Associate Director walks from Birmingham REP to London to raise vital funds for theatre

Associate Director walks 116 miles from Birmingham to London’s Theatre Land to raise funds for The REP’s industry-leading work with young people


Associate Director, Steve Ball outside Birmingham Repertory Theatre 

Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Associate Director, Steve Ball has committed to walking the 116 miles from The REP to London’s Leicester Square in the heart of the West End’s “Theatre Land”. Completed over the course of seven days, the walk aims to raise funds for The REP’s industry-leading work with young people.  

Steve will be taking each Step For The REP to help raise these vital funds and continue to highlight the ongoing vulnerable situation for theatres across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. The REP is a registered charity and relies on the generous support of donors, sponsors and funders to sustain its acclaimed activities both on and off stage. The REP’s internationally renowned creative learning programme is one of the largest in the UK, each year engaging over 70,000 children, young people and adults in the community.  

Birmingham Repertory Theatre Associate Director, Steve Ball said; “In my role at The REP I am lucky enough to oversee the theatre’s renowned work with children and young people. During this unprecedented time of closure, The REP has continued to find new ways to continue delivering a wide-reaching programme of important and engaging work with both local and national communities.  

“By taking on this challenge, I hope to raise funds which will go towards supporting the continuation and commissioning of this vital work whilst also raising awareness of the plight and importance of our region’s theatres in this time where performances, the main source of income, are not permitted to go ahead.” 

Starting outside The REP on Saturday 22 August, Steve will walk to London’s Leicester Square, arriving on Friday 28 August where he will be joined for the final leg by The REP’s Artistic Director, Sean Foley. 

Leicester Square lies in the heart of the West End, where countless productions have transferred from the second city’s only producing theatre during its 107-year history. Back in the 1920’s, founder of The REP, Sir Barry Jackson transferred his pioneering Shakespearean productions to London’s theatre scene, the first to be seen in modern dress. More contemporary examples include The Snowman which marked its 22nd consecutive season at London’s Peacock Theatre in 2019 and Nativity! The Musical which started life at The REP in 2017. Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti’s Khandan transferred to the Royal Court and Rachel De-lahey’s Circles to the Tricycle Theatre (now Kiln Theatre) in 2014 as well as touring local community spaces. Bryony Lavery’s award-winning play, Frozen, opened at The REP in 1998. The show went on to play at the National Theatre in 2002 and in 2018 it was revived at Theatre Royal Haymarket starring Jason Watkins, Suranne Jones and Nina Sosanya.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, The REP has sought to continue as many of its projects with young people as possible, finding innovative ways to take activities online and provide vital support for participants. As a producing theatre, The REP generates 80% of its income through tickets, events and associated revenue such as refreshment sales. The closure due to the current crisis has therefore presented a real and imminent threat to its survival and fundraising has never been more crucial. 

For more information on Step For The REP and to make a donation click here or visit To find out about more ways you can support The REP visit  

The REP would also like to thank loyal sponsors Colour Cubed for their design and print support for Step For The REP. Colour Cubed joint Directors, Simon Greenfield and Steve Moszynski, will be joining Steve Ball for the first section of the walk on 22 August. 

New commissions and cast announced for Burn Bright’s Better In Person anthology | Monday 31 August, 8pm

New commissions and cast announced for Burn
Bright’s Better In Person anthology

Amplifying the voices and stories of Black women, Burn Bright have commissioned five Black writers to lead the next instalment of their acclaimed digital anthology series, Better In Person. Responding to the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement through artistic activism, the company hope to highlight the need for further representation in theatre, not only for women, but people of colour as they seek to provide a platform for diversity and equality in the arts.

