Supernova 4: A Festival of New One-Act Plays

Written by Various Authors

Wednesday 19th September to Saturday 22nd September 2007

Produced by Jaspar Utley

Supernova is Bench theatre's festival of new writing for the theatre, showcasing the work of local playwrights over a week of performances, all performed and directed by members of the award-winning Bench Theatre.

After the success of the previous Supernova festivals in 2000, 2003 and 2005, we are delighted to announce that Supernova 4 will take place at Havant Arts Centre in September 2007.

The Authors

Roger Goldsmith

Some years ago Roger gave up his career as a construction engineer to become a full time writer. He began writing many years ago, always for the stage. But since devoting himself to writing full time, he has written mainly with cinema and TV in mind. Now most of his writing is film scripts.

His first short film entitled 'Helping' was made at the Metropolitan film school in 2006. He plans to make one short film later this near entitled ' Soft Furnishing'. Two other short film scripts of his, 'Window Dressing' and 'The Other Side of the Road' are being produced by other filmmakers later this year. Roger continues to develop full length feature film scripts whilst dabbling with the occasional play. He is in the final throes of a full length play entitled 'Love and Bullshit' which he is hoping to find a venue for later this year. He is also planning to make a feature film entitled 'Farther than the Falcon Spies' in the next two years. It is a story about an 18 year old supermarket girl who, abused by her father as a 12 year old, uses John Keats' poetry as a catharsis. She meets an older man going through a marital break-up and, from being embittered and angry about life, learns to love.

Asked about his philosophy on writing, Roger said: "Writing is re-writing. Like wine a script takes time to develop. It's an organic process that moves and changes and develops over the course of time. The important thing is to discipline oneself to write. Get into the habit. Don't regard rejection as anything other than part of the development process. The key is to learn, to use views and comments as part of the development process that writing is. And never give up. Never, never, never give up".

Mark Wakeman

Mark was born in 1972 and lives in Leigh Park. He joined the Bench in 1990 and then rejoined after University. He is an extremely active member of the Bench Theatre and has acted in numerous plays including 'The Odd Couple' and 'Dead Funny'. He has directed shows with Bench Theatre including 'The Importance of Being Earnest' and 'A Christmas Carol'. He has also produced, been stage manager, operated lighting and sound and been a member of the Bench Committee and the Artistic Panel for a number of years.

He wrote his first play when he was about 12... an Abbott and Costello homage for his Drama Class. He co-wrote a couple of one act plays for University and was commissioned to write a full length play which his Uni Theatre Society took to the Edinburgh Festival and he has had two full length plays performed: "Undue Aggravation" at the Edinburgh Festival and "Terror at Blagg Castle" at Portsmouth Arts Centre with the Goggles Theatre Company. He has written numerous one-act pieces which have been performed at University in London, at the Bench and at the Totton Festival of Drama. Plays such as: 'The Quiet Life' and 'Helpline' (both with Neil Kendall) 'Broken Morning', 'Ice Station Zeroes', 'The Unusual Suspects', 'The Big Freeze', 'Father for Justice', 'Unworkable' and 'Lonesome Pine' (with Mike Hickman).

Asked about his writing style, Mark replied: "When I'm writing plays I tend to write comedies as I love comedy and am always searching for the next big laugh. I liken plays to having a baby. When the play wants to come, it comes and you can't stop it. Each story is different and needs a different amount of time to develop. I hate re-writing. I loath it. I understand that it's very, very necessary but I get so annoyed with my stuff that I tend to just scrap it and write it again from scratch rather than just change little bits.

John Scadding

John was born in Bristol in 1932. He wrote his first play at eight about the Battle of Britain but he settled down seriously to the art of playwriting by the age of 14 and has never stopped since. He worked as a teacher of Drama and English both here and overseas until 1980 when he switched to industry and worked as a Technical Clerk.

John moved to Havant in 1970, joined the Bench a year later and is now a life member. He has been an actor and director with the company. His favourite production was "The Plough and the Stars". But it is his writing that he enjoys most. Over the years he has written short and full-length plays, dramas and comedies and books and lyrics for Musicals and Pantomimes. A few have been staged by schools and drama groups, including the Bench. Asked to describe his plays he tends to say they are "tuppence coloured - farce with a heart - though as the years have passed the colours have muted and the farce has lessened but I hope the heart is as big as ever."

