Wednesday 22nd September to Saturday 25th September 2010
Produced by Jacquie Penrose
Once again Bench Theatre is mounting a celebration of new writing in our area - an event that has proved hugely popular in the past. Eight new short plays by local playwrights over two nights - different subjects, different styles - a chance to see these new works for the very first time. See all eight at a specially reduced price.
When recently divorced Brian and best friend Chris meet recently cheated-on Louise and her best friend Caroline, the battle of the sexes is taken to a whole new level... a sort of papery, multiple-choice level, the results of which none of them were quite expecting. A comedy with the answers to life, love and bar snacks. Beware! This play contains nuts.
This play literally started in the way of many writing exercises. Get two characters and make them talk to each other. Then add another two. The idea was to write a piece for myself and a friend to perform at the Totton Festival but I only managed to complete eight pages before getting distracted. But when Supernova was advertised, I looked at the eight pages, was quite pleased with them and decided to see how it ended... The piece was originally going to be set at a school reunion and be called 'Mungo's Caravan', but the character limit of Supernova saw it stripped back forcing a change in circumstance (and title with the addition of the previously unintended quiz to replace the jettisoned caravan of the previous title). I still hope to use the cut sequence about a Russian bride in another script though..."
I much prefer being a director than an actor at the Bench. With all that talent available in the company, you can create productions you can truly be proud of. Previously I have directed 'The Glass Menagerie' by Tennessee Williams and 'Closer' by Patrick Marber. Also a number of Supernova one act plays - many of which, like 'Father for Justice', have given me immense satisfaction. And, this year, with 'Pub-Quiz of the Sexes', I have been fortunate again to have been handed such a well-crafted, witty script and brilliant comic actors. Who could ask for more?
Set in a Funeral Parlour in Manhattan, Leonard makes funeral arrangements for his dead Father. But the paperwork's wrong. How he hates paperwork. In a conversation with Susan he speaks about his life and losses and what brought him to the place he's at.
|Voice of Leonard's father||Bob Souer|
I woke up one morning in Portugal two and a half years ago and ideas for both 'Paperwork' and 'United' came to me. I wrote them both very quickly, and did nothing with them until the opportunity came to submit them for this Supernova production.
I have recently re-joined the Bench after many years absence. I was last seen here as the Director of Alan Bennett's one-act play 'A Visit from Miss Protheroe' (March 1995). I am celebrating being back at the Bench, which in its friendship, its achievements, and its spirit of true democracy, is unique. Shakespeare gives these words to an old teacher in 'Loves Labours Lost': 'What have I done being young, or what would I do being old'? My sentiments exactly!
A boring conference. A free bar. A beautiful woman. A frustrated man. A kiss... All the makings of a drunken one night stand. But all does not go according to plan...
Writing-wise I seem to be known for comedy but in an effort to surprise my critics (and myself) I started writing 'experiments' which produced the thriller 'Father for Justice' and the ghost story 'The Girl in the Corner' for previous Supernovae. Again, trying to find a non-comedy story to write this time I started a thriller about a one night stand that turns into something darker and more violent. However, it ran over the 30 minute limit and I also didn't want to be the writer who always writes the plays where everybody dies in pain and misery! However, looking at the script there were some good bits to it so I decided to try something different. I cut out the thriller and added a new ending and the results... a sort of comedy-drama thing... I hope finds an audience!
I started directing at University where I co-directed a couple of short comedies. I then took directorial duties for my full length comedy play 'Terry at Blagg Castle' for Goggles Theatre. With the Bench I have directed 'The Office Party', 'The Importance of Being Earnest', 'Charley's Aunt', 'Arsenic and Old Lace', 'Wyrd Sisters', 'A Christmas Carol', 'Play It Again, Sam' and 'What The Butler Saw' as well as the Supernova plays 'Helpline', 'Broken Morning', 'Ice Station Zeroes' and 'Lonesome Pine'. I wasn't supposed to be directing for Supernova this time but found myself directing a script when the original stated director couldn't do it. Fortunately I know the writer quite well and have an idea about what he was banging on about! However, as I write this to meet the programme deadline, I haven't had a single rehearsal for it as 50% of the cast are summering in Costa Rica! So I have got absolutely no idea how it's going to turn out and will be just as surprised or horrified as the audience themselves...