The writers involved include; Sidney Belony (Wakes, Bunker Theatre; The Records, Theatre Royal Stratford East), Leanna Benjamin (BBC Writersroom Northern Voices 2020), Lekhani Chirwa (Can I Touch Your Hair?, VAULT Festival), Steffi Igbinovia (Soho Theatre’s Writers’ Lab), and Cherrelle Skeete (Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, original London cast). The five short
plays, directed by Abigail Sewell (I AM [NOT] KANYE WEST, Bunker Theatre), will be showcased via Zoom on Bank Holiday Monday 31st August at 8pm

A talented cast have assembled to bring the commissioned texts to life online. Better In Person will involve; Morayo Adeagbo (The Secret Love Life of Ophelia, Greenwich Theatre), Saida Ahmed (Little Miss Burden, The Bunker), Nina Barker-Francis (Flack, UKTV), Jennifer Dixon (Willow, Bunker Theatre), Charlotte Dowding (Dumbledore is so gay, VAULT Festival), Martins
(Death of a Salesman, Young Vic), Tolu Kingba (Noughts + Crosses, BBC), Mogali Masuku (Comedy of Errors/Winter’s Tale, RSC), Corinne Skinner-Carter (EastEnders, BBC), and Michelle Tiwo (Parakeet, Roundabout).

Better In Person will once again be hosted by Tori Allen-Martin, inviting audiences to be a digital fly-on-the-wall witnessing these human conversations, captured online in real-time. Exploring the ways in which we connect from digital dating, online activism, and the hardest goodbye, the anthology offers an intimate, hilarious and diverse insight into the new normal

Sarah Henley, Co-Founder of Burn Bright, comments, We could not be more excited to be platforming the writing of these amazing Black women and cannot wait to share their stories with you. As theatres begin to open up and programme their spaces again following the news at the weekend that indoor performances can resume, it is vital that they strive to create a more equitable theatre ecology whereby all of our voices are heard and represented. The talent is there – you just need to look.

Allen-Martin adds, By commissioning diverse writers, we get diverse stories and casting – we are thrilled to have such an incredible company made up of Black and mixed-Black actors and
actresses representing multiple ages, nationalities, sexualities, abilities and social backgrounds

Live theatre returns to Malvern

Live theatre returns to Malvern Theatres

Malvern Theatres will reopen this autumn with a short season of its own productions, featuring Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads and Peter Terson’s Mooney and his Caravans.

The announcement marks an exciting new chapter for Malvern Theatres as they create new work to fill the cultural void left by the Covid disaster. The works will be the first live theatre performed since the theatre closed its doors owing to Covid.

A new one-man version of Doctor Faustus completes the autumn line-up.

Chief Executive Nic Lloyd said: “At Malvern Theatres, we are doing all we can to help the arts industry survive this crisis.

“Creating new productions in a safe way is an expression of optimism for our audiences; they have supported us through this disaster and, going ahead, we intend to thrive and return to support our community as we always have. We also want to offer hope to other theatres that the show can and will go on.

“Until we can reopen fully, our Covid-19 Emergency Appeal is ongoing as financially the theatre is not yet out of danger.”

Malvern Theatres’ Covid-19 Emergency Appeal has now reached £175,000 and Mr Lloyd hopes it will hit £200,000 before the end of the year.

“We have been overwhelmed by the support that our campaign has received,” he continued.

“None of us knows what the future of theatre will look like following this pandemic and we are doing everything we can to ensure Malvern Theatres is at the forefront as it always has been.

“We would like to thank everyone for their support and ask that, if you haven’t already and you can manage it, please visit our website and donate now – no matter the amount. Every penny we receive today will help protect tomorrow.”

Talking Heads became one of the talking points of lockdown after a star-studded new adaptation broke the television tedium of reruns and received rave reviews.

Malvern Theatres will stage A Chip in the Sugar and Her Big Chance (performed by Martin Freeman and Jodie Comer respectively in the recent television version).

Mooney and His Caravans is a bittersweet drama about an inadequate young couple victimised by the owner of a caravan site.

Mooney and his Caravans will be on stage in the Festival Theatre on 15-19 September, Doctor Faustus on 22-26 September, and Talking Heads on 13-17 October. All performances are subject to government Covid restrictions; please visit for more details. Donations to the theatre’s Covid appeal can also be made online.


