Supernova2: A Festival of New One-Act Plays

Written by Various Authors

Tuesday 30th September to Saturday 4th October 2003

Produced by Nathan Chapman and Bench Theatre Members

The basic premise of Supernova is simple: to provide a showcase for the often hidden talents of local playwrights and to encourage other people to develop their skills or to try something for the first time.
Each night from Tuesday to Friday 3 or 4 plays are performed; 13 in all.
On Saturday 4th October, Ben Payne (Literary Manager of Birmingham Repertory Theatre) will lead a workshop with Supernova writers and performers to devise a short piece that shown that evening along with one play from each earlier evening selected by the audience.

The Authors

Doreen Fay, Richard Sheppard, Steven Le Moignan, Carol Younghusband, Nathan Chapman, Zoë Chapman, Mark Wakeman, Jaspar Utley, Neil Pugmire, Paul Davies, John Scadding

The New One-Act Plays

Tuesday 30th September

Come and Get HimWritten by Doreen Fay

The salesman from hell calls on the household of elderly couple, the Staffords. He thinks he is looking at an easy sale, but he's reckoned without the wiles of his victims!

Mrs Emily StaffordNicola Scadding
GordonAlan Welton
Mr StaffordJaspar Utley
DirectorPaul Millington

Author's Notes

In 1996, the magazine, The Civil Service Author, set a one-act play competition and this happened to correspond with an unhappy experience a friend had had with a double glazing salesman. The salesman's persistence had been remarkable and this set me thinking how someone more vulnerable might have fared. The thinking evolved into a one-act play that won first prize in the competition. The action in this play could have taken place in the 1980s, or today, it just happens to be set in 1996.

Doreen Fay

The Artist's EyeWritten by Richard Sheppard

After a suffragette defaces an artist's painting, a bizarre court ruling throws them together. As their relationship grows it seems the bohemian and the militant may begin to understand each other, until the artist's next piece is unveiled.

Judge WhiteJohn Scadding
JeffersNick Bennett
Jessica KilhurtVicky Hayter
SmykeJohn Gains
Patrick GravesNathan Chapman
Sam BelloJaspar Utley
Mr TaylorJohn Gains
DirectorIngrid Corrigan

Author's Notes

The Artist's Eye is the first play I have written, and was the product of a short deadline, too much caffeine and too many episodes of "Upstairs, Downstairs". It was my intention to write something about politics, but with the emphasis on people. For each political martyr there are orphans and widows. To that end, the two central characters represent not only different sides of an argument, but also two vulnerable, odd, clever human beings. Failing that, I hope it isn't too long.

Richard Sheppard

...And Glory Shone AroundWritten By Steven Le Moignan

It's time for Angel Clive's work appraisal and things aren't going well. Facing demotion to the Punishment Division, Clive learns some things that will turn his ideas upside down.

Angel GabrielDavid Knights
Angel CliveMark Wakeman
SatanNick Bennett
DirectorRichard Le Moignan

Author's Notes

As you may suspect, this play is the result of three hours typing what came out of my head and onto paper. If any amongst you are qualified psychiatrists, please don't hesitate to give me your card! Does this play have any deeper meaning? I believe you only take away what you brought with you - which should be "No". It is in no way meant to offend the Christian faith. It isn't meant to be contentious. I wrote it in the hope that perhaps for one second someone may laugh inwardly, smile or even chuckle.

Steven Le Moignan

Last Night PartyWritten By Carol Younghusband

Backstage after the performance of a terrible play, friends of the writer struggle to keep their opinions to themselves. As the alcohol flows, so do the revelations, as the true reason for their invitation to the party comes to light.

PhilippaIngrid Corrigan
JanetNicola Scadding
Dee DeeSue Dawes
JacobRichard Le Moignan
DirectorJohn Scadding

Author's Notes

With Last Night Party, I sat in my usual confused state eyeing my computer screen with suspicion. Characters eventually crept into my subconscious and once I finally knew and liked them, I threw a spanner in their world - much like life really.
I'd love to say that this play deals with weighty subjects such as genetic engineering or the history of politics, but I can't. It deals with a couple of middle-aged friends; one of whom is striving for excitement in her life, and one who sees any change as too painful to contemplate. And where better to set it - but against a backdrop of theatre luvvies!

Carol Younghusband

Wednesday 1st October

Point:BlankWritten by Nathan Chapman

A chance meeting between a disillusioned performance artist and a terrorist is likely to have explosive results. The value of human life, art and the struggle to have a message heard are at the centre of this topical play.

