Supernova 6: A Festival of New One-Act Plays

Written by Various Authors

February 12th to February 15th 2014

Produced by Thomas Hall

It is now more than 12 years since Bench theatre launched an ambitious one-act play competition aimed at promoting local playwrights and displaying the fruits of their labours on our stage, in a week-long festival - Supernova.

Supernova 6 took place in February 2014 at The Spring Arts and Heritage Centre. Nine brand new works were performed twice over the space of a week, each directed and performed by our award-winning membership.

The Authors

Mark Wakeman

Mark has been writing for as long as he can remember and doesn't seem to intend stopping anytime soon. He is the only writer to have featured in every one of the previous Supernova Festivals, a fact that he is both very proud of and astounded by.

He started writing plays at University but can't remember why, there was probably beer involved. The University Theatre company performed several of his one act plays and he was asked to script their Edinburgh Festival Venture, a Tarantino inspired thriller of a bank robbery gone wrong 'Undue Aggravation' which made it's only appearance on the English stage in 1995's festival. He wrote a second full length play, a madcap comedy called 'Terror at Blagg Castle' which had its world premier at the Portsmouth Arts Centre in Reginald Road performed by the Goggles Theatre company. Both plays were greeted with staggering indifference by audiences and critics alike and have never been seen since.

When Bench Theatre decided to perform a festival of one act plays under the banner of 'Supernova' he decided to brush off his keyboard and try again and this time people seemed to like them. Following this he found himself as a writer and performer with the short lived 'Vicar's Daughters' comedy team until an ill advised charity performance led to a near lynching and his vow to never write comedy again. He lied.

For 'Supernova 3' He set himself the challenge of writing a serious play as the suggestion had been made that he could only write comedy, so he wrote the thriller 'Father for Justice' to prove that he could write something different. Audience reaction was very positive, so at each subsequent Supernova he has challenged himself by writing what he calls his 'Experiments', writing in styles and genres that are not his natural inclination just to see what happens. This years 'Grotto' is his latest attempt at such a piece.

A number of his plays have been revived and entered into the Totton Festival of Drama and the all England Drama Festival where he has won a number of awards for his writing. He also wrote the last two Bench Christmas Pantomimes 'Cinderella: A Christmas Adventure' and 'Aladdin' and is musing over the idea of writing another to finish the trilogy.

Chris Vanstone

This is Chris' first play to be staged. He lives in Emsworth and has been writing for the last five years, though he is not prolific (i.e. lazy!) and his submissions for Supernova represent his first works in just shy of a year.

His style of writing is varied though most often naturalistic with a heavy focus on natural dialogue, everyday scenarios and social situations. 'The Challenge' is a slight move away from his usual territory... while the focus on dialogue may remain, it sits alongside a more darkly comic element.

After studying Drama at Winchester, Chris attended Exeter University to study Playwriting where he started writing. He found his greatest success a year later when he submitted his dissertation piece, half of a full length play, to the Royal Court Young Writers Programme and was subsequently offered a place. The weekly trips to London were inspiring and invaluable and Chris returned the following year as part of the Royal Court Studio Group.

Chris joined the Bench in 2012 because he wanted to get back in to acting and felt it would help with his writing. Having appeared in three productions this year, Supernova 6 has offered him a fantastic opportunity to try out his playwriting skills, something for which he is most grateful.

Pete Barrett

Pete Barrett has been writing plays for the last forty years. Plays produced professionally at the Wolsey in Ipswich include broad comedies like 'The Complete Corruption of Carrington' and 'The Revenge of the Mutant Cockle', satirical pieces like ''Guilty (a woman is tried for her failures as a mother, a wife and a female) and 'Jackals' (A middle class family home is surrounded and seemingly menaced by the unemployed), and serious pieces like 'Day-Dreaming on the Motorway'. His play 'The Dying of the Light' was a full length production at the Wolsey Studio. The 'Revenge of the Mutant Cockle' was runner up at last year's All England Play Festival.