Twitter / Facebook / Instagram: @DWTimeFracture 

#BeTheHero  #immersivedoctorwho




Immersive Everywhere today revealed further details for Doctor Who: Time Fracture, a new immersive theatrical event from the team behind The Great Gatsby, the UK’s longest running immersive show. Officially licensed by BBC Studios, Doctor Who: Time Fracture will take place at Immersive | LDN, a former military drill hall dating back to 1890, from 17 February 2021, with tickets available through to 11 April 2021.

Priority booking access is available for Gallifreyan Coin holders from today, prior to tickets going on general sale from 10am on Thursday 20 August:

Immersive Everywhere will be offering a free preview of Doctor Who: Time Fracture as a special thank you to care workers at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic. Further details to follow.

1940 – it’s the height of the Blitz. A weapon of unknown origin destroys a small corner of Mayfair, and simultaneously opens up a rift in space and time. For decades, UNIT has fought to protect the people of Earth from the dangers it poses, but they’ve been beaten back as the fracture multiplies out of control.

Earth as we know it is at stake – now is the time for you to step up and be the hero. Travelling to impossible places, confronting menacing monsters and ancient aliens along the way, it’s a journey across space and time to save our race, and our beautiful planet.

Featuring an original story arc, Doctor Who: Time Fracture will invite audiences to become immersed in the world of Doctor Who. Placed at the heart of the story, audiences will meet Daleks, Cybermen, Time Lords and many other strange and mysterious characters as they travel across space and time to discover amazingly realised worlds and undertake a mission to save the universe as we know it.

Doctor Who:  Time Fracture will allow guests to meet a character from Time Lord Victorious, BBC Studios’ brand new multi-platform Doctor Who story.

Working in close collaboration with BBC Studios, Director Tom Maller (Secret Cinema’s Casino Royale, 28 Days Later, Blade Runner), writer Daniel Dingsdale (Dark Tourism, Stardust, The Drop Off) BBC consultant James Goss (Dirk Gently, Torchwood), Production Designer Rebecca Brower and the creative team at Immersive Everywhere will bring to vivid life the worlds of Doctor Who giving audiences a chance to experience the Doctor’s adventures like never before.

Director, Tom Maller said:

“We are incredibly excited to be at the creative helm of this project. It has been an enjoyable experience already, working with BBC Studios to make sure Doctor Who: Time Fracture not only meets the extremely high expectations of fans, but exceeds them.

Writer Daniel Dingsdale added:

“Drawing from the rich legacy of Doctor Who, which spans over half a century, we are creating an adventure that will entertain both fans that have immersed themselves in the show’s universe for years, and audience members who will walk in from the street having never seen an episode. It’s going to be an absolute blast.”

Louis Hartshorn, joint CEO of Immersive Everywhere said:

“We are delighted to be partnering with BBC Studios to bring the incredible universe of Doctor Who to life in a way that only immersive theatre can. We can’t wait for audiences to step into the world of The Doctor, and find themselves closer to the action than ever before, in this expansive and ambitious new show.

Based on everything we know now, we are confident that Doctor Who: Time Fracture will be able to go ahead as planned in early 2021 and will be taking all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our audiences and full creative team.”

Doctor Who: Time Fracture will take place whilst adhering to the social distancing guidelines announced by the UK Government this month. Immersive Everywhere will also be operating a no-questions-asked exchange policy where customers who are no longer able to attend can exchange their ticket for an equivalent ticket on an alternative date.

Immersive Everywhere will be offering a free preview performance of Doctor Who: Time Fracture as  special thank you to care workers at the front line of the coronavirus pandemic. Further details to follow.

Tickets for Doctor Who: Time Fracture are on general sale from 9am Thursday 20 August. £47- £57 plus booking fee.

Gallifreyan Coin token holders, can book for their preferred performance now.

