“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.
‘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.”
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. As a result of the pandemicsome licensors are now offering special online-performance arrangements, so please get in touch with the appropriate company to find out more. Show listings are not proof that respective titles are available for amateur performance. Please make appropriate enquiries with respective licensors.
F: ConcordShows | T: @ConcordUKShows
A GIRL IN A CAR WITH A MAN by Robert Alan Evans
Full-Length Play, Drama / F2, M3 / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13217 9 / £9.99
As Stella leaves her job at the shopping channel, Alex prepares for a night out, and Paula can’t stop thinking of the girl who’s gone missing, her face all over the news. Slowly the missing girl weaves her way through all their lives in the course of a very wet and wild night.
THE GRINNING MAN by Carl Grose, Tom Morris, Tim Phillips, Marc Teitler
Full-Length Musical, Dark Comedy / F5, M7 / Fantasy / 978 0 573 13220 9 / £9.99
A strange new act has arrived at Trafalgar Fair’s freakshow. Who is Grinpayne and how did he get his hideous smile?
With the help of an old puppeteer, his pet wolf and a blind girl, Grinpayne’s tale is told. When word spreads across the capital, everything changes. Desperate to know the terrible secrets of his mysterious past, Grinpayne leaves his true love behind and embarks on a journey into an even crueller world – the aristocracy.
The Grinning Man is a fairy-tale love story streaked with pitch-black humour, lashings of Gothic horror and swashbuckling adventure. It opened at Bristol Old Vic in 2016 to great acclaim and transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios in 2017 where it achieved cult status and rave reviews.
The musical premiered at Bristol Old Vic in 2016, with a production directed by Tom Morris. Following the success of the Bristol run, the show transferred to Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 5 December 2017.
ONE DAY WHEN WE WERE YOUNG by Nick Payne
Full-Length Play, Drama / F1, M1 / Contemporary / 978 0 573 11662 9 / £9.99
Leonard and Violet, young, restless and in love, spend their first night together knowing it may also be their last. It’s 1942 and, in a hotel room in Bath, they dream of their future while preparing for Leonard’s departure to the war. But the bombs begin.
REASONS YOU SHOULD(N’T) LOVE ME by Amy Trigg
Monologues, Comedy / F1 / Contemporary, Present Day / 978 0 573 13260 5 / £9.99
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 a long time I didn’t know how it’d work.
Or what I’d be able to feel.
People would ask me if I could have sex and I’d feign shock and act wildly offended whilst secretly wanting to grab them by the shoulders and be like “I don’t know, Janet!”
Juno was born with spina bifida and is now clumsily navigating her twenties amidst street healers, love, loneliness – and the feeling of being an unfinished project.
Winner of The Women’s Prize for Playwriting 2020, Amy Trigg’s remarkable debut play Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me is a hilarious, heart-warming tale about how shit our wonderful lives can be.
SUE TOWNSEND’S THE SECRET DIARY OF ADRIAN MOLE AGED 13¾ THE MUSICAL by Sue Townsend, Jake Brunger, Pippa Cleary
Full-Length Musical, Comedy / F3, M3, Girl(s)1, Boy(s)3 / 1980s / 978 0 573 11665 0 / £9.99
Life’s pretty hard when you’re a 13¾-year-old misunderstood intellectual living in a cul-de-sac in 1981. With dysfunctional parents, ungrateful elders and a growing debt to school bully Barry Kent, Adrian Mole’s life simply couldn’t get any worse. So when luminous new girl Pandora joins Adrian’s class, things look set to change for our hapless hero. She immediately captures his heart, only for his best friend Nigel to steal hers…
Based on the classic bestselling novel by Sue Townsend, this critically acclaimed West End musical brings Britain’s best-loved spotty teenager’s story to life for a new generation of theatregoers.
Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application. Please submit a license request to determine availability.
