Category Archives: Women’s writing

New drama alive and kicking in Clapham’s Bread & Roses Theatre

Unheard 2015Some stunning new dramas played at Clapham’s newest theatre, The Bread & Roses, last month as part of ‘Unheard’ – a four day festival of plays that explored themes of abuse and violence.   Vagina Monologues 2015 phto Ricardo Correia

From rehearsed readings to scratch performances and full productions, many of the twelve events organised by activist theatre company Goblin Baby played to capacity audiences. These included charity fund-raiser ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and two evenings of short new plays including ‘Deliverance’ by Amy Bethan Evans and ‘Bathroom Secrets’ by Claire Booker. Hot from its success in New York, the  ‘Maison des Reves’ shook audiences with the story of a woman who murdered over a hundred men in Czarist Russia, written and performed by the amazingly versatile Talie Melnyk.

Bathroom Secrets(Photographer Kenneth Jay)Tickets cost as little as £3.00 in keeping with Goblin Baby Theatre Company’s policy of bringing thought-provoking theatre to people at a price everyone can afford.

Susan Hodgetts

Susan Hodgetts

‘Bathroom Secrets’ was performed with touching honesty by Susan Hodgetts in the role of Bee, whilst Mark Lisseman brought poignancy to the role of her husband.  A big thank you also to director Suvi Peisanen and Goblin Baby Theatre Company for producing my work.

Goblin Baby Theatre Company are now preparing their next production due in April/May  – a contemporary take on August Strindberg’s Miss Julie featuring Tessa Hart & Rebecca Pryle. Do check out their website for further details at.:

Goblin Baby Theatre Co.

The Bread & Roses Theatre has been building audiences rapidly since it opened earlier this year. You can enjoy theatre, comedy or Open Mic events only a few minute’s walk from Clapham Common/North tube stations on most nights of the week. For a full programme go to: The Bread & Roses Theatre

Photographs curtesy of Kenneth Jay.

Camden Fringe success for Goblin Baby Theatre Company

One of our Robots is Missing

One of our Robots is Missing

Goblin Baby Theatre Co. pulled off  a Camden Fringe Review ‘Hot Ticket’ status for 2 out of the 3 nights’ performances of FORESEEN – its four writer, three actor, two director bonanza of post-apocalyptic dark comedies that played The Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar in Islington from the 22nd to 24th August.

Associate writers Amy Bethan Evans, Claire Booker, Tessa Hart and Tilly Lunken each wrote 12 minute plays which the company wove into one darkly comic, thought-provoking hour of theatre.

Processed

Processed

The Appointment

The Appointment

Lucy and the Beasts

Lucy and the Beasts

Leigh-Anne Abela directed Amy Bethan Evans’ Lucy and the Beasts  (The Beast is what you make of it);  and Claire Booker’s One Of Our Robots Is Missing (Nuclear bunkers. Read the small print!) Victorine Pontillon directed Tessa Hart’s The Appointment (The legend of the Female Species and their mysterious swelling bellies); and Tilly Lunken’s Processed  (There must be somewhere to live, even when there is nowhere to go).

Actors Alice Bell, Michael Bagwell and Alexandra Vincent turned in a kaleidoscope of stunning performances, each creating four completely different characters, plus some state-of-the-art, on-set costume changes under the eagle eyes of enthusiastic audiences.

Next up is a Goblin Baby double bill: The Proposal by Anton Chekhov(in a same-sex version) and To Be A Wife by Tilly Lunken at The Space, Isle of Dogs, London from 7th-11th October (7.30pm with 3pm Saturday matinee).  For more details or to buy tickets visit www.goblinbaby.com

“Gripping and haunting” – Devil & Stepashka moves to new theatre

D&S - StepashkaThere’s a second chance to see Claire Booker’s drama ‘The Devil and Stepashka’ this weekend, as it transfers to Ye Old Rose & Crown Theatre in Walthamstow.

Inspired by a Tolstoy short story, the play is a thought-provoking tale about passion and its consequences. Landowner, Zhenya, stands trial for the murder of one of his peasants, but can there be true justice in an unjust society?

Goblin Baby Theatre Co. has pulled off another critical success, earning four-star reviews during the play’s two week run last month at The Space, north east London: “Gripping and haunting. Booker’s play is very brave as well as unusual. One of those hidden gems on the London Fringe.” Remotegoat.com. “An intriguing new work.” Viewsfromthegods.co.uk  “The superstitiously secular, domestic world of Claire Booker’s The Devil and Stepashka manages to create a believable male Antigone in what ends up to be very literally one hell of a double-bind.” Exeunt Magazine.

