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Vibrant - A Festival of Finborough Playwrights returns for its 11th consecutive year

Vibrant 2014

Season preview

NOW in its eleventh consecutive year, the multi-award-winning Finborough Theatre is presenting Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights, its annual explosion of new writing, from June 16 to July 4.

This year’s highlights include the winner of this year’s ETPEP Award in association with the Finborough Theatre, an £8000 prize for a new play by a new playwright who works in another job in theatre, alongside stunning new plays from many Finborough Theatre favourites.

Vibrant 2019 – A Festival of Finborough Playwrights is again curated by Finborough Theatre Artistic Director Neil McPherson, winner of The Writers’ Guild Award for the Encouragement of New Writing, and twice winner of the OffWestEnd Award for Best Artistic Director.


Week One – June 16 to June 20

Prisoners of the Occupation by Palestinian Political Prisoners and Einat Weizman; directed by Tommo Fowler – Sunday, June 16 at 7.30pm.

Banned in Israel where it caused a huge public controversy and could not be performed, Prisoners of the Occupation focuses on the most hidden victims of the Israeli state: Palestinian political prisoners.

Narrated by sixty-year-old Ibrahim, himself an ex-prisoner who spent thirty years in Israeli prisons, Prisoners of the Occupation takes the audience on a journey into the shrouded confines of prison life including the reception process, investigations, tortures, hunger strikes, solitary confinement, the day-to-day routine, the transitions from prison to prison, and family visits.

The play is based on unprecedented access to verbatim testimonies from both current and former prisoners, who have actively contributed at every stage of the play’s creation.

The Wooden Meadow by Stewart Pringle; directed by Fidelis Morgan – Monday, June 17 at 7.30pm.

Jim’s run this pub theatre for as long as anyone can remember. It might be held together with gaffer tape and hope, but then so is Jim. It’s got charm, anyway. It’s got history. Punters used to queue thirty deep at the box office. To watch the deaths of kings and the fall of empires in a room above a pub. Play and a pint! Magic.

But while Jim’s been keeping the lights on, the world’s rolled on beneath him. Numbers are drying up and creditors are closing in. What Jim needs is one big hit to keep the wolf from the door, but the cupboard’s bare. Well, it’s almost bare…

Field, Awakening by Melis Aker; directed by Rory McGregor – Thursday, June 20 at 3pm.

After ten years of self-imposed estrangement from her country, Turkey, Rana reunites with three of her old friends on a soccer field in Istanbul on July 15, 2016 (the eve of the attempted coup d’etat in Turkey), only to realize what it was that really drove them apart. Spanning across the surreal events of one evening, Field, Awakening is an anti-homecoming: a tale of a stranger in a strange land, searching in vain for a home that is lost in a landscape of fleeting familiarity and heightened political surveillance.

Week Two – June 23 to June 27

Geography of Fire/La Furie et sa géographie by Colleen Murphy; directed by Matthew Iliffe – Sunday, June 23 at 7.30pm.

Part One of Geography of Fire/La Furie et sa géographie takes place in 2019 and dramatises the collision of British and French during the Battle on the Plains of Abraham in Quebec during the Seven Years War.

On September 13, 1759, world history changed in twenty-five minutes. Though often portrayed as nothing more than a dust-up between two generals – James Wolfe and Louis-Joseph de Montcalm – the Battle on the Plains of Abraham is actually a magnificent, tragic resistance against the land-grabbing, corporate idea of empire that changed the face of North America for all time.

Summoned by the call of a red-throated loon, 33 fictional and non-fictional characters emerge from their graves with bits of clothing from 1759 still clinging to their burial shrouds. For the next two hours, they relive their experience in an effort to challenge history’s interpretation of this tumultuous time.

The full play is in two full-length parts and the Finborough is presenting Part One which stands alone in its own right.

Be Better In Bed by Sharmila Chauhan; directed by Hannah Jones – Monday, June 24 at 7.30pm.