“…warm and joyful energy.” – Evening Standard
“…the musical precisely captures the growing pains of a self-aware Leicester boy with literary leanings.” – The Guardian
“Delightful” – The New York Times
“endearing and thoroughly enjoyable…” – Independent
“…a continual mood of unforced tongue-in-cheek freshness.” – The Telegraph
THE TWO WORLDS OF CHARLIE F by Owen Sheers
Full-Length Play, Drama / Large cast (smaller possible) / Contemporary / 978 0 571 31558 1 / £9.99
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.
The Two Worlds of Charlie F. moves through the stages of service, from the war in Afghanistan, to dream-like states of morphine-induced hallucinations, to the physio rooms of Headley Court. All through the view of soldier Charlie Fowler’s service, injury and recovery. The play explores themes of physical and psychological injury and its effects on soldiers as they fight for survival.
Drawn from the personal experience of the wounded, injured and sick service personnel involved, The Two Worlds of Charlie F. premiered at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, London, in January 2012 and toured nationally. It was revived for an international tour in 2014.
VESPERTILIO by Barry McStay
Full-Length Play, Drama / M2 / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13259 9 / £9.99
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.
“So there’s a theory that we all have a finite number of heartbeats. We all have a billion heartbeats to live. Humans, cats, dogs, rats – all our hearts beat at different speeds but we all have the same amount. A clock with a billion ticks.”
Inspired by the incredible true story of the last greater mouse-eared bat living in Britain, Vespertilio explores the tender romance between introverted bat-enthusiast Alan and Josh, the charming young runaway he meets in an abandoned railway tunnel. As their relationship develops, these two damaged men might fix one another. If only a little. Vespertilio is a story of love, loneliness and bats, an exploration of the difference between merely surviving and truly living.
WARHEADS by Tarek Skylar, Ross Berkeley Simpson
Full-Length Play, Drama / F2, M4 / Contemporary / 978 0 573 13258 2 / £9.99
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.
Upon return from his first tour of Afghanistan, 19-year-old Miles isn’t quite himself. Noises don’t sound the same. People don’t look the same. Pizza doesn’t taste the same.
The harder he tries to act normal, the harder it gets to be normal. And all his loved ones’ attempts to help him just keep making things worse.
The play oscillates between multiple timelines. We get to see glimpses of the child that was Miles Weppler before he signed up for the army, the man he’s become post war, and everything that happened in-between. We get an intimate view into what motivates a young man towards the military, and what motivates him to stay in the military, at any cost.
Through the eyes of his therapist, he’s just a lost boy. Through the eyes of his girlfriend, he’s a stubborn and sometimes scary man. Through the eyes of his best friend, he’s paranoid. And through his not-so-best friend’s eyes, Weppler’s just a dick.
Warheads is a punchy, urban drama based on a true story.
Music Theatre International (Europe)
T: 020 7580 2827
W: www.mtishows.co.uk | E: firstname.lastname@example.org
F: mtieurope | T: mtieurope
The Hunchback of Notre Dame – Book: Peter Parnell. Music: Alan Menken. Lyrics: Stephen Schwartz
Based on the Victor Hugo novel and songs from the Disney animated feature, The Hunchback of Notre Dame showcases the film’s Academy Award-nominated score, as well as new songs by Menken and Schwartz. Peter Parnell’s new book embraces story theatre and features verbatim passages from Hugo’s gothic novel.
The musical begins as the bells of Notre Dame sound through the famed cathedral in fifteenth-century Paris. Quasimodo, the deformed bell-ringer who longs to be ‘Out There,’ observes all of Paris reveling in the Feast of Fools. Held captive by his devious caretaker, the archdeacon Dom Claude Frollo, he escapes for the day and joins the boisterous crowd, only to be treated cruelly by all but the beautiful gypsy, Esmeralda. Quasimodo isn’t the only one captivated by her free spirit, though – the handsome Captain Phoebus and Frollo are equally enthralled. As the three vie for her attention, Frollo embarks on a mission to destroy the gypsies – and it’s up to Quasimodo to save them all. A sweeping score and powerful story make The Hunchback of Notre Dame an instant classic. Audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical.
