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  • I got longlisted for the North East Playwriting Award

    Since the shortlist has been announced, I think this means I'm allowed to announce this.

    I made it to the longlist of the North East Playwriting Award with #IStandWithVincent. This was quite a nice surprise, as the entry deadline was last August and I'd half-forgotten I'd entered this.

    This is, to some extent, an extended version of Ask Me Anything, which I wrote for Elysium Theatre back in 2022. Previously, the charismatic Vincent Arthur only existed as someone Lucy only talked about - however, I wanted to bring this character to life. Someone who has be revered so often as a hero who can do no wrong he believes it himself. I do actually have some plans for this that are running independently of the competition, so this might not be the last we'll hear of this.

    Anyway, congratulations to Sam Honour and Miles Kinsley who were shortlisted - I saw plays of theirs at Laurels last year which I really liked. Also congratulations to Connor Dorian who was shortlisted for the under-25 award; he's part of Brainsoup Collective who show bag of promise with clowning and physical theatre. I'll be joining you on Thursday to see who's won this, then it's probably back to It's Not Cluedo. Got some good news about that, but this can wait for another update.

  • Brand new project: Doctor Coppelius

    Doctor Coppelius. Written and performed by Chris Neville-Smith.

    It's time for the second of the three things I've been itching to tell you. I'm going to Buxton Fringe with a brand new script. Bit of background to this: I had the idea for this play in January. Yes, a month ago. I had expected to do It's Not Cludeo at Buxton, but with by co-producing venue Rotunda now not coming to Buxton (long story), it wasn't practical to do it without them. But Buxton is probably my favourite fringe to perform at and I wanted to do something there - and then I realised I could make this one work.

    Doctor Coppelius is the story of the tragic villain from the ballet Coppelia. If you don't know the ballet, don't worry. I assumed everybody knew Coppelia, but nonetheless, the whole story of Swanhilda, Franz and Dr. Coppelius is included in this. But also, I hope, a new dimension. Why dedicate his life to a mechanical doll? What made him do the terrible thing he did? I have written a whole new backstory - and also written what happened to him after.

    I decided to take this to Buxton when I realised that this script can work as a straight storytelling piece. This can be considered a work in progress until I have a better idea of how to do this. So there is one performance only in Scrivener's Bookshop on July 11th at 4 p.m. Entry to this is free, because you are doing me a favour by coming along to be a test audience. Oh, and the room has a capacity of twelve, so if you want to be certain of a place, please contact me and I'll put you on a list. If there's a big demand, I'll consider doing more performances, but there's one committed so far.

    If you're not coming to Buxton: I intend to do more performances. I have one or two ideas for how to do an the same early version near Durham, but I'll get back to you if and when I get round to arranging this.

    Two announcements done. One to go, and I'm absolutely not allowed to mention this. But it's a good one.

  • I’ve written a Reiver play

    Me, and the rest of the team after recording the monologue.

    At long last I can announce one of the many bits of exciting news I've been itching to tell you but had to keep quiet. You might remember there was a competition Elysium Theatre launched late last year for three new audio plays to follow on from Steve Byron's Reiver Trilogy. At the last minute I decided to have a go. This is unusual for me, because I don't normally write to someone else's request of subject material. But I had an idea, wrote the whole lot between Christmas and New Year, and found out in January it had been picked. I can now tell you this because it's just been recorded and announced by Elysium.

    For those of you new to this, the Border Reivers were clans based in the border regions between England and Scotland. For centuries, the border region was a lawless region because the English nor the Sottish rulers considered the area worth taming. Only when England and Scotland ended up with the same King was their grip on power broken. And in this story, we hear the voice of a Reiver chief. The game is up for John Croser. He got mixed up with the Irvines, and the Irvines did something really bad, getting the full attention of the Crown. Is the notorious John Croser really destined for the gallows, or does he have one final trick up his sleeve?

    This was rehearsed last Friday and recorded today. It's now ready for post-production and is expected to be released in mid-March. Micky Cochrane (the farmer in the original Reiver play Blackmail) has done the voice of Croser. No decision yet on which platform this is going on to, but I'll let you know when I know.

    I'll be adding this to my projects list shortly - in fact, you may want to have a look there anyway, because I'm making a lot of progress with my back catalogue. And don't go away - I have more news coming very soon.

  • Introducing “It’s Not Cluedo!”

    It's Not Cluedo as test; three cards for suspect, weapon and location.

    So one of the reasons I've set up a playwriting website of my own is because, for the last few years, I've been announcing everything on Twitter. But that's not really ideal if your announcement is more than 280 characters. Also, it's touch and go whether Twitter's going to survive an billionaire egomaniac much longer. As it happens, at the time of writing this I have two (possibly three) things I'm itching to announce that I can't yet tell you. But there's one thing I can tell you about which is already public knowledge:

    I'm doing a comedy game show. Yes, really. I'm as surprised as you are. But ever since I ended up playing Imaginary Porno Charades at Brighton Fringe 2016 I've been learning more about these events. One of the things that holds the big festivals together are events where performers from other shows get together to play a game. The real object of the game isn't to win, as such - it's to be funny and make it a fun hour for everybody. After getting further inspiration from Knightmare Live and Rob Rouse's Late Night Dirty Scrabble (plus John Robertson's The Dark Room and Mike Raffone's Great Green Gameshow Giveaway where the audience plays the game), I got an idea for my own game. And it stuck. And, to my surprise, when I actually did test runs of this game, I found my crazy idea actually worked. Also to my surprise, The Rotunda has taken on this game as a co-production.

    So, what is the game? Well, it's a celebration of the greatest murder mystery ever made. As everybody knows, all murders have six suspects, six weapons and nine locations. But we're not going to rip off their story - we're going to write our own. With the audience choosing the setting and murder victim, the guests choosing their own characters, and a brainstorm on our list of weapons and locations, we will solve the murder the way all murders are solved: the suspects taking it in turns to guess suspect, weapon and location until we get a match. (What's that, I hear you say? In real life murders are solved by detective? Don't be silly.)

    I'll shortly be posting a page with a record of all games played so far, but if you want an idea of what to expect, our first game solved the murder of Boris Johnson on a Desert Island whilst recording Desert Island Discs - oh come on, where do you think Desert Island Discs is recorded?

    So the first ever fringe appearance will be at Brighton Fringe at The Rotunda on the Saturday 4th and Saturday 25th May (that's the two bank holiday weekends) at 1.30 p.m. Tickets here. Before that, the first ever run on the game in front of a live audience will take place at Laurels on the 25th April at 7.30 p.m. This is a preview and is free, but there's still tickets to be sure of a place.

    Many many thanks to the people who took part in the previews: Hooky Productions, Robert Cohen, Shellshock Improv, Brain Soup Collective, Debbie Cannon and Richard Stamp from The Wee Review - without them, I would never have dared do this.

  • Welcome to the new website!

    Greetings. I have been meaning for years to get round to a proper refresh of my website, which hasn't been updated since ... err, 2018. If you can be bothered with the technical explanation, I created the website back in the days when it was still normal to knock up websites directly in HTML. I won't bore you with the technicalities, but the main problem with this - apart from the technical knowledge needed to do it in the first place - is that this is an absolute bugger to maintain. However, setting up a new site required me getting a grip on how to set up a content management system. You don't need to know what that is - suffice to say, it sounded like a hard task and I kept putting it off.

    BUT ... in a quiet period of my day job, the subject of creating a new website in WordPress came up, and I offered to spend some time researching the feasibility of setting up a site. And it turns out it was a lot easier than I expected. What I thought would be a massive slog is something I've managed to knock together in two days.

    Feel free to have a look around, and please let me know if you spot something that's not right. I haven't yet had time to test this properly. Also, this site is based on a WordPress template called "Scoop", which I've since discovered is a template specifically for ice cream sellers. If you see an unexplained reference to ice cream anywhere, that'll be why.

    I've got a couple of proper theatre announcements coming up, but those can wait. Have a look around and let me know what you think.