Category Archives: Theatre Events

Meat /A Dog’s Life – 5 minute plays by Claire Booker

lost-festival-nov-2016Struck down with flu in November, I failed to see either of my two plays performed at the Lost Theatre Company’s 5 Minute Play Festival 2016. If I’d had any body fluids left, I’d have wept into my duvet.

But hey, U-tube came to the rescue and Meat and A Dog’s Life, together with the other plays selected for the festival, are available to view.

Meat is directed with verve by Jo Grieve. Rhiannon Story and Francesca Burgoyne offer spirited performances in their roles as animal activists who have a nasty secret in the boot of their car. (see link below)

A Dog’s Life is directed by myself. (Fess up time – I was too ill to get to the dress rehearsal, so an especially big thank you to Stephanie James and Jake Rowley for acting their socks off without me). When Baz runs over his wife’s pet pooch, he learns what a dog’s life is really worth. (see link below)

Finally, thank you to The Lost Theatre Company for organising the seventh 5-Minute Festival at their Stockwell-based theatre. I’ve had plays accepted there for six consecutive years and it’s always been a real pleasure working with such an enthusiastic and helpful team.

For information about The Lost Theatre’s current shows and future festivals please click on: www.losttheatre.co.uk

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New Drama at the Arts Theatre

Paperback PicturesUpstairs at The Arts Theatre in Covent Garden is a lively venue with a bar at the back for those of thirsty inclination. Pretty handy during a recent hot May night when upwards of 80 people packed into its bijou space to enjoy new dramas by Claire Booker, Aaron Hubbard, Dean Moynihan and Chris York, plus music by Lescines and Rebecca Vaughan.

My play ‘Blue Line Day’ was directed by Paul Heelis and featured Monty Burgess and Leonora Barton in the roles of Michael and Rachel – a couple who can’t live with (or without) each other.  Thank you to all involved for their talent and hard work which really paid off.

We were also treated to a bravura performance by Alexandra Robinson in Chris York’s ‘Build a Rocket’ offering up the joys (and horrors) of childbirth, whilst ‘The Boy Who Built a Clock’ by Aaron Hubbard made us question our prejudices. And Dean Moynihan’s very clever play within a play, ‘This is This’, had us all wrong footed – several times over.Paperback Pictures 2

Paperback Pictures’ bimonthly new writing event, Foot in the Door, showcases work by upcoming theatre professionals. And they’re hungry for more! If you’re a writer, actor, director, musician or theatre technician looking for an audience and a chance to hone your craft, find out how to get involved at:  http://www.paperback.pics/

Sibling productionsIt’s always a thrill when I discover one of my plays has been performed north of the border. ‘Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer’ had another airing in Scotland, this time in the town of Lauder (ashamed to say I had to get the atlas out and find it – just above Galashiels). Thank you to Lauder Amateur Dramatic Association for giving it a four night run in March, and thank you to Comedy Plays for bringing the play to their attention.

If you’re a playwright who is happy for your work to be performed by amateur actors, do check out the possibilities at: www.comedyplays.co.uk/

New drama grid-lock at The Pleasance

If you’re a director, actor or playwright, Director’s Cut Theatre Company are on the look out for new blood (see below for latest call).

They’re utterly professional, command healthy audiences and are a pleasure to work with, as I discovered when my 10 minute play, Pig in a Blanket, was performed at The Pleasance Theatre, Islington, earlier this year. No U-Turn It was part of a showcase of nine new plays – No U-Turn! – based around the theme of people trapped in traffic. Ironic, as it turns out, because on performance night, north London was plunged into havoc by engineering works and a defunct Picadilly Line. Despite this, more than a hundred people managed to get through to see the show.

Artistic Director (Heather Ward) and Dramaturg (Jessica Mayne) selected plays by Claire Booker, Mitch Day, Clare Knights, Callum McGowan, Michael Pearcy, Nikki Racklin, Julian Ross Davison, Julian Warren and James Withey from nearly 200 submitted to a very specific brief. No U Turn We had to create up to four characters stuck in traffic, unable to leave their cars, with a specific place they were heading to. At the end of each play, the traffic had to move on, yet we weren’t allowed to reveal what had caused the jam.

No U-TurnA total of 16 actors and 9 directors set to work turning our words into theatre, including specially created choreography to link each of the nine plays. A big thank you to Rosie Ward and Lauren Orrock for their finely crafted performances as ‘Rat’ and Ellie (animal rights activists with a nasty secret in the boot) in Pig in a Blanket. I had great fun at the first rehearsal watching them go through improvisation exercises with co-directors Kieran Rogers and Peter Gould, including revisiting Rat and Ellie’s childhood haunts and a pretty hard-nosed police interrogation. Pig in blanket

The next showcase Drafts is coming up on 29th May at Southwark Playhouse for which writers’ submissions have just opened. They’ll be casting next month.