Tickets on general sale from 20 August


FIELD LOG 1 available to upload at midday Tuesday 18 August here

FIELD LOG 2 available to upload from midday on Wednesday 19 August

FIELD LOG 3 available to upload from 10am on Thursday 20 August

TRAILER: available to upload from 10am on Thursday 20 August











Park Theatre will stream JURY – a brand-new play by Martin Murphy (Bruised Sky) – via its YouTube channel, premiering on Wednesday 19 August at 7pm, and available until  Wednesday 2 September. For 10 weeks during lockdown, Park Theatre Company – Script Class worked together as an online theatre company via Zoom with director Amy Allen to stage the piece, as part of its celebrated Creative Learning Programme that went virtual in May 2020.

Whilst the world grinds to a halt during the Coronavirus pandemic, the beleaguered justice system trials a digital solution aimed at tackling their backlog of court cases. The jury of a high-profile case are logging on to Zoom – and they have just 45 minutes to reach a verdict.

A comedy-drama about the ‘new normal’, a world where we the jury not only discuss the crucial details of when the complimentary sandwiches will be delivered, how to hide your lockdown G&T in a coffee mug, and of course, how to turn your camera on – but also tackle a gripping, complex and polarising case.

An inside look into the bedrooms, offices and living rooms where justice is passionately, vehemently, being served.

Jury will be FREE to view for everyone online, but audiences will have the chance to donate to the theatre’s Park Life Fund, which is currently still heading towards its initial target of £100,000, to help secure the future of the theatre.Jury has also been captioned for Deaf and hard of hearing audiences.

Artistic Director Jez Bond said, “I’m delighted to be sharing this production of Jury, which is a shining example of participation in our creative learning programme by a brilliantly theatrical group. Through donations to our Park Life Fund and via the support of the National Lottery Community Fund, we have been able to move our classes and courses online during lockdown, staying connected and finding different ways create theatre. I hope everyone enjoys this play about the ‘new normal’- and to those who are able to make a donation, we thank you.”

So much more than ‘just a theatre’, Park Theatre is a community hub in Finsbury Park and has been a huge part of the redevelopment of the area. In seven years of providing affordable, accessible theatre, it has enjoyed eight West End transfers (including Daytona starring Maureen Lipman, The Boys in the Band starring Mark Gatiss, Pressure starring David Haig and The Life I Lead starring Miles Jupp), two National Theatre transfers, twenty five national tours, five Olivier Award nominations, has won Offie Awards for Best New Play and Best Foodie Experience (two years running), a West End Wilma Achievement in Accessible Theatre award and won a Theatre of the Year award from The Stage.

The Drifters Girl – rescheduled dates for 2021 for new musical about the iconic group, starring Beverley Knight



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Beverley Knight to star as The Drifters’ legendary manager

Hit songs include Stand By MeSaturday Night at the Movies,

Under The Boardwalk, Save The Last Dance For Me

and Kissin in the Back Row of the Movies

Premieres in Newcastle before West End season at Garrick Theatre

Michael Harrison and David Ian today announce rescheduled dates for The Drifters Girl, a brand new musical starring Beverley Knight, which tells the remarkable story of one of the world’s greatest vocal groups The Drifters and the woman who made them.

The Drifters Girl, to be directed by Jonathan Church (Singin’ In The Rain), will now make its World Premiere at Newcastle Theatre Royal next year on Saturday 9 October 2021, before transferring to the Garrick Theatre in London for a strictly limited season of 20 weeks, with performances beginning on Thursday 4 November 2021.

Ticket holders do not need to do anything; the point of purchase will be in touch with all existing ticket holders soon.

Beverley Knight stars as Faye Treadwell, the legendary manager of The Drifters, who, alongside her husband, fought for three decades to turn Atlantic Records’ hottest vocal group into a global phenomenon.

From the highs of hit records and sell out tours to the lows of legal battles and personal tragedy, The Drifters Girl charts the trailblazing efforts of the world’s first African American, female music manager and how she refused to ever give up on the group she loved. Thirty years, and hundreds of hit songs later, there is no doubt that Faye Treadwell was and always will be, The Drifters Girl.