Focused and always ready for a challenge: Layla, doctor-married-three kids, is trying to ‘fix’ her relationship. Signing up to a ‘Be Better in Bed’ women’s sex workshop, she meets three women each with widely different lifestyles.

Exploring polyamory, Shibari and pornography, these four women must navigate together what sexuality means to them. They are led by the enigmatic Sapphire, who tells them there isn’t anything they can’t learn about sex, if they just pay attention and practice, practice, practice…

Physical, brutally honest and funny, Better In Bed explores contemporary sexuality and intersectional feminism: asking bold questions around female empowerment, desire and the male gaze.

Astroman by Albert Belz; directed by Claire Evans – Thursday, June 27 at 3pm.

New Zealand in 1983 and it’s on like Donkey Kong!

‘Jimmy’ Te Rehua is the king of the Whakatāne Astrocade Amusement Parlour. But while there’s no limit to his domination of the video arcade and the Pac-Man high-score charts, this Māori boy genius hasn’t yet worked out how to beat the game of life.

A touching story of family, friendship and courage filled with heart, charm and hilarity.

Week Three – June 30 to July 4

The Winner of the ETPEP Award 2019 directed by Liz Carruthers – Sunday, June 30 at 7.30pm.

The winning play will be announced shortly from the final shortlist of:

Fence by Abigail Andjel

Haste Ye Back by Conor Carroll

Dark Faces in the Night by Sid Sagar

The ETPEP Award 2019 is a playwriting prize for new UK playwrights who work in the theatre industry, run by the Finborough Theatre in association with the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust (ETPEP).

The Award’s purpose is to find and nurture a playwright who has worked in theatre for two years or more (but not in a literary department setting or as a paid script reader), who is looking to further their ambitions and skill in the art and craft of playwriting.

The winner will receive a prize of £8,000, a development relationship with the Finborough Theatre including one-to-one dramaturgy with Finborough Theatre Artistic Director and playwright Neil McPherson; a rehearsal workshop with actors and a director to develop the play; and a staged reading performance of the winning play as part of Vibrant 2019.

The judges for the 2019 Award are playwright Winsome Pinnock; Artistic Director of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Neil McPherson; Literary Manager of the Finborough Theatre and playwright Sue Healy; Actor, playwright and activist Athena Stevens; and Clive Webster of the Experienced Theatre Practitioners Early Playwriting Trust, which founded the award. The competition was judged anonymously until the shortlist stage.

Scrounger by Athena Stevens; directed by Georgie Staight – Monday, July 1 at 7.30pm.

On the streets of Elephant and Castle, everyone likes to make speculations about Scrounger. She needs help, she must not be aware of the complexities of the world, she is sent from the demons to torture her mum… at least according to her Nigerian Uber driver.

Scrounger doesn’t care. A successful online personality, she’s got more power from her bedroom than anyone on the Southwark estates could dream of. She’s educated, she’s ballsy, and with a huge network of online allies, Scrounger is a woman who knows how to make change happen.

That is, until an airline destroys her wheelchair.

Inspired by real events and a lawsuit initiated by Stevens herself, Scrounger drives towards the realities of how Britain is failing its most vulnerable and the extreme cost paid by those seeking justice.

Rough Music by Hannah Morley; directed by Melissa Dunne – Thursday, July 4 at 3pm.

Vi lives in a mobile library parked on the hill beyond the ring-road of a northern market town. Apart from her young employee Isaac, the only person who visits is an eleven year old girl, come to hear Vi’s extraordinary tales. Just the three of them is how Vi likes it. But when she wakes up to see a man hanging from the hornbeam tree outside, Vi struggles to keep her past hidden between the books. In a town where public shaming has become the norm, the library becomes a refuge. But as the water levels rise and the town descends, it’s harder to see who’s worthy of saving.

Rough Music explores the power of shame and the stories that we tell about each other.

For more information about the playwrights and directors or to book tickets, call the box office on 01223 357851 or visit