For more details about Drafts or The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing, directing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk

The Princess Monologues are back!

It’s your last chance to catch Eleanor Dillon-Reams’s 5 Star performance in The Princess Monologues this Friday at the Bread & Roses Theatre, Clapham.

Princess Monologues (Eleanor Dillon-Reeves)

She’s wowed reviewers and audiences alike with the virtuosity of her interpretation of 7 monologues written by Claire Booker, Amy Bethan Evans, Tessa Hart, Simon Jay, Tina Jay, Tilly Lunken and Eliza Power and directed by Tessa Hart.

Goblin Baby Theatre Company’s production has already played at The Bedford, Balham, The Hen & Chickens, Islington, The Space, Isle of Dogs, and returns to the Bread & Roses, 68 Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ for a final performance at 8pm on February 12th. To book tickets, please click on the following link: www.goblinbaby.com/princess

A must-see for everyone! – RemoteGoat. A fantastic show – Female Arts. Brave and relevant theatre – London Pub Theatres. A rewarding experience – LondonTheatre1

Each monologue explores a different aspect of being a ‘princess’ in the 21st century from an African royal, a DisneyWorld employee and a drag Queen, to a young abused mother, a boy who dreams of finding his prince and a revenant Princess of Wales.

Dynamite II by Tilly Lunken, Just a Girl by Tina Jay, Home Made Princess by Simon Jay, Mr Andersen’s Princess by Amy Bethan Evans, Hail Your Majesty by Tessa Hart, #Shame by Eliza Power and my play Princess Frankenstein were all commissioned by Goblin Baby Theatre Co, an activist theatre company which has been making waves in south London since they launched two years ago.

I was thrilled by Eleanor’s cut-glass rendering of my monologue about medical student Frankie, who is a genius in the lab but a picky princess in love. Can she surgically create a perfect boyfriend?

“Princess Frankenstein has an incredibly dark humour, which had the audience in stitches.” RemoteGoat.    “Princess Frankinstein is genius, strange  and a little unsettling, as well as being hilariously funny.” Female Arts.    “Can she surgically create the perfect man? No, it turns out, but not before leading us through a hilarious tour of her struggling love life. It’s almost an exploration of what it means to be human in ten too-short minutes.” London Theatre 1.     “Princess Frankenstein is a darkly comic gem: one of the funniest things I’ve seen all year.” Angela Clarke.

But don’t trust the reviews. Go and see the show yourself!

Poetry Gigs I Know and Love

Performance is a great way to test out a new poem or recharge an old one. Looking back over 2015,  I’ve performed at some great gigs – either as an invited feature or open-mic – and learned so much. Thank you all for having me!

Torriano - Tessa LangSo let’s hear it for The Torriano Meeting House, which invited my Stanza Group, Original Poets, led by Tessa Lang (left) to perform some of our poetry in January. People meet every Sunday evening to share poetry at this unique Kentish Town venue. Don’t miss powerful young American Robert Peake reading there on Jan 17th. www.torrianomeetinghouse.wordpress.com

Original Poets meet every third Monday of the month (7pm) at The Bread & Roses pub, Clapham Manor Street, SW4 6DZ. All are welcome to attend.

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

Rachael Joseph, Barry Brock, Claire Booker, Frank Mariani, Angela Brodie

In Feb, I was at Keat’s House in Hampstead to read a couple of my poems in the Templar Publication‘s 2015 anthology.  www.templarpoetry.com

Then Camden Poetry Series invited five regulars from Beyond Words to be their March feature. Open mic readers can have their poems included in the Camden/Lumen annual anthology which raises money for cold weather shelters. I was back again in June to read at the anthology launch.   www.camdenlumen.wordpress.com

Check out poetic combo Hilaire and Joolz who are featuring at Beyond Words on Tues 5th Jan. www.beyondwordspoetrylondon.co.uk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe launch of a new issue of Magma is an event to relish. Such a swanky venue (London Review of Books), so many great poets, such generous glasses of wine! What a privilege to read two of my poems at the launch of issue 61 (The Street) alongside poets such as Simon Barraclough, Lisa Kelly and Christine Webb. www.magmapoetry.com

