For theatre... online, non-professional, amateur
Like fine wine, creatives improve with age

Like fine wine, creatives improve with age

A few weeks ago I attended an event at the National Theatre, where the legendary director Peter Brook was in conversation with arts journalist Mark Lawson. Brook is ninety-four years old now, but is as busy as ever: the talk was to promote his new book, Playing by Ear, he’d just finished a world tour of his new play, Why?, and the previous weekend he’d been in Spain to collect a lifetime achievement award. He was in sparkling form, just as quick-witted and insightful as the man who started his directing career over seventy years ago.

Unlike many other professions, the arts doesn’t have a retirement age. Caryl Churchill, who’s eighty-one, has just had a Royal Court premiere of her new play Glass. Kill. Bluebeard. Imp., which was shortlisted at this year’s Evening Standard Theatre Awards. Ian McKellen is still going strong at eighty – in fact he celebrated his landmark birthday by creating a one-man show, Ian McKellen on Stage, about his life and career, which he’s taken on tour to raise money for theatres across the UK – including brilliant amateur venues such as Questors Theatre in London, Maddermarket Theatre in Norwich, and Wigan Little Theatre. It finally finishes in January, after a four-month run in London’s West End.

Age is no barrier to creativity. Just like playing an instrument or painting, theatre-makers get better with practice – and the longer they’ve been acting, writing or directing, the more opportunities they’ve had to develop their craft. Older actors have also simply seen and felt more of life, which they can bring to the characters they portray. Harriet Walter played Cleopatra for the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2006 at the age of fifty-nine and, as she writes in her book, Brutus and Other Heroines, drew directly on her “real experience of a woman on the cusp of old age, with all the contradictions that presents.” Older writers or directors working on a new script or production can mine not just their own past work, but also everything they’ve lived as people.

Older actors are well-represented in amateur theatre. Government research into the composition of amateur groups estimates that around 20% of members of amateur theatre groups are sixty-five or over, with roughly the same proportion giving their employment status as ‘retired’. Once they’re not stuck in an office for five days a week, retirees have more time to give to their passion – and amateur theatre groups are a brilliant place to meet and form friendships with people who share your interests.

Luckily there’s lots of fantastic new writing out there, both comedies and dramas, with great parts for older actors: Goodbye to All That by Luke Norris, Trestle by Stewart Pringle and Halcyon Days by Deirdre Kinahan are all brilliant scripts with warm, funny older roles at their centre. Alecky Blythe’s verbatim play Cruising shares hilarious and moving real-life stories of pensioners seeking passion – some of which are downright saucy! Caryl Churchill’s award-winning Escaped Alone is a disturbing but also laugh-out-loud drama featuring four female friends, specified in the script as all being ‘at least seventy’. The Children by Lucy Kirkwood is a gripping drama about three nuclear scientists in their sixties. Some plays offer fascinating opportunities to play with perceptions of age: Seventeen by Matthew Whittet focuses on a group of teenagers thinking about what lies ahead in their lives, with all the roles played by actors in their seventies.

Also, don’t be afraid to be bold with your casting, whether that means playing around with age or gender. After Cleopatra, Harriet Walter feared she’d never get the chance to tackle a leading Shakespeare role again – but has since started playing male characters such as Brutus, Henry IV and Prospero, with great success. Glenda Jackson played Lear to rave reviews in London and New York. Going the other way, a few years ago David Suchet took on Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest. Similarly, casting against age can have wonderful results: Patrick Stewart was sixty-six when he played Macbeth in Rupert Goold’s production, and one review called it ‘probably the finest performance of his career’.

And why just limit this to the classics? There are surely lots of contemporary plays just waiting for bold casting choices, which can give performers unexpected opportunities and maybe shine new light on a script and role we thought we knew.

Ultimately, actors are just actors. No one ever feels their age. At one point in Ian McKellen’s live show, he ‘plays’ an eighty-year-old – or at least, the version of eighty he played when he was thirty, complete with bent back, rasping voice and faltering delivery. This couldn’t be more different from the actual man performing his show night after night with unstoppable energy. So forget retirement. Keep acting. Keep creating. And if you need help or suggestions on finding the right script to showcase your talents, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tamara von Werthern is Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books.
She is also a playwright, dramaturg and theatre-maker.

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.
To find out more about the availability of any specific performing licenses please make contact with or visit the relevant publisher’s website.

Samuel French (A Concord Theatricals Company)
F: ConcordShows | T: @ConcordUKShows

THE ALTERNATIVE by Michael Patrick, Oisín Kearney

Full-length Drama, Modern day, 978 0 573 11681 0, £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.
What if Ireland was still part of the United Kingdom? What if Home Rule had passed? What if there was no War of Independence? No Civil War? No partition? What if the island had only one soccer team?
The year is 2019 and it is the eve of the Referendum. British Prime Minister Ursula Lysaght is returning to her hometown of Dublin to convince voters to Remain. With the threat of chaos in the streets, and personal conflict behind the scenes, the final debate is set to begin at BBC Dublin: Should Ireland leave the UK?


THE BUTTERFLY LION by Michael Morpurgo, Anna Ledwich

Full-length Play, 978 0 573 11682 7, £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.
When Bertie is sent away from the African farm of his childhood to school in England, he leaves behind not only his beloved mother and the beautiful land, swarming with wildlife, but also his best friend – a white lion he rescued as a cub.
Bertie’s struggle to adjust to his new life in harsh, grey England is alleviated only by a chance friendship with the equally lonely Millie and his dreams of his treasured lion, now trapped in a French circus. But their remarkable journey is only just beginning, and the pair are destined to meet again.
The Butterfly Lion combines music, design and puppetry to bring a magical adventure to life: celebrating nature, friendship and the triumph of love. Based on Michael Morpurgo’s best-selling novel, which won the Smarties Prize and the Writers’ Guild Award, this stage adaptation was commissioned by Chichester Festival Theatre and written by Chichester Festival Theatre’s Writer-in-Residence Anna Ledwich.


A CHRISTMAS CAROL by Charles Dickens, Alan Harris

Full-length Play, Victorian, 978 0 573 11696 4, £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.
It’s Christmas Eve and Ebenezer Scrooge is miserable – will he ever get into the Christmas spirit?
Set in North Wales, this version of Dickens’ festive classic tale explores a living, breathing Victorian community.
This adaptation by Alan Harris is a funny immersive family show filled with music and mystery that whisks away the audience to a dream world where anything can happen and ghosts are just around the corner.



Full-length Drama, 978 0 573 13017 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.
They are the coolest, fiercest, most super talented girl band ever assembled: Big Sis and Little Sis are waiting for the third member of their trio to arrive. Little Miss is on her way. It just takes her a little bit longer.
At thirteen, Little Miss is given a gift which cannot be returned. She has to share her body and life with it. And she needs to find a way for the two of them to get along as they can’t both be Player One. Little Miss Burden explores rewriting your narrative and embracing your identity on your own terms.
Matilda Ibini’s coming-of-age tale smashes together 90s nostalgia, Nigerian family, East London and Sailor Moon to tell the sometimes tricky, often funny truth about growing up with a physical impairment.


THE WIND OF HEAVEN by Emlyn Williams

Full-length Play, 4M 4F, 19th Century, 978 0 573 01653 0, £9.99

Dilys Parry lives in Blestin, a Welsh mountain village which has no children and worships no god since a disaster snatched away all its youth.
Inconsolable since her husband died in the Crimean War, Dilys is gradually re-awakened to life when a prophet-like child working in her household is called by God to serve the world.
In the wake of vast social inequality and a mismanaged war, one small community rediscovers its lost faith, with startling consequences for the village, and the world beyond…
A parable about healing the wounds inflicted by a national trauma, The Wind of Heaven was first produced in the West End in April 1945, just three weeks before the end of the Second World War in Europe, starring Emlyn Williams himself.
It received its first London production in nearly seventy-five years at the Finborough Theatre, London, in November 2019.


Bloomsbury – Methuen Drama
T: 01256 302699
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Theatre Books…

Introduction to the Alexander Technique by Bill Connington

978 1 350 05295 6, £19.99

This practical guides for actors includes over 150 practical, easy-to-follow exercises to improve alignment, flexibility, and poise. The book is supported by a range of online videos demonstrating key exercises described throughout the book.



