Sussex Playwrights

Welcome to Sussex Playwrights

For writers, producers, directors, actors and anyone with a passion for plays

Note:
Sussex Playwrights will soon be updating this website to a new system, the original site will be available until the process is complete.

Sussex Playwrights Writers Link

We promote new writing for stage, screen, radio, audio and on-line.

Our purpose is to encourage new work from writers throughout the English speaking world.

Sussex just happens to be where we started, in 1935.

More about Sussex Playwrights…

Honorary President and Vice President

Sussex Playwrights Honorary President and Vice President …

 

Honorary President

Playwright, novelist and screenwriter William Nicholson

Author of

His latest film Breathe, directed by Andy Serkis
Shadowlands
Les Miserables
Gladiator
First Knight
Elizabeth: The Golden Age

is our Honorary President.

About William and his work: www.williamnicholson.com

For many years the late Sir Peter Shaffer was Sussex Playwrights’ Honorary President.


Honorary Vice President

In a role previously held by the actor Paul Moriarty, our Honorary Vice President is a long-term Sussex Playwrights member

Playwright and screenwriter Judy Upton

Author of

Ashes and Sand
Sliding with Suzanne
Bruises
Sunspots
People on the River

Her plays are published by Methuen Drama

About Judy and her work: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judy_Upton

Thank you to William and Judy for their support of new writing in the region

from Chair Philippa Hammond, Secretary Thomas Everchild and the Sussex Playwrights committee and members

Take part

How to have your work read and discussed at a meeting

Work in progress or for sharing

We’re looking to members and guests to take part in meetings and showcase their work

If you’d like to have actors read an excerpt from your latest script in progress for discussion [10 minute slot]

If you’d like to read an excerpt from your latest fiction or non-fiction on the night [10 minute slot]

If you’d prefer to have someone read it for you, if you’re happier writing than speaking

Please contact us chair@sussexplaywrights.co.uk

Ideas for guest speakers

If you can suggest a great guest speaker for one of our meetings – please get in touch with us.

Ideas for workshops

Are there any particular workshops you’d like to have as part of a meeting?

Suggestions so far include:Reading aloud to an audience – For authors, being able to deliver an excerpt from your poetry, fiction or non fiction to an audience can raise your profile and increase your sales

Acting script-in-hand for beginners – being able to take a script and bring it to life with a group reading is a great skill for writers, and can help you appreciate what makes dialogue playable

Crowd funding your writing – how writers can create their own fundraising project online to support themselves and their creative work.

Audio drama performance skills – an essential toolkit of skills for anyone interested in performing audio drama

Please contact us

Follow and share

Send us your latest news and successes to feature on social media

‘Like’ the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page for the latest news and links

Follow us on Twitter @PlaywrightsClub

Brighton Actors Networking

Castings are announced on the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page and on Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page and Group.
The Group is open to all aspiring, training, pre-professional and professional actors and anyone in related fields.

Brighton Actors Networking Group and Sussex Playwrights

Sussex Playwrights casts its readings from actors in Brighton and Hove and the surrounding area.

Castings are announced on the Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page and on Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Group.
The Group is open to all aspiring, training, pre-professional and professional actors and anyone in related fields.

We encourage

Networking

Sharing opinion and advice

Casting news

Services – classes, workshops, photography etc – relevant to actors

Debates and alerts to issues

Performance news

Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page

 

Brighton Actors Networking Facebook Page and Group were founded and developed by Thomas Everchild and Philippa Hammond [secretary and chair of Sussex Playwrights].

‘We knew there was a big and active community of actors in Brighton and Hove – but there was nowhere online for networking and sharing.

A chance conversation at an event in 2013 sparked the idea to create a Facebook Page and Group for actors in the city.

We created the Page that evening and by the end of the first weekend had over 100 members.

The Group followed quickly, and together they have over 2000 members today.’

Philippa Hammond

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: Stinky McFish and the World’s Worst Wish

A tale of two tiny friends in a big battle to return to the sea

A solo puppet show written and performed by Joanna Neary, at the Ledward LGBTQ+ centre.

