Decorative image of piles of scripts

About Me

This website isn't meant to be a promotional website as such, just a reference point for anyone who's wondering who I am or what I'm up to. Really, I have no interest in a self-serving website full of jumped-up accolades of what I wonderful writer and director I am. However, as you've taken all the trouble to reach this particular page, I suppose I'd better tell you a bit about who I am and what this is all about. Okay, here I go ...

I'm Chris Neville-Smith, and I'm a play writer who directs. Or a play director who writes. Take your pick, they're pretty much the same thing. This isn't how I earn my money, and I make no secret of that fact - I do that through software testing - but I take play writing and directing very seriously and treat it as a second job, as you should do. I certainly do not use this status as an excuse for a second-rate production - I always aim to produce something as close to a professional production as I can with what I've got.

Stuff I do in Durham

Most of my theatre presence so far has been in Durham (and, occasionally, Saltburn, Middlesbrough, Sedgefield and Ouseburn). Most (but not all) of my writing and directing projects have been done through Durham Dramatic Society, where I have been moving up through the ranks. I directed my first full-length play (Improbable Fiction) last November, and I'm due to direct another one (Our House) next November. My choice of what I can direct is somewhat restricted by commercial considerations of the theatre, but I am far more interested in directing excellent plays with originality than doing safe bets by well-known authors - it's just that my first two plays happen to be both. But I fully intend to branch out into more adventurous territory before too long.

Durham Dramatic Society does not have any regular programme of new writing as such, but I've used them for read-throughs and rehearsed readings of various plays I've done. There was a New Writing Festival in 2011 where I and two other members produced plays we'd written. I did a revival The First Sign of Madness, a 30-minute solo play I'd written back in 2007 and took to Sedgefield and Saltburn, which seemed to go down rather well. That festival was a one-off, but I want to get back to producing self-written plays in Durham soon, once I've got a bit more directorial experience under my belt.

Stuff I do in Buxton

The other place where I've been making myself known is the Buxton Festival Fringe, which is like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe but on a smaller (and cheaper) scale. I am a big supporter of open-access arts festivals and I would love to take part in the Edinburgh Fringe, but that would require an insane amount of time and money to do. Buxton is a nice compromise between affordability and exposure. I took The First Sign of Madness to Buxton last July (no particular obsession about this play - it just happens to be the easiest one to tour) where I think it did sufficiently well to be up to standard in a festival where professionals take part and no allowances are made for being an a amateur group. It certainly went sufficiently well for me to want to do this again.

Awards and accolades (if you care about that sort of thing)

I've had a few successes with competitions and vetting processes: my reality TV play Fly's Eye View was a finalist in the Little Theatre Guild's 2004 playwriting competition; an out-and-out comedy Celebrity Ghost Patrol Live was developed as part of Live Theatre's 2011 Writers' Group; and in 2012 my tragedy-masquerading-as-comedy The Great Outdoors got the the final of the People's Play. But whilst I appreciate this recognition, I'm more interested in getting the approval of an audience than a judging panel. So I rarely bother with competitions and script calls, preferring instead to concentrate on producing stuff myself. You can read more about my lack of interest in script submissions here.

Other people's plays

Finally, I do occasionally get new writing produced that someone else has written. It's partly because, whilst I don't see a problem in directing your own work, I think it's a bad idea to direct nothing but your own work. But it's also because there are some excellent unpublished or unperformed plays out there that I'd love to get on stage. One of my recent projects was Adrian Marks's Waiting For Gandalf, which is a cracking little play I did as a solo performance in Ouseburn. I'm always on the lookout for more plays. But before you send your play to me in the hope that I'll produce it, read this.

Oh, and I act in other people's plays too. It certainly helps to write or direct plays if you understand what it's like to act in one.

NEW! More information

If you can't get enough of this section, here's some more pages:

Casting: Some information on how I pick casts for my plays, including the process used for DDS plays, and some tips on what I look for (and what I'm not bothered about).

Submit a script: Some information on how I pick casts for my plays, including the process used for DDS plays, and some tips on what I look for (and what I'm not bothered about).

Twitter policy: If you want to read that page, you've got too much spare time. But I'd better keep it there before anyone starts whinging over my I never replied to their tweets.

Okay, that's your lot. Go find another page.