"Bright Prospect" is the name of a council run block of flats for the elderly, but developers also see the site as a bright prospect for making a profit. What option is there, for the residents, but to move?
The play was inspired by a throw-away comment made by a friend... but more detail would give away the plot!
Previous directorial experience has been at Portsmouth University where I directed Tony Marchant's 'Raspberry'; it was such a brilliant play and massively rewarding experience. Also I've directed several monologues from various plays such as 'Road' by Jim Cartwright, 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' by William Shakespeare, 'Trojan Women' by Euripides and 'A Streetcar Named Desire' by Tennessee Williams. In Supernova I am directing 'Doing it for Norah' by Doreen Fay, so far there are no trials or tribulations to speak of, it has been plain sailing from the outset! I am enjoying directing the cast immensely and I can't wait for audiences to see the result of their hard work.
Tom Nolan is away on business. His brother, Dennis, secretly moves into his house after a bust up with his wife. Their sister, Grace, also has plans to use Tom's house while he is gone. But Tom has romantic plans of his own with the lovely Christina and arrives home unexpectedly to discover that blood is thicker than water... well, thick certainly. A comedy about the fine line between love and hatred and about how you can never have too many towels.
The idea of brothers and sisters is something I find fascinating as I don't have any. I am always intrigued by siblings who seem to both adore and annoy each other in equal measure. While musing about writing a sit-com I came up with an idea about two grown-up brothers and their sister, forced to live together with an elderly parent through bizarre circumstances. During the course of brainstorming possible episodes I started writing the idea for one where, thinking the others all gone, they all brought dates back only for disaster to strike. Having never progressed any further with this idea (and if the play bombs tonight never will!) and mindful of Supernova's six actor limit, I re-wrote the idea without the elderly parent and his date and had to come up with a rather convoluted reason why all three are brought together without the benefit of a pilot episode. Hopefully it still hangs together.
I could not think of a better play for my directorial debut with the Bench than 'Siblings'. It is fast-paced, saucy and well-written. Personally I find directing really quite challenging as Supernova doesn't give any time for a laid back 'manana' attitude (which many know I am prone to!). The cast have been great and have all handled the semi-nudity with great professionalism. I thought directing would be easy-peasy (no lines to learn!)... boy, was I wrong! But I can't wait for the next opportunity!
[PS: "Maria" is wearing the basque that I had when I was 20 and did singing telegrams for a living - I have kept it wrapped up in tissue and I am so pleased to see it being used!!]
Rex Drummond wakes up in a morgue in Detroit in the year 2040 and learns that he died in 2012 near Brighton and that his body was frozen. With no money, he faces some awkward choices, particularly when he returns to the present and is confronted with his wife, who disbelieves his story.
|Rex Drummond||David Penrose|
|Alexandra Kinghorn||Sarah Parnell|
|Felicity Drummond||Hilary Davis|
This play is based on one of my published short stories, which in turn was based very loosely on a news item a few years ago, about an unknown man who walked out of the sea off Kent and who proved to be a gifted concert pianist.
I have previously been an assistant director for the Bench production of 'Road' but I have cut my directorial teeth with 'A Man of No Commercial Value'. I have enjoyed staging the play, a science fiction piece that touches on time travel, particularly as it has not really required the fantastical effects that you would normally find in that genre.
Six strangers, three couples, ninety seconds to find true love.
|First Man||Mark Wakeman|
|First Woman||Sharman Callam|
|Second Man||Jeff Bone|
|Second Woman||Megan Green|
|Third Man||Andrew Caple|
|Third Woman||Nadia Diaper|
The premise and most of the dialogue came to me whilst I was walking my dog on Langstone beach. All my best ideas come when I am by the sea or in the bath. I came home and wrote it in two days.
