Mark Wakeman

Totton: Friday 28th March 2014

Directed by Claire Lyne

The first round of the All England Theatre Festival (Western Area, Southern Division) is usually held at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre in Totton. Bench Theatre first entered the festival competition in 2006 and has been a regular contributor ever since.

AuthorMark Wakeman

Mark Wakeman

Mark Wakeman is an amateur author, amateur playwright, amateur actor and an amateur director. He started writing short stories, at the age of 8 and spurred on by positive comments from a teacher, was inspired to write many more. It wasn't until he went to university, however that his writing achieved wider recognition when two of his situation comedy scripts (co-written with Neil Kendall) - 'The Quiet Life' and 'Helpline' were performed by the University of North London Theatre Society. The success of these two works led to a full-length thriller, 'Undue Aggravation' being taken to Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 1995. Following university, he directed his own comedy 'Terror at Blagg Castle', which was produced by Goggles Theatre Company at Portsmouth Arts Centre in 1996, and Bench Theatre has produced several of his his one-act plays; 'The Unusual Suspects', 'Ice Station Zeros', 'Father for Justice', 'Lonesome Pine', 'Unworkable', 'The Big Freeze', 'Stand and Delivery' and 'The Girl in the Corner' for various 'Supernova' festivals of new writing since 2003.

Mark also wrote the 2010 Bench Christmas Production 'Cinderella', and the 2012 Bench Christmas Production 'Aladdin@, both sell out successful shows!

His novels (as yet unpublished) include works in the detective, comedy, thriller, fantasy and sci-fi genres and he hopes to one day see one of his screenplays for sit-coms, TV detectives or sci-fi/action-spy thrillers accepted by the BBC. As an actor, Mark Wakeman has been performing since he was at school. The first of many acting roles with Bench Theatre was Dr John Jobling in 'Martin Chuzzlewit' in 1990 and he frequently receives excellent reviews. He directed several one-act plays at University of North London Theatre Society and his first directing role with Bench Theatre was 'The Office Party' by John Godber in 1998. As a member of the Soop Theatre Company, he has performed improvisational comedy in their 'Dude, Where's My Script?' shows since 2008.

Wakeman won Best Original Play for 'Stand and Delivery' (2007), The Madge and Stanley Williams trophy for Best Script for 'Father for Justice' (2009) and again the best original script in 2013 for 'Pub Quiz of the Sexes', in the All-England Drama Festival. Since he joined Bench Theatre in 1990, he has been a member of both the Bench Committee and Artistic Panel, and was Editor of Bench Press for a number of years.


An out of work actor takes a job as a department store Father Christmas, thinking it's easy money. But someone is going to walk through those doors that will turn his life upside down. A girl with the darkest secret..

In 1995 upon leaving university and in need of gainful employment I took a job for one month as the Merdian Centre's Father Christmas. It was an amazing, hilarious, heartbreaking, frightening experience. I'd write a play about it but nobody would believe it. But I thought it was a good setting for a script and originally thought to write a comedy but that was the lazy option so instead I opted to challenge myself and produce one of my 'Experiments' instead. The bit about the Swedish Child is based on true events. Everything else is not.

The Bench Competition Entry

This one-act play was staged at the Hanger Farm Arts Centre, Totton as part of the first round of the All England Theatre Festival 2014 competition.

Awards at the 2014 Festival

Best Overall Production:

Winner: 'Grotto' by Bench Theatre

Best Director:

Winner: Claire Lyne for 'Grotto'

Best Actress:

Winner: Kirsty Terry for 'Grotto'

Best Original Script:

Winner: Mark Wakeman for 'Grotto'

Best Actor:

Commended: Dan Finch for 'Grotto'

Best Supporting Player:

Commended: Liz Brown for 'Grotto'


Dan Finch
Liz Brown
Kirsty Terry
Andrew Caple


Director Claire Lyne
Stage Managers Thomas Hall