Supernova 5: A Festival of New One-Act Plays

Written by Various Authors

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.

The Authors

Doreen Fay

Doreen, who lives in Portsmouth, is retired and for the last 7 years has worked as a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau. She started writing plays in 1997 and has written five one-act plays. Work is continuing on two longer plays. 'Doing it for Nora' will be the fourth of her one act plays to be produced by Bench Theatre. 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... and she achieved a hat-trick with 'Openings' for Supernova 4. Not really into serious drama, Doreen prefers to get an audience to at least smile if not laugh. A pleasing 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.

Roger Goldsmith

Roger left engineering in 2003 and has been writing full-time ever since (both plays and films). He lives in an apartment in Southsea, at what used to be the Eastney Marine Barracks. He finds it a great place for writing - very quiet. He also has a home in Portugal and spends a number of months there each year. He packs his laptop and seamlessly makes the transition from one location to the next in terms of writing, finding the environmental change inspirational.

As a young boy Roger stammered very badly and could not even say his name when asked for it. He believes his writing germinated from that sense of being on the outside. He wrote his first play entitled 'The Family' when he was 16 and was invited to Centre 42, Arnold Wesker's establishment where he met Clive Barker, who encouraged him to move to London, which he did two years later. Roger's dream of being a writer subsided when the reality of having to work to earn money to live, set in but surfaced again when he was able to stop working and write full time. He has produced a number of short films, and (in addition to those of his plays already performed by Bench Theatre) he has written a number of other plays including 'The Neighbour', 'White Meat', 'Material Things' and 'Counting the Days'.

Mark Wakeman (b 1972)

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.

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) and The Madge and Stanley Williams trophy for Best Script for 'Father for Justice' (2009) both 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. Mark Wakeman currently has four cats and lives in Havant.

Lucy Flannery

Lucy has lived in Havant for over 30 years, and although she only joined the Bench in 2008, she has been coming to productions since the 1980s. The first Bench Production she saw was 'Hedda Gabler'. A keen theatre goer, she also frequently attends Chichester Festival Theatre and Spring productions whenever she can.

She has been a professional writer for over 20 years and has been published in a number of humorous magazines, including Punch. Her film and TV credits include episodes of 'Close to Home', 'The Two of Us', 'The Story of Tracy Beaker', and the 1994 film 'A Business Affair', (starring Christopher Walken, Jonathan Price and Sheila Hancock). Her work broadcast on Radio 4 includes the 1995 comedy series 'Any Other Business' (which starred John Duttine) and the series 'Rent' (which starred Patrick Barlow and Barbara Flynn) which won the 1993 Writers' Guild Award for Best Radio Comedy and ran for 4 series, from 1993 to 1998. 'Computer Dating' is her first play performed by Bench Theatre.

Philip Gething (b 1929)

Phillip Gething is a retired scientist living in Fleet, where he belongs to Rushmoor Writers Group - one of the oldest in the country. He and his wife lived in Waterlooville for several years, where he was a member of the Portsdown Writers Circle.

He has had a number of short stories and articles published, plus a few poems and one technical book, but is now concentrating on plays. He has won prizes in three competitions and has had the pleasure of seeing two of these plays performed in public; this will be his third opportunity and he intends to be there! He likes to amuse if possible, and aims to have some action on the stage. When not writing Phillip is a keen chess player, taking part frequently in team matches at local and county level.

The New One-Act Plays

Wednesday 22nd and Friday 24th September

Pub Quiz Of The SexesWritten by Mark Wakeman

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.

BrianJeff Bone
CarolineAlice Corrigan
LouiseJulie Wood
ChrisDan Finch
WendallCallum West
DirectorAndrew Caple

Author's Notes

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..."

Mark Wakeman

Director's Notes

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?

Andrew Caple

PaperworkWritten by Roger Goldsmith

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.

SusanBeth Evans
LeonardRoger Wallsgrove
ReceptionistSarah Parnell
Voice of Leonard's fatherBob Souer
DirectorEileen Norris

Author's Notes

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.

Roger Goldsmith

Director's Notes

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!

Eileen Norris

Drunk EncounterWritten by Mark Wakeman

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...

AnnabelSian Green
ColinDan Finch
DirectorMark Wakeman

Author's Notes

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!

Mark Wakeman

Director's Notes

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...

Mark Wakeman

Doing It For NorahWritten by Doreen Fay

"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?

LottieBarbara Netherwood
GeorgeTerry Smyth
PhyllisEileen Norris
IrisRuth Prior
DirectorBeth Evans

Author's Notes

The play was inspired by a throw-away comment made by a friend... but more detail would give away the plot!

Doreen Fay

Director's Notes

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.

Beth Evans

Wednesday 23rd and Friday 25th September

SiblingsWritten by Mark Wakeman

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.

DennisMark Wakeman
LiamCallum West
GraceClaire Lyne
ChristinaFern Bicheno
TomDan Finch
MariaBeth Evans
DirectorMegan Green

Author's Notes

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.

Mark Wakeman

Director's Notes

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!!]

Megan Green

A Man of No Commercial ValueWritten by Philip Gething

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 DrummondDavid Penrose
MariettaAlice Corrigan
Alexandra KinghornSarah Parnell
Felicity DrummondHilary Davis
DirectorJeff Bone

Author's Notes

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.

Philip Gething

Director's Notes

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.

Jeff Bone

Computer DatingWritten by Lucy Flannery

Six strangers, three couples, ninety seconds to find true love.

First ManMark Wakeman
First WomanSharman Callam
Second ManJeff Bone
Second WomanMegan Green
Third ManAndrew Caple
Third WomanNadia Diaper
DirectorCallum West

Author's Notes

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.

Lucy Flannery

Director's Notes

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!

Callum West

UnitedWritten by Roger Goldsmith

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?

Lew David Penrose
CharlieRoger Wallsgrove
DirectorJulie Wood

Author's Notes

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.

Roger Goldsmith

Director's Notes

This is the first play I have ever directed...

Julie Wood

The Supernova 5 Festival

Supernova 5 poster image

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
Drunk Encounter
Doing It For Norah

Thursday and Saturday:
A Man of No Commercial Value
Computer Dating


ProducerJacquie Penrose
Producer's AssistantAndrew Caple
Stage ManagerPhil Hanley
Assistant Stage ManagersHilary Davis
Rosie Carter
Sharman Callam
Lighting & Sound OperationPaul Millington
Robin Hall
Lighting Design Phil Hanley
Sound Design Sarah Parnell
Programme Design Derek Callam
Flier Design Pete Woodward
Front of House Ingrid Corrigan


remotegoatJill Lawrie

A night of unbridled conversation

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

Production Photographs

Pub Quiz Of The Sexes


Doing it for Norah

Drunk Encounter


A Man of No Commercial Value

Computer Dating