Questors, Jesters and Renegades by Michael Coveney

978 1 350 12837 8, £25.00 Hardback

The Story of Britain’s Amateur Theatre
This is the vital story of the amateur theatre as it developed from the medieval guilds to the modern theatre of Ayckbourn and Pinter, with a few mishaps and missed cues along the way. Michael Coveney – a former member of Ilford’s Renegades – tells this tale with a charm and wit that will have you shouting for an encore.
Between the two world wars, amateur theatre thrived across the UK, from Newcastle to Norwich, from Bolton to Birmingham and Bangor, championed by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Sybil Thorndike, and J.B. Priestley. Often born out of a particular political cause or predicament, many of these theatres and companies continue to evolve, survive and even prosper today.
This is the first account of its kind, packed with anecdote and previously unheard stories, and it shows how amateur theatre is more than a popular pastime: it has been endemic to the birth of the National Theatre, as well as a seedbed of talent and a fascinating barometer and product of the times in which we live.
Some of the companies Coveney delves into – all taking centre stage in this entertaining and lively book – include The Questors and Tower Theatre in London; Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre; The Little Theatre in Bolton, where Ian McKellen was a schoolboy participant; the Halifax Thespians; Lincolnshire’s Broadbent Theatre, co-founded by Jim Broadbent’s father and other conscientious objectors at the end of World War II; Crayford’s Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre, where the careers of Michael Gambon and Diana Quick were launched; Anglesey’s Theatr Fach, a crucible of Welsh language theatre; and Cornwall’s stunning cliff-top Minack.

Methuen Drama (Bloomsbury) is pleased to offer readers a 35% discount on Questors, Jesters and Renegades.

Enter the code QUESTORS35 at checkout online at: to apply the discount.
Offer valid until 31 May 2020.


Screen Acting Skills by Roger Wooster and Paul Conway

978 1 350 09303 4, £18.99

This handbook addresses the fact that many screen actors beginning their careers lack the necessary pre-shoot preparation and knowledge of studio protocols that are required of them, and offers practical, focussed exercises that can be explored in low-tech workshop situations.



Music Fundamentals for Musical Theatre by Christine Riley

978 1 350 00175 6, £24.99

Offers a series of lessons in music fundamentals, including theory, sight-singing and aural tests, giving readers the necessary skills to navigate music and all that is demanded of them without necessarily having had a formal music training.



Rough Magic Theatre Company, Edited by Patrick Lonergan

978 1 350 11979 6, £24.99

Celebrating the work of one of Ireland’s most daring theatre companies, this anthology gathers five plays by established and emerging playwrights. They include vibrant new adaptations of Peer Gynt and Phaedra alongside vital new dramas that explore issues of urgent contemporary concern, such as sex and sexuality, emigration and climate change.



The Sugar Syndrome by Lucy Prebble

978 1 350 17457 3, £10.99

Dani is 17. She’s looking to meet someone honest and direct. What she finds is a man twice her age who thinks she’s an 11-year-old boy.
Lucy Prebble’s debut play is a devastatingly and disturbingly funny exploration of an unlikely friendship, our desire to connect, and the limits of empathy.



Death of England by Roy Williams and Clint Dyer

978 1 350 16789 6, £10.99

After the death of his dad, Michael is powerless and angry. In a state of heartbreak, he confronts the difficult truths about his father’s legacy and the country that shaped him. At the funeral, unannounced and unprepared, Michael decides it is time to speak.
A powerful new monologue play by Roy Williams and Clint Dyer that explores family feelings and a country on the brink.


The High Table by Temi Wilkey

978 1 350 14718 8, £10.99

With her wedding to Leah drawing nearer, Tara’s future is thrown into jeopardy when her Nigerian parents refuse to attend. This kind of love is unheard of, they say. It’s not African. High above London, suspended between the stars, three of Tara’s ancestors are jolted from their eternal rest. Stubborn and opinionated, they keep watch as family secrets are spilled and the rift widens between Tara and her parents. Can these representatives of generations passed keep the family together?



Judgment Day by Ödön von Horváth, ad. by Christopher Shinn

978 1 350 15935 8, £10.99

This new adaptation offers a fresh take on the portrait of a society struggling to take responsibility for its actions in a search for public retribution, themes that still resonate in today’s societal climate.



American Moor by Keith Hamilton Cobb

978 1 350 16530 4, £10.99

A play that examines the experience and perspective of black men in America through the metaphor of Othello. It is a play about race in America, but it is also a play about who gets to make art, who gets to play Shakespeare, about the qualitative decline of the American theatre, about actors and acting, and about the nature of unadulterated love.



Nick Hern Books
T: 020 8749 4953
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Christmas Carol: A Fairy Tale by Charles Dickens, Piers Torday

Full-length Play, 4-9F 3-16M up to 10f/m, 19th Century simply staged, 978 1 848 42914 7, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Jacob Marley is dead. And so is Ebenezer Scrooge… In this reinvention of the timeless classic, Ebenezer has died and his sister Fan has inherited his money-lending business. At Christmas, she is haunted by three spirits who want her to change, but will she? Witty, urgent and empowering, this bold adaptation will prove a festive gift for amateur theatre companies seeking an original, female-led version with lashings of goodwill to all men – and women.
“Delightfully surprising and subversive… offers both the story, and its 19th Century writer, a welcome 21st Century transformation.” The Guardian


Hedda Tesman by Henrik Ibsen, Cordelia Lynn

Full-length Play, 4F 3M, Adapted for the present day can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42895 9, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

In this vital exploration of motherhood, power and sabotage, Cordelia Lynn breathes new life into Henrik Ibsen’s classic. After thirty years of playing wife, Hedda is bitter and bored. When her estranged daughter, Thea, suddenly reappears asking for help, the present begins to echo the past and Hedda embarks on a path of destruction.
This ingenious adaptation offers an older female performer the opportunity to dive into the iconic titular role.
“Lynn reveals how Hedda’s torment is just as applicable today as it was a century or more ago.” WhatsOnStage


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Rona Munro

Full-length Play, 3-6F 4-9M plus 1F/M (additional chorus possible), 19th Century ideally spare and non-naturalistic set, 978 1 848 42917 8, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

An eighteen-year-old girl, Mary Shelley, dreams up a monster whose tragic story will capture the imaginations of generations to come. Rona Munro’s imaginative retelling of Shelley’s Gothic masterpiece places the writer herself amongst the action as she wrestles with her creation and with the stark realities facing revolutionary young women, then and now. This version puts a fantastic role for a young female performer at the centre of the classic, with flexible casting for the Monster and scope for a large cast.
“An inventive feminist adaptation… an exploration and celebration of female creativity.” The Stage


nut by debbie tucker green

Full-length Play, 3F 3M plus one voice, Contemporary, can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42335 0, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

debbie tucker green’s play nut is a drama about a woman who wants to withdraw from the world. Elayne doesn’t want company but company won’t leave her alone. Everyone’s got an opinion but no one’s listening and things are starting to slip.
A powerful play for a company looking for great opportunities for black performers.
“Provocative, touching, darkly humorous… its understated power is remarkable.” Time Out


One For Sorrow by Cordelia Lynn

Full-length Play, 3F 2M, Contemporary single interior setting, 978 1 848 42761 7, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

During an attack on London, Imogen joins a social media campaign offering refuge to victims. Before her family have had a chance to discuss it, John is at their door. He isn’t what they expected. And although they’d never admit it to themselves, he isn’t necessarily what they want.
This pressingly topical socio-political drama sends up the modern manners of the middle class, and offers an opportunity for companies wanting to stage something challenging for performers and audience alike.
“A riveting, quicksilver, subtly manipulative thriller… electrifyingly plugged into the moment… a rich, fascinating work.” The Stage

Rathmines Road by Deirdre Kinahan

Full-length Play, 3F 2M, Contemporary can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42777 8, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

While hosting friends for drinks, Sandra comes face-to-face with someone she never wanted to see again. A play about secret trauma and public revelation, Rathmines Road is set over one evening that bristles with tension. Fraught, funny and ferocious, it testifies to the pain of carrying the memory of sexual assault throughout a lifetime. A challenging ensemble piece with a meaty role for a female performer.
“Kinahan’s rollercoaster script has an awful lot of important and necessary things to say. Thought-provoking and uncompromising.” The Arts Review


The Small Hours by Katherine Soper

Full-length Play, 8F/M (add’ chorus possible), Contemporary can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42896 6, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Written specifically for young people, The Small Hours formed part of the 2019 National Theatre Connections Festival.
It’s 1am. Eight young people are staying up through the night. Peebs and Epi are the only students left at school over half-term; former step-siblings Red and Jazz try to navigate their reunion; Jaffa tries to help Keesh finish an essay; Wolfie is getting up the courage to confess a secret to VJ. Set over four hours, where the choices are small yet feel momentous, this play offers rich opportunities for a large cast of young performers.