D&S - Dasha

Plaudits for the cast and crew include: “Particularly remarkable were Dimitri Shaw as lawyer Boris . . . and Tessa Hart who portrayed both the haunting presence of the murdered Stepashka as well as her living sister Dasha.” RemoteGoat.

D&S - Lisa 2“Lydia Lane is wonderfully precise and pernickety as Zhenya’s doting wife, Lisa. She has the harassed, loving, frantic possessiveness of a woman fearing, but refusing to believe, that she has been replaced.” Exeunt Magazine.  “Overall production designer Christopher Keech is to be congratulated for achieving a varied and detailed design.” RemoteGoat. “Leigh-Anne Abela (director) manages to bring out the intense emotions of this piece, cleverly framing the love triangle between Zhenya, his wife and the memory of his lover . . . leaving us with two passionate individuals, choked by dark desire, spiralling out of control in front of us.” View From The Gods.

‘The Devil and Stepashka’ plays on Sat 19th July (8pm) and Sunday 20th July (2pm and 6pm) at Ye Old Rose & Crown, 53 Hoe St, E17 4SA (a 6 min walk from Walthamstow tube station). For more information or to book tickets, visit: http://goblinbaby.ticketsource.co.uk

Devil & Stepashka GoblinBaby_0001 - Copy

D&S Set

The Creative Team of The Devil and Stepashka are: Leigh-Anne Abela (Director), Christopher Keech (Production Designer), Simon Vella (Music Composer), Claire Booker (writer), Paul Christian Rogers (Zhenya), Dimitri Shaw (Boris), Tessa Hart (Stepashka/ Dasha), Lydia Lane (Lisa).

Loose Muse hits Manchester, London and Cornwall with Women’s New Writing

MMMmmm, luscious cover and when you open it – what an assortment! So many melt-in-your mouth fabulous poems and short stories to choose from.

Loose Muse Anthology Spring 2014It’s Loose Muse’s fifth anthology – triple-launched in London, Manchester and Cornwall and celebrating the creative talents of 50 women British and international writers aged between 20 and 91!

Some of my favourites? Balaba Aseka’s ‘The Boda Boda Rider’; Anne Macaulay’s terrifying ‘The Dive’; Sue John’s powerfully damning ‘Instructions for a Summer Wedding’; Nancy Charley’s touching ‘Finding Gold’; the street-wise ‘Dyke Spotting’ by Emma Wootton; the witty ‘Apple’ by SaraMae Tuson; plus some great stories by Hilaire,  Isabel White, Fiona Read and Joolz Sparkes.

I’m lucky enough to  have had three of my own poems included, together with my short play ‘Enemy’ (set on the Russian Front in 1943) which was performed at The Lost Theatre Company’s 5 Minute Play Festival last December.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To view a film of the play, click on: http://youtu.be/7yvt1Z34rEo

Loose Muse is London’s only regular women’s writers night which has been running continuously since 2005 at The Poetry Cafe, Covent Garden, London. It meets at 8pm on the second Wednesday of each month (except August). It offers a friendly and fun atmosphere for women to perform open mic. Men are always welcome to make up the audience!

To buy copies of the latest anthology (or back-copies of the previous four) go to: www.loose-muse.com or contact Agnes Meadows at agnespoet@gmail.com The anthologies are also available to read in the reference section of The Saison Poetry Library in the Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London.

The anthology’s front cover artwork is ‘Dismantled’ by Lorraine Clarke, who has also designed all the previous Loose Muse covers. Loose Muse Anthology Spring 13Loose Muse (Autumn 2013)

Cropped Loose Muse Anthology

Feminist fairytales put wolf in the dog house!

Some great reviews and lively audiences at last month’s Fairytale Festival ‘Retold’ prove beyond doubt that women’s theatre can put bums on seats and still be taken seriously.

Hoodie at Space (Eliza pic)

Activist theatre company ‘Goblin Baby’ commissioned Claire Booker, Amy Bethan Evans and Tilly Lunken to update three traditional fairy tales. The plays were performed for five nights at The Space, Isle of Dogs, then transferred to The Hen & Chickens Theatre, Islington for a further five nights.

Claire Booker subverted Grimm’s ‘Little Red Riding Hood’ and set all the action inside the belly of the wolf where it’s dark, it stinks and it’s packed with victims. Can Hoodie, Gran and Aisha escape, or should they wait for the Woodcutter?