With an incredible soundtrack of some of the most famous songs in history, including Save The Last Dance For Me, Under The BoardwalkKissin In The Back Row Of The MoviesStand By MeCome On Over To My PlaceSaturday Night At The Movies and many more, The Drifters Girl will play for just 15 performances in Newcastle before transferring to London for a limited 20 week season.

Beverley Knight is the Queen of British Soul. She has enjoyed several Top 10 Albums, including the platinum selling Voice: The Best Of Beverley Knight. Her most recent solo album Soulsville was released in June 2016 and went straight into the UK Top 10. She was awarded an MBE by the Queen in 2007 for services to British music and charity, has won three MOBO Awards, and been nominated for Best Female at the Brit Awards three times and for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. 2019 sees her celebrating 25 years in the music business with a live album, ‘BK25’, recorded with the Leo Green Orchestra at the Royal Festival Hall, out November 8th on Warner Music.

Beverley has also made several, highly acclaimed performances in the West End. Her debut in London was in the star role of Rachel Marron in The Bodyguard in 2013. In 2014 she received an Olivier Award Nomination as Best Actress in a Musical for her much praised role of Felicia Farrell in the Tony Award winning hit show Memphis The Musical, and in 2015 she played the iconic role of Grizabella in Cats at The London Palladium. In 2018 she starred as Emmeline Pankhurst in much praised new funk and hip hop musical Sylvia at The Old Vic, for which she won a best supporting actress award at the inaugural Black British Theatre Awards.

Beverley performed on 23 July 2020 at the London Palladium for the official pilot performance to safely re-open UK theatres and music venues.

Further casting will be announced at a later date.

The Drifters Girl is produced by Michael Harrison and David Ian.

For further information, please see

Casting Announcement – St. Anne Comes Home


St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden

Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th August

2:30PM & 6:00PM

New British Musical St. Anne Comes Home by Jack Miles announces its cast and creative team for its outdoor, socially distanced performances at St Paul’s Church Courtyard, Covent Garden.

It was announced today that Jordan Castle (The Light in the Piazza) will play James, Rebecca McKinnis (Dear Evan Hansen) will play Bridget, and Mathew Craig (The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4) will play Russell. Directed by Martha Geelan (Associate Director for Fiddler on the Roof, West End) with Musical Supervision from Joe Beighton (SIX the Musical), St. Anne Comes Home is part of Iris Theatre’s Summer Festival.

The new folk musical takes place on 29th & 30th August for four performances. All performances in the festival will follow social distancing measures including 2 metre spacing between benches, all audience members will be asked to wear masks, temperature checks on entry and a one way system around the venue.

About the show

London can be lonely. But on the steps of St. Anne’s Church two people strike up an unlikely friendship. James has spent years running away from his problems, while Bridget is trapped by hers. Told through original folk music, St. Anne Comes home is a story about community, fear and forgiveness, that explores how reaching out might help us find our way.

During lockdown a video of the opening number ‘No Place Better’, sung by Jordan Castle, was released on YouTube here:

St. Anne Comes Home forms part of Iris Theatre’s Summer festival. As theatre begins to emerge after the difficulties of COVID-19, Iris Theatre reaffirms its commitment to support artists across disciplines to create and showcase work in the heart of London’s theatreland. Iris returns with a festival of new work in the beautiful grounds of St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden. Other productions include Dear Peter, Words I’ve Said, Fiona & The Fox, and PLATFORMin the garden.


Jordan Castle’s credits include The Pirate Queen (London Coliseum); The Light in the Piazza (Royal Festival Hall London, LA Opera and Chicago Lyric Opera); Standby Old Deuteronomy and Gus/Bustopher Jones, CATS (‘16-‘18 International Tour); 21 Chump Street by Lin-Manuel Miranda (European Premiere).

