Introducing the writers behind COME TO WHERE I AM Series 3: Sheffield

Sheffieldtheatres Exterior Photo By James Stewart

Introducing the writers behind Series 3: Sheffield, presented by Paines Plough and Sheffield Theatres, which will be available to watch on our YouTube Channel from 7pm on Wednesday 3 June:

Chris Bush

Chris Bush is an award-winning playwright, lyricist and theatre maker, and Artistic Associate at Sheffield Theatres. Past work includes FAUSTUS: THAT DAMNED WOMAN (Headlong/Lyric Hammersmith/Birmingham Rep), THE ASSASSINATION OF KATIE HOPKINS (Theatr Clwyd), PERICLES (National Theatre: Olivier), THE CHANGING ROOM (NT Connections), and STEEL (Sheffield Theatres). Her hit musical STANDING AT THE SKY’S EDGE returns to the Crucible this Christmas before transferring to the Olivier in 2021.

Ella Hardy

Ella is a writer and artist with a background in contemporary performance and verbatim theatre. Ella has recently completed her MA in Theatre and Performance at the University of Sheffield, she is a previous resident artist with Theatre Delicatessen, and she is currently part of Sheffield Theatre’s Bank cohort of supported artists.

John Hunter

John is currently one of six writers on a year-long development program with Sheffield Theatres’ artist support scheme. His writing background is primarily in theatre, most often working with Slung Low Theatre Company with work performed at the Crucible Studio, The Lowry, Barbican and Singapore Arts Festival. He has also developed narratives for browser games and other digital amusements and, by day, works as a scriptreader for a number of TV and Film production companies.

Kat Rose-Martin

Kat started as an actor working for Northern Broadsides, Shakespeare’s Globe, Hull Truck, York Theatre Royal. Born and based in Bradford Kat works on a slate of projects and ideas across film, theatre and television. She made it to the final 4% of 2019 BBC Writers Room for Drama and the Top 10 in BAFTA Rocliffe TV Drama. Her show THE CROSSLEYS is in development with Rockerdale Studios. Kat is the writer in Residence at Sneaky Experience (experiential theatre & cinema). Out of Joint workshopped her play £1 Thursdays. The Bronte Society commissioned her co-written play JANE HAIR. She is currently working on a commissioned audio series with Audible as well as MyDG, online content with BBC Children’s. Kat was commissioned by Shakespeare’s Globe to write and perform her monologue APHRA BEHN and her play Pick and Mix is in development with Freedom studios. Kat is currently on The Bank at Sheffield Theatres, a 14-strong cohort of writers, directors and producers who are supported and mentored by the theatres. In 2020, Kat was announced as the inaugural winner of the Kay Mellor Fellowship, giving her the unique opportunity to develop a stage play at Leeds Playhouse and a TV project at Rollem Productions. She is also currently on the BBC Writersroom Northern Voices, a year-long development programme with the BBC.

Laura Lindsay

Laura is a writer, actor and theatre-maker based in Sheffield. Since graduating from actor-training in 2010, she has worked extensively on new writing and devised productions. Laura wrote and produced two full-length plays, HIDDEN (2013) and PARALLEL (2016), which toured nationally to studio theatres. She was selected for the inaugural cohort of Sheffield Theatres’ Artist Development Scheme – The Bank – and is currently developing her third play, entitled JUST. As an avid fan of Paines Plough’s work, she is thrilled to be working on this commission alongside the company.

Tim Norwood

Tim is a writer, performer, and director from Sheffield. His writing often explores mental illness and trauma, using a funny and intimate approach to make it safe for the audience.His work includes Arts Council England-supported APOCALYPSE OF THE MIND (DINA Venue 2017) and NOT YOUR KIND OF TRAUMA (UnShut Festival 2019). He’s currently working on IT’S OK TO BE NAKED (Festival of the Mind 2020). He’s been supported and mentored by Theatre Delicatessen Sheffield, Third Angel, and Forced Entertainment, and is part of the writer’s strand of Sheffield Theatres’ supported artist scheme, the Bank.