Hoodie Aisha (Eliza pic)

“‘Little Red Hoodie’ feels like a sudden gem and Natasha Atherton is truly riveting as Aisha, a Muslim woman who wakes up in the stomach of a wolf. This piece of writing engages with a more delicate kind of metaphor and allows a story to be told; one which is very moving. This truly feels like a fairytale done differently, while remaining recognisable.”  ThePublicReviews

“Booker devises a brand new character, Aisha (Natasha Atherton), a devout Muslim who has unexpectedly found herself detached from the rest of her body. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The idea of women being empowered to save themselves comes across in this play and there’s a nice nod to the disparity in generational attitudes, with Hoodie (Tessa Hart) and Gran (Rebecca Peyton) coming to different conclusions. Hoodie gran (Eliza pic)Peyton’s slightly doddery, well-meaning grandmother character is a delight.” ViewFromTheGods

Tilly Lunken’s play used a reunion of three old school friends queuing up to watch Snow White as a way of dissecting issues of beauty and appearance. “There is a sweetness here and Priscilla Adade-Helledy (Lilly) brings an enjoyable levity to proceedings. Some truly poignant moments show up with wonderful lines like “[Snow White is] a story of never escaping the dreams of your mother.” ThePublicReviews

RETOLD“The Snow White Complex’ definitely packs a big emotional punch, thanks to the cast but also director Kuba Drewer.” ViewFromTheGods

Amy Bethan Evans ‘As if by a Stair’ used the story of Rapunzel as a fable which illustrates how young people’s futures have been sold down the river of so-called fiscal necessity.  “Whilst the pieces are each completely different and unique, the overall fairytale and socio-critical tone still makes the show feel like one big ensemble project where everyone is very much in tune with each other.” RemoteGoat
Goblin Theatre (Red Hoodie)

Watch this space for more information on Goblin Baby Theatre Company or go to their website at: http://www.goblinbaby.com

Claire Booker’s short comedy ‘Last Man in Watford’ plays at Loose Muse, The Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, Covent Garden, WC2H 9BX on Wed 12th February (8.00pm).

Tilly Lunken’s One Act drama ‘Mint Leaves’ plays at the Hen & Chickens Theatre, 109 St Paul’s Road, Islington, N1 2NA on 13th and 14th February (7.30pm).

Goblin Baby Theatre’s one-night-only benefit production of Eve Ensler’s ‘The Vagina Monologues’ takes place on Sunday March 16th at 7pm at The Space, 269 Westferry Road, E14 3RS.  

Ten Actors, Four Plays, One Director and a Partridge in a Pear Tree!

Get yourself down to the best kept theatrical secret in Manchester and enjoy four new plays at 3MT in Affleck’s Arcade, Oldham Street, M1 iJG.

3MT2013Santa’s little elves have crafted a programme of four developing plays for your Yuletide enjoyment: ‘Fingers and Toes’ by Claire Booker; ‘Telescope’ by Michael Rumney; ‘Last Man in Watford’ by Claire Booker; and ‘The Fossil’ by Jennifer Banks – all directed by the highly experienced Gina T. Frost.

You’ll be amazed and delighted by some very promising acting talent, including the wonderfully named Taz Swearpants and the Rude Mechanicals.  At £3 per ticket, this has got to be one of the cheapest evenings out!

Maia Terra in 'The Fossil' by Jennifer Banks

Maia Terra in ‘The Fossil’ by Jennifer Banks

The 3MT Programme goes up at 7.30pm on Thurs 12th and Fri 13th December. Come and join the actors and regulars as they delve into the weird, the wonderful and the downright desperate!

For more information about 3MT’s courses, events, productions or facility hire check their website at: http://www.threeminutetheatre.co.uk

 

‘Last Man in Watford’ unleashed on Southwark Playhouse

Sibling productionsClaire Booker’s short comedy ‘Last Man in Watford’ is to get a second bite at the cherry, following a successful run earlier this year at The Hen and Chickens Theatre, Islington.

Producing company, Little Pieces of Gold, has selected nine state-of-the nation short plays by UK-based playwrights to showcase on Sunday 24th November (7.30pm) at The Southwark Playhouse, near London Bridge.  Previous Little Pieces of Gold showcases have been sell-outs, so if you don’t want to risk missing out on a variety-packed evening, then book your tickets at: http://www.southwarkplayhouse.co.uk

‘Last Man in Watford’ is set in 2084 when women rule the world and men are kept as exhibits in zoos.

Tom Kirkin unleashes Adam on a helpless audience

Tom Kirkin unleashes Adam on a helpless audience

Utopia or dystopia?  You decide!  The play was performed as part of Sibling Productions Short Cuts 4 season in Islington in July, alongside three other dark comedies. Tom Kirkin played the role of unreconstituted Adam, Kathryn Perkins was the schoolgirl ingenue, and Lydia Lane played the long-suffering zoo keeper. It was directed by Tessa Hart.