Rebecca McKinnis’ stage credits include Heidi in Dear Evan Hansen (Noel Coward Theatre); Margaret in Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (Apollo Theatre); Christina in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Playhouse Theatre); Tina Ruston in A Small Family Business (National Theatre Olivier); u/s and Lauren in Viva Forever (Piccadilly Theatre); Les Misérables (25th Anniversary Tour); Teacher and u/s Killer Queen in We Will Rock You (Dominion Theatre); u/s Jeanie in Fat Pig (Trafalgar Studios); Susannah Townley in Three Hours After Marriage (Union Theatre); Grumio in The Taming of the Shrew (Changeling Theatre Company); Lucy Lockett in Beggar’s Opera (Changeling Theatre Company); u/s and Donna/Tanya in Mamma Mia! (Prince of Wales); Virus/cover Kim and Big Sue in Taboo (UK Tour); Starting Here Starting Now (Upstairs at the Gatehouse); Kitty in Charley’s Aunt (CMC). Television Credits include Sound of Music Live (ITV); Comedy Cuts (ITV2). Film credits include Beauty and the Beast (Disney).

Mathew Craig most recently covered the roles of George, Mr Lucas, Mr Scruton and Bert in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 3/4 at The Ambassadors Theatre, West End. Mathew’s other theatre credits include George in The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 3/4 (Menier Chocolate Factory), The Narrator in The UK Tour of Blood Brothers (Bill Kenwright and Bob Tomson), the original tour cast of Beauty and the Beast (Disney Theatrical), Cameron Mackintosh’s Miss Saigon, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (UKTT), the original theatrical production of Imagine This directed by Tim Sheader as well as the Original UK Tour and West End production of We Will Rock You (Phil Mcintyre). Other productions include The Fantasticks (Duchess Theatre), A Little House Music (Arts Theatre), Showboat (Royal Albert Hall), Debbiene in Ken Hill’s The Phantom of the Opera UK Tour, Davy Jones in Peter Pan (Theatre Royal Lincoln), and Aspects of Love (Theatre Royal Lincoln). For television, Mathew has appeared in several shows for the BBC, notably Kombat Opera-Spouse Change (Avalon/BBC). Other TV includes Murray in Cast (Jacory Prods/Emerald Sky), Tom in Manorama: Drinking in Nottingham (Avalon/BBC) and Scott in Nuts and Bolts (HTV Wales).

Joining the company in the band are Claudia Fuller playing the violin, Ben Jones on the double bass, and Jack Miles on guitar.

Creative Team

Jack Miles (Writer/Composer) began writing songs about ten years ago, which led him to featured spots and an interview on BBC Introducing. He earned a degree with honours in Music Composition from Coventry University in 2017, and an MA with distinction in Musical Theatre Writing from Goldsmiths University the following year. Since graduating, Jack’s music has earned him a song workshop with Claude-Michel Schönberg, the first ever slot on a brand new podcast recorded live at The Other Palace, opportunities in education as a guest lecturer and musical director, and an independent production of The Problem with Fletcher Mott in 2019.

Martha Geelan (Director/Dramaturg) is a freelance theatre director, writer and workshop leader. As Associate Director to Trevor Nunn, productions include: Fiddler on the Roof, Love in Idleness (West End/Menier Chocolate Factory), The Bridges of Madison County (Menier Chocolate Factory) and Agnes Colander (Theatre Royal Bath). Their current project together is new Stiles and Drewe musical ‘Identical’, based on the story of the Parent Trap. As a Director her credits include Macbeth, The Tempest, Romeo and Juliet, Twelfth Night (The Young Shakespeare Company, UK & International Tours); The Psychosocial Gathering, The Librarians (Edinburgh Festival Fringe); Wolf (The Bunker Theatre); Spring Awakening: The Musical, Love and Money (Studio Theatre, Norwich); Our New Girl (extract, Park Theatre London); Between the Sheets, Potato Salad, When I Wake (Waterloo East Theatre); As You Might Like It (Rosemary Branch Theatre). Other productions as Associate/Assistant Director include: Indecent, The Lie, She Loves Me (Menier Chocolate Factory); God of Carnage (Theatre Royal Bath); Richard III, Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre, York); Top Hat, Thoroughly Modern Millie, West Side Story (Kilworth House Theatre); The Patriotic Traitor (Park Theatre London).