Todd Heppenstall

Todd is a Sheffield-born actor & writer, who trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and has worked at theatres including Bristol Old Vic, Cheltenham Everyman, Hull Truck, the Finborough, Eastern Angles and the Polka, and has worked as a voice actor for the BBC, in a Doctor Who episode with Big Finish, and in commercials for Twitter UK and Anthony Nolan. His first play was long listed for the Papatango Prize 2018, and he is currently a supported writer on The Bank at Sheffield Theatres, a 14-strong cohort of writers, directors and producers. 

COME TO WHERE I AM – Series 3: SHEFFIELD will be available on our YouTube channel from Wednesday 3 June 2020, 7:00pm

Introducing our new Producer: Matt Maltby

Matt joined Paines Plough as Producer in May 2020 from the Young Vic, where he worked as interim General Manager.

Matt’s work as an independent producer includes MIDNIGHT MOVIE by Eve Leigh, directed by Rachel Bagshaw (Royal Court), THE TRICK, by Eve Leigh, directed by Roy Alexander Weise for Loose Tongue and HighTide (Bush Theatre),  FABRIC, by Abi Zakarian, directed by Hannah Hauer-King for Damsel Productions (Soho Theatre), and THE PROCESS, written and directed by Sarah Bedi for BAZ Productions (Bunker Theatre).

Matt was the New Work Associate at The Bunker Theatre between 2018 and 2020, during which time the theatre won The Stage award for Fringe Theatre of the Year, and the Offie for Best Programming Policy. He was awarded a Stage One Producers Bursary in 2018, and is one of the founding producers of Pint-Sized.

Welcome Matt!

Introducing the writers and the company behind COME TO WHERE I AM Series 2: Newcastle

Introducing the writers behind Series 2: Newcastle, presented by Paines Plough and Open Clasp Theatre Company, which will be available to watch on our YouTube Channel from 7pm on Wednesday 27 May:

Christina Berriman–Dawson

Christina is an actor and writer. She co-directed and dramaturged CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT , written by Lee Mattinson, which was due to open at Live Theatre this year. She has previously performed in Open Clasp’s productions of KEY CHANGE and RATTLE SNAKE.

Abigail Byron

Abigail is an actor and writer. She and her mum performed in Open Clasp’s production of DON’T FORGET THE BIRDS. You can read more about that production here.

Kay Greyson

Kay is is a 20-year old hip hop artist rapper from Tyneside in Newcastle. She is devoted to youth work in her local community. You can check her out here.

Charlotte Campbell

Charlotte is a new writer and recently returned to her home town after leaving home at a young age. She attended a Writing for Social Change Masterclass at Newcastle University with Open Clasp Artistic Director and Writer, Catrina McHugh MBE. Open Clasp knew she had a passionate voice and a story to tell. 

ABOUT OPEN CLASP:

Open Clasp’s aim is to Change the World, One Play at a Time by placing theatre at the heart of transforming the lives of disadvantaged women and girls. Open Clasp are an award-winning women’s theatre company and a leading force in the North of England with a national and international reach. They make truthful and risk-taking work informed by the lived experiences of women disenfranchised in theatre and society, those from minority communities and women affected by the criminal justice system.

Open Clasp are proud to support new and emerging female writers from Newcastle-upon-Tyne. For 22 years, they have been rooted in their community, creating the best theatre they can to make social and cultural change a reality. They are excited for audiences to hear female voices from the city they all love as they share their stories about the place they call home.

As theatres around the world were forced to close their doors in March, Open Clasp Theatre Company’s award-winning prison drama Key Change was made available to watch online for free. Devised with women in HMP Low Newton to tour to male prisons, critically-acclaimed Key Change carries their voices over the razor wire in a raw, illuminating and very funny portrayal of women in prison.

Open Clasp Theatre Company’s award-winning prison drama Key Change, available to watch online for free.

“In these uncertain times, it’s more important than ever for us to find ways to connect – with our audiences, partners and the women we’ve worked with for more than 20 years. We’ve seen first-hand the power of theatre to bring people together and make change happen, so it’s more important than ever that we continue to reach out to those who need our support most in these unsettling times, even if it’s digitally rather than physically.” Catrina McHugh MBE, Artistic Director and Writer of Key Change

COME TO WHERE I AM – Series 2: OPEN CLASP, NEWCASTLE will be available on our YouTube channel from Wednesday 27 May 2020, 7:00pm.