Disney’s THE LITTLE MERMAID – Book: Doug Wright. Music: Alan Menken. Lyrics: Howard Ashman & Glenn Slater
Based on one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories and the classic animated film, Disney’s The Little Mermaid is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. With music by eight-time Academy Award winner Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater, and a compelling book by Doug Wright, this fishy fable will capture your heart with its irresistible songs including ‘Under the Sea,’ ‘Kiss the Girl,’ and ‘Part of Your World.’
Ariel, King Triton’s youngest daughter, wishes to pursue the human Prince Eric in the world above and bargains with the evil sea witch, Ursula, to trade her tail for legs. But the bargain is not what it seems and Ariel needs the help of her colorful friends Flounder the fish, Scuttle the seagull, and Sebastian the crab to restore order under the sea.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid offers a fantastic creative opportunity for rich costumes and sets, and the chance to perform some of the best-known songs from the past thirty years.
Roald Dahl’s MATILDA THE MUSICAL JR. – Book: Dennis Kelly. Music & Lyrics: Tim Minchin.
Rebellion is nigh in Matilda JR., a gleefully witty ode to the anarchy of childhood and the power of imagination! This story of a girl who dreams of a better life and the children she inspires will have audiences rooting for the “revolting children” who are out to teach the grown-ups a lesson.
Matilda has astonishing wit, intelligence… and special powers! She’s unloved by her cruel parents but impresses her schoolteacher, the highly loveable Miss Honey. Matilda’s school life isn’t completely smooth sailing, however – the school’s mean headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, hates children and just loves thinking up new punishments for those who don’t abide by her rules. But Matilda has courage and cleverness in equal amounts, and could be the school pupils’ saving grace!
Packed with high-energy dance numbers and catchy songs, Matilda JR. is a joyous girl power romp. Children and adults alike will be thrilled and delighted by the story of the special little girl with an extraordinary imagination.
Nick Hern Books
T: 020 8749 4953
W: www.nickhernbooks.co.uk | E: email@example.com
F: NickHernBooks | T: @NickHernBooks
Hamilton and Me AN ACTOR’S JOURNAL by Giles Terera
Theatre book / 978 1 848 42999 4 / Special Offer – see cover story
‘One of the most joyous and clear-eyed approaches to playing a character that I have ever read… I am so grateful Giles took notes on his process and turned them into this book. I was already in awe of his performance; now I’m in awe of his humanity and attention to detail and willingness to share the hard work and magic that goes into it.’ Lin-Manuel Miranda, from his Foreword.
‘One of the most joyous and clear-eyed approaches to playing a character that I have ever read… I am so grateful Giles took notes on his process and turned them into this book. I was already in awe of his performance; now I’m in awe of his humanity and attention to detail and willingness to share the hard work and magic that goes into it.’
Lin-Manuel Miranda, from his Foreword
Our latest cover star’s book is published on the same day as this new, back-to-print edition of Sardines. Make sure you read our interview with Giles Terera on page 14.
When Lin-Manuel Miranda’s groundbreaking musical ‘Hamilton’ opened in London’s West End in December 2017, it was as huge a hit as it had been in its original production off- and on Broadway. Lauded by critics and audiences alike, the show would go on to win a record-equalling seven Olivier Awards – including Best Actor in a Musical for Giles Terera, for his portrayal of Aaron Burr.
For Terera, though, his journey as Burr had begun more than a year earlier, with his first audition in New York, and continuing through extensive research and preparation, intense rehearsals, previews and finally opening night itself. Throughout this time he kept a journal, recording his experiences of the production and his process of creating his award-winning performance. This book, ‘Hamilton and Me’, is that journal.
It offers 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. It is also deeply personal, as Terera reflects on experiences from his own life that he drew on to help shape his acclaimed portrayal.
Illustrated with dozens of colour photographs, many of which are shared here for the first time, and featuring an exclusive Foreword by Lin-Manuel Miranda, this book is an essential read for all fans of Hamilton – offering fresh, first-hand insights into the music and characters they love and know so well – as well as for aspiring and current performers, students, and anyone who wants to discover what it really felt like to be in the room where it happened.
15 Heroines by Various authors
Monologues / short plays / f15 max. / Various settings, can be simply staged / 978 1 848 42986 4 / £10.39 direct from the publisher
Fifteen inspirational women – queens, sorcerers, pioneers, poets and politicians – are given new voice in this award-winning series of monologues by exciting female and non-binary playwrights, inspired by Ovid’s The Heroines. These monologues can be performed as three complete productions, individually, or in any combination.
“Compelling… sometimes funny, often moving, this is a phenomenal collection of monologues.” BritishTheatre.com
Chaos by Laura Lomas
Full-length play / Flexible – any size, any gender / Various settings, can be simply staged / 978 1 848 42987 1 / £7.99 direct from the publisher
A series of characters search for meaning in a complicated and unstable world in this symphony of interconnected scenes. Written specifically for young people as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival, it offers opportunities for a large, flexible cast, and can incorporate chorus work, movement and music.
“Potent, beautifully crafted, with rich theatrical texture.”
The Stage on Laura Lomas’ ‘Bird’
Little Wars by Steven Carl McCasland
Full-length play / F7 / Country home in the French Alps, 1940 / 978 1 839 04003 0 / £7.99 direct from the publisher
An enthralling, entertaining, and moving portrait of seven exceptional women. A dinner party during the Second World War unites a group of celebrated writers – including Agatha Christie, Dorothy Parker and Gertrude Stein – with a mysterious guest. With booze flowing, barbs flying, and the threat of global conflict looming, the guests are close to boiling point – and someone has a secret.
“The script is smart and witty… admirably bold and asks big questions.” The Stage
Stuff by Tom Wells
Full-length play / F5, M4 / Various settings, can be simply staged / 978 1 848 42988 8 / £7.99 direct from the publisher
A funny, touching play about friendship and loss – and the way people try to do the right thing for their mates when there isn’t really a right thing to do. Written specifically for young people as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival, it offers rich opportunities for an ensemble cast of teenagers.
“Perceptive about the characters’ concerns and insecurities… Tom Wells clearly understands teenagers, so we really do believe what we are seeing”
British Theatre Guide on Tom Wells’ ‘Broken Biscuits’
Bloomsbury – Methuen Drama
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Hamlet: The State of Play – Edited by Sonia Massai & Lucy Munro
Theatre Book / 978 1 350 11772 3 / £67.50 (Online, Hardback)
This collection brings together emerging and established scholars to explore fresh approaches to Shakespeare’s best-known play. Hamlet has often served as a testing ground for innovative readings and new approaches. Its unique textual history – surviving as it does in three substantially different early versions – means that it offers an especially complex and intriguing case-study for histories of early modern publishing and the relationship between page and stage. Similarly, its long history of stage and screen revival, creative appropriation and critical commentary offer rich materials for various forms of scholarship.
The essays in Hamlet: The State of Play explore the play from a variety of different angles, drawing on contemporary approaches to gender, sexuality, race, the history of emotions, memory, visual and material cultures, performativity, theories and histories of place, and textual studies. They offer fresh approaches to literary and cultural analysis, offer accessible introductions to some current ways of exploring the relationship between the three early texts, and present analysis of some important recent responses to Hamlet on screen and stage, together with a set of approaches to the study of adaptation.
Shakespeare in the Theatre: Peter Hall – Stuart Hampton-Reeves
Theatre Book / 978 1 472 58708 4 / £17.99 (Online, Paperback)
Peter Hall is one of the most significant and influential directors of Shakespeare’s work of modern times. Through both his own work and the management of two national theatre companies, the National Theatre and the RSC, Hall has promoted Shakespeare as a writer who can comment incisively on the modern world.