I came for a show – I discovered a happening, for a packed and rapt audience of parents and kids.

The puppet show formed part of a children’s activity morning, organised by University of Brighton events management students, with Brighton and Hove Buses and Tesco sponsoring and supporting the whole event.

It’s a great move – we learn by doing, so giving the students a practical event to create and manage must be the best way for them to learn. Congratulations to the students, and to the University.

In Jo’s puppet show, a lost beach ball leads to a friendship between a little girl and an unhappy crustacean, in this tale of a farty glitter-loving seashore crab who wants to be human.

With a little booth set serving as seashore, bedroom, palace and dungeon, we meet a sea witch with a fiery cauldron, a smarmy prince and foghorn-voiced dad in this fun, pacey and energetic fish-out-of-water comedy, with a full cast of characters and voices.

With songs and humour plus clean Brighton life side-gags for the grown-ups, in the best panto tradition, it’s best to expect the unexpected when you’re working with kids.

Jo leaves the booth, takes puppets for a walk and a chat amongst the audience, playing Treasure or Trash and the Royal Highness name game with the wild card that is child audience participation.

There’s a surprisingly timely swipe at the way the press attacks the royals, touching on themes of privilege, bullying, not fitting in, discovering who you are, who you want to be and there’s no place like home.

Some big thoughts from this little show, giving bags of charm with an edge.

Philippa Hammond

Sussex Playwrights Reviews

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: Sheep Love to Die

Sheep Love to Die by Phil Tong

‘I feel like we’ve been shifted sideways, here but not …’

In a split second, something happened, with repercussions over many years. With shades of Beckett or Pinter, the play looks at why – reasons, or excuses?

Two ladies, sisters, are trapped in burned out armchairs, in stark grey light and ghostly makeup. Something dreadful’s happened – but what? Memories are elusive, sleeting in via sudden bursts of sound.

Heather Alexander [Constance] and Lisa Harmer [Evelynn] as the ladies snip and bicker, poke and react, in Tong’s signature rapid-fire back and forth short sentence dialogue, groping to capture wistful memories of better times before they’re lost for good. There’s cast iron fragility and a lifetime of guilt, here.

The set’s a series of wheeled wooden frames in a black box runway space, completely see through, yet still claustrophic, the women trapped between four shifting insubstantial walls.

Characters push and reconfigure them, thumping them on the ground, stepping through and between them, chopped timelines of past, present and future all merge and swirl.

There’s an assured soundscape and lighting effects, some serious tech in the little space.

Cydney Edwards’s Janey, a young woman just wanting, finally, her break, her step up into a better world, pins all her hopes on dodgy ground. Jordan Southwell’s Steve is an edgy lost boy, seeming one thing, drawn inevitably down into something else.

Nathan Gardner as Daz reveals a victim haunted by family tragedy, expressed in barnstorming rap bravado that will set him on a ruinous path.

And John McCormack’s lyrical gangster Kavanagh is seasoned, mysterious and wise.

Different times and places happen in the same space until they all converge, leading to what must happen, to what has already happened.

Although sometimes it’s a little uncertain what’s happened when and where, John Berry directs an assured cast of well drawn characters each with their own distinctive voice.

Philippa Hammond

 

 

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: The Madness of George III

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: The Madness of George III
By Alan Bennett
The Sarah Mann Company
 
Georgian sophistication in music, architecture, dress and art coupled with ghastly primitive approaches to medicine and mental health plus a decadent royal family – Bennett’s celebrated play captures that strange time when the world tipped over from centuries old ways into revolution and change.
 
The Sarah Mann Company presents a new production and it all looks rather marvellous. The wardrobe’s delicious – mad wigs, some fabulous gowns and characterful touches, with a few ornate and elegant pieces of furniture easily moved about to set scene.
 
The play speaks of lot what being a king does to a man – and what being a future king in endless useless waiting does to a son.
 