When They Go Low by Natalie Mitchell

Full-length Play, 6-10F 3-4M (larger cast possible), Contemporary can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42902 4, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Written specifically for young people, When They Go Low formed part of the 2018 National Theatre Connections Festival.
Reprimanded after social media goes into a frenzy over pictures of a girl at a party, Louise wages war on her school’s systemic misogyny. When she threatens popular boy Scott, things escalate horribly. Exploring everyday feminism, consent and the changing face of teenage sexuality in an online world, this topical drama offers rich opportunities for a large cast of all genders, with particularly strong roles for young women.


Music Theatre International (Europe)
T: 020 7580 2827
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Music and Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper. Book by Harvey Fierstein. Based on the Miramax motion picture of the same name, written by Geoff Deane and Tim Firth

Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Kinky Boots features a joyous, Tony-winning score by Cyndi Lauper and a hilarious, uplifting book by four-time Tony winner Harvey Fierstein.

Charlie Price has reluctantly inherited his father’s shoe factory, which is on the verge of bankruptcy. Trying to live up to his father’s legacy and save his family business, Charlie finds inspiration in the form of Lola. A fabulous entertainer in need of some sturdy stilettos, Lola turns out to be the one person who can help Charlie become the man he’s meant to be. As they work to turn the factory around, this unlikely pair finds that they have more in common than they ever dreamed possible… and discovers that when you change your mind about someone, you can change your whole world.
Kinky Boots is full of opportunities for a theatre to flex their artistic muscles with elaborate costumes, exhilarating choreography and a truly moving and powerful story. A sure-fire crowd pleaser, Kinky Boots will have your audiences dancing in the aisle and discovering why sometimes, the best way to fit in is to stand out!


Smith Scripts
T: 0844 997 1000
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F: smithscripts | T: @smithscripts

THE FOX by Tim Kenny

One-act Drama, 1M, 1M/F, Contemporary, £3.50 (online)

This play has won a national award and continues to be performed. An old man goes to a beach at dusk to see the foxes. A young police officer, send out to look for him, finds that his expectation of the aged people is turned on its head.



GARDENING LEAVE by Nicolas Ridley

One-act Drama, 2M 1F, Contemporary, £3.50 (online)

Bob is on ‘gardening leave’ but he’s anxious ‘to get back in the saddle’. Work is Bob’s life. For him, it’s an imperative, a compulsion. What is life without a job? It has to be the right job, of course. That’s not to say that money isn’t important. And although there’s no urgency, sooner would be much, much better than later. Which is why his meeting with Tom in a West End club is so important. Can Tom point Bob in the right direction? Better still, does Tom have any openings himself? The problem is … Well, there are lots of problems. Mistaken identity, cross purposes, a surprising revelation and a terrible let-down, for which free theatre tickets – gold dust though they may be – isn’t really sufficient recompense.



Full-length Comedy, 6M 3F or 4M 3F, Contemporary, £5.00 (online)

Eddie is an introvert who is still living with his sister Mary in her London flat. When he loses his job, Mary and her fiancé, George, decide to have Eddie hypnotised to make him feel ‘invincible’ around strangers. Unfortunately, the Hypnotherapist (who has had a few too many) mistakenly convinces Eddie that he is ‘Invisible’ around strangers instead. Throw in a cockney super, a lustful landlady, a blustering boss, a blind Bonny and a baited barkeep at the Cock and Poppy Pub and you’ve got yourself a cracking good British comedy!


MR TEN DAYS by Jon W. Baker

Full-length Comedy/Drama, 3M 3F, Contemporary, £5.00 (online)

Andy is a neurotic commitment-phobe. He prides himself on not doing relationships longer than ten days. Then he meets Emma; bright, attractive, optimist, and training to be a marriage guidance counsellor. Emma fixes relationships, Andy doesn’t do relationships
Do opposites ever attract? Can the man who never dates, date? And how does the psychologist get together with someone who declares psychology to be the dark art?
All will be revealed in this charming, very, very funny romantic comedy for the stage. It’ll make you laugh… and cry.


ROBIN HOOD by Jonathan Edgington

Full-length Comedy/Drama, Large Mixed Cast, 12th Century England, £5.00 (online)

Robin Hood is a two-act comedy-drama with a running-time of just under two hours which successfully premiered in Winchester in 2016.
Its narrative is driven by three ancient, irascible witches and the plot centres around their desire to obtain the ingredients for a spell which will make them all young again.
Expect the unexpected and lots of laughs in this swashbuckling new version of the much-loved tale!
Twelfth Century England. Weary from The Crusades, Robin of Loxley returns to Nottingham intending to marry his childhood sweetheart and claim his family inheritance. Instead he finds a much-changed world packed with romance, mystery, intrigue and dastardly deeds in which his archery and sword fighting skills and those of his new comrades, the Merry Men, are regularly put to the test…
This comedy/drama cleverly combines the traditional elements of the legend with brand-new material and characters in an exciting, fun-filled adventure.


Oberon Books
T: 020 7607 3637
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Before I Was A Bear by Eleanor Tindall

1F, 978 1 786 82925 2, £9.99

On a rainy Wednesday evening, Cally sits at her local pub waiting for her best friend. She notices someone in the corner. She recognises them. It can’t be them though, can it? It isn’t. This doesn’t happen. She won’t go over. She won’t.
A darkly comedic coming-of-age solo play, Before I Was A Bear is a modern myth about friendship, the power dynamics of sexuality and hot TV detectives.


Bubble Schmeisis by Nick Cassenbaum

1F, 978 1 786 82994 8, £9.99

Bubbemeises: Noun. Yiddish; a grandmother’s story, a tall story, an old wives’ tale.
Nick Cassenbaum invites you into the warmth of the Canning Town Schvitz, East London’s last authentic bath house. Amongst the steam and ritual Nick will take you on a journey to find the place he belongs.
Bubble Schmeisis is full of intimate and personal true stories about identity, home and getting schmeised (washed) by old men.


I Can Go Anywhere by Douglas Maxwell

2M, 978 1 786 82910 8, £9.99

Stevie is a disillusioned academic who once wrote an unfashionable book on youth movements in Britain, now struggling to cope after a painful break-up. His misery is interrupted by Jimmy who lands unexpectedly on his doorstep beaming with excitement. Jimmy is 100% Mod: oversized military parka, fitted Italian suit, dessy boots, pork pie hat. The full package.
Jimmy is seeking asylum in the UK. With just a few days before the substantive interview that’s going to decide his fate, the stakes are high. So he came up with a brilliant plan. A plan that’s going to work against all odds. It has to work. He can’t go back. And Stevie has an important part to play.


Fairview by Jackie Sibblies Drury

3M 5F, 978 1 786 82938 2, £9.99

It’s Grandma’s birthday and the Frasier family have gathered to celebrate. Beverly just wants everything to run smoothly, but Tyrone has missed his flight, Keisha is freaking out about college and Grandma has locked herself in the bathroom. But something isn’t right. Who is watching them?
A radical examination of the power of spectatorship and the pressure of destructive preconceptions. Jackie Sibblies Drury’s 2019 Pulitzer prize-winning Fairview.


Hela by Mari Izzard

1M 1F, 978 1 786 82923 8, £10.99

Erin, a young mother, has lost her son – but no one will listen. Driven and desperate, she must find him by any means necessary. When everything – including justice – is determined by an algorithm, can data truly be trusted? Can deep-seated pain ever be defused? And how far will Erin be willing to go to see justice happen?
Mari Izzard’s debut bilingual play Hela is a dark and unsettling tale of dirty family secrets and vigilante justice.


A Kind of People by Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti

3M 4F, 978 1 786 82928 3, £9.99

Friday night and someone’s having a party. It seems like a laugh, but not everyone’s having fun. Nicky and Anjum want their kids to get into the best schools, and Gary is feeling the pressure after applying for a promotion. What happens when not everyone will get what they want?
Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s new play about a group of working-class friends dreaming of a better life for their children questions the dream of class mobility, and what happens when the odds are stacked against you.


Land Without Dreams by Tue Biering, Sophie H. Smith (trans)

1F, 978 1 786 82906 1, £9.99

A woman walks onto the stage. She says she is from the future. She says that we have stopped dreaming. She says we can change everything. She says that she can help end all our dystopian nightmares. But we know plays don’t change the world. Right?
Land Without Dreams is a hopeful, funny and courageous new show by experimental Copenhagen-based theatre company Fix&Foxy.


Midnight Movie by Eve Leigh

978 1 786 82930 6, £9.99

A girl fights for her life in a lift. New Window. A protest in Trafalgar Square. New Window. A naked man in a bathtub. New Window. Janelle Monae, dancing.
The possibilities are endless. Even at 2am. That’s the thing about being Extremely Online: there’s no limit on where you can go.
Eve Leigh’s new play explores what the internet means for those who are disabled – what does an online life feel like to those whose bodies are deemed out of the ordinary by the rest of society?