His best productions exemplified this approach: Coriolanus (1959), The Wars of the Roses (1963) and Hamlet (1965) established his reputation as a director able to bring Shakespeare to the heart of contemporary politics. However, Hall’s career has been very varied, and sometimes his critical failures are as interesting as his successes. The book explores Hall’s work as a deliberate articulation of Shakespeare and national culture in the post-war years. The main focus is on his Shakespeare work, but critical attention is also given to non-Shakespearean productions, notably his 1955 Waiting for Godot (and his relationship with Samuel Beckett in general) and his 2000 Tantalus (and his work with John Barton), placing Hall’s work in its cultural and creative context.
Setting Hall’s work against the post-war development of national culture, the book explores how his work with other writers and artists (including Beckett, Pinter and Barton) informed his approach to directing as well as his rehearsal methods and his approach to Shakespeare’s text.
Staging Britain’s Past Pre-Roman Britain in Early Modern Drama – Kim Gilchrist
Theatre Book / 978 1 350 16334 8 / £67.50 (Online, Hardback)
Staging Britain’s Past is the first study of the early modern performance of Britain’s pre-Roman history. The mythic history of the founding of Britain by the Trojan exile Brute and the subsequent reign of his descendants was performed through texts such as Norton and Sackville’s Gorboduc, Shakespeare’s King Lear and Cymbeline, as well as civic pageants, court masques and royal entries such as Elizabeth I’s 1578 entry to Norwich. Gilchrist argues for the power of performed history to shape early modern conceptions of the past, ancestry, and national destiny, and demonstrates how the erosion of the Brutan histories marks a transformation in English self-understanding and identity.
When published in 1608, Shakespeare’s King Lear claimed to be a “True Chronicle History”. Lear was said to have ruled Britain centuries before the Romans, a descendant of the mighty Trojan Brute who had conquered Britain and slaughtered its barbaric giants. But this was fake history. Shakespeare’s contemporaries were discovering that Brute and his descendants, once widely believed as proof of glorious ancient origins, were a mischievous medieval invention.
Offering a comprehensive account of the extraordinary theatrical tradition that emerged from these Brutan histories and the reasons for that tradition’s disappearance, this study gathers all known evidence of the plays, pageants and masques portraying Britain’s ancient rulers. Staging Britain’s Past reveals how the loss of England’s Trojan origins is reflected in plays and performances from Gorboduc’s powerful invocation of history to Cymbeline’s elegiac erosion of all notions of historical truth.
ANGELA – Mark Ravenhill
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 25559 3 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Mark Ravenhill’s autobiographical radio play explores the way culture, high and low, impacted both his mother’s and his family’s lives.
Starting an adult ballet class as the only male in the group sparks a memory of life through the eyes of Ravenhill, the playwright. As time intertwines through alternating perspectives we see his family at different stages of their life. From childhood dreams of being a dancer and performer through to the creativity that brings his parents together for the first time and into their old age, this is a deeply personal and resonate drama about the intersects of life and culture.
Commissioned by Sound Stage, a new immersive audio theatre, designed by theatre-makers and leading technologists, giving audiences a unique and engrossing online theatre experience of new plays from the best in British theatre.
CRUISE – Jack Holden
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 27069 5 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Set in London’s Soho in the 1980s, Cruise tells the story of what should have been Michael Spencer’s last night on Earth. Diagnosed with HIV in 1984, he’s told by doctors that he has just four years to live, so as the clock runs down, Michael decides to go out in style. As he parties and bids final farewells to his friends, the clock strikes zero and Michael… survives. With the gift of life, how can he go on living?
Jack Holden’s debut play Cruise is a kaleidoscopic new monologue celebrating queer culture and paying tribute to a generation of gay men lost to the AIDS crisis. This edition was published to coincide with its West End production in May 2021.