COME TO WHERE I AM – SERIES 1: PITLOCHRY, SCOTLAND

Introducing the writers who will be performing their pieces about the place they call home in Series 1: Pitlochry.

All pieces wil be available to watch via our YouTube channel from 7pm Wednesday 20 June.

CORINNE SALISBURY

Corinne is an emerging playwright based in Edinburgh.

She is a previous winner of the Playwrights’ Studio Scotland New Playwrights Award, as part of which she was mentored by Zinnie Harris and Philip Howard to develop a new play about the world of old-fashioned travelling circus.

Other plays include THE DARKNESS OR ELSE THE LIGHT, commissioned by Strange Town youth theatre and performed on the main stage at the Traverse in June 2018; THE CHARGE, which was longlisted for the Tron’s Progressive Playwright Award; and A MOUNTAIN BIRTH, about the early life of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which was developed with the support of an Athenaeum Award from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Corinne is also currently developing a new play, ELODIE, about AI devices being used to help raise our children, with support from Creative Scotland and the NTS Guest Room scheme. Her play GIRLBOSS is published in Routledge’s anthology ‘Short Plays with Great Roles for Women’. Her past work has appeared at venues including Hampstead Theatre, Theatre503, Old Red Lion, the Spiegeltent, Southwark Playhouse, Live Theatre Newcastle, Camden People’s Theatre, the Yard Theatre, the Old Vic, the Public Theater in New York, the Tron, the Traverse, Village Pub Theatre and the Hidden Door Festival. Corinne’s work is supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation and Creative Scotland.

KARINE POLWART

‘One of the finest singer-songwriters in Britain’ The Guardian ★★★★★

Seven-times winner at The BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards, including three times for Best Original Song and Folk Singer Of The Year 2018, Karine Polwart is a songwriter, musician, theatre maker, storyteller, and author. She also performs traditional songs and writes to commission for theatre, film, animation, and international thematic collaborative projects. 

Recent projects include her SCOTTISH SONGBOOK re-imaginings of classic Scottish pop; THE LOST WORDS: SPELL SONGS, a multi-artist response to environmental loss and climate breakdown.

She has worked previously with the BBC SSO, Songs of Separation, author James Robertson, documentary film-maker Anthony Baxter, and indie composer RM Hubbert.

In 2016, in association with The Royal Lyceum Theatre and Edinburgh International Festival, Karine wrote, musically directed and performed her critically acclaimed debut work for theatre. A poetic meditation on midwifery, ecology, sanctuary, and solidarity, it combines elements of memoir, essay, myth, sound-art and song. WIND RESISTENCE won the Best Music And Sound Award at the CATS (Critics’ Awards for Theatre in Scotland) 2017, and the accompanying album A POCKET OF WIND RESISTENCE written in collaboration with sound-designer Pippa Murphy, was selected as Best Album 2017 by both Songlines Magazine and BBC Radio 3’s Late Junction, and was nominated for SAY Scottish Album Of The Year.

In 2020, both the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra have commissioned new work, in collaboration with sound designer/composer Pippa Murphy.

STEF SMITH

Stef Smith is an multi award-winning writer working to international acclaim.

Work includes: ENOUGH, GIRL IN THE MACHINE, SWALLOW (Traverse Theatre); NORA: A DOLL’S HOUSE (Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre); THE SONG PROJECT (Royal Court); ACTS OF RESISTENCE (Headlong / Bristol Old Vic); LOVE LETTER TO EUROPE (Underbelly); HOW TO BUILD A NATION (Young Vic); HUMAN ANIMALS (Royal Court); REMOTE (National Theatre Connections Festival); TEA AND SYMMETRY (BBC Radio); SMOKE (And Mirrors) (Traverse Theatre & Dot Istanbul for Theatre Uncut); BACK TO BACK TO BACK (Cardboard Citizens); CURED (Glasgay! Festival); GREY MATTER (The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen); WOMAN OF THE YEAR (Oran Mor, Glasgow) And FALLING/FLYING (Tron, Glasgow).