Playstart 2: Short Plays from New Voices by Mono Box Ltd., Grace Tarr, Kiran Benawra, Vivian Xie, Maatin Patel

978 1 786 82920 7, £10.99

Four short plays by brand new writers, each of whom has been mentored by an experienced playwright and supported by the Mono Box team.



Ravens – Spassky vs. Fischer by Tom Morton-Smith

9M 3F, 978 1 786 82932 0, £9.99

Reykjavik, 1972. All eyes are on Iceland ahead of ‘the Match of the Century’: Boris Spassky vs. Bobby Fischer. For the two contenders, the stakes have never been higher – the world title, unprecedented prize money, and stratospheric fame are all on the table.
But as the Cold War begins to heat up, each side of the Atlantic spots a major opportunity to demonstrate superiority over the other. So why hasn’t America’s knight in shining armour shown up? And why won’t Russia’s grandmaster listen to orders? As the two superpowers prepare their opening gambits in a proxy battle of ideologies, with sport as the weapon of choice, both sides find themselves undermined by their pawns, who seem oddly unwilling to cooperate.


Snow White Devised by the company

3M 3F, 978 1 786 82893 4, £9.99

In a wild and windswept land, far, far away, snow falls on a castle nestled amongst the trees, where a cruel Queen is assured by her magic mirror that her beauty surpasses all others. Until one day – when the mirror proclaims that Snow White, the Queen’s step-daughter, is the fairest in the land. Fleeing the Queen’s rage, Snow White runs deep into the forest, where she finds refuge with a motley crew of characters that accept her as one of their own, and show her a different way to live.
This joyful re-telling of the classic Brothers Grimm fairy tale is about growing up, growing old, growing your own food, and why you shouldn’t trust a very shiny red apple.


Three Sisters by Inua Ellams, after Anton Chekhov

10M 10F, 978 1 786 82966 5, £9.99

Chekhov’s iconic characters are relocated to Nigeria in this bold new adaptation. Owerri, 1967, on the brink of the Biafran Civil War.
Lolo, Nne Chukwu and Udo are grieving the loss of their father. Months before, two ruthless military coups plunged the country into chaos. Fuelled by foreign intervention, the conflict encroaches on their provincial village, and the sisters long to return to their former home in Lagos.


Cressrelles Publishing Company Limited
T: 01684 540154
W: | E:

If you would like to read a free-for-approval-purposes pdf, please email. Printed copies of these plays are also available via post at the usual approval rate.

My Name Is Oscar Wilde by Norman Holland
A stark, powerful play. For a flexible cast of up to nine men and four women. Duration is fifty-five minutes but can be cut for Festival performance.
My Name Is Oscar Wilde sees the famous playwright and wordsmith facing the harsh realities of incarceration in Reading Gaol. He takes refuge in memories of his earlier triumphs and his subsequent fall from grace.

Pieces of Hate by Richard Franks
For three men and three women. Running time is approximately 50 minutes. This one-act, very dark comedy won the Scarborough Theatre-In-The-Round Festival in 1978, adjudicated by Alan Ayckbourn.
Judi and Thomson are about to host a fancy-dress party to introduce themselves to their new neighbours. From this simple plotline, the play gathers momentum and drama. Unbeknownst to our hosts, who have troubles of their own, the other two couples are inter-connected, with a tense back-story. The black humour is funny without becoming sick. The characters, their individual ‘kinks’ and the constantly fluctuating relationships between them are a source of amusement.

Poppy by Leonard Rogers
Poppy is a one-act comedy for two men and two women in their twenties. Running time is approximately 45 minutes.
Young, flirty Poppy, a figment of Mike’s imagination, materialises at the most awkward moments! Mike’s wife exorcises the problem, only to benefit Rodney!

Post Mortems by Jill Hyems
A one-act play for two women in their forties.
Post Mortems is a dissection of a widow’s downward spiral following the death of her beloved husband. Eight months of grief and isolation have driven Gerda to a total breakdown and Jan is to be part of her macabre suicide plot. Performed on TV and radio. A marvellous play by the talented author of the TV series, Tenko.

Spotlight Publications
T: 01383 825737
E: | F: spotlightpublishing

Robin Hood & the Babes in Verse by Dave Buchanan

5M 6F 4M/F, Castle, Village square and Forest

The Babes come to visit their uncle, the Sheriff of Nottingham, little suspecting that he is planning their demise. But never fear, help is at hand! – in the shape of Robin and his Merry Men, plus Lady Marian, and Nanny Dame Dannii (with two Is).
The plot combines the Babes-lost-in-the-forest story with the Robin Hood legend. Musical highlights include parody lyrics of songs by Abba and The Village People, and one from The Sound Of Music. The comedy comes thick and fast with the comedy hitmen and Robin’s motley crew of Men in Tights. Plus, a really villainous Sheriff, and an unforgettable Dame!

Nick Hern Books’ top-10 of 2019

Nick Hern Books’ top-10 of 2019

What a year 2019 has been for theatrical publisher, Nick Hern Books! Not only is the company shortlisted for an award at the IPG Independent Publishing Awards, there are already celebrations and awards for loads of its authors including the unstoppable Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Antony Sher, Frances Poet and Lynn Nottage.

In addition, the licensor has launched its new Multiplay Drama series (which is itself up for a prize at the Music and Drama Education Awards). And all that is on top the publishing of over one hundred new plays and theatre books.

In a message from Nick Hern Books: “We know that you’ve been incredibly busy yourselves, as we licensed thousands of performances of Nick Hern Books plays over 2019! We’ve crunched the number of performances across the year to find out which were your favourites.”

…And who doesn’t love a top-10! Let’s take a look at NHB’s most-performed plays of the last twelve months…

1.) Blue Stockings
by Jessica Swale
Cast: 8-10f 8-14m

Jessica Swale holds the top spot in our Top-10 list for the third year running. Her moving, comical and eye-opening historical drama Blue Stockings is a defiant story of four young women fighting for education against the backdrop of women’s suffrage.
“Cracking… leaves you astonished at the prejudices these educational pioneers had to overcome.” Guardian


2.) Ladies’ Day
by Amanda Whittington
Cast: 4f 1m

Amanda Whittington’s fantastic, female-led plays always hold a deserving place in our Top-10. This high-spirited comedy about four likely lasses from the Hull fish docks on a day trip to the races has been a hit with amateur companies for years. With its warm heart, relatable soul and fabulous roles for women, it’s not hard to see why.
“Exuberantly up-to-the-minute comedy” Guardian


3.) The Thrill of Love
by Amanda Whittington
Cast: 4f 1m

A gripping, female-led drama about Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain. Holding a place in our Top-10 for the fifth year running, The Thrill of Love dramatises an absorbing true story and takes a fresh look at the woman behind the headlines.
“Tense and engaging throughout… a triumph.” The Stage


4.) Bull
by Mike Bartlett
Cast: 1f 3m

Storming on to the list in the first year of its performing rights re-release, Mike Bartlett’s razor-sharp play about office politics and playground bullying has been an instant hit with amateur companies. Witty and unflinching, Olivier Award-winning Bull offers ringside seats as three employees fight to keep their jobs.
“Short, slick and emotionally unflinching… delivers a decisive punch.” The Stage


5.) The Railway Children
by E. Nesbit, adapted by Mike Kenny
Cast: 5f 6m, doubling (6f 9m)

A prosperous Edwardian family who nearly lose everything captures the anxieties and exhilarations of childhood with great tenderness and insight. Mike Kenny’s imaginative adaptation of the much-loved children’s classic offers three plum roles for young performers, and is suitable for schools, youth theatres and drama groups.
“This glorious adaptation never for a moment runs out of steam.” Guardian


6.) Nell Gwynn
by Jessica Swale
Cast: 5-7f 7m

Holding a place in our Top-10 ever since its release, this explosive, extravagant, warm-hearted comedy is an unending delight. Boasting a large cast and a charming lead role for a female performer, Nell Gwynn won the Olivier Award for Best New Comedy. “Bawdy and brilliant… a wonderful, warm-hearted and generous piece of theatrical history.” The Stage


7.) Di and Viv and Rose
by Amelia Bullmore
Cast: 3f

A firm favourite with amateur companies, this warm and funny play about friendship offers three great roles for female performers. Crackling with wisdom and wit, Di and Viv and Rose is a humorous and thoughtful exploration of a relationship spanning 30 years.
“Brims over with warm, effervescent humour and sharp perceptiveness.” Independent



8.) The Hound of the Baskervilles
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, adapted by Steven Canny and John Nicholson
Cast: 3m

A gloriously funny makeover of the celebrated Sherlock Holmes story, from the hit comedy team Peepolykus. An energetic spoof, offering abundant opportunities for silly comedy and slapstick for three male performers.
“A masterclass in madcap energy… a fun and fresh Sherlock Holmes romp.” The Stage


9.) Around the World in 80 Days
by Jules Verne, adapted by Laura Eason
Cast: 3f 5m, doubling (very large cast possible)

Laura Eason’s celebrated version of Verne’s classic novel packs in more than fifty unforgettable characters. This imaginative adaptation was written for an ensemble cast of eight, but can be performed by a much larger cast – making it perfect for any theatre company or drama group looking for a high-spirited adventure.
“Bursting with imagination, this exuberant whistle-stop tour through Verne is a trip worth making.” The Stage


10.) The Children
by Lucy Kirkwood
Cast: 2f 1m

New to our Top-10 is the pressingly topical tragicomic The Children, following two ageing nuclear scientists in an isolated cottage on the coast, as the world around them crumbles. This beautifully written three-hander was named Best Play at the 2018 Writers’ Guild Awards.
“Sly, gripping, darkly funny… this is sci-fi kitted out with real people, real dilemmas, real scope.” The Times.