Joe Beighton (Musical Supervisor) is the Olivier nominated Music Supervisor of SIX the Musical. He studied music at the University of Cambridge where he was president of the Musical Theatre Society and a choral scholar. He then trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Credits include: SIX the Musical (Musical Supervisor, (UK Tours and West End; Broadway; Chicago [Winner: Jeff Award for Musical Direction] Sydney Opera House; NCL Cruise Ships)); 42 Balloons Workshop (Musical Supervisor, The Other Palace Studio); Merrily We Roll Along (MD, LAMDA); Bare (MD, LAMDA); Southern Belles (MD, Kings Head London); Cinderella (MD, Civil Theatre Chelmsford); Luke Bayer in Concert (Live at Zedel); Spring Awakening (Greenside Venues, Edinburgh); Janie Dee Off the Record’ (MD, Live at Zedel).

St. Anne Comes Home is produced by Katie Wilmore & James Leggat from Willow Walk Productions.

Social Media Links

Instagram: @stannemusical

Twitter: @StAnneMusical


THE FAR AWAY PLAYS: New Welsh play reading company keep actors’ muscles flexed during lockdown

As theatres remain closed, The Far Away Plays have been holding weekly Zoom play readings of contemporary Welsh plays and organising free online workshops for actors and theatre creatives in Wales

As restrictions continue to affect theatre in Wales, actors and theatre makers know that it is unlikely they will be together in a rehearsal room this year; the Sherman Theatre and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff have both recently announced that they will not reopen until early 2021. With Christmas shows now in fear of being cancelled, The Far Away Plays is focussed on making sure actors and creatives have the opportunity to meet together virtually and flex their creative muscles, and perform to a selected number of people that form each weekly company. 

The Far Away Plays is a new online play reading company that hosts weekly play readings from some of Wales’ most established playwrights, such as Ed Thomas, Gary Owen, Katherine Chandler, Daf James and Tim Price. It has so far hosted over 14 Play Readings, worked with over 80 actors, 14 Welsh playwrights and directors and  8 free workshops with over 300 creatives attending.

Founded by Llanelli born actor Scott Arthur and Swansea born theatre director Francesca Goodridge, the company was born from two creatives looking for a way to outpour some creativity in a dark and quiet time. Scott said: “There has never been a more important time for the theatre community to come together and support one another. Each week we host readings of contemporary plays, providing a platform for artists to connect with one another and feel creative again. Imagine it as a virtual kick around for artists within the theatre world, during a time when rehearsal rooms are off limits and stages are empty.”

Francesca said: “We’ve invited established actors such as Steffan Rhodri, Catrin Stewart, Di Botcher and Sule Rimi alongside 2020 graduates, to read the modern Welsh plays that we love, as well as discovering new plays and playwrights who are yet to be heard.”

Welsh and Wales-based actors, directors, writers, producers, casting directors, dramaturgs, designers and technicians have been able to volunteer their time and take part in the Zoom readings, creating a space for theatre makers to discover old and new plays together without the pressure of an audience.

The pair have also hosted eight free workshops to connect actors and creatives with established figures in the industry such as Artistic Director of Chichester Festival Theatre, Daniel Evans; Artistic Director of Theatr Clwyd, Tamara Harvey, and BAFTA nominated Casting Director Lauren Evans (behind television programmes including Game of ThronesSex Education and the 2019 Gavin & Stacey Christmas Special).

Playwright Daf James, whose bilingual play Pan Ddawr Byd i Ben featured as one of the readings says: “In a very short-time, The Far Away Plays has made an incredible contribution to the Welsh arts scene. During the COVID crisis, they provided a fantastic focus for a staggering amount of Welsh artists and created a much needed online community for artists in isolation. Personally, as a writer, I was able to revisit a script, which otherwise would have remained untouched. Due to the response online, I’m now looking at how I might go on to stage its production in the future.”