Asked about the inspirations for his plays, John replied: "I collect 'tatty kingdoms'. I collect them and think about them for years and years until, if I'm lucky, a light comes on and a setting comes to me... a tatty room, a tatty garden, a tatty clearing in a forest. Then a figure comes on that I hadn't expected, then another and another and they start to find out what they are doing in these places... and so do I too... I do not like writing. I like re-writing. It's the polishing I like and the rearranging... to make the people clearer, the scenes more dramatic and the writing and the actions sharper and sharper. Some plays I have written are in their twentieth version and I'm still working on them. I write in verse, a queer kind of doggerel because it helps me get edge to it. I love the cut and thrust. And why do we do it? To create New Worlds".

Doreen Fay

Doreen lives in Portsmouth and does voluntary work for the Citizens Advice Bureau. Her hobbies are theatre, travelling, reading and gardening. She started writing plays in 1997 and to date has completed five one-act plays. Work is continuing on two longer plays.

Doreen joined the Bench in 2003 and her play 'Come and Get Him' was selected for Supernova2. Two years later she had 'Time To Go' included in Supernova3... now she has achieved a hat-trick with 'Openings'. Not really into serious drama, Doreen prefers to get an audience to at least smile if not laugh. Her favourite time for writing is during the peace and quiet of early morning. Inspiration comes from things heard or sometimes from newspaper items. The writing process is a slow one... unless a deadline looms.

Doreen's interest in writing plays was aroused when she saw an advertisement for a competition for one-act plays... entered... and won it. Another success was when Roy Hudd accepted a sketch for his radio programme 'The News Huddlines'. Doreen received the princely sum of £18. She finds the medium suits her because it depends more on speech than description of surroundings. She also writes poetry and has had entries in various anthologies. Doreen is a keen member and supporter of the Bench. Other than writing, she has no previous experience in the theatre, either on or off stage, but she is very interested in learning to direct.

Neil McBride

Neil got involved with the Bench through his brother, Martin, for the production of 'His Dark Materials'. Neil had read the books by Philip Pullman and loved them and after being dazzled by other Bench productions couldn't let the chance to be involved in something that special pass him by. It was the first acting he had done and he loved it, saying "now the Bench has given me the opportunity to perform my own play... and I can't wait!" 'Noir' is the first play Neil has written and submitted for anything and he hopes it is the first of many performances of pieces he writes in the future.

Asked about his writing experience, Neil replied: "I've been writing since I was sixteen but often find my enthusiasm wanes after about thirty pages and ideas I've had are never fulfilled. Supernova gave me a chance not only to write something of a length I knew I could manage without my mind wandering to other projects, but also the possibility to see the piece performed, or in this case perform it, for an audience and receive some feedback.

Liam Fleming

Born in 1988, Liam is the youngest playwright in this year's Supernova festival. He lives in Portsmouth and works at the Co-op and as a play-worker for the YMCA. He joined the Bench early in 2006 after he auditioned for 'His Dark Materials' and his hobbies include acting, directing, reading and artwork. Liam started writing plays in school in 2003 for his house drama competition. He has written three plays; 'The Final Call' - performed in 2003 by Alan House drama group, 'Control' - performed in 2005 by Upstage! theatre group and 'Death' - performed in 2006 by the Southsea Shakespeare Actors. He has two further pieces he is working on at the moment.

The inspiration for his plays usually comes on a spur of the moment and he tends to do his writing in the evening and late at night. Liam prefers to write alone rather than with people but has, on a few occasions, written plays with others.

When asked about what his other writings, his successes and hopes for the future, Liam replied: "I have written two short stories, some adolescent poetry, and am working on a movie script, but it is nowhere near finished. I would love to have a play performed by a professional cast to a paying audience."

The New One-Act Plays

Wednesday and Friday

The NeighbourWritten by Roger Goldsmith

Ted and Rita, a retired couple, live in a flat in a house close to the sea. Rita opens the door to a new neighbour, Ernest Baxter. When Ted hears the man walking above them he is convinced the man is Max Brown, he recognises the walk. Something happened in the past. "He said he'd get me one day." Rita tries to convince Ted that the man is not Max Brown. And when Rita invites the neighbour for tea and biscuits, Ted is put at ease, and the ghost of his worst fears laid to rest.

TedDavid Penrose
RitaIngrid Corrigan
The NeighbourPeter Corrigan
DirectorNeil McBride

Author's Notes

This play was written in a different life, and very much influenced by Pinter. I loved Donald Pleasance in 'The Caretaker' and wanted to take what is a slightly younger version of the character of Davies and put him in a play.

Roger Goldsmith

The Girl In The CornerWritten by Mark Wakeman

1885. Blackmoor Asylum. Its latest inmate, a young woman, finds herself alone in a squalid room, subjected to the scientific whims of a sadistic Doctor, terrorised by the staff and haunted by dreams of a mysterious girl who stands in the corner, a figure that only Rebecca can see. With the help of her one and only friend Rebecca seeks to uncover the secret of Blackmoor House, but as the plot unravels she realises this can only end with the loss of her sanity... or her life.

RebeccaSian Green
Doctor GreyJaspar Utley
KittyCharley Callaway
FletcherMark Wakeman
MaryEmma Bailey
The Girl In The CornerCharlotte Self
DirectorNathan Chapman

Author's Notes

"This play was my attempt to go 'serious' again after the success of my last serious play, the thriller 'Father for Justice' which appeared in Supernova3. I immediately found myself trying to write another thriller with a 'twist' ending, but rather than echo a previous success, I thought I'd use the festival to try my hand at another genre that I have not tackled for the stage and which I couldn't remember the Bench having done before. Therefore this was a deliberately contrived piece to test my own abilities to once more swap out of my comfortable comedy zone and play around with my dark side again. Also, I wanted to see if I could write a play with a strong central female character as I had written for male actors last time."

Mark Wakeman

JennyWritten by John Scadding

It is 1930 and a young war veteran arrives unexpectedly at a house in the country looking for his missing identity. One lady tries to help him but another one doesn't - and that one is Jenny.

DavisJeff Bone
Mrs FlynnSharman Callam
JennyBarbara Netherwood
JennySteph Chaplen
DirectorZoë Chapman

Author's Notes

The play you'll see tonight is in a room once splendid but now long past it... and the people in it too. But, with the cast and the team and the guys on the spotlights, out of this tattiness can come something otherwise. Fingers crossed.

John Scadding

OpeningsWritten by Doreen Fay

A new hospital is due to be opened in a few hours, but the place is nowhere near finished. Ward manager Tony and his assistant Gordon try desperately to get everything ready for the visiting Minister for Health. Will Tony's talent for spin get him out of this particular crisis?

Tony, Ward ManagerDarryl Wakelin
Gordon, AssistantDamon Wakelin
Avril, a patientJo Wakelin
Minister of HealthSally Hartley
WorkmanPete Woodward
Pete, a photographerDan Finch
DirectorPete Woodward

Author's Notes

The inspiration for 'Openings' came from a newspaper cutting I was sent about the opening of a new ward that threatened to go awry, in a hospital in Ireland. How Tony and Gordon got mixed up in it is not clear... it just happened.

Doreen Fay

Thursday and Saturday

Window DressingWritten by Roger Goldsmith

Jane and Richard Smith drink coffee in a coffee bar, before Jane has her hair done at her daughter Helen's hairdressers in a new shopping mall. A dosser sits in a shop doorway opposite them, begging. Jane is critical - "They shouldn't allow him in here. There should be rules." When the dosser sits at the next table to them, it's time for Jane to quickly leave. "God, I can smell him from here." The dosser introduces himself to Richard as Thomas Smith. They share the same names. And lots more besides.

Jane SmithSue Dawes
Richard SmithTerry Smyth
Dosser (Thomas)Andrew Caple
HelenKelly Edney
DirectorsAndrew Caple
Robin Hall

Author's Notes

I liked the idea of two people sitting behind glass (the coffee house) looking out onto a person in front of glass (the shop window) thus the title. The suburban couple behind glass, and the dosser in front of it. I think there is a thin layer of something between having and not having, winning and losing, success and failure. Sometimes it is just a piece of glass that divides.

Roger Goldsmith

NoirWritten by Neil McBride

'Noir' is the story of a guy and a broad in a difficult situation. They are strangers to each other but have one thing in common - the man they work for. Jerry. The guy is a cleaner - he removes unwanted objects from inconvenient places - is good at his job and has been on Jerry's payroll for many years. The broad borrowed money - and is repaying that money the only way Jerry will accept - through a favour. But not everything sits right - is she really all she seems...

ManNeil McBride
WomanEmma Searle
Dead GuyPhil Gyngell
DirectorMartin McBride

Author's Notes

The premise of 'Noir' came to me while watching a film called 'Brick' in which the director had shifted an archetypal film noir plot to an American high school, and done so to great effect.