Hymn – Lolita Chakrabarti
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 24305 7 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Two men meet at a funeral. Gil knew the deceased. Benny did not. Before long their families are close. Soon they’ll be singing the same tune.
Benny is a loner anchored by his wife and children. Gil longs to fulfill his potential. They develop a deep bond but as cracks appear in their fragile lives they start to realise that true courage comes in different forms.
Featuring music from Gil and Benny’s lives, Lolita Chakrabarti’s searching, soulful new play asks what it takes to be a good father, brother or son.
This edition was published to coincide with the world premiere at London’s Almeida Theatre in February 2021.
Mugabe, My Dad and Me – Tonderai Munyevu
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 18607 1 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
April, 1980. The British colony of Rhodesia becomes the independent nation of Zimbabwe. A born-free, Tonderai Munyevu is part of the hopeful next generation from a country with a new leader, Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, My Dad and Me charts the rise and fall of one of the most controversial politicians of the 20th Century through the lens of Tonderai’s family story and his relationship with his father. Interspersing storytelling with Mugabe’s unapologetic speeches, this high-voltage one man show is a blistering exploration of identity and what it means to return ‘home’.
ONCE UPON A BRIDGE – Sonya Kelly
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 26709 1 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Early one morning on Putney Bridge, three strangers’ lives collided for one fleeting second.
Inspired by real events, Once Upon a Bridge weaves a tale about human triumph and frailty, about the power of destiny and chance, and why sometimes we choose to hate and other times we choose to dance.
Commissioned by Ireland’s Druid Theatre and live-streamed from Mick Lally theatre in Galway, Sonya Kelly’s latest play received a string of excellent reviews for its bold intimacy and engaging story telling.
Orpheus in the Record Shop …and… The Beatboxer – Testament
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 26766 4 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Two new plays from acclaimed rapper and playwright Testament (Black Men Walking).
Orpheus in the Record Shop
Orpheus is alone, playing tunes in his record shop. After a visitor leaves him an unexpected gift strange things start to happen and music, myth and reality collide. Together with Orpheus we go in search of something ancient, contemporary and hopeful.
A beatboxer goes into a call centre to run a training day. But the bosses have ulterior motives for him being there.
Testament takes inspiration from the classical Greek myth of Orpheus, in a show that fuses spoken word and beatboxing with the musicians of the Orchestra of Opera North. Published alongside his radio play The Beatboxer which was shortlisted for The Imison Award, BBC Audio Drama Awards, these two plays are inspiring pieces of contemporary theatre. Orpheus in the Record Shop was broadcast as part of the #BBCLightsUp season on BBC television in 2021.
Sadie – David Ireland
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 25657 6 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
Sadie has a one-night stand with the new office temp, Joao, but it develops into something much more serious when Joao reveals he’s in love with her. Sadie is flattered but she has a long history of terrible relationships. She wonders if it’s even possible for her to be happy in love? To answer that question, she calls upon her long dead uncle Red and her abusive ex-husband Clark, as well as her new therapist Mairead. Together they help her face some horrifying truths she’s kept hidden for too long.
Lyric Theatre Belfast, in association with Stephen Rea’s Field Day Theatre Company, bring this powerful new play to the stage, to be broadcast on BBC Four as part of BBC Arts ‘Lights up’ for the new Culture in Quarantine Season – a celebration of British theatre, bringing newly-recorded staged productions from UK theatres to audiences across television, radio, iPlayer and BBC Sounds.
Directed by Conleth Hill (Lord Varys, Game of Thrones) it stars award-winning actress Abigail McGibbon.
TARANTULA – Philip Ridley
Full-Length Play / 978 1 350 27445 7 / £9.89 (Paperback, Online)
It’s a sunny, spring day in East London.
On a street corner, two teenagers kiss.
One of them is Toni. This is her first kiss.
It makes her very happy.
But someone is watching.
Someone who doesn’t care about her happiness at all.
And they’re about to change Toni’s life… forever.