FutePeter Corrigan
PortiaZoë Chapman
DirectorNathan Chapman

Author's Notes

I read a few years ago about an artist that had created a "gun chair"; an armchair with a loaded gun aimed at the head of the occupant. Apparently you were welcome to sit in the chair, if you bore in mind that the gun could fire any time in the next 75 years. I was immediately taken by this image, and the idea of art as destructive, rather than creative, a la Damien Hirst and Ron Athey. How could this form of art be justified? Then a plane flew into the World Trade Centre and 'Point:Blank' was born.

Nathan Chapman

WorkingDevised by Zoë Chapman

The office, familiar to many of us in our daily lives, is given a physical theatre makeover in this comedy. A devised piece created through collaboration between director and performers: expect fun with photocopiers and illicit e-mails aplenty, much to the chagrin of the office cleaner.

This play was later staged at The Totton Drama Festival in 2007 as one of Bench Theatre's entries to the first round of The All England Theatre Festival that year.

AJo Bone
BAlice Corrigan
BAngela Evans
DirectorZoë Chapman

Deviser's Notes

My piece has kind of sneaked into this event, as it is not scripted. I wanted to be involved but I wasn't confident in my writing skills, I had an idea and I knew how I wanted it to look but I wasn't sure how to give the characters a voice. So I decided not to give them a voice and instead this devised piece will be told through the physicality of the cast and music. The inspiration for 'Working' has come from my own experiences and day-dreams that I have had since working in the Arts Centre plus through the rehearsal process the cast have added their own touches.

Zoë Chapman

Ice Station ZeroesWritten by Mark Wakeman

It's not only the cold this Arctic research team has to contend with. An insane professor, a trigger-happy Navy Seal and sexual frustration conspire in this play that makes 'The Thing' look like a really scary movie! And look out for the frozen penguin!

SimonPaul Davies
ZacNathan Chapman
NigelDamon Wakelin
DocJaspar Utley
Dr Alex LewisAngela Evans
Corporal Nancy Weinburger (USMC)Alice Corrigan
Claudia GrinJo Bone
DirectorMark Wakeman

Author's Notes

I have always been a big fan of the film 'The Thing' directed by John Carpenter. A chilling horror movie set in an arctic research station where the crew are murdered one by one by an alien creature which they thaw from the ice. While watching this movie one day it occurred to me that the setting of an arctic station would be a good one for a comedy. Where else could a group of oddball people find themselves stuck together, with no means of escape? The first note I made to myself was "Frozen Penguin" and I made up the rest from there.

Mark Wakeman

Thursday 2nd October

Trolley RageWritten by Jaspar Utley

Supermarkets - windows to the larger world and, in this play, a window into the less pleasant aspects of human nature. Hapless shoppers contend with obnoxious children, jobsworth workers and trolleys that never go the way you want them to.

Elsie, a housewifeSue Dawes
Harry, her husbandDavid Penrose
Boy's motherSophie Stoppani
AssistantVicky Hayter
BoyWilliam Hill
Old womanSharman Callam
Boy's fatherDarryl Wakelin
Trolley manJohn Scadding
DirectorSimon Walton

Author's Notes

What would it be like to live in a world where rules and conventions are breaking down, where fairness and decency are on the verge of extinction, where anarchy and disorder beckon? There's no need to go to Sierra Leone or Iraq to find out, just visit your local supermarket for a vision of a nightmare future.

Jaspar Utley

ExileWritten by Neil Pugmire

How would it feel to be exiled from your own country? The thorny subject of political asylum is tackled here, turning the context inside out. As a refugee, would you want to be treated in the same way as asylum seekers coming to Britain?

NarratorAnn Pugmire
GrahamSimon Walton
JohnDamon Wakelin
LouiseSharman Callam
Policeman 1David Doiiro
Policeman 2John Bosco Nyombi
AlainSimon Walton
WarderDennis Mlambo
Benefits OfficerSharman Callam
ShopperDennis Mlambo
ManagerJohn Bosco Nyombi
DirectorNeil Pugmire

Author's Notes

'Exile' was conceived as a response to the growing hysteria about asylum seekers. It imagines a parallel universe in which British people might have to flee this country because of a repressive regime similar to those experienced today in many places around the globe. For more information about asylum seekers, go to

Neil Pugmire

The Unusual SuspectsWritten by Mark Wakeman

Taking part in a police identity parade is a quick, hassle-free way to keep you in beer money. But not when your partners in crime are some of the strangest characters ever to stand next to each other. Chaos and confusion reign before long.

This play was later staged at The Totton Drama Festival in 2007 as one of Bench Theatre's entries to the first round of The All England Theatre Festival that year.

DCI MeadowsDavid Penrose
CliveDamon Wakelin
GeorgeMark Wakeman
KeithDarryl Wakelin
HarrisSimon Walton
TaylorRichard Le Moignan
Miss LanktonSophie Stoppani
SydneyEllie Dawes
DirectorLiam Penny

Author's Notes

The character of George in this play first appeared years ago in a videoed sketch made to cheer up a homesick friend. In that, he found himself banned from every restaurant in town due to his arrogant behaviour. He appeared again in a full-length play 'We Love you Don Estelle' which I wrote at University and this time George and Clive were hosting a party where nobody turned up. I always thought he would return again and when I first thought of the idea of someone in a police line up trying to arrogantly solve the crime my first thought was of George Augustus Wainwright Hart.
Doubtless he will crop up again in my future writing as he always gets himself into such wonderfully stupid situations

Mark Wakeman

Friday 3rd October

PramfaceWritten by Jaspar Utley

Just out of school and lumbered with a child she doesn't want, a young mother meets an inspirational elderly lady who convinces her to do something with her life. The solution, unfortunately, is not what the lady had intended.

NickyLorraine Galliers
LisaEllie Dawes
AudreySue Bartlett
DirectorAlan Welton

Author's Notes

What happens when a middle-class young girl finds her world collapsing around her and she is plunged into a situation she neither dreamed of, nor ever wanted? And what happens when an act of kindness attempts to put things right? A visit to the local park might provide some kind of answer but not necessarily the one you expected.

Jaspar Utley

Goodnight WembleyWritten by Paul Davies

A beach in Corfu. April 1994. A struggling rock band on holiday are trying to decide on which song is the Number 1 all-time classic, their play list, and other artistic differences. When the singer sees the tragic front-page news, their own problems might just be put into perspective.

MattMark Wakeman
JayNathan Chapman
JohnPaul Davies
DirectorAlice Corrigan

Author's Notes

A struggling rock band take a bargain break to try and square their growing differences. Are Pink Floyd capable of writing songs that last less than an hour? Will the 1990's be remembered as the decade of the DJ?
The process of writing 'Goodnight Wembley' was relatively straightforward. I wanted to place three characters in an alien situation that would both test their relationships and allow space for broader themes to emerge - Once I had decided on the setting, the real challenge was to engage with the characters and allow them to tell their story in their own words.

Paul Davies

The Arthur PlayWritten by John Scadding

The girl wants a wedding ring but the boy wants adventures. Can they come to some arrangement? Ghoulies and ghosties and marvellous strangers assemble in a forest glade nearby a mountain in the days of King Arthur.

Boo (a rough Saxon girl)Lorraine Galliers
Bo (a rough Saxon boy)Darryl Wakelin
Rodge (a traveller)Paul Davies
A mysterious strangerNick Bennett
Wise old manJohn Gains
Wise old womanNicola Scadding
DirectorAndrew Caple

Author's Notes

I can only write epics - Mini-Epics that is. I've written a 'Zenda' and a 'Klondyke' and one about Hollywood but I'd never been able to finish a "Camelot". Until one day I left Arthur with his cronies and found a man in a forest. Who he was and what he wanted, lying there with no trousers, was a complete mystery. So I sent in some kids and what they found made the story.
My plays are for fun. They're supposed to be festive. But the way people "tick" is as true as I can make it. I hope you enjoy it.

John Scadding

The Supernova2 Festival

Supernova 2 poster image

These plays were staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Each play was performed once during the first four days of the festival, with the most popular plays (as judged by each evening's audience) being reprised on the Saturday as follows:

Come and Get Him
The Artist's Eye
...And Glory Shone Around
Last Night Party

Ice Station Zeroes

Trolley Rage
The Unusual Suspects

Goodnight Wembley
The Arthur Play

Come and Get Him
The Unusual Suspects
The Arthur Play


Festival Producer Nathan Chapman
Tuesday Producer Mark Wakeman
Wednesday Producer Richard Le Moignan
Thursday Producer Damon Wakelin
Friday Producer Nicola Scadding
Stage Manager John Wilcox
Assistant Stage Managers
Lighting Operators
Set Construction
Members of Bench Theatre
Lighting Design Nathan Chapman
Damon Wakelin
Sound Recordist Nathan Chapman
Programme Design Derek Callam
Press Publicity Sue Dawes
Jaspar Utley
Poster Publicity Nathan Chapman
Paul Davies
The voice of Supernova2 Glenda Penny
Front of House Sally Hartley
Pete Woodward

Producer's Notes

When Supernova was first conceived nearly four years ago, few would have expected it to work. In fact, amateur theatre companies elsewhere in the country, on hearing about this project, have dropped their collective jaws in amazement. It seems that few, if any companies, comparable in size to us or bigger, would even entertain the idea of such an ambitious production. Quite clearly, we must be mad!

The fact that the first Supernova worked, and that we have been able to try it again, is a testament to the hard work of a huge number of people. Practically the entire Bench membership has rallied round and offered their services to make this year's outing bigger and better than its predecessor, and heartfelt thanks go out to everyone involved.

In With the New

The basic premise of Supernova is simple: to provide a showcase for the often hidden talents of local playwrights, and to encourage other people to develop their skills or to try something for the first time.

Consequently, during the course of the evening and the rest of the week, you will see plays never before performed, many written specifically for the festival, many by people who have never tried to write a play in their life. In addition to this, a significant number of the plays have been directed by first time directors, and some of the performers are making their stage debuts.

A very warm welcome, then, to Angela Evans, Sue Bartlett, John Boska, David Knights, Nick Bennett, Lorraine Galliers, Sophie Stoppani and John Gains, all of whom are appearing on stage for the Bench for the very first time. Alongside them, we have Liam Penny, Richard Le Moignan, Paul Millington, Alan Welton and Alice Corrigan, who have all decided to take the leap into directorship for the first time. Anne Gains is taking part in her first Bench production backstage, and along with the authors returning to Supernova for the second time, Steven Le Moignan, Doreen Fay, Paul Davies, Jaspar Utley, Richard Sheppard, Zoë Chapman and John Scadding have all written or devised work this week. Some of these people are experienced playwrights, for others it is their first piece. The participation of so many people has provided enormous variety for this short festival; I sincerely hope that everyone will find something that appeals during the course of the week. This variety also extends to the Bench's offering throughout the year. As Supernova 2 launches the new season on the back of another interesting year that saw Steve Martin, Shakespeare, Chekhov, Stoppard and Godber all jostling for position, we can look forward to a similarly exciting and eclectic programme into 2004.

Get Interactive!

We've all heard that "interactive is the future". This may or may not be true, but not wanting to seem slow or outdated, Supernova 2 is going to be interactive as well. For our finale on Saturday, you the audience will be choosing our repertoire. One play from each of the four evenings will be carried through and reprised on Saturday, reflecting and celebrating the whole festival, and providing people with another chance to see plays that they may have missed the first time round. As you hopefully relax and enjoy a drink in the Gallery Café Bar after this evening's performances, please spare a few moments to let our front of house staff know what you enjoyed this evening, a simple feedback questionnaire will be coming around, the information from which will help to decide the running order for Saturday evening.

The Fourteenth Play

We are also very lucky that Ben Payne, erstwhile Bench Member and now Literary Manager for Birmingham Repertory Theatre, has agreed to give up his valuable time on Saturday to work with this year's Supernova writers and performers in devising a short piece that will be shown back before the main house event that evening. This will be an excellent experience and an opportunity to find out how the theatre industry and writing for the stage works from the point of view of someone on the inside. On behalf of the Bench Theatre, I would like to extend our thanks to Ben for making the long journey down and providing the real "icing on the cake" for this project.

Nathan Chapman


The NewsMike Allen

Festival enacted with skill and enterprise

It takes rare enterprise for an amateur company to stage a festival by local writers. And it takes strength in depth to perform them with the level of imagination and skill displayed by Bench Theatre on the final night. Theatre-goers' choice of the best plays of the previous four days made a rich programme, varied enough even though all four were comedies. But to choose one from the four is simple.

Working - devised by director Zoë Chapman with actors Jo Bone, Alice Corrigan and Angela Evans - is nothing more than a jeu d'esprit, an almost wordless trifle lasting only 15 minutes. But that is enough to depict office characters at comic war with each other and then reconciled in a hilarious dance, sitting on mobile swivel chairs. That scene was the best thing all evening, but the other three plays all had their merits too.

Come and Get Him by Doreen Fay is an extended comedy sketch exposing the threat of plausible salesmen. Very funny, with perhaps a bit too much of the public safety warning about it. The Unusual Suspects by Mark Wakeman is set in a police identity parade, and the writer threw himself heartily in to a leading role that clearly expresses his own anarchic sense of fun. Unfortunately the parade imposes an anti-theatrical straight-line presentation on most of the staging.

The Arthur Play by John Scadding is more whimsical but also more theatrical, and produced a fine performance from Lorraine Galliers, a particularly welcome newcomer to the Bench.

The News, 6th October 2003