Like fine wine, creatives improve with age

Old Stories, Told Anew. Why are Adaptations So Popular?

Stage adaptations are a tradition as old as theatre itself. The earliest surviving plays; Ancient Greek tragedies such as The Oresteia, Antigone and Medea, were usually dramatisations of oft-told myths. Many of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, for instance Hamlet, King Lear and Othello, were based on earlier works by other writers. As Piers Torday points out in his interview in this issue on his new version of A Christmas Carol, “when Dickens published ‘his little Christmas book’ in 1843 it took just six weeks for the first adaptation to reach the stage”. And look at many of today’s biggest West End hits – The Phantom of the Opera, Wicked, The Woman in Black, Les Misérables, Matilda and The Lion King, to name a few, are all based on pre-existing material.

There are many reasons why companies are attracted to adaptations. Like a revival of a well-known play, the stage version of a popular novel or film comes with name recognition and an in-built fan base. These days, when people have so many different options for how to spend their time (including just staying in on the sofa and watching Netflix) adaptations can be an easier sell and help companies guarantee the all-important ‘bums on seats’. This can be particularly true at Christmas when families are looking for things to do together. Stage shows of beloved classics such as The Jungle Book (adapted by Jessica Swale with original songs by Joe Stilgoe), or Lucy Kirkwood and Lawrence Boswell’s Beauty and the Beast, offer a brilliant, family-friendly alternative to the traditional panto.

Adrian Lester as Othello in the
National Theatre’s 2013 production.
Photo: Johan Persson

So it’s no surprise that for many companies, adaptations form a core part of their programming. For performers and directors, too, it can be great fun to take on a story and characters they already know, or have seen portrayed by famous actors in a previous version. Who wouldn’t want to have a go at bringing P.G. Wodehouse’s classic characters to life in Jeeves & Wooster in ‘Perfect Nonsense’, or don the iconic cape and fangs for Dracula?

Even if a play is based on well-known source material, adaptors can still put their own stamp on it and create something new and different. Sometimes this can mean shifting the focus of the original. Piers Torday’s Christmas Carol: A Fairy Tale puts Ebenezer Scrooge’s sister Fan at the heart of the action (a twist my daughter declared made it ‘100% better’ when we went to see it at Wilton’s Music Hall over Christmas), turning it into a fantastic opportunity for a lead female performer. Similarly, Ella Hickson’s Wendy & Peter Pan – always a big hit with amateur and youth-theatre groups – reworks J.M. Barrie’s story to put Wendy at its heart, introducing a modern feel without losing any of its charm. Isobel McArthur’s Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) irreverently riffs on Austen to create a hilarious pop musical with six women playing all the parts, keeping the spirit of the novel whilst at the same time offering something totally new.

A different, very popular approach is to send-up the source material lovingly, taking a plot that audiences already know but playing with the challenge of squeezing such a big story on stage. Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s hilarious, fast-paced The Hound of the Baskervilles is one of our most-licensed shows year after year, for exactly this reason. The 39 Steps and Ben Hur, both by Patrick Barlow, are other great examples. In her adaptation of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, Laura Eason somehow manages to pack in a globe-trotting adventure complete with trains, steamers, a balloon, an elephant and over fifty characters – it sounds impossible, but dozens of companies have pulled it off with aplomb.

With their pulling power, connection for both performers and spectators, and potential for re-invention and clever new takes, it’s easy to see why adaptations work so well. But alongside your adaptations, it’s a good idea to also introduce audiences to new plays, and show them something they haven’t seen before. Remember, every story was unknown once, and if you give them a chance in your programme then maybe a new play by a contemporary writer might just become your audience’s new favourite…

Whether you’re looking for adaptations or new plays, I’m always happy to talk and offer advice and suggestions. So get in touch, and happy programming!

Tamara von Werthern has been Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books since 2005. She is also a playwright, screenwriter and theatremaker.
Contact her at: or by calling 020 8749 4953

Like fine wine, creatives improve with age

The Perfect Show is as Long as a Piece of String

Years ago, I worked as an usher at the Royal Court Theatre. During my time there I was lucky enough to be around some truly amazing productions, but there was one premiere I remember all of the ushers particularly loving: Far Away by Caryl Churchill. It’s a powerful, insightful play by one of our greatest living dramatists, but something we ushers (mostly students and young theatre-makers) also really appreciated was its running time of just fifty minutes. Since we were paid by the shift, rather than by hours worked, it meant we got the full evening’s pay but were still home nice and early!

But ushers aside, how long an evening of theatre ‘should be’ is a matter of debate – one that’s resurfaced in recent months. The just-finished Donmar Warehouse revival of Far Away lasted just forty minutes, apparently leaving some audience members confused when the show was finished before 8.30pm. Conversely, the National Theatre’s current new version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt classic The Visit, adapted by Angels in America author Tony Kushner, runs at over three hours with two intervals – similar to the original production of Jez Butterworth’s Jerusalem.

Of course, everybody will have their own preferred play length. Some may like a hour-long Edinburgh Fringe show, while others will settle for nothing less than three acts. But what does this mean for you, and programming choices for your next season? If you’ve fallen in love with a particular script, but worry it’s too short for audiences to feel they’ve had a full night out – or so long people may miss their last train – then don’t worry. There are a number of things you can do.

With a shorter play, one option is to stage two short plays in one night, creating a double bill with an interval in-between. This could perhaps be a lesser-known work by the same author – as the Old Vic did recently when they opened their revival of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame with the rarely seen twenty-five minute short Rough for Theatre II – so you can sell tickets off the back of the play everyone knows, but also give the audience a second portion to keep them satisfied. Alternatively, you could bundle together plays by different authors, with a thematic link, to create an evening about a certain topic or issue. Or you could hold a post-show discussion, featuring the cast, creative team or other invited guests, to talk about the subject matter.

Grouping short plays together to create a longer evening can have other benefits, too. For both amateur and professional venues, the theatre bar can be an important source of income, and so not having a mid-show break can mean a financial hit (it’s common in the professional world for venue managers to charge producers an additional fee to compensate for lost bar takings). This can also be a consideration when deciding to perform a show ‘straight through’ – say if it’s ninety minutes – or inserting an interval. For some plays, forcing in a break where it doesn’t naturally belong can disrupt the structure and momentum, so this is definitely something to consider on a case-by-case basis, for the overall good of the production.

Secondly, some plays are structured in distinct sections, meaning you can choose to stage as much as you need to fill your running time. Philip Wilson’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales is comprised of twelve fairy tales, ordered into two sets. You can perform all twelve tales, just one of the sets, or choose a mix-and-match approach and perform individual tales in any combination (with flexible licence fees to match). Eight by Ella Hickson and Queers, curated by Mark Gatiss, both consist of separate monologues, which can be performed individually, or all together, meaning the show can be as long or as short as you want it to be.

The final option is to make your own cuts to a play, bringing it down to the length you need. This is fairly standard with classics – Hamlet, for instance, is rarely performed today in its full original version. If the playwright has been dead for more than seventy years, then their works are considered in the ‘public domain’ and you don’t need to anyone’s permission to make changes. However, if the play or translation you are performing is under copyright – which will always be the case if you need a licence – then you must get approval before making any changes to the script as written, including cuts. Ask your licensor, who will then run the proposed edits by the author. Most writers are usually open to sensitive cuts and changes to their script if you have a good reason for them (e.g. time restrictions at a one-act play competition or a festival, or audience sensitivities around strong language), but it will be part of the condition of your licence that any changes are approved before a performance takes place. So please always check first!