A few years ago, he was commissioned to write short stories for the Interact Reading Service which sends professional actors into hospitals to read to groups of stroke patients. This service employs 100 actors working in London hospitals and is currently being rolled out countrywide. Pete has written 36 short stories for the service. 'Out Loud: 36 Twisted Tales' is now available for the Kindle on Amazon.

Pete retired in 2007 to write full time. Since then he has written three full length plays and twelve children's book - the first two 'Tich Vampire Hunter' and 'Tich Dragonslayer' have been published with more on the way.

Edwin Preece

Edwin Preece started writing five years ago, under the direction of Joyce Branagh, at the Palace Theatre Watford's Playwriting group. His first play 'The Cell' was short listed for the Verity Bathgate Award and that was followed by 'Da', one of only four plays to be showcased at the International Playwriting Festival run by the Warehouse Theatre in Croydon in March 2010.

His one act play 'Cleaning Agents' has had a successful run at the Lion and the Unicorn Theatre in Kentish Town. Another 'Suffer The Little Children' was recently performed at The Space in East London.

In April 2013 his play 'To The End Of Love' had a sell out run at the Tristan Bates Theatre in London and later this year another full length play '6 by 9' will be staged at venues along the south coast.

Lucy Flannery

Lucy Flannery is a member of Bench Theatre. She lives in Havant and has been a professional writer for over 20 years.

Her recent credits include an adaptation of Thank You, Jeeves for Wemsfest's Wodehouse Festival, a collaboration with SOOP Theatre on A Viking Tale and Like A Daughter with Alison Steadman and Roy Hudd, broadcast in 2012 on BBC Radio 4.

In 2013 she was one of the core writers on the Arts Council-funded You Me and Everyone, a work of literary art projected on to Portsmouth Guildhall on the evenings of 25 and 26 October. In 2014/15 she will be a Royal Literary Fellow, working two days a week at a south coast university, supporting undergraduates with their written English.

Lucy's play, Computer Dating in Supernova 5 was her first play with Bench Theatre and was so popular that Bench took it to the All England Theatre Festival in Totton where Lucy won the award for "Best Original Script".

Corinne Foster

Corinne wrote her first book aged 12 on a spiral-bound shorthand notebook, and has been writing intermittently ever since (work and motherhood causing temporary lulls in output). The results of this are numerous books, screenplays and theatre productions, most of which have stayed in a cupboard.

Her epiphany came relatively recently when she realised that completing the first draft is the beginning rather than the end - previously her credo was "good, I've got to the end of that one, I can start the next one now." Inspired by a television documentary on the Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin (and a quote from Ernest Hemingway*), she has found that embracing the concept of spending five times as much on re-writing as doing the first draft made a huge improvement to the quality of her work.

She has written a short film 'Peel and the Broken Boy', which was released in January 2014 and her first e-novel 'Secret of the Phoon' was published in November 2013. She also wrote a spoof management self-help book 'The Real Office: An Uncharacteristic Gesture of Magnanimity' under the pseudonym Hilary Wilson-Savage, which was published in 2007.

Corinne lives in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire and this is her first production with Bench Theatre.

* Oh... and that Hemingway quote? "The first draft of anything is shit."

Phillip Gething

Phillip, born in 1929, is a retired scientist living in Fleet, where he belongs to Rushmoor Writers and the Creative Writng Group of Fleet U3A. 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 has concentrated on plays in recent years.

He has won prizes in various competitions and has had the pleasure of seeing three of his plays performed in public; this will be his fourth opportunity and he intends to be there! He likes to amuse if possible, and aims to have some action on the stage.

The words flow best at about morning coffee time, but still need several revisions. 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 12th February and Friday 14th February 2014

SpiritedWritten by Corinne Foster

Helen's dinner with boyfriend Freddy is interrupted by an unexpected and unwelcome visitor. She struggles to cope with him, while trying to concentrate on the important question Freddy is asking her.

