Our White Skoda Octavia July 2021

After (literally!) years of working with Eastern Angles and the fantastic writer of this theatre piece, Shamser Sinha, on this project, we now have an Autumn tour coming up (supported by Arts Council England). See here for dates/times: Our White Skoda Octavia

This wonderful script tells the story of the Afridi family – Amjad, Rabia and their kids Faisal & Yasmin. They live in a small town in the East of England. Amjad is a taxi-driver with his eyes set on acquiring a White Skoda Octavia. But he is haunted by past events. Rabia is frustrated – she is bright and ambitious and looking towards new horizons. Young Faisal and Yasmin have their fair share of teenage frustrations and sibling tussles which, as they get older, take on new meaning. And throughout, there is the poignant and rhythmic heartbeat of the tabla and the familiar and often very funny and brilliantly-observed soundtrack of family conversation. But I’m biased! Come and see for yourself.

It’s great to be working as Freelance Creative Producer on this project. Can’t wait to get in the rehearsal room with director Sameena Hussain and the rest of the company. It’s an Eastern Angles production in association with Derby Theatre and Essex Cultural Diversity Project.

Guncotton – a script-in-development by Martha Loader

Stow & Tell – the development of a new script (Guncotton) created in collaboration with young people from Stowmarket

In July 2020 I was awarded a Project Grant from Arts Council England to R&D new script focusing on what it is like to grow up in a rural environment. With writer (Martha Loader) and director (Scott Hurran) I have been running community engagement sessions with a group of young people based at The Mix in Stowmarket with the aim of understanding how these participants feel, and to give a platform to their stories and experiences, and also give them an insight into the theatre-making process. The young people’s ideas and thoughts have been expressed through drama workshops and written words, but also through submitting digital content; sound, photography and voice recordings (e.g. the poster above uses a photograph submitted by one of our participants). In April, we brought together three actors (Rose-Marie Christian, Rosalind Burt and Ben Castle-Gibb) to help workshop the script and film a script-in-hand performance at The John Peel Centre. This recording will be shared to an online audience. In addition to Arts Council funding, this project has benefited from financial support from Suffolk County Council and in-kind support from The John Peel Centre, Eastern Angles, Bury Theatre Royal and The Garage.

Rosalind Burt as Syd
Rose-Marie Christian as Carey and Ben Castle-Gibb as Tommy

“Stow and Tell is a great group with a really good mix of people – after our first session I got the impression that this would be the beginning of something really different and exciting for me”

Young Participant

Our White Skoda Octavia by Shamser Sinha

January 2020: Following two ACE-funded development readings in Peterborough at Metal Culture and at Southwark Playhouse supported by Eastern Angles, Shamser has been re-visiting and redrafting his script. Now we are entering the next exciting phase…talking to potential co-producers. This contemporary story uses humour, tragedy and rhythm to highlight the experience of a typical working-class British Pakistani family living in an English town. Our aim is to share this story by touring the play to small-scale venues and fringe/studio theatres across the country.

Development reading at Southwark Playhouse

Footsteps Audio Trail

March 2020: I’ve been working with the Women’s Voice’s Women’s Votes ‘Footsteps’ committee to produce an audio trail version of Martha Loader’s promenade play commemorating the lives and achievements of the Ipswich Suffragettes. It’s performed by Martha and Henri Merriam, with additional narration from Pat Whymark. The play is based on the book ‘A Song of their Own’ by Joy Bounds. And the project was supported by the Eastern Angles ‘Playwrights East’ initiative. Use to listen live on your smart phone or download the audio trail to your desktop:

The Launch of ‘Footsteps’ on International Women’s Day March 8th 2020. From left to right: Karen Goddard, Joy Bounds (writer), Martha Loader (playwright), Holly D Johnston (singer/songwriter)

Arts Council England – Developing Your Creative Practice

February 2019: I’ve been awarded funding from Art Council England which will enable me to develop my skills as a freelance producer.
My grant was made possible thanks to the Arts Council’s Developing your Creative Practice programme, a new development fund designed to support independent creative practitioners. With the support of this scheme, so far I have attended the 2019 Family Arts Conference in Liverpool, become a member of the Independent Theatre Council and signed-up to a number of their training courses and joined the National Rural Touring Forum. I am also spending time meeting other Creative Practitioners, sharing knowledge, seeing inspirational and innovative work, and researching and developing my own theatre-making ideas.

Scratch Night at The Garage, Norwich

October 2019: We spent the evening at The Garage on October 4th taking part in the All In Productions Scratch Night. And now, team ‘Satellites’ (Natalie Songer, Nick Barton-Wines, Calum Paterson and me!) are busy plotting our next move. First-up will be more script development and rehearsal, then a work-in-progress performance and chatting to industry contacts at Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday 10th December…and then some serious 2020 planning! Subject to funding, we aim to tour the show in Spring 2021 kicking-off with a performance at Colchester Arts Centre on Wednesday March 10th 2021.