For more information about Sibling Productions:

http://www.shortcutsfestival.co.uk

To contact Little Pieces of Gold about the Southwark Playhouse evening, or to submit work for their next showcase, please visit: http://www.littlepiecesofgold.co.uk

Achtung! Booker comedy unleashed on Germany

BuxtehudeSocksOne more European stereotype bites the dust. Germans really do have a sense of humour, as proved by the English Theatre Buxtehude’s production of Claire Booker’s one act comedy ‘Socks Go in the Bottom Drawer’.

Based just outside Hamburg, the English Theatre has been offering German theatre-afficionados a chance to enjoy English drama in its original tongue for the last 27 years.

‘Socks go in the Bottom Drawer’ was directed by Karsten Wildeisen, who taught English at Hamburg Grammar School for four decades. His fine troupe of English-speaking actors included Jürgen Kotisa as Adam (one of the last men to survive after women take-over the world!) and Anja Droge-Jacobs as his zoo keeper.  The funny but feminist programme also included a production of ‘World Without Men’ by Philip Johnson and ran for five performances.

Adam and his inflatable wife!

Adam and his inflatable wife!

buxtehuder-tageblatt-7-1-2013 - Socks

To read an excerpt of ‘Socks go in the Bottom Draw’ please click:  http://www.bookerplays.co.uk

For more information about The English Theatre of Buxtehude click:http://www.englisch-theatre-buxtehude.de

Socks Buxtehude Tageblatt

Cathy’s War triumphs at The Lost Theatre

IMG_7087‘Cathy’s War’ by Claire Booker won actress, Helen Duff, a Notable Contribution Award in the Lost Theatre’s 29th annual One Act Play Festival last month. The production gained accolades from Paul Vale, Theatre Critic for The Stage, who adjudicated 18 plays over six nights.

“A deeply humane script. It blew me away,” he told the audience. “One of the highlights of the whole Festival has been the performance by Helen Duff in the role of Cathy.”

Cathy’s War is set in Belfast during the 1980s. When Cathy’s young husband is shot dead in army cross-fire, she decides to take revenge into her own hands. But is there one rule for women and another for men in this deadly game of vengeance?

Cathy's War - Alexander Forsyth

Alexander Forsyth turned in a powerful performance as Cathy’s brother, Gerry, who struggles to understand Cathy’s ‘hands-on’ approach to killing.

Claire Booker was mentioned in dispatches   – notable contribution award (writing) – for the script. The production was ably directed by Joanna Greaves, who is one of the founders of the Bread and Roses theatre and has recently launched the Skylight theatre: http://www.skylighttheatre.co.uk

“Claire Booker’s play is not about the Irish question as such, though it colours the whole concept enormously,” reads Paul Vale’s formal adjudication. “This is a play that delves much deeper into the psychology of grief, one of the prevalent themes in this festival and perhaps the most successful play this week at dissecting the process.  We mourn the dead but how do we grieve for the living? . . . The pain of loss and ultimately the fear of death resonate throughout Duff’s bravura performance and the strength of her characterisation shapes the play.”

IMG_7079Thanks go to The Betsy Trotwood and Bread and Roses pubs for their kind provision of rehearsal space. Also grateful thanks  to Lost Theatre for the use of the photos in this post.

For more information about The Lost Theatre please click on the following link: http://www.losttheatre.co.uk e-flyeroneONEACT

erbacce goes for a hat-trick

erbacce (Issue 32) front pageThe popular journal erbacce has published three poems by Claire Booker, including ‘Barren’ – a poem about the terrifying monster infertility can create.

‘Barren’ started life in poetic form, then developed into a 5 minute play, before ruthlessly demanding still more of my attention. Finally – if one can ever use that word in relation to poetry – I re-worked it into the piece that appears in erbacce (issue 32).

erbacce stems from the Italian word for ‘weed’, but there’s nothing weedy about the poetry sprouting vigorously inside its pages. There’s an incisive interview with poet and playwright Claudine Toutoungi (followed by 11 of her poems) plus work from American poets Nathan Graziano and Linda Benninghoff, and UK-based Amber Goodwin-Figes, Fiona Curran, Keighley Perkins and Colin Sutherill.

To order a copy of erbacce (issue 32)or submit your own work, please click on the following link: http://www.erbacce.com

To watch a 5 minute film of ‘Harriet by the Swings’ – the pre-curser to ‘Barren’ – performed at the Lost Theatre, please click on the following link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MBHZOSlv2b0&hd=1