Donnel Dempsey

Donnel Dempsey

In June, I headed to Guildford to give forth at the launch of The Keystone Anthology, then later as a feature at Pop Up Poetry. Both are run by formidable team, Janice Windle and Donnel Dempsey, who can pull sizzling hot poetry evenings out of a hat – any hat! Dempsey&Windle – books, pamphlets and poems

Stanza Bonanza June 15And where would we be without the frisson of a Stanza Bonanza? Original Poets (Mark Fiddes, Nicole Piggott, Steve Hoy, Michael Cosham, Tessa Lang and myself) representing Clapham, took on the might of Brixton’s best under the firm baton of Poetry Society’s Paul McGrane. If you’re serious about poetry, get serious about joining The Poetry Society (for as little as £20 a year). It’s been flying the flag for poets since 1909. www.poetrysociety.org.uk

Interpreter's House Launch, OxfordOxford’s eternal spires welcomed me in July to the launch of The Interpreter’s House (issue 59), where I joined fellow contributors in a fantastic evening of poetry, teapots and bonhomie. The submissions window for the summer issue is February. Email editor Martin Malone at theinterpretershouse@aol.com or visit:  www.interpretershouse.com

Drop in InstructionIn September I was guest poet at Poet In The City‘s Drop in at Waterstone’s in Picadilly, London. The theme was ‘Instruction’. My choice of poems included ‘Instructions for Building Straw Huts’ by Yusef Komunyakaa; ‘Timothy Winters’ by Charles Causley; ‘Sun a-shine, rain a-fall by Valerie Bloom; ‘Song’ by W H Auden and a couple of my own poems. Drop-ins are free, with a new theme each month. Bring your own poems or favourites. www.poetinthecity.co.uk

Stephanie James in 'Alleluiah'

Stephanie James in ‘Alleluiah’

Loose Muse is London’s premier event for women writers of all genres, and is expanding fast, with sister ships in Manchester, Cornwall and Winchester. Agnes Meadows, who IS Loose Muse, invited me to bring my short play ‘Alleluiah’ to the Poetry Cafe in Covent Garden earlier this year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALoose Muse Winchester, set up and run by poet Sue Wrinch, booked me as their feature in November, alongside poet and novelist Claire Dyer. I can thoroughly recommend both venues as welcoming, well-attended and full of surprises. Women only get to perform, but men are always welcome in the audience. www.loose-muse.com

So here’s hoping that 2016 will be rich in opportunity and inspiration for each and every one of us. A very Happy New Year!

Monologue Slam at St James’ Theatre

Twelve actors, ten playwrights, one great concept!

CSRamQWXIAAjMJu Director’s Cut pulled off an adventurous evening of acting and writing talent on Tuesday, with its ‘Make The Cut’ slam at London’s prestigious St James Theatre.

It’s always a privilege to have a play performed by up and coming young actors. This time, not one, but two, got to interpret the role of Kips in my play ‘Sperm Vampire’ along with nine other monologues, also performed by more than one actor.

The monologues were selected from among hundreds submitted to the company.  Each play was performed twice, by two different actors.  Each actor got to learn three different monologues.  The first round comprised all 12 actors going head to head in pairs, performing six of the shortlisted plays.  The audience then got to vote who went forward. The six winning actors  then went head to head in three groups of pairs, performing a new monologue.  The final round saw three actors performing the final monologue.  CSVVaFBWoAAA7gT

Simon Desborough and Harry Boyd both gave sterling performances as Kips in ‘Sperm Vampire’ by Claire Booker. A big thank you and congratulations to them both for their excellent interpretations.

Congratulations also to all the short-listed writers, the other ten actors and mazeltoff to the ultimate winners, actor Sukh Kaur Ojla and writer Tom Ratcliffe.

If you would like to know more about The Director’s Cut Theatre, including future writing or acting opportunities, please contact Heather Ward (Artistic Director and Producer) at: www.directorscuttheatre.co.uk or on Facebook at:  https://www.facebook.com/directorscutTC

Alleluiah’s marital secrets gets mini-tour

After two fantastic nights at the Lost Theatre in February, I just couldn’t bring myself to put the lid on my 5 minute play ‘Alleluiah’. Stephanie James was stunning as Bridget, a woman on the cusp of adultery, walking the fine line between humour and pain brilliantly. So a mini-tour was born. (yes, let’s push the envelope – more than one performance qualifies as a tour!!)

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAStephanie performed first at ‘Beyond  Words’ in Gipsy Hill, followed by another gig at Loose Muse at the Poetry Cafe. Audiences were warm and appreciative. Watch this space for news of further performances in the coming year.

If you missed the show, here’s a film of ‘Alleluiah’ courtesy of The Lost Theatre: