‘It’s never really real, until it’s happening to you.’
To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the landing of the Empire Windrush, the Leeds Playhouse commissioned four Yorkshire-based writers from an open call out to write new 15-minute radio dramas responding to the theme of migration. These plays will be performed live at Leeds College of Music before being broadcast across BBC Radio Drama. My piece, Exodus, focuses on a family in Leeds who after an unnamed nuclear catastrophe are fleeing to the south coast to gain safe passage abroad but when they get there they must make a terrible decision; who gets in the boat?
‘You ever think that you’re just not meant for the world? That it’s not meant for you? That whatever you are in here… (Points to chest) Or here… (Points to head) Or wherever whatever makes us who we are is, you ever think you can just be a mismatch? A square peg in a round hole?’
Jim’s always been a bit of a character but he’s always had this lingering feeling though that he doesn’t quite fit into this world, that there’s something different about him, something wrong… Jim’s never told his story to anyone before, but tonight he’s going to tell it to you…
The Life and Soul is produced by Red Ladder Theatre Company and directed by Rod Dixon.
THE LIFE & SOUL
‘We have created, what we think, is something special. We have created the perfect friend, without the flaws of human nature. We have used the great potential of technology to cure the modern scourge of our times – loneliness. Welcome to the future. Meet Lailah’
After working with Riptide on their production of The Lucky Ones, a month long immersive piece of theatre that took place in your own life, I was commissioned to work with them on their follow-up production. The Lucky Ones II will explore Artificial Intelligence, our relationship with technology, and what it means to be human. The story will take place in your life over a two week period beginning at the end of September.
THE LUCKY ONES II
‘Mankind is sick. It is plagued by an unrelenting greed, a wilful ignorance and an aversion to true justice. Suffering, death and misery run rife yet you do next to nothing. Anguish and pain condemn great swarms of you yet you turn a blind eye and hide behind your civilised walls. The selfish ills of your present betray your future generations to a suffering they played no part in bringing about, yet you continue all the same. You care for none but yourselves and your judgement has come.’
Goddesses. Murderers. Terrorists. There are many names thrown at the Furies. There are many crimes laid at their feet. Some believe they aren’t of this world, that they are some divine form of justice punishing man for its many ills. Some believe they are just the latest radical group to impose their world view on others. Whatever the truth is, they are here. And they have now got a following…
The Furies is my second collaboration with Buglight Theatre and will be touring in 2019 with dates and venues to be announced.
‘For the last eighteen months I have kept a record of every drink I have bought and every drink that has been bought for me and I can tell you Diane, that it definitely doesn’t ‘even out’. If we turn to the Diane section you will see…’
After being sketch of the year finalists three times, including one win with ‘Break Up’, myself and my co-writer Joe Cuthbert, created Life is Sketchy. We have filmed some sketches and recently had two performances at the Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds. We are currently in the process of booking a tour for early 2019.
LIFE IS SKETCHY
‘I couldn’t really understand some feelings I would have… building up in me… and the cuts… well they… they gave me some relief… like in some weird way they allowed some of that pain and tension to break…'
On the back of the success of The Life and Soul, Red Ladder has commissioned me to write a sister piece exploring some of the issues facing young teenage girls. The two pieces will entwine with Jim and Sarah both telling you their stories. The Life and Soul II has been commissioned by Red Ladder Theatre Company and will be directed by Rod Dixon with dates to be announced soon.
THE LIFE & SOUL II
One family. One cause. Two paths…With a fragile peace hanging over their community, the rifts of the past begin to tear apart the foundations of a prominent Republican family when one of them rejoins the struggle against ‘the age old enemy of the Irish people’…
Marching on Embers was my first commission with Buglight Theatre and toured across northern England in 2017. There are plans to retour this in 2019.
'Marching On Embers is a beautiful piece that tragically portrays the harsh reality that accompanies radicalisation. If Buglight continue to craft drama and theatre of this calibre, they will undoubtedly continue to speedily ascend as one of Yorkshire's most exciting new companies.'
MARCHING ON EMBERS
Compass Festival – Writer in Residence
I was delighted to be invited to be Writer in Residence for Compass Festival which runs from the 16th to the 25th of November. Compass is a live art festival that takes place every other November all over Leeds in cultural venues, civic buildings, local businesses and out on the city's streets. Its programme is completely free to the public, ensuring thousands of people can enjoy world-class live art on their doorsteps.
These Northern Types - Book
What does it mean to be a Northerner in a globalised world? Where the’s muck, is the’ still brass? Do we tolerate less bullshit than others? Has the St George’s Cross become a symbol of racism? Is making do and mending consigned to the history books? Where’s the line between being proud of where we’re from and making others feel excluded? Do you want gravy on your chips? Or curry sauce?
I have written two essays on the North and its reception to creative work as part of Split Designs These Northern Types project exploring the northern identity. The book is due to be released at the end of August.
25th June 2018 – The Stephanie Hirst Show, BBC Radio Leeds
A recent interview on BBC Radio Leeds talking about the Airplays project along with the Leeds Playhouse Literary Assocaite Jacqui Honess-Martin and writers Emma Barnes and Gemma Bedeau. We’re on from 48 mins.
Press & Interviews
18th March 2018 – The Play What I Wrote for East Leeds FM
Along with writers Charley Mills and Charlotte Catterick I discussed my experience as a writer today.
19th Feb 2018 - Masculinity, mental health and theatre
Interview with the State of the Arts and masculinity.
22nd October 2017 – Love Arts Closing Show
The Life and Soul post show Q&A from 3 mins 30 and a longer discussion about The Life and Soul running to about 11 mins 30. Also another mention again from 75 mins - 78 mins as one of the highlights of the festival.
26th September 2017 – Interview with Doncopolitan Magazine
Cast’s Second Space & why it’s important to support your local theatre by Michéle Beck.
26th September 2017 – Interview with Radio Yorkshire
I talk with the team from Radio Yorkshire about Marching on Embers and Leeds United.
31st July 2017 – No Bystanders, East Leeds FM
I talk about The Life and Soul performance at Chapel FM from about 10 minutes in.
June 9th 2017 – Interview with Stevie Ward and Adam Cuthbertson
I spoke with Leeds Rhinos' players Stevie Ward and Adam Cuthbertson for Mantality Magazine who came to see The Life and Soul at Belle Isle in South Leeds.
The Lucky Ones I was my first collaboration with Riptide Theatre and put the audience member into an immersive adventure that augmented their surroundings for a month. The experience was part theatre, part video game, part escape room and centred around a mysterious company, Capital Experience, whose aim was to make you happy...
'I almost can’t believe it. A phenomenon that has taken my life by storm, that has occupied my every waking moment… it’s called The Lucky Ones.'
'This experience is one of the best things I’ve ever done. It took over my life, and has led to some of the most exciting and engaging moments in gaming that I’ve ever had.'
'The Lucky Ones Review Part Two>>
THE LUCKY ONES I
Betting with the Budget was a short farce as part of BackHere! Theatre’s production Here. The 99%, and focused on two civil servants who bet the nation’s budget on a football match in order to get the country out of recession. The play was performed at the Lyric Theatre in Hammersmith.
'Betting with the Budget by Chris O’Connor, brought great laughs with two cabinet ministers trying to bolster the economy by betting the governmental budget (all £160 billion of it) on the outcome of football matches.'
BETTING WITH THE BUDGET
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