-right: Eddie Redfern, National Liaison Officer, Little Theatre Guild of Great Britain (LTG)

Meanwhile, the LTG doesn’t appear to have stopped in its admirable commitment to supply members with help and advice concerning getting around the pandemic. “We have literally been incredibly busy just coping with whatever is thrown at us,” Jo Matthews, Chair of the LTG told me just as she was preparing for another frantic forty-eight hours rushing around the country to catch up with members and see their shows. “That’s just my actual appointments … In between all that, I’m making phone calls, sending emails and doing Zoom meetings and all the rest of it. And I think I’m representative of most people in most theatres – that I’m just busy getting on with whatever DCMS throw at us.”

“Some of our theatres right now have scheduled to do Covid-safe performances,” continued Matthews, explaining why the delay wasn’t of particular interest to the LTG. “A lot of them (LTG members] have got the ‘See It Safely’ logo from SOLT as well, and they’re programmed to do that. So for them there’s actually no disruption at all right now. They’re just carrying on because they’d always planned to do this.”

“For others, who have prepared to open this week [w/c 21 June], now can’t because they haven’t planned for a Covid-safe performance,” said the LTG Chair in support of the other side of the coin. “They are the worst-off theatres right now and have been thrown into disarray because they were pinning their hopes on 21 June. Others thought ‘well let’s work out plans that will work for the whole of the summer. So reactions have varied enormously to all of this, but you’ve got to remember that each theatre consists of a disparate group of personalities.”

“The four weeks is just another stepping stone towards doing what they want to do, which is to pick up where they left off,” aggreed Kevin Spence, LTG Public Relations Officer. “All of them have been pressed to think about the political situation in which we find ourselves … It makes the function of the Little Theatre Guild massively important. … We’ve been like coal-miners, burrowing away… …beneath the surface. Eddie [Redfern, LTG National Liaison Officer] has been sending stuff straight out from DCMS as it comes in, all our theatres have been updated. We’ve helped them [LTG members] tremendously with funding of various sorts – government-inspired mostly … the thing is, with all that background and the stuff we’ve been doing, another four weeks is neither here nor there.”

Jo Matthews directly referred to my query of why the amateur sector – or the ‘LTG’ to be specific – has decided not to join in with all the moaning: “The hospitality industry has been very vocal, ‘We’ve got perfectly safe restaurants and pubs. Why are we singled out for this terrible treatment?’ Where’s it got them? Oh, that’ll be nowhere then! Absolutely nowhere.”

“I asked theatres whether they’d had to cancel or not,” Eddie Redfern told me in response to the four-week delay disallowing theatres to scrap social distancing restrictions until late July. “Some have gone ahead while others have taken the decision not to do anything until Sep/Oct.”

“It’s not financially viable,” reported Redfern referring to opening while social distancing restrictions were still in place. “Take my theatre, ninety-five seats. If you’ve got social distancing you can get less than twenty people in. That wouldn’t even cover the royalties.”

“I think with all the comments we’re getting back from not just LTG reps but also chairmen, they’re satisfied with what we’ve been doing, and continue to do,” Redfern informed on how happy LTG members were with the Guild’s activities. “We probably couldn’t have done any more. There comes a time when it’s no longer worth lobbying ministers; you’ve got as far as you could get … I think to a degree that’s where we’ve got to.”

Tony Gibbs, Independent Theatre Producer, and ex-CEO of NODA

As the only independent person I spoke with, Tony Gibbs – while still being an avid fan of theatre as well as a producer – has the benefit of knowing what it’s like to be part of a large organisation as he was CEO of NODA for the eight years leading up to 2016. And, you may not be surprised that it was Gibbs who was able to offer the most insight into why amateur theatre had not commented on the four-week delay in reopening.

“I would suggest to you, to start with, that for all of those membership organisations, their first and most important focus has to be to their members. So whether it’s the one I used to work for or any other, the term ‘umbrella body’ is perhaps a bit difficult to unpick unless you understand what they’re doing. The umbrella bodies which you’ve referred to are largely membership organisations which provide a range of services to its members. It’s not as if we’ve got the equivalent of a UK-wide regulatory body for amateur theatre. Maybe there’s a bit of a gap there and maybe the issues around the pandemic have highlighted that. I suspect that if you’re talking to any of those membership associations, they can probably only give you a perspective based on what their members have been telling them.”

“I think the main difference between the professional bodies, which you’ve already mentioned, and the amateurs is that the professionals have more financial clout,” Gibbs told me as he dug deep into the psyche of those amateur theatre organisations. “They would also have – I would guess – more people in roles for communication and indeed campaigning, which is probably a bit of a gap in the amateur market, generally, in the fact that – as you know – there are still thousands of independent amateur theatre groups or societies or clubs, run by voluntary committees. The membership organisations you’ve mentioned, in the main, don’t have the kind of infrastructure that would allow them to carry out campaigning … How could you best coordinate a response to the pandemic? I suspect there’s a lot of independent companies, clubs, societies who have had committee meetings during the past year on Zoom and they’ve been thinking ‘how on earth can we survive?’ because, in terms of ‘planning’, it’s more often than not just for the next show … The pandemic has highlighted the fact that there is a need for amateur theatre to have a campaigning voice, which possibly, possibly, may not exist at the moment.”