This is my directorial debut with the Bench, and I hope that it will not be the last. I am planning to pitch many plays over the years, if all goes well, and hopefully you will see me directing a full length piece at some point! I have already directed a full length play though, with a newly formed sister company of Dynamo Youth Theatre, called Dynasty. This is why you won't have seen me around for the last 6 months or so, as I was heavily involved with directing 'Bouncers' by John Godber with them. I found it a fantastic experience, and now plan to make a habit of it. I seem to have the itch! I must admit that I've found directing this piece considerably easier, as it is a beautifully written, one act piece, with actors who have a considerable reputation at the Bench already. It is one thing directing your peers, it is something else entirely to direct your elders! But luckily they have all been fantastically professional, and I cannot wait for opening night!
Lew and Charlie meet in the lounge of a budget hotel in London. Charlie plans to tell his wife he's met someone else following a business trip to Manchester. Lew plans to go back to his home in Manchester the next day. Could there be a connection?
I woke up one morning in Portugal two and a half years ago and ideas for both 'United' and 'Paperwork' came to me. I wrote them both very quickly, and did nothing with them until the opportunity came to submit them for this Supernova production.
This is the first play I have ever directed...
These plays were staged at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre (formerly 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:
Pub Quiz Of The Sexes
Doing It For Norah
Thursday and Saturday:
A Man of No Commercial Value
|Producer's Assistant||Andrew Caple|
|Stage Manager||Phil Hanley|
|Assistant Stage Managers||Hilary Davis |
|Lighting & Sound Operation||Paul Millington |
|Lighting Design||Phil Hanley|
|Sound Design||Sarah Parnell|
|Programme Design||Derek Callam|
|Flier Design||Pete Woodward|
|Front of House||Ingrid Corrigan|
The highly motivated and successful Bench Theatre Company can be guaranteed to succeed in all they produce and their latest collection of original works from home-grown talent is no exception. Supernova 5 being their fifth festival of brand new one act plays to showcase the wealth of ability nurtured in this local group. Forty two plays have been performed in their previous festivals and this event, that encourages and celebrates contemporary writing is understandably hugely popular.
Showing 8 plays, written within the restriction of no more than half a dozen cast and lasting just 30-40 minutes, they are split over 2 performances and cover works from a broad range of playwrights and directors. For some this opportunity being their debut while others have many years of experience. The plays themselves offer a wide variety of topics from dating to science fiction.
First up was 'Pub Quiz of the Sexes' by Mark Wakeman, the only writer to have contributed to all 5 Supernova festivals. Mark is also a talented actor, director and prolific writer. This comic sketch takes place in a pub with 2 pairs of drinkers and a barman. A recently jilted timid girl (Louise) is out with her rather brash internet dating girlfriend Caroline and quiet gauche Brian, whose wife has left him for a Belgian clog maker, with his conceited friend Chris. When Chris attempts a conversation with the girls the cynical Caroline produces a multi choice questionnaire + a request for drinks before she will deign to speak to him! The accomplished Dan Finch (Chris) and Alice Corrigan (Caroline) are both brilliant. Corrigan as always delivering a confident and masterly characterisation in this hilarious comedy, both ably supported by Julie Wood (Louise), Jeff Bone (Brian) and Callum West (Wendell).
'Paperwork' by Roger Goldsmith follows and tackles darker more serious issues ~ set in a Manhattan funeral parlour. Leonard (Roger Wallsgrove) is struggling with his inner loneliness as he deals with the formalities involved in the second suicidal death of his parents.
'Doing if for Nora' by Doreen Fay was inspired by a chance remark from a friend and is very sympathetically performed by Barbara Netherwood (Lottie) and Terry Smyth (George) in a suicide pact to demonstrate their opposition to developers.
However the finale 'Drunk Encounter' by Mark Wakeman is an absolute winner. Staged in a hotel bedroom after a boring conference a beautiful girl and a conscience stricken married man attempt a one night stand! Dan Finch (Colin) excels in this adult piece while Sian Green (Annabel) gives an exceptional and flawless performance with her unfolding fragility and emotional insecurities, despite a torrent of strong language!
This was a very enjoyable and imaginative evening which culminated in a short Question and Answer session with the playwrights and directors where it was disappointing to hear from Wakeman that most of his copious scripts "end up in a drawer"!
remotegoat, September 2010