Steffan Rhodri who is well-loved as ‘Dave Coaches’ from Gavin & Stacetook part in a reading of Simon Harris’ play Badfinger originally staged at London’s Donmar Warehouse in 1997. He said, “Reading a great Welsh play with The Far Away Plays has been a highlight of this lockdown period for me. In this uncertain, isolated time to be connected with a theatre family to share our skill and enthusiasm for some exciting Welsh work was just what I needed. I feel that, as an idea, an online play reading community of Welsh theatre workers would be a valuable resource going forward, even once this devastating pandemic is over. Long may we remain together, though far away.” 

Darlington Hippodrome home of the In2 Project


The Darlington based In2 Project is on the shortlist to win a share of Persimmon Homes’ Building Futures £1million pot supporting under-18s nationwide.

The aims of the In2 Project are to help build confidence, foster aspiration and improve general health and wellbeing by opening up access to cultural and sporting activities for pupils in some of the most deprived wards in the area.

As the home of the In2 Project Darlington Hippodrome has hosted sessions with musicians, circus performers, actors, theatre producers and even inventors over the last year.

Persimmon Homes North East is backing the In2 project to be a prize winner at a gala dinner in October, where cash awards of £100,000, £50,000 or £20,000 will be made to those projects winning the most online votes.

Councillor Andy Keir representing the In2 Project said “it is a huge achievement to have been selected as a regional finalist, but now we really need people to get behind us and get voting so that we are in the strongest possible position to earn one of the top three cash awards on the night.”

Councillor Keir added “Voting could not be simpler. Just log on to and select the In2 Project and vote for us. We would really appreciate everyone’s support.”

Building Futures is being delivered through the Persimmon Charitable Foundation. Through the scheme, a total of 128 grants of £1,000 have been awarded to groups supporting sport, education & arts and health across Persimmon’s 31 regional businesses and its head office.

Online voting opened on 27 July and will close at midnight on 18 September 2020.

Casting announced for the UK premiere of C-o-n-t-a-c-t, a socially distanced outdoor experience


Full cast of the UK premiere of C-o-n-t-a-c-t. Credit Pamela Raith.

Aria Entertainment and WEF Productions are delighted to announce full casting for the UK premiere of C-o-n-t-a-c-t, an immersive outdoor performance with a 3D sound design which audiences will listen to on their own headphones, opening on Monday 31st August 2020.

The play will see performances from Charles Angiama (The Exonerated, Hope Mill TheatreMy Week with Marilyn),  Louis Bernard (Radieuse Vermine, Théâtre Montparnasse), Chloe Gentles (Beautiful – The Carol King Musical)Max Gold (Endeavour; Poldark), Richard Heap (Buried Child, National Theatre; The Summer Before Everything, Menagerie Theatre)Aoife Kennan (ITV’s Victoria; For Services Rendered, Jermyn Street Theatre), Katja Quist (Earthquakes In London, Bristol Old Vic) and Laura White (The Play That Goes Wrong, West End and UK Tour). The cast will alternate between three London locations; Tower Bridge, Greenwich and Clapham Common.

C-o-n-t-a-c-t brings together a creative team of international talent including Director Samuel Sené, Book by Eric Chantelauze, English adaptation by Quentin Bruno, Music and Sound Designer Cyril Barbessol and Associate Director Bronagh Lagan.

Originally created by Samuel Sené and Gabrielle Jourdain and premiering in France with French production company Musidrama over the summer in a world where social distancing became the ‘new normal’, this timely story of a moving and unexpected encounter explores the themes of mental health and anxiety through the eyes of Sarah as she is approached by someone she believes to be a stranger. She discovers that he can hear her thoughts but how? Who is this man? Dive into her mind in this unique sensory and immersive new show and experience theatre like never before.

The show will run for 50 minutes without an interval and audiences will download the audio from the app which is a completely new piece of technology which synchronizes the spectators and actors, allowing the show to play with theatrical concepts and a new form of dramaturgy. Audiences of no more than 15 per show will purchase their tickets online and will then receive a link to download the app which will provide the exact location.

Tickets can be purchased via TodayTix or the C-o-n-t-a-c-t website.