Nathan Arris is magnificent as King George – confident, mannered, rather grumpy and at times disconcertingly looking very like Charles, his descent into pitiful raging foul mouthed rambling is superbly done. As his Mrs King, Sarah Mann portrays a genuinely loving and remarkably understanding wife. Their private moments are sweet and believable glimpses into what a normal life might have been for them.
 
Into this mannered, deferential and stagnant world with its political power-scrabbling undercurrents, steps Doug Devaney as Doctor Willis, shifting gears and changing the tone – it’s a huge, charismatic performance of a perhaps monstrous character. His understanding of the need for activity, connection and productivity for treating mental health was years ahead of its time, yet some audience members around us were audibly upset by the scenes of some of the more brutal treatments inflicted.
 
The unexpected arrival of a full choir building to Zadok the Priest plays on our recent memory of the dignified moment of anointing – but the moment this king is bundled into a horrible device and wheeled helplessly away is the most powerful moment of the whole night.
 
With wind in the trees, sounds from the surrounding world plus its long stage with audience on three sides, sometimes the staging means dialogue is inevitably lost, especially in moments where actors turn upstage, and that walk from entrance to speaking can be a waiting moment. BOAT presents its usual challenges, largely handled well by a powerful cast.
 
The play’s full of little battles for power, position and status. The politicians and courtiers have their own struggles for supremacy throughout, and the three doctors are an audience delight, their various obsessions and awful remedies played off against each other, scrapping for top position.
 
So many moments and clever touches – the equerries’ and footmen’s distress at having to manhandle and disrespect their King was very affecting, their love for him quite the contrast to the languid ever-waiting disdain of Paddy Cooper’s Prince Regent and Amelia Armande’s Prince Frederick draped over velvet sofas.
 
The Victorian age of more immense change is on the horizon, but in the end, for now at least, all is restored.
 
The play is on at BOAT from 12-15 July
 
Details and tickets www.sarahmanncompany.co.uk
 
Philippa Hammond
Sussex Playwrights Reviews
 
Photo
Thomas Everchild

Thomas Everchild’s workshop for Hastings Writers’ Group

Sussex Playwrights’ secretary Thomas Everchild delivered a workshop this week for the Hastings Writers Group, at the charming and characterful Regency Rooms bar, in the seafront Crown House, St Leonard’s.

The group are preparing for their latest in-house writing competition; a short dramatic monologue. They invited Thomas, whose set of four solo plays under the title Glimpse won a series of four star reviews at the Edinburgh Fringe, to deliver a workshop on plot and character for creating their monologues.

The event began by featuring a spot task to introduce yourself with a brief summary of the plot of a favourite book, film or play – the aim being to convey intrigue and detail in a very short space.

The conversation ranged through narrator style, tone of voice, subtext, settings and location, and the question … should the writer include stage directions to the director and actors?

We talked soliloquy and monologue, establishing that though they both have the same roots meaning ‘one’ and ‘words’, they do convey different ideas.

Several demonstrations included anecdote and impromptu short story / shaggy dog story from Thomas and an extract from Glimpse: Turning the Handle, performed by Philippa Hammond.

Top tips included imaginatively ‘casting’ well known actors or friends in the role you’re writing as a way to inspire, taking inspiration from animal behaviour and presenting the quirk – the oddity that identifies your character.

Then if you’re writing for a particular actor who’ll be playing it, taking their essence, their voice, and building that in can be a great guide.

We looked at the importance of deciding whether your character is talking to someone who is ‘there’ but invisible, or if the audience represents the character, if they’re talking to an audience … or if the audience are eavesdropping on their thoughts and observing them in secret.

We finished with a practical task – an out-of-the air location, a few story points and we were off, with seven minutes or so to write a monologue based on that premise.

Then we shared the stories and finished with a brief Q and A.

Thankyou to the Hastings Writers Group for your participation and enthusiasm – a great opportunity for Sussex Playwrights to meet and connect with you.