As you can see, there is a lot of scope for making the play that you would like to perform suit the format of your evening, the requirements of the venue and your audience’s appetite – be those for a sumptuous feast or a smaller delicious bite. The ‘perfect show length’ is as long as you want it to be – so think about all these options, and get in touch if you want any more advice or ideas.


Tamara von Werthern has been Performing Rights Manager at Nick Hern Books since 2005.

She is also a playwright, screenwriter and theatremaker.

Contact her at: or by calling 020 8749 4953.

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.
To find out more about the availability of any specific performing licenses please make contact with or visit the relevant publisher’s website.

Samuel French (A Concord Theatricals Company)
F: ConcordShows | T: @ConcordUKShows

ADMISSIONS by Joshua Harmon

Full-length Drama, F3 M2, Present day, 978 0 573 70748 3, £10.99

A new play from Joshua Harmon (Bad Jews, Significant Other) that explodes the ideals and contradictions of liberal white America.
Sherri Rosen-Mason is head of the admissions department at a New England prep school, fighting to diversify the student body. Alongside her husband, the school’s Headmaster, they’ve largely succeeded in bringing a stodgy institution into the Twenty-First Century. But when their only son sets his sights on an Ivy League university, personal ambition collides with progressive values, with convulsive results.



A Bunch of Amateurs by Nick Newman, Ian Hislop

Full-length Comedy, F4 M3, Present day, 978 0 573 11373 4, £9.99

5 STARS “terrific comedy packed with killer comic dialogue… plety of twists and turns” Whatsonstage.
Keen to boost his flagging career, fading Hollywood action hero Jefferson Steele arrives in England to play King Lear in Stratford – only to find that this is not the birthplace of the Bard, but a sleepy Suffolk village. And instead of Kenneth Branagh and Dame Judi Dench, the cast are a bunch of amateurs trying to save their theatre from developers. Jefferson’s monstrous ego, vanity and insecurity are tested to the limit by the enthusiastic am-dram thespians. As acting worlds collide and Jefferson’s career implodes, he discovers some truths about himself – along with his inner Lear!



MRS BEETON SAYS… by Eamonn O’Dwyer, Helen Watts

Full-length Musical, F5 M3, Between 1854 – 1865, 978 0 573 11664 3, £9.99

A new musical based on the life and times of Isabella Beeton…
‘As with the commander of an army, so is it with the mistress of a house.’ Isabella Beeton was only 23 years old when she penned these words in “Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management”, first published in 1861. She could not have predicted how they would resonate with the women of England, nor could she have imagined how her name would become synonymous with culinary expertise and domestic bliss for generations to come.
Mrs Beeton Says…is a charming and vibrant musical examining the life and legacy of this extraordinary woman: a spirited journalist, a tireless entrepreneur, and if not a perfect homemaker, then certainly a queen of organization. In a world where a woman could not vote, own a house, nor even ride a bicycle, Mrs Beeton’s book gave the women of England something they desperately wanted: a bit of control.


PROOF by David Auburn

Full-length Drama, F2 M2, Contemporary, Chicago, 978 0 573 11685 8, £9.99

Catherine has spent years caring for her brilliant but unstable father, Robert. When he dies she has more than grief to deal with: there’s her estranged sister, Claire, and Hal, a former student of her father’s who hopes to find valuable work in the 103 notebooks that Robert left behind. And a further problem: how much of her father’s madness – or genius – will Catherine inherit?
Gwyneth Paltrow starred in this Pultizer Prize-winning play which opened at the Donmar Warehouse in 2001.



SHAFTED! by John Godber

Full-length Drama, F1 M1, Docudrama/Historic, 978 0 573 11623 0, £9.99

Shafted! moves forwards and backwards over time, starting after the Miners’ Strike in 1984. Act I demonstrates the depression and hopelessness which engulfed a West Yorkshire mining village post the strike and the plethora of menial jobs which Harry found in order to try to make a living. By the late 1990s Dot had suggested they move to Bridlington to start a new life running a Boarding House. Act II starts in 2016 with Dot suffering from cancer, immobile in a wheelchair, the act moves backwards through the success of the boarding house and their new life together, to the time they left Upton to run the boarding house in the 1990s.



Time and Tide by James McDermott

Full-length Drama, 978 0 573 03109 0, £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.
Norfolk’s bootiful. Miles of coastline, endless sea, endless sky. So much space to dream big dreams. But… yeah: there’s nowhere round here to make those dreams come true.
May runs a crumbling caff on the end of Cromer Pier. Her delivery man Ken is losing customers to Costa. Her head waiter Nemo is desperate to leave Norfolk and tread the boards in London. Nemo’s unrequited love Daz is burying his head in the sand over his best mate leaving.
Time and Tide is an LGBTQ-themed comedy drama about a Norfolk community struggling with change. The play was longlisted for The Bruntwood, Papatango and Verity Bargate Playwriting Prizes and was developed on Park Theatre’s Script Accelerator Programme 2018 before having its world premiere at Park Theatre in February 2020.

TRIAL BY LAUGHTER by Nick Newman, Ian Hislop

Full-length Comedy, F2 M6, 19th Century, 978 0 573 11595 0, £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.
Following critical acclaim for The Wipers Times, Ian Hislop and Nick Newman have once again taken inspiration from real life events for their new play Trial by Laughter.
William Hone, the forgotten hero of free speech, was a bookseller, publisher and satirist.
In 1817, he stood trial for ‘impious blasphemy and seditious libel’. The only crime he had committed was to be funny. Worse than that he was funny by parodying religious texts. And worst of all, he was funny about the despotic government and the libidinous monarchy.



THE WIPERS TIMES by Nick Newman, Ian Hislop

Full-length Drama, F1 M6, 1910s / WWI, 978 0 573 11351 2, £9.99

A stage adaptation of the award-winning BBC film by Ian Hislop and Nick Newman. 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 true and extraordinary story of the satirical newspaper created in the mud and mayhem of the Somme, interspersed with comic sketches and spoofs from the vivid imagination of those on the front line.
In a bombed out building during the First World War in the French town of Ypres (mispronounced Wipers by British soldiers), two officers discover a printing press and create a newspaper for the troops. Far from being a sombre journal about life in the trenches, they produced a resolutely cheerful, subversive and very funny newspaper designed to lift the spirits of the men on the front line.


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

1972: The Future of Sex by The Wardrobe Ensemble

Full-length Play, F4 M3 multiple characters (large cast possible), 1970s, flexible staging (ideally with live musical accompaniment), 978 1 848 42847 8, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

It’s 1972. Ziggy Stardust is on Top of the Pops, Penny is writing an essay on Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Christine is watching Deep Throat and Brian is confused. Devised by the creators of amateur hit Education, Education, Education, this entertaining show incorporates the company’s trademark theatricality, irreverent humour and ingenuity to tell the story of three couples having sex for the first time – and a country on the brink of a sexual awakening. Perfect for groups looking for a fun and energetic ensemble piece.
“Terrific work… Funny, true and a little bit heartbreaking.” The Guardian


Apologia by Alexi Kaye Campbell

Full-length Play, F3 M3, Contemporary, single interior (kitchen), 978 1 848 42053 3, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Kristin Miller is an eminent and successful art historian. As a young mother she followed her politics and vocation, storming Parisian barricades and moving to Florence. Her birthday should be a time for celebration but, when her two sons deliver their versions of the past, everyone must confront the cost of Kristin‘s commitment to her passions. A sharp, perceptive and political family drama.
“A fascinating play that tackles, head on, the subject of women, ageing and motherhood… eviscerating and funny.” The Times



Collapsible by Margaret Perry

Full-length Play, F1 M1, Contemporary, minimal requirements, 978 1 848 42839 3, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

A funny, furious, award-winning one-woman play about holding on in this collapsing world, with a fantastic central role for a female performer. Essie’s lost her job. Her girlfriend’s left. But she’s alright. Except lately she feels more like a chair than a person. One of those folding chairs. Solid one minute. And then.
“Compelling… the images pour forth in a lava flow of language.” New York Times




Flights by John O’Donovan

Full-length Play, M3, Contemporary, single interior (abandoned building), 978 1 788 50314 3, £7.99 epub (£6.40 direct from publisher)

A haunting and funny drama about bereavement, brotherhood and breaking away from your past. On a dark and stormy night, three men gather for the anniversary of a childhood friend, killed in a road accident when they were seventeen. Expecting a crowd and tearing into the cans, the three slowly realise they’re the only ones coming. As they drink to their uncertain futures – and their receding youth – they’re forced to face up to the ghost that has held them together.
“Bleak, tender and shot through with stinging black humour… skilfully written.” The Stage