Neil McBride

GoldfishWritten by Liam Fleming

It is said that goldfish have no short-term memory. Finding themselves in a hospital room with no idea why they are there, Julienne, Reuben and Spaulding are about to find out what that might feel like, and so are you. Surreal, black comedy with distinct echoes of the Theatre of the Absurd, 'Goldfish' is a piece that will make you think, forget, then think again.

JulienneJulie Wood
SpauldingJeff Bone
ReubenDamon Wakelin
Doctor ForbesMegan Green
DirectorSally Hartley

Author's Notes

'Goldfish' was written in about three days. The idea just came to me. I was in my house with a couple of friends when the fuses went and we were plunged into total darkness. Eventually the lights came back on. With all the excitement we had completely forgotten what we were talking about. It occurred to me that this might be what it feels like to lose your memory - and that's where it came from. But because I only had an idea, it took me a while to decide what the characters would be like. I have always enjoyed creating characters and Reuben and Julienne were great fun to do, whilst Spaulding is a slight caricature of a good friend of mine.

Liam Fleming

Stand and DeliveryWritten by Mark Wakeman

Martin and Emma eagerly await the imminent birth of their first child but the Doctors have been warned that due to her high blood pressure Emma must be kept calm at all costs. Which proves to be a little difficult when an unexpected intruder bursts in upon their quiet evening in, and Martin must use all his invention to protect his wife from the truth. A comedy of Indian food, socks and pilates... but not necessarily in that order.

This play was later staged at The Totton Drama Festival in 2008 as Bench Theatre's entry to the first round of The All England Theatre Festival that year.

MartinNathan Chapman
EmmaZoë Chapman
SteveMark Wakeman
NickyRobin Hall
Delivery manLiam Fleming
PolicemanPhil Gyngell
DirectorJohn Wilcox

Author's Notes

Stand and Delivery was actually inspired by a rather morbid story that a work colleague told me. It was one of those wonderful stories full of the awful details about something terrible that should never happen to anyone. Then, right in the middle of the story, was this wonderful moment of black comedy which, I'm ashamed to say, made me laugh out loud. Then I began to think... actually, that would be a fantastic scene in a comedy play, and so I built the rest of the play around that idea. I'm pleased to say that almost nothing else about the play echoes that tragic night.

Mark Wakeman

The Supernova 4 Crew and Production Photos

Supernova 4 poster image

These plays were staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977. Each play was performed twice during the four days of the festival as follows:

Wednesday and Friday:
The Neighbour
The Girl In The Corner

Thursday and Saturday:
Window Dressing
Stand and Delivery


Festival Producer Jaspar Utley
Assistant Producers Mark Wakeman
Julie Wood
Megan Green
Project co-ordinator Andrew Caple
Stage Manager John Wilcox
Assistant Stage Managers Steph Chaplen
Zoë Chapman
Sian Green
Lighting Design Robin Hall
Andrew Caple
Paul Millington
Lighting Operators Derek Callam
Ingrid Corrigan
Sound Design Darryl Wakelin
Chris Stoneham
Sound Operators Derek Callam
Chris Stoneham
Programme Design Derek Callam
Press and Publicity Sue Dawes
Jaspar Utley
Poster Design Nathan Chapman
Front of House Gina Farmer


The NewsMike Allen

Umbrella title opens way for satirical spin

Tony and Gordon, senior and junior partners in spin. Ring any bells? No? Well, try this line from Tony: "We have to be practical, not ethical." And there are even hints of the junior partner's future as senior partner. The two characters feature in Openings, a slice of political satire by Doreen Fay that tops the polls in the first of two programmes of new plays being presented by Bench Theatre under the umbrella title Supernova.

Openings is impeccably short and sharp, well acted by Darryl and Damon Wakelin and directed with a sure touch by Pete Woodward. Otherwise the first programme tends towards menace, nightmare and fragile minds.

The Neighbour, a Pinterish piece by Roger Goldsmith, is less economical in the writing than in the acting of David Penrose, Ingrid Corrigan and Peter Corrigan. The Girl in the Corner written by Mark Wakeman and featuring an accomplished central performance by Sian Green, is like a whirlpool of despair.

Jenny by John Scadding, is about a young war veteran's search for his identity but lacks a clear identity of its own. This first Supernova programme will be repeated tonight and the second can be seen tomorrow. All the plays are by writers form Hampshire and West Sussex including Bench members.

The News, 20th September 2007

Production Photographs

The Neighbour

The Girl In The Corner



Window Dressing



Stand and Delivery