“Is it reasonable to expect that the membership associations and indeed the thousands of independent groups, companies, societies to develop a campaigning or communications strategy in response to the pandemic from nowhere? If those organisations haven’t already got the infrastructure then they would have to develop one very quickly. And for lots of people they may not know how to do that.”

“Throughout the country amateur theatre is often the glue within local culture. Is there a need for a more dedicated focus? Yes there is!”

“If you ask any one of those membership associations, ‘What are your members asking you for?’ I guess they’re going to say ‘It’s the services they’re providing us with.’ ‘Us’ being the individual groups up and down the country … Does that include a campaigning role? I don’t know. It may well not do … In the middle of the pandemic it may seem worthwhile; but pre-pandemic, perhaps not … There’s still a lack of awareness at local and government level of the importance of amateur theatre.”

“Does amateur theatre have a coordinated campaigning voice? Probably not. Does it need one? Probably, yes. On the back of the pandemic? Most certainly yes! Going forward we’re still very much in the dark in terms of the future of theatre – especially amateur theatre.”

“You’re asking people to take a leap of faith,” said the ex-CEO of NODA after I asked about tempting people back into theatres. “My view is that until Covid-19 is no longer a worldwide problem, then I think we will still be living with restrictions and, whatever they are, it’s going to be difficult to get audiences into theatres. It’s just as challenging to talk about rehearsals. In terms of the threat of Covid-19, how do you not only protect but tell your audiences that it’s safe? I think that’s probably the single biggest challenge. The creative challenges, like which plays to select, almost become secondary to the primary focus which has to be the safety of audiences and company members … If you’re producing a panto this year then the message you have to get across is not only ‘we’re safe’ but being able to prove it.”

And what is Mr Gibbs up to now? “My particular project, which has been on the go since 2015, is a rock musical called Twist and Turn,” he tells me when quizzed. “It was showcased at The Other Palace in 2018 which led to a revaluation of the show’s progress up until then. There is now a whole batch of new songs which have dropped on iTunes – several of which are enjoying a lot of radio-play. One in particular has had over 100k plays on Spotify. We continue to raise aware-ness and are planning a graphic novel of the show for Oct this year.”



by Matthew Malthouse

To most people when they think of auditions, they think of X-Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. No matter what level you perform at, auditions are part of an actor’s life – the school nativity, part-time drama group, local amateur dramatics society or even West End professional, one thing that remains consistent throughout is auditioning.
Whether you love or hate them, thrive under the pressure, or crumble every time, the reality is, auditions will always exist for actors.
According to Wikipedia: ‘Audition’ is rooted in the Latin verb ‘audire’, meaning ‘to hear’, and was first used in the late 16th Century to refer to the power or sense of hearing. … It wasn’t until late 19th Century that the noun ‘audition’ began being used for an entertainer’s trial performance.

I love the description ‘trial performance’ it conjures up the image of proving yourself to a jury, which is exactly how an audition can sometimes feel!

What is an audition?
If you are reading this, I imagine you are very familiar with auditions. If you have never had to audition… lucky you!
The format of auditions remains exactly the same no matter what level you are at.
They tend to follow this pattern:

  • Wait outside audition room pacing nervously.
  • Walking in the room – it suddenly feels the length of a football pitch.
  • Couple of minutes of awkward nervous chat.
  • Three to five minutes performing your songs, scenes or monologues – at this point your own internal monologue is going haywire. Clogging your brain with a series of unhelpful
  • Awkward goodbye and long walk to exit.
  • Spend the next few days agonising over what you should or could have done better.

Sound familiar? The problem with auditions is there is no real alternative to them. Many directors and casting directors have expressed that they feel auditions sometimes don’t get the best out of actors, but they just don’t have another viable alternative. I say viable with caution as that word can be triggering to actors… remember Fatima?

Self-tapes have become more and more popular for professional actors and drama schools. They are great as a first round as they allow casting directors to see more actors and save money on room-hire costs, meaning more people get the opportunity to audition even if it is remotely.

Don’t know what a self-tape is? Here is a tutorial I did to make a professional looking self-tape…

A lot of professional actors prefer self-tape auditions because you get the chance to re-do them if you aren’t happy with how you perform.

The majority of the time you will still be required to have an in-person audition to secure the job/part/ role or a place at drama school.

An in-person audition gives the creative team/panel a chance to see what your working relationship would be like and how you respond to direction and notes. This is especially important in drama school auditions where they will be working with you for three years.

Why are auditions important?
Auditions allow every actor an equal opportunity to secure a role. We all get our five mins to show what we would do with the part, or in a college audition situation we get five mins to showcase what skills we have to offer.
Yes, in drama groups or amateur societies, often, it turns out that the same people get all the best roles, but having an audition process means that occasionally someone gets cast in a part you would never expect. Without holding an audition this wouldn’t be possible.
So how do you get more comfortable and confident with auditions?