Machinal by Sophie Treadwell

Full-length Play (shorter versions available), F10 M14, 1920s, various interiors and one exterior, 978 1 854 59211 8, £8.99 (£7.19 direct from publisher)

NHB has just acquired the performing rights for Machinal, Sophie Treadwell’s bold, renowned 1920s masterpiece inspired by the true story of Ruth Snyder who, with her lover, murdered her husband and was sent to the electric chair. With a cast of over twenty characters, including a powerful central role for a female performer, Machinal is perfect for ambitious companies throughout the world looking to dazzle audiences with an intense theatrical experience, which is still strikingly relevant today.
“Gripping… doesn’t loosen its hold on the senses until its shattering climax.” The Independent



Sink by John O’Donovan

Full-length Play, F1, Contemporary, minimum req’, 978 1 788 50315 0, £7.99 epub (£6.40 direct from publisher)

A play of two voices for one actor, about memory, catastrophe and sacrifice. Bríd’s coming home to convalesce after drying out in rehab. Ciara’s headed west too, investigating a potential archaeological site on a parched area of bogland. How will Bríd cope in her old haunts? How will Ciara confront a past she thought forgotten? And will they unearth the hidden truth that binds them together?
“O’Donovan is a gifted writer, the lines curl about each other with elegance and depth.” Irish Independent



Snowflake by Mike Bartlett

Full-length Play, F2 M1, Contemporary, can be simply staged, 978 1 848 42817 1, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Three years ago, Andy’s daughter Maya left home, and they haven’t spoken since. But this Christmas, she might be coming back. Andy knows she’s going to stay. Maya knows she’s not. Mike Bartlett’s Snowflake is an epic story about generational conflict, fathers and daughters, and whether we’re living in the best or worst of times. This insightful family drama is a bittersweet alternative Christmas show from the writer of Contractions and TV’s Doctor Foster.
“A Christmas show that feels simultaneously festive, caustic, refreshingly woke and authentically heartwarming… tremendous fun.” WhatsOnStage



The Tyler Sisters by Alexandra Wood

Full-length Play, F3, Contemporary, minimal requirements, 978 1 848 42927 7, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Three women, forty years, one ever-evolving bond. The Tyler Sisters is a funny, heartening exploration of time, and the unassuming moments that make up our lives. Alexandra Wood’s innovative play explores the deep and unruly waters of sisterhood. Spanning over forty years, this lovely and well-crafted play offers an exciting challenge for three female performers.
“Wood’s spirited story of modern womanhood reminds us that the blood-bond of sisterhood has hard edges… refreshing… emphatically contemporary.” The Guardian



The Unreturning by Anna Jordan

Full-length Play, M4 doubling (large mixed cast possible), Contemporary, minimal requirements, 978 1 848 42787 7, £9.99 (£7.99 direct from publisher)

Three young men are coming home from war. Their stories, set at different times over a hundred years, are beautifully interwoven in Anna Jordan’s The Unreturning, a play that explores the complexity of masculinity, and the profound effect that war has on young people’s lives. When experience has shattered you into a million pieces, will home help to put you back together again? A moving and beautiful piece offering meaty roles for four male performers, or a large mixed cast.
“A feverishly intense drama… visceral and insightful.” Time Out



Music Theatre International (Europe)
T: 020 7580 2827
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F: mtieurope | T: mtieurope

The Bridges of Madison County

Music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown.
Book by Marsha Norman.
Based on the novel by Robert James Waller.

Based on the best-selling novel, and developed by the Pulitzer- and Tony Award- winning creative team of Jason Robert Brown (The Last Five Years, Parade, Songs for a New World) and Marsha Norman, The Bridges of Madison County captures the lyrical expanse of America’s heartland along with the yearning entangled in the eternal question: “What if…?” Winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Score and Orchestrations, this sweeping romance about the roads we travel, the doors we open and the bridges we dare to cross will leave audiences breathless.
Francesca Johnson, a beautiful Italian woman who married an American soldier to flee war-ravaged Italy, looks forward to a rare four days alone on her Iowa farm when her family heads to the 1965 State Fair. When ruggedly handsome, National Geographic photographer, Robert Kincaid, pulls into her driveway seeking directions, though, what happens in those four days may very well alter the course of Francesca’s life.
With a soaring score and a heartbreaking story, The Bridges of Madison County is a touching and powerful addition to any theatre’s season. The tour de force roles of Francesca and Robert are a dream come true for any actor, while the ensemble is rich with characters that tell their own individual stories and receive plenty of focus onstage.

Elf The Musical

Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin.
Music by Matthew Sklar.
Lyrics by Chad Beguelin.
Based on the New Line Cinema film by David Berenbaum.

A title known the world over, Elf The Musical is a must-produce holiday musical that can easily become an annual tradition for any theatre. Based on the cherished 2003 New Line Cinema hit, Elf features songs by Tony Award nominees Matthew Sklar and Chad Beguelin (Disney’s Aladdin On Broadway, The Wedding Singer), with a book by Tony Award winners Thomas Meehan (Annie, The Producers, Hairspray) and Bob Martin (The Drowsy Chaperone).
Buddy, a young orphan mistakenly crawls into Santa’s bag of gifts and is transported to the North Pole. The would-be elf is raised unaware that he is actually a human, until his enormous size and poor toy-making abilities cause him to face the truth. With Santa’s permission, Buddy embarks on a journey to New York City to find his birth father and discover his true identity. Faced with the harsh reality that his father is on the naughty list, and his step-brother doesn’t even believe in Santa, Buddy is determined to win over his new family and help New York remember the true meaning of Christmas.
This modern day holiday classic is sure to make everyone embrace their inner elf. After all, the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear.

Josef Weinberger Ltd
T: 020 7927 7322
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The Fulstow Boys by Gordon Steel

Full-length Drama Comedy, F3 M10, Interior/Exterior, 978 0 856 76380 9

At the turn of the centenary of the armistice, the award-winning writer of Studs, A Kick in the Baubles, Albert Nobbs and Grow Up Grandad gives us this comedy-drama that is based on true stories from the town of Fulstow, Lincolnshire in 2005, and the Great War. When Sky News and the rest of the world’s press descends on a small village in Lincolnshire all hell breaks loose. Why doesn’t the village have a war memorial? And what are they going to do about it? Determined to right a wrong that has been hanging over Fulstow since the First World War, the tenacious Nicola Pike leads the village committee to make a decision that threatens to tear the community apart … but Graham is desperate to cure his constipation, Maurice’s back is playing up and Moira is furious that someone else has been asked to make the chocolate cake at the forthcoming fete. Set across two time frames, the tale of a village’s monumental decision is both heart-breaking and hilarious.


Bloomsbury – Methuen Drama
T: 01256 302699
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F: BloomsburyPublishing | T: @bloomsburybooks

Questors, Jesters and Renegades by Michael Coveney

978 1 350 12837 8, £25.00 Hardback

The Story of Britain’s Amateur Theatre…
This is the vital story of the amateur theatre as it developed from the medieval guilds to the modern theatre of Ayckbourn and Pinter, with a few mishaps and missed cues along the way. Michael Coveney – a former member of Ilford’s Renegades – tells this tale with a charm and wit that will have you shouting for an encore.
Between the two world wars, amateur theatre thrived across the UK, from Newcastle to Norwich, from Bolton to Birmingham and Bangor, championed by the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Sybil Thorndike, and J.B. Priestley. Often born out of a particular political cause or predicament, many of these theatres and companies continue to evolve, survive and even prosper today.
This is the first account of its kind, packed with anecdote and previously unheard stories, and it shows how amateur theatre is more than a popular pastime: it has been endemic to the birth of the National Theatre, as well as a seedbed of talent and a fascinating barometer and product of the times in which we live.
Some of the companies Coveney delves into – all taking centre stage in this entertaining and lively book – include The Questors and Tower Theatre in London; Birmingham’s Crescent Theatre; The Little Theatre in Bolton, where Ian McKellen was a schoolboy participant; the Halifax Thespians; Lincolnshire’s Broadbent Theatre, co-founded by Jim Broadbent’s father and other conscientious objectors at the end of World War II; Crayford’s Geoffrey Whitworth Theatre, where the careers of Michael Gambon and Diana Quick were launched; Anglesey’s Theatr Fach, a crucible of Welsh language theatre; and Cornwall’s stunning cliff-top Minack.