Most recently Stef was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn prize, which is the largest prize for women writing in the English language. Stef has won three Scotsman Fringe First Awards for ROADKILL, SWALLOW and ENOUGH. ROADKILL also won an Olivier Award for Outstanding Achievement in an Affiliate Theatre, a Herald Angel Award, the Amnesty Freedom of Expression Award, a Fringe First Award, a Total Theatre Award for Innovation, and the Edinburgh International Festival Fringe Prize. SWALLOW opened to widespread critical acclaim, and also won the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award.

Stef took part in the BBC Drama Writers Room and her Digital Drama Short pilot FLOAT was released on BBC iPlayer in October 2019. A full series of FLOAT has been commissioned by BBC Scotland and is set to be released in 2020. Stef is currently under commission to Leeds Playhouse, National Theatre of Scotland and the Royal Exchange Theatre. She is also an Associate Artist at the Traverse Theatre and Leeds Playhouse.

JO CLIFFORD

Jo is the author of a 100 works in every dramatic medium. Her work has been translated into many languages and has been performed all over the world.

 Recent plays include FAUST PARTS ONE AND WO (Lyceum); EVERY ONE (Lyceum, then Battersea Arts Centre); THE TREE OF KNOWLEDGE (Traverse); THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN, EVE (co-written with Chris Goode, National Theatre of Scotland, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Sherman Theatre, Cardiff, & Tron Theatre, Glasgow)

She first made her reputation in the mid eighties when she was still living as a man and writing under the name of ‘John Clifford’.

Her LOSING VENICE (1985) was the first of the plays she wrote for the Traverse and which re-established its reputation as an internationally important venue. She followed it with LUCY’S PLAY (1986) PLAYING WITH FIRE (1987), INES DE CASTRO (1989), and LIGHT IN THE VILLAGE (1992).

INES became an opera with music by James MacMillan, first performed by Scottish Opera in 1996 and revived several times. LIGHT IN THE VILLAGE  has been translated into Tagalog and Urdu and will shortly be performed in Karachi.

She has dramatised many classic novels, including GREAT EXPECTATIONS (TAG 1988, Traverse 1989 and, many other productions later the Vaudeville Theatre, London). Other adaptations include: LA VIE DE BOHEME (Pitlochry 1993), WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Pitlochry 1995), THE QUEEN OF SPADES (Pitlochry 2002), ANNA KARENINA (Lyceum 2005; Royal Exchange 2016).

For radio, Jo has written FIVE DAYS WHICH CHANGED EVERYTHING, SPAM FRITTERS, WRITING HOME TO MOTHER, MADELEINE, AIN’T IT GRAND TO BE BLOOMIN’ WELL DEAD, and ENDING TIME, and has adapted BALTASAR AND BLIMUNDA and THE LEOPARD among many others.

In the last ten yeas, she has re-discovered herself as a performer. Last year she performed EVE in Dundee Rep, the Nairn Festival, and the International Theatre Festival in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. She has been performing her GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JESUS QUEEN OF HEAVEN for the last ten years, most recently in the Traverse, in the Tron, Glasgow, in Brussels, Belo Horizonte and Sao Paulo in Brazil. The Brazilian production has been touring Brazil for the past three years and is considered one of the most significant plays to have been performed there in recent history.

We launched COME TO WHERE I AM last week with this piece by Simon Stephens, performed by David Bradley. A reminder that all donations made to this project will go directly towards employing writers to deliver more excellent new writing during the current COVID-19 outbreak.

https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/CTWIA

COME TO WHERE I AM 2020

Our headline act – ‘She Left Home For A While’ by Simon Stephens, performed by David Bradley

COME TO WHERE I AM is a digital project conceived by Paines Plough in response to the closure of theatres during COVID-19.

It is, of course, a spin-off of our flagship project COME TO WHERE I’M FROM.

In partnership with theatres across the UK, we have already commissioned 30+ new short plays from writers about the places they call home and their relationship to home at this time. These will be shared with you as visual-audio pieces and then performed at our partner venues when they reopen.

The self-filmed pieces, from a different part of the country each week, will be available on our YouTube channel with a request for donations.

All donations made to this project will go directly towards employing writers to deliver more excellent new writing during COVID-19.

Please consider donating anything you can afford to this very important cause. We need to keep telling stories. 

Thank you!