Edith – in the beginning

Ivan Wilkinson as Basil Brown and Kiara Hawker as Edith Pretty. Photo: Al Pulford

August 2019: Having completed my initial contract with Stuff of Dreams Theatre Co (funded by StartEast), I am now back working with the company on an Arts Council England – funded project exploring the life of Edith Pretty. We’ve staged a series of atmospheric, outdoor, site-specific performances, at Sutton Hoo National Trust, of a new play based on the life of Edith Pretty and the discovery of the Anglo-Saxon treasure by Karen Forbes, directed by Cordelia Spence. All three shows sold out….! The next stage of the project is to deliver three creative writing workshops with participants in Ipswich, Bury St Edmunds and Norwich in partnership with Colchester + Ipswich Museums, Theatre Royal Bury and The Garage. And finally….we will perform the play once again with the support of Eastern Angles and Colchester + Ipswich Museums at The Sir John Mills Theatre in Ipswich on Saturday 9th November 2019. Tickets:


Nick Barton-Wines (director) and Natalie Songer (writer & performer)

July 2019 – January 2020

This week I’m beginning work on an exciting new project with Norwich-based theatre-maker Natalie Songer. Satellites is a piece of self-performed, autobiographical storytelling created by Natalie. Here’s how she describes this amazing, true family story: “It’s a bittersweet, intimate epic in which two brothers, my great-uncles, are separated by war. One flourishes in one of humanity’s biggest successes, the space programme, whilst the other is lost in one of humanity’s biggest failures, the concentration camp system. Eighty years later, I try to reunite them.” We will be sharing the work at Colchester Arts Centre on Tuesday 10th December and before that at The Garage Norwich on Friday 4th October.

English Civil War – two new plays

June – September 2019

I’m working with Keeper’s Daughter, Play Nicely, and Stuff of Dreams on the research and development of two new Arts Council England funded plays….The Numerous & Various Assassinations of Oliver Cromwell, and English Civil Whores…..sharings happening at the Key Theatre Peterborough and the Seagull Theatre Lowestoft in September!

Our White Skoda Octavia

May – July 2019

I was asked by Eastern Angles to produce two sharings of a new script by Ipswich-based playwright Shamser Sinha. The play, Our White Skoda Octavia, was based on Shamser’s own experience of living in Ipswich and using taxis on a regular basis. Shamser interviewed taxi-drivers from Ipswich and Peterborough, using their verbatim accounts to inform his writing. The result is a script using humour, tragedy and rhythmic drum beats to explore themes of broken marriage, parenthood, sibling rivalry, health, manhood, local politics, the credit-crunch, Brexit, and the working-class British Pakistani experience. We shared the script to guests and Creative Industry colleagues in Peterborough and at Southwark Playhouse. The hope is that this play will have a future life as a co-produced touring production. Watch this space!

Stuff of Dreams Theatre Company

Geir Madland, Hayley Evenett and Quinn Richards in An Honest Gentleman

November 2018 to July 2019 – I am currently working as a Creative Producer for Stuff of Dreams, a new role funded by Start East. Based in Norfolk, Stuff of Dreams are a fantastically energetic and exciting rural touring theatre company, led by Artistic Director Cordelia Spence, telling East Anglian stories and employing local home-grown talent. Current projects include An Honest Gentleman, the story of Aylsham-born highwayman Thomas Easter, a summer season of outdoor Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, and a new site-specific production, developed in collaboration with the National Trust at Sutton Hoo, telling the story of Edith Pretty.

The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps – Murray Lachlan Young

Joe Allen and Murray Lachlan Young

December 2018 to present Matthew Linley, asked me to join ‘team Murray Lachlan Young’ and help promote Murray’s new project The Mystery of the Raddlesham Mumps. How could I refuse? This is a brilliantly gothic, epic-poem that has morphed into a stage performance and a VR experience and is designed to appeal to family audiences. All the info here:  

Delivered by Freemans – Eastern Angles

The cast of All Wrapped Up In Westwood

October 2018 – Whilst working for Eastern Angles I had been involved in the research, development and production of their Heritage Lottery funded project Delivered by Freemans. Focusing on the stories and experiences of people who worked at the huge Freemans Catalogue Distribution Centre in Peterborough, the project involved gathering oral histories, delivering schools workshops, creating an exhibition and producing a community play, staged at The Undercroft and directed by Poppy Rowley, entitled All Wrapped Up in Westwood. One of my first freelance jobs post-Eastern Angles was to evaluate this fantastic project which struck such a nostalgic chord with the Peterborough population.   

Footsteps – the story of the Ipswich Suffragettes

Footsteps by Martha Loader

September/October 2018 – The Women’s Voices Women’s Votes Festival organisers approached me with the idea of producing a theatre work to celebrate the contribution of Ipswich Suffragettes. We decided to create a piece of free, promenade-style theatre that would take the audience on a journey through the streets of Ipswich. Playwright Martha Loader (of Tusk Theatre) was commissioned to write the script (supported by Eastern Angles Playwrights East) based largely on the book ‘A Song of their Own’ by Joy Bounds. The production, Footsteps, was directed by Natalie Songer with two actors (Hayley Evenett and Paisley Pascal) playing the part of time-travelling heritage guides assuming the roles of various prominent Suffragettes. With the help of community participants (see above) we delivered six well-attended street performances….people watched and marched, and the sun shone!