HelenSarah Parnell
FreddyStuart Reilly
StephenDavid Penrose
WaitressLiz Brown
DirectorJudith Smyth

Author's Notes

The characters of Helen and Stephen presented themselves to me first - I find that my strongest characters won't leave me alone until I've written them into something. I've always loved the elegant ease and wit of Noel Coward, so I developed this setting and story as it was a great opportunity for me to try and emulate that atmosphere in today's setting.

Toby's PastimeWritten by Phillip Gething

Toby Maitland is retired but claims to be busy from Monday to Friday. It is only at the week-end that he can indulge in his unusual hobby...

TobyTerry Smyth
PeggyDi Wallsgrove
DesmondStuart Reilly
DirectorMarion Ward

Author's Notes

I heard years ago of a research scientist at a government laboratory who behaved conventionally during the working week but indulged himself on Saturdays.

TriptychWritten by Edwin Preece

Isabel is sitting in a cafe trying to read a book, Dan is deliberately posing at his local swimming pool and Trevor is entertaining tourists in Covent Garden. Little do they know that their lives are never going to be the same again.

IsabelSophie Hoolihan
TrevorChris Vanstone
DanStuart Reilly
DirectorRoger Wallsgrove

Author's Notes

I was interested in writing a play where a strong central character never appears. The audience must learn about him through the eyes of others. I hope Triptych sparks the imagination so that the audience can created there own Benedict St. John.

Sense and SensiblenessWritten by Pete Barrett

Sense and Sensibleness is the kind of play Jane Austen might have written when under the influence of certain hallucinogenic herb teas. In the play, heroine Amber Vertigris despairs of ever finding a man to match her intelligence, wit and feminine wiles. Could Clayton Wensleydale be the man that finally tames her or is she destined to be left on the shelf with the candles, the tin of Spam and the high energy light bulbs?

AmberJessi Wilson
Mrs VertigrisDena Hare
EdgarDan Finch
ClaytonMark Wakeman
RuttocksRoger Wallsgrove
DirectorAndrew Caple

Author's Notes

Romantic literature, from the sublime (Jane Austen) to the ridiculous (Barbara Cartland), never goes out of fashion, and is ripe for parody. As with most of my comedies, Sense and Sensibleness has been written over decades, is constantly updated and will never be finished. It's inspiration is lost in the mists of time i.e. I've forgotten.

ChoicesWritten by Mark Wakeman

A hotel by the sea. A couple in love. Trying to run from their past. But there are some things that you can't escape from..

FrankDan Finch
JaneClaire Lyne
DirectorJessi Wilson

Author's Notes

Earlier this year I was roped into writing a script for a student film about two gangsters, an older man and his youthful apprentice on a bungled hit. At one point in the script the older man narrates a story about an ill fated love affair. The film was ultimately never made but those few lines about the man's past stuck with me and I decided to turn those few sentences into a whole play instead. If the film had been made I'd have probably never bothered. Part of me is now glad that it wasn't.

Thursday 13th February and Saturday 15th February 2014

JittersWritten by Mark Wakeman

It's Tara's wedding day. She's about to be married to the most wonderful man in the world and just as she's heading to the altar her best friend Martin accidentally lets slip a secret that causes her to rethink everything. A romantic comedy for the perpetually indecisive. Possibly. But it might not be. Or is it?

TaraBeth Evans
MartinChris Vanstone
TinaSophie Hoolihan
DirectorLorraine Galliers

Author's Notes

I've been Best Man at five Weddings and I've always had this idea to write a comedy about the comedy misadventures of a best man and thought now was the time. To start I sat down and started writing about the bride, intending my best man hero to arrive a page or so later. Instead I carried on writing about the bride and the play turned into something completely different. The Best Man never even makes it into the script! One of the easiest scripts I've ever produced, it fell out over the course of one day and I hardly had to change a word afterwards. If only they were all this easy!