Philip Ridley’s thrilling new play is a startling exploration of identity, memory, love, and the lengths it takes someone to free themselves from the web of their past.
The Crowood Press
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Shakespearean Wig Styling A Practical Guide to Wig Making for the 1500s-1600s – Brenda Leedham and Lizzee Leedham
Theatre book / 978 1 785 00882 5 / £16.99
The poetry and plays of William Shakespeare continue to provide inspiration for designers in all aspect of media. Shakespearean Wig Styling offers detailed historical guidance on the styles and fashions of the day, and guides yo through twelve different wig designs covering a wide range of archetypal Shakespearian characters. Each example offers different techniques to meet the needs of the design, from material, knotting and curling to the final styling choices. Covering both the Tudor and Stuart periods, there are clear instructions within each example for making wigs from start to finish and adapting from the universal full-lace foundation to create alternative foundations, including added support for complicated styles such as the fontange.
In addition, the book covers:
- what to expect when working in the theatre or as a freelance wig-maker;
- fitting your client, measuring and taking a shell;
- methods for preparing the hair under a wig;
- knotting facial hair, hairpieces, hairlines, napes and partings;
- methods for breaking or dirtying down;
- creating bald caps and receding hairline effects.
This comprehensive book is an ideal companion for the newly qualified wig-maker and all professionals looking for a detailed reference guide to hairstyles from the Shakespearean era.
Theatrical Rights Worldwide
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Million Dollar Quartet – Colin Escott, Floyd Mutrux
Full Length Musical / F1, M7 / 1950s / Memphis, Tennessee, USA / Rock and Roll
Inspired by ELVIS PRESLEY, JOHNNY CASH, JERRY LEE LEWIS and CARL PERKINS
The Tony® Award-nominated musical is set on December 4, 1956, when an extraordinary twist of fate brought Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Elvis Presley together at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever.
MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET brings that legendary December night to life with an irresistible tale of broken promises, secrets, betrayal and celebrations that is both poignant and funny. Relive the era with the smash-hit sensation featuring an incredible score of rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, R&B and country hits, performed live onstage by world-class actors and musicians.
Showcased numbers include ‘Blue Suede Shoes,’ ‘Fever,’ ‘Walk the Line,’ ‘Sixteen Tons,’ ‘Who Do You Love?,’ ‘Great Balls of Fire,’ ‘Folsom Prison Blues,’ ‘Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,’ ‘Hound Dog,’ and more.
Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical – Stephan Elliott, Allan Scott
Full Length Musical / F7, M9, Boy(s)1 / 1990s / Australia / Pop Rock, Comedy
Based on the popular 1994 film of the same name, Priscilla Queen of the Desert follows two drag queens and a transsexual who buy a run-down old bus (they call it Priscilla) and set out on a road trip across the Australian Outback when one of them, Tick, is invited by his ex-wife to perform his drag show at her far-away resort. However, Tick is hesitant to tell his friends, Bernadette (a former performing icon whose best days are behind her) and Adam (a rambunctious young troublemaker), his own personal reasons for taking the trip.
During their journey, the trio encounters an array of Australian citizens.
All Shook Up – Inspired by and featuring the songs of Elvis Presley. Book: Joe DiPietro
Full Length Musical / F5, M4, Flexible ensemble / 1955 / Various settings / Rock ‘n’ Roll
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.’
MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT A Socially Distant Concert-ish Version – Book, Lyrics & Music by Eric Idle. Music by John Du Prez
Full Length Musical Comedy / F1, M6, Many casting opportunities for female roles in the ensemble. / Middle ages / King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table / Various (Monty Python)
To address social distance restrictions during the pandemic of 2020, this “concert-ish” version of Spamalot is intended to be played to a socially separated audience by a cast of socially separated actors, appropriately placed.
To avoid closely placed musicians and stage crew, TRW recommends the use the recorded full orchestration, StageTracks, and the scenic projections that were designed in collaboration with the original 2005 Broadway production.