Here are my… ‘Top-5 Audition Tips’


When it comes to auditions at any level I believe the the old saying attributed to Benjamin Franklin and used by the army: “failing to prepare is preparing to fail” is key.
You can never do too much preparation before your audition. What that preparation would need to include, depends on the situation.
If you are auditioning for a role you should do some general research:

  • Composer
  • Lyricist
  • Writer
  • Previous productions

Next, you want to read the full script. Too many actors at every level make the mistake of only reading the section of the production that they have to perform for their auditions.
Take the time to source and read the full play. It will contain all the information you need about your character.
I can’t emphasis this point enough – read the full script!
The script will give you an idea of the style of the piece and the time period it is set in. You want to be looking for things like your characters:

  • Age
  • Job
  • Relationships
  • Social Class
  • Accent
  • Upbringing
  • Interests

This information will influence your physicality and the way you talk to others in the scene.
Everything the writer believes is important for your character will be in the writing.
It is essential to note where in the play your scene takes place and how it fits within the story arch. This will guide you to what the main objective of the scene is.
Whatever action has happened just before a scene can sometimes be the biggest influence to your characters mood, energy and motivation.
For classic plays like Shakespeare, reading the play can often be arduous, time-consuming work or, with some old musicals, finding a copy of the script can be difficult. In these situations you could watch a movie version – but be warned don’t copy the acting. You have to create your own character for a memorable performance.

Drama school audition preparation
Each college has their own audition specifications. Make sure you double-check that the pieces you choose match those requirements. Some colleges can be very specific – a play written post-1990 by a British playwright for example. If you are planning on auditioning for multiple colleges I would recommend you source all the requirements from the various schools before picking your monologues so you can use the same piece at multiple auditions.
I would also recommend doing some research on the college. Recent graduates, full-time teaching faculty, course content. Most of this information is available from their websites. Often you will be asked about this at the interview stage.
Don’t overlook the audition interview, it can be the deciding factor on whether you get a place or not. Knowing information about the college and teachers will convey the image of a professional, conscientious applicant.
I can’t overstate the importance of preparation. It is often the difference between failure and success.

Ignore the panel

The panel can be unbelievably distracting during your audition. If they start talking to each other as you perform, your internal monologue will start going crazy.
“They look bored”, “they hate me”, “I am rubbish” … (Very rarely does your internal monologue give you praise.)
Don’t worry. If the panel starts to talk, it is normally a good thing – they are discussing where they think you would fit within the production or they could be saying they like your energy and are seeing if the others panellists agree.
Panels don’t need to talk if they aren’t interested as there is nothing to discuss. Or if they have time on their side they will discuss you once you leave the room. You really never can tell, so don’t look into what you think the panel are thinking.
My top tip is to place your focus and eyeline just above the panels heads. That will mean they will be in softer focus and less distracting.

Stay present in the room

It can be easy to become distracted in the room. Your mind can start to wander thinking “that bit wasn’t very good” or “maybe I need to do a gesture.”
If you find these thoughts flying around your head you aren’t present in the moment.
The more you concentrate on the words and story of the monologue/song you are performing, the more you will stay in the moment. This will lead to a more engaging truthful performance.
To help get into character or in ‘the zone’ take your time before you start. Auditions can be nerve wracking which leads to a surge of adrenaline and increased heart rate. This can cause you to rush and get over excited. Take a few breaths and a moment to get into character before you start. Taking ten secs to prepare will feel like an eternity to you in the room but the panel won’t notice.
Be brave and take that time as it can make a big difference.
Think about it as a performance

Auditions are a chance to perform. We act because we like to escape and play characters. Most of us start to act because above all it is fun and enjoyable. If you treat auditions as a chance to enjoy acting and performing, the pressure on them immediately decreases.
Acting and art is subjective. What someone thinks about your performance is down to their personal taste. How many times do you love an actor, singer or band and a friend isn’t as impressed?
The panel are the same. You can’t change their individual preferences. You can only show them your ability, show them what you would do with the role and let them decide.
Brian Cranston from Breaking Bad famously said of auditions: “You aren’t going there to get a job. You are going to present what you do.”…

Always remember the audition panel is on your side. Brilliant performers are wanted in their shows or drama schools. Don’t be scared or intimidated by them. They want you to do well.

Forget about it!

Once the audition is over you can’t change it. Don’t beat yourself up over what went wrong or the silly thing you said. It is done and you can’t go back.
Allow yourself time to be upset but don’t wallow for a sustained period of time.
When enough time has passed think about what you could have done better. Be objective and make those changes before any future auditions.
The more you audition, the less alien the situation becomes. With time they may even become enjoyable.

Need more Audition help?

Matt Malthouse is founder of Chiron Audition Prep… which has a goal to provide a programme that would have “benefited us when we auditioned for drama school.”

Before auditioning many students need to take extra tuition to prepare. If you need any help with an upcoming drama school audition Chiron Audition Prep offers 4 x Online courses: Acting, Singing, Dance and Musical theatre.

All courses have been designed after discussions with some of UK’s top drama schools to guarantee courses only contain the most relevant up to date audition specific content.

Head over to to find out more and sign up to receive a free audition guide.