The COME TO WHERE I AM 2020 series:

Wednesday 20 May – PITLOCHRY

Wednesday 27 May –  NEWCASTLE

Wednesday 03 June – SHEFFIELD 

Wednesday 10 June – PETERBOROUGH

Wednesday 17 June – READING 

Wednesday 24 June –  KESWICK

Wednesday 01 July – DERBY 

Sam Steiner on writing a ‘mid-apocalyptic play’ that finished its run at Southwark Playhouse months before lockdown.

We asked Sam Steiner some questions about what it’s like to have closed YOU STUPID DARKNESS! at Southwark Playhouse a couple of months prior to theatres being asked to shut their doors.

What have you been up to during lockdown?

I’ve been working on a play commission and a couple of film things. And bits of zoom teaching. But I’m also trying to use the time to slow down a bit. Nothing’s getting made for a while and that’s heart-breaking in so many ways but maybe, if there’s a tiny positive to come out of it, it’s that we’ve got some time to process and reflect. So I’m trying to do some reading and a bit of free writing for myself. Writing that is silly and indulgent and for no purpose other than my own enjoyment. 

What’s it like to be in lockdown after writing a play about the end of the world?

It’s so weird. The play closed on February 22nd and within a couple of weeks it had kind of changed genre. The play’s opening image is a woman walking into a run-down but fairly normal-looking office wearing a gas mask. It was designed to feel a bit jarring – to juxtapose normalcy with something more sinister, even sci-fi. Now we see similar sights on a daily basis. I’ve seen some of the exact lines and poster quotes we used in the show pasted on the insides of windows. But at the same time – and horribly, for a play that includes a description of mould growing on people’s faces – it seems almost quaint? “Look at these people who are totally unafraid of social contact; of cracking someone’s backs when they’re sore, of holding someone’s hand through a difficult call. How sweet.” 

What inspired you to write about a post-apocalyptic world?

Well, for me, the play is kind of mid-apocalyptic. Everything’s falling apart and it’s not looking great but life is still carrying on. I started writing the play in 2017. It was an attempt to make literal a particular feeling of despair that felt quite pervasive at the time. It felt like you couldn’t turn on the news or look at your phone without hearing about something world-endingly disturbing or worrying. But, as a natural optimist, I was interested in how you remain hopeful in a world that is constantly confronting you with reasons not to be. Whether optimism is even a remotely useful way of looking at the world. That was the little scab I wanted to pick away at. 

I also wanted, in some way, to redress the nihilist and individualistic world-view that dominates much of so-called Dystopian Fiction. I felt that kindness and compassion, in all their smallness, their profound and sticky difficulty, were underrepresented in those kind of stories. And maybe on our stages more generally. 

Will you write about COVID-19?

No. I think there are some writers who can fearlessly look a thing in the eye and conjure a kind of defining statement. But I’m not of one of them. My stuff is usually better when looking to the side of the thing. And personally, though I’m trying to stay open-minded, I’m also kind of dreading the swathe of pandemic plays, books and television we’re likely to see. My friend George wrote a great piece (https://medium.com/@georgeattwell/event-television-in-the-age-of-lockdown-eee883322409) on James Graham’s brilliant Quiz – itself an attempt to explore the present through an historical lens – in which he reminded me of a quote from The History Boys: “Our perspective on the past alters. Looking back, immediately in front of us is dead ground. We don’t see it, and because we don’t see it this means that there is no period so remote as the recent past.” 

When you write (or see) a play you hope, I think, to find in it some tiny truth about how it feels to be alive in the world right now. At the moment, that sensation of living is changing. But I think that if you follow the hunch or story or character that’s nagging at you, that for some weird, undefinable, illogical reason you find mysterious or funny or moving, something of your experience of being a person who exists in the present seeps into it. And that sounds a lot more meaningful to me than watching The Great Coronavirus Play. 

What are you most looking forward to in life after lockdown?

Oh, mainly going to the pub and getting embarrassingly drunk on cheap drinks.  

Watching the continuing agony and ecstasy of Manchester United’s progress under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Sitting in a dark, cramped room with a bunch of strangers and listening to a story. Deleting the Zoom app from my laptop.

YOU STUPID DARKNESS! was a co-production with Theatre Royal Plymouth, directed by former Paines Plough Joint Artistic Director James Grieve, which premiered in Plymouth in February 2019 and transferred to London’s Southwark Playhouse in January 2020.