GrottoWritten by Mark Wakeman

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..

SarahLiz Brown
ChrisDan Finch
CindyKirsty Terry
SimonAndrew Caple
DirectorClaire Lyne

Author's Notes

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 ChallengeWritten by Chris Vanstone

Grieves, Plum and Jonjo have had enough. Max has something they want and they have come to get it. Three against one, what could possibly go wrong?

MaxDavid Penrose
GrievesSimon Walton
PlumMark Wakeman
JonjoStuart Reilly
DirectorJulie Wood

Author's Notes

I was in the middle of writing a longer piece and the worst thing happened - I got stuck. I opened a new project and just started writing the first thing I could think of, no definite plot just a place and characters. It was an exercise in playing with pace and tension, something on the side. I was trying to get myself unstuck and ended up with a completely new play. Plays are very strange things... sometimes they form over time, others just jump out at you and scream like they have been hiding in the darkest corner of your mind, biding their time waiting for their moment.

Remember ParisWritten by Lucy Flannery

Remember Paris - a tale of passion, pride and pain. Or is it?

1st WomanMegan Green
2nd WomanSue Dawes
CharlesChris Vanstone
MonicaJulie Wood
GeraldMark Wakeman
DirectorDi Wallsgrove

Author's Notes

The germ of the idea for Remember Paris actually came to me during the last Supernova Festival, specifically during the tech run!

The Supernova 6 Crew and Production Photos

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:
Toby's Pastime
Sense and Sensibleness

Thursday and Saturday:
The Challenge
Remember Paris


Festival Producer Thomas Hall
Stage Manager Thomas Hall
Assistant Stage Manager Di Coates
Lighting Design Phil Hanley
Lighting Operators Robin Hall
Maurice Lillie
Sound Design Jacquie Penrose
Sound Operators Paul Millington
Ingrid Corrigan
Programme Design Derek Callam
Props Coordinator Jaspar Utley
Poster Design Pete Woodward
Front of House David Penrose


RemotegoatJill Lawrie

Impressive mix of contemporary story-telling

The multi-award winning Bench Theatre group are currently performing Supernova VI a debut festival of nine one act plays in two alternating programmes, providing a wonderful opportunity for not only professional writers but first-timers too. With nearly 100 submissions from a wide variety of playwrights, this year having dropped the local only restriction, an eclectic mix of 9 were finally chosen to have their one act dramas performed for the very first time.

On the opening night, first up was "Triptych" by Edwin Preece. A highly imaginative concept that drew three people together though the central connecting character remained concealed. Strong performances from this trio with Sophie Hoolihan giving an emotional portrayal of the vulnerable Isabel, seduced, manipulated and controlled by the unseen artist.

This was followed by the strongest performance of the night "Sense and Sensibleness" by Peter Barrett. Retiring in 2007 to write full time Barrett has written 36 short stories for the Interact Reading Service. This comical parody sees heroine Amber despair of ever finding an eligible husband. Jessie Wilson superbly delivers and is admirably supported by would-be suitors Mark Wakeman (Clayton Wensleydale) and Dan Finch (Edgar).

Completing the first half of the evening another entertaining drama "Spirited2 penned by Corinne Foster, a prolific writer who wrote her first book aged 12!. Again admirably performed by Sarah Parnell (Helen) and David Penrose (Stephen).

Following the interval "Toby's Pastime" by Phillip Gething and "Choices" by Mark Wakeman. Mark of course is a stalwart member of Bench, not only was he performing in 3 plays but had also written 3 of them!

The second performance selects storylines as diverse as passion and romantic comedy to the experiences of a department store Santa Claus and a new play by Bench member Chris Vanstone.

This was an exciting opportunity for both writers and performers alike as these premieres were showcased to a large and supportive audience.

Remotegoat, 13th February 2014

Production Photographs

Remember Paris


The Challenge



Sense and Sensibleness


Toby's Pastime