Enter the code QUESTORS35 at checkout online at: to apply a 35% discount.
(Valid until 31 May 2020)

Our Country’s Good (Based on the novel ‘The Playmaker’ by Thomas Keneally) by Timberlake Wertenbaker. Editor: Sophie Bush

Student Edition, 978 1 350 09788 9, £9.89 (online price)

Australia 1789. A young married lieutenant is directing rehearsals of the first play ever to be staged in that country. With only two copies of the text, a cast of convicts, and one leading lady who may be about to be hanged, conditions are hardly ideal…
Winner of the Laurence Olivier Play of the Year Award in 1988, and many other major awards, Our Country’s Good premiered at the Royal Court Theatre, London, in 1988 and opened on Broadway in 1991.
“Rarely has the redemptive, transcendental power of theatre been argued with such eloquence and passion.” Georgina Brown, The Independent



Oberon Books
T: 020 7607 3637
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F: OberonBooksLondon | T: @oberonbooks

Antigone by Lulu Raczka

F2, 978 1 786 82885 9, £9.99

The war is over.
The dead have been buried. The traitors have been punished. People feel more alive than they have in a long time. They are ready to start again.
But Antigone is not. She will not move on, and she will not forget. She will drag everyone back if she has to.
Lulu Raczka’s searing adaptation of Sophocles’ classic text hands the reins to the young women at its heart, creating something messy, irreverent and vital.



Ask Me Anything by The Paper Birds

F3, 978 1 786 82864 4, £9.99

The Paper Birds invited young people to “ask them anything and now they’re trying to come up with the answers.
Inspired by the magazine problem pages they read growing up in the 90s and 00s, in Ask Me Anything, The Paper Birds become the agony aunts. Using the real letters sent to the company, this verbatim show explores what young people think, want and worry about today.
Set in our teenage bedrooms, this is a show about what different generations can learn from each other whist celebrating teenagers, grandparents and everyone in between, who, like us, are still figuring it all out.



Blood Wedding by Barney Norris

F3 M3, 978 1 786 82980 1, £9.99

A Wiltshire village, 2019. Rob and his fiancée Georgie are checking out the village hall for their wedding reception. Rob’s mum wonders if they are rushing into things. Just when they begin to talk her round, an old flame who could shatter the wedding plans turns up, and very soon Georgie’s past is making her question who really is the love of her life…
Barney Norris’s explosive retelling of Lorca’s classic tragedy sets the action firmly in a modern day village community that’s rocked by revelations and gossip.



Can I Help You? by Philip Osment

F1 M1, 978 1 786 82851 4, £9.99

Philip Osment’s final play, Can I Help You? is a magical realist examination of the role race and gender have to play in mental health and suicide.
An off-duty English policeman is about to throw himself off Beachy Head when he is met by a Ghanaian woman carrying a laundry bag and a cat box. Over the course of one night, two disparate characters learn what it truly means to be touched by the magic of hope.




Idol by Jamal Gerald

978 1 786 82859 0, £9.99

A daring and unapologetic examination of religion, pop culture and Black representation.
Who would you rather pray to? Beyoncé or white Jesus?
Jamal grew up Catholic in a Caribbean household, but would rather light a candle and worship celebrities than white saints. Combining African diasporic ritual, music and storytelling, Idol is a spiritual journey that asks what happens when you don’t see yourself represented – featuring a host of celebrity appearances.



Passengers by Kit Redstone

F1 M2, 978 1 786 82872 9, £9.99

Max wants to tell you a story. He’s not entirely sure why or even who he is: savage, peacekeeper or critic. But he’s hoping you’ll be able to help him.
A dark comedy about the epic battles and alliances within the psyche, and the beautiful power of the mind to protect itself from pain.




The Rage of Narcissus by Sergio Blanco

M1, 978 1 786 82855 2, £9.99

When writer Sergio arrives in Ljubljana to give a lecture on Narcissus, the first thing he does after checking in to his hotel room is get on an app and look for someone to have sex with. A few hours later, once Igor has come and gone, Sergio spots a dark brown stain on the floor. Looking closer, he sees that it’s a blood stain. And looking around, he discovers more and more blood stains all over the room.
As he begins to investigate, he gets drawn deeper and deeper into a dark murky world of desire, infatuation and murder. Perfect material for the new play he’s trying to write – if he can get out of Ljubljana alive…



Scrounger by Athena Stevens

F2, 978 1 786 82895 8, £9.99

Everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen. That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair.
Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens herself, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.



Since U Been Gone by Teddy Lamb

978 1 786 82861 3, £9.99

When friends die and pronouns change, what’s left of the memories that don’t fit anymore?
Brought to life with storytelling, an original pop music score, and way too many America’s Next Top Model references, Since U Been Gone is a moving and powerful autobiographical account about childhood co-stars, teenage rebellion, growing up queer in the mid-noughties, and finding yourself while losing a friend.




So Many Reasons by Racheal Ofori

F1, 978 1 786 82853 8, £9.99

Melissa is having a bit of a crisis. This bold, funny and honest piece explores the reasons why: starting with her mum, God and sex… What happens when we realise mums don’t always know best?
Told by a first-generation British-Ghanaian woman on the hunt for an orgasm, Racheal Ofori’s brave and exuberant So Many Reasons explores cultural and generational shifts, religion and sexuality.
“Ofori’s excellent writing fuses poetry and prose to allow each character to vividly leap off the page.” The Stage



Trainers …Or the Brutal Unpleasant Atmosphere of this Most Disagreeable Season: a Theatrical Essay by Sylvan Oswald

978 1 786 82857 6, £9.99

The only rule is to break the rules.
In a parallel present, two queer radicals meet in the fallout of The Second American Civil War. If love is the most radical act, can their desire survive the revolution?
Based on Montaigne’s intellectual love affair with political thinker Étienne de La Boétie, Sylvan Oswald’s brand-new play Trainers is a visionary story exploring the different ways we can connect as lovers, activists, and humans.



TSL Drama
W: | F: TSLpublications | T: @TSLpub

Against the Tide by Stephen Baker

6 monologues, F3 M3, Simple settings, 978 1 912 41642 4, £5.18

All the characters in Against the Tide are fictitious, reflecting individuals who see situations very differently to mainstream society; and who, due to circumstances, feel isolated and somewhat estranged even from those around them. Politics features in Queen of South Faxby and Moving with the Times, and in a previous work, The Waiting Man. This no doubt is due to 12 years spent in the political arena of local politics. Although light hearted, some of the characters lead quite sad existences.



Connie’s Lovely Boy by Beatrice Holloway

1 Act, 25-30 minutes, F2 M1, Sitting room & entrance hall of an elderly woman’s house, 978 1 912 41695 0, £5.28

Connie’s son Paul comes to visit after a long absence. Recently released from prison, Paul suggests to his mother that he’s been away on business. Emma, Connie’s friendly neighbour decides to visit and there is an encounter between her and Paul, including mention of a robbery which happened the day before… How far does a mother go to protect her boy?
Beatrice Holloway is a playwright and author. The London Borough of Hillingdon library service has published two of her children’s stories and awarded her with a Certificate of merit — ‘In recognition of an outstanding contribution to the Arts’. Beatrice was also awarded a Lottery Grant to write a commissioned historical play: Commoner to Coronet.


Small Mercies by Melville Lovat

2 Act comedy/drama 90 minutes, F2 M4, Flat and shop – single stage setting (diagram provided), 978 1 912 41625 7, £5.26

In Small Mercies, people’s lives hang well and truly in the balance.
Shop owner Donald and wife Andrea are desperate people with a failing business. They decide to pay an arsonist to set fire to the shop so they can claim on the insurance and start a new life. Little do they know that two late customers have inadvertently been locked inside! As the two couples, each with their own very different problems, touch each others’ lives with unexpected results, the dark comedy, pathos and fragility of existence shines through in this ultimately uplifting play.
Small Mercies developed as a continuation of Melville’s one act play, The Lamp and includes much of The Lamp’s text whilst focusing mainly on the furniture shop owner, Donald and his family.


Trust by Christopher X Morris

1 Act, grotesque, 20 minutes, M2, Bright pink room, 978 1 912 41686 8, £4.99

Boris decides to take his life into his own hands by kidnapping his ex-lover Jay. Despite the gruesome circumstances, Jay and Boris form a sense of trust, which Jay can use to his advantage. With trust comes vulnerability. And when you’re vulnerable anyone can take advantage of you … Boris learns this the hard way.
Christopher is an author, producer, and playwright with a love for the surreal and intense. His plays often involve grotesque subject matter, and can be very cheap to produce. His work has been performed in several One Act Festivals, the “Hudson Guild Theatre”, and the “NYSummerfest2018” where, TRUST, was acknowledged for Most Creative Play and Best Short Play.