Philippa Hammond

 

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: Architecture for Beginners

A

Sussex Playwrights Reviews
Architecture for Beginners
A new novel by Robert Cohen
Published by Hobart Books
 
Robert Cohen has created a monster. A larger than life faded football hero with enormous ambitions for movie stardom and a big vision for a new stadium – but something’s not right. Quite a lot isn’t right.
 
Reggie’s a barnstorming bully; grandiose and charismatic, with a violent streak and a flair for sentimental display.
 
The narrator, architect Alex, is a mesmerised Watson drawn back into his orbit decades later, crashing back into a childhood ‘friendship’ remembered rather differently by them both.
 
Seizing the chance to numb his own perilously teetering marriage and problematic workplace, Alex embarks on a project that will bring its own form of chaos.
 
This is a book by a playwright and actor and it shows – the writing’s a pacey hurtle, dialogue tumbles out, each distinctive character voice instantly identifiable.
 
The layered structure works well; a set of flashbacks within flashbacks wrapped in a disaster, memory retrieval a driving force here. There’s a rather enigmatic element too, possibly supernatural or psychological, that will leave you wondering.
 
It’s a book that wants to be a TV series – visual, energetic and character-driven, with a spectacular ending.
 
Philippa Hammond

March 5th 2023 meeting

About the March 2023 meeting

All are welcome to attend our March meeting this Sunday 5th.

Advance notice There will shortly be a formal call for entries to Sussex Playwrights 2023 script writing competition.

Last time we had 48 entries. As before, this time we’ll be calling for volunteer readers to help review the entries and establish a long list and short list.

The competition will open for entries very soon. More details on the night.

See www.sussexplaywrights.co.uk and our Sussex Playwrights Facebook Page for news about the competitions as it develops.

Play readings We’re inviting you to bring along your short 10 minute two-hander pieces for reading and discussing on the night. Work in progress, performance-ready pieces, stage, audio, film scripts – everything welcome!

Members’ news Congratulations to Robert Cohen whose new novel Architecture for Beginners has just been published. www.waterstones.com/book/architecture-for-beginners/robert-cohen/9781914322143

Robert will be reading from and discussing his new novel at the April meeting.

Congratulations to Judy Upton whose Sussex set mystery thriller ‘Sniff Them Out, Brownlow!’ www.waterstones.com/book/sniff-them-out-brownlow/judy-upton/9781914322136 has a lovely review in the new issue of Ingenue Magazine p68 www.ingenuemagazine.co.uk/

Meeting details

Sunday March 5th 7-9pm

New Venture Theatre
Bedford Place
Brighton
BN1 2PT

In the bar as usual

Free to Sussex Playwrights members

Guests and friends: £3 on the door – includes wine/juice

February meeting

We read and discussed two extracts from plays in progress:

The Big Interview by John Laurenson

and

Shillingworth by Dave Patchett

Sussex Playwrights Reviews: Pugs of the Frozen North

A little cracker for the Christmas holidays

Pugs Of The Frozen North
 
By Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre
Adapted by Philip Reeve and Brian Mitchell
Original music by Brian Mitchell
The Foundry Group
 
Kick off your family Christmas at this little venue in the roof at Brighton’s Presuming Ed, full of families, small children, bobble hats and woolly scarves, and some toy dogs, too.
 
Cast Brian Mitchell, Emma Howarth and Murray Simon multi-role and quick-change their way through a pacey, cosy-scary tale of magic in the mysterious legend-sparking strangeness of the frozen north, with energy, verve and buckets of snowy charm.
 
With a kraken encounter, singing yetis, a great example of just how to make a sledge from two dining chairs and an audience full of yipyipyipping pugs, it’s the tale of an epic race to the ice palace.
 
There are some huge themes in this little cracker for the Christmas holidays; friendship, courage, the circle of life, and how the smallest pug can PULL like a husky team if they all PULL together.
 
It’s on til Friday December 23rd, with performances at 11.00 and 2.00. (One-hour show).
 
Yipyipyip!
 
Philippa Hammond