Follow Us on Twitter

Write Now 5 - Jack Studio Theatre


Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

THE Jack Studio Theatre has announced its annual playwriting festival, Write Now 5, and it runs from May 17 to June 7, 2014.

Now in its 5th year, this festival of new work is dedicated to the south east London region and is an essential part of the theatre’s work to showcase and support emerging playwrights and their work.

Writers with a connection to south east London were asked to submit previously unperformed plays to the theatre.

The submissions were read by a panel consisting of Kate Bannister (Artistic Director, Jack Studio Theatre), playwright Lin Coghlan (National Theatre, EastEnders, Soho Theatre); Franko Figueiredo (Artistic Director, Stone Crabs); and Simon James Collier (producer of the award-winning Okai Collier Company). Additional support was given by the BBC writersroom.

From the 250 submissions for full length and short plays, three full length plays and seven shorts were chosen for the festival.

Pool, by Tom Harvey, will be given a fully staged two-week production (May 27 to June 7). Box Chicken, by Max Katz, and Botticelli’s Angels, by Gemma Mills McGrath, will be given three staged readings each (May 20 to May 24).

A comedy about drowning, grief and forgiveness, and a reminder that friendship is about all we have to see us through, Pool will be directed by Kate Bannister.

Never too late to save a soul. At least that’s what it says on the entrance sign, or is it the exit?

It’s the morning after New Labour’s victory in 1997. Things Can Only Get Better, except for a group of pool attendants struggling to keep the gates open.

As Rob, Steph, Trev and Ashley fight to keep their heads above water, they find that chaos is possibility, that ghosts can be trusted and that magic is redeeming.

Tom Harvey is a creative entrepreneur and writer working across film, television, interactive media and theatre. He has only been writing for the theatre in earnest for a couple of years and Pool is his first theatre production. He lived and worked for 20 years in south east London, and went to college at the Elephant and Castle.

An exploration of the power of human connection to help us find a future from the debris of the past, Botticelli’s Angels is directed by Matthew Parker.

One thing I’ve learnt from all this – if you don’t grieve on time, you grieve forever.

Frank is on a mission. He seeks compensation for the damage that he and his magician brother Johnny suffered as children. His meeting with Ursula, a newly trained outreach worker for the church, begins a journey that forces them all to renegotiate their view of themselves, tussle with the seductive grip of denial, and finally feel the pain and relief of truth.

Gemma Mills McGrath writes screenplays, poems and short stories, some of which have been placed in UK and US competitions and schemes such as TAPS, BBC Radio 4 Drama Course, and Old Vic, New Voices. Botticelli’s Angels is her first play, which started life as a short. Mills McGrath is a freelance management lecturer and has worked in south east London for ten years and now lives in Bromley.

Box Chicken is directed by Mark Leipacher.

If you peel the skin away from someone do you think people would recognise who they were? From their voice, or from the way their eyes moved, or from how their teeth fit together.

Ailleen is about to turn sixteen. In the confines of a run-down fried chicken shop, she finds refuge. Refuge from the pain left behind by the sudden disappearance of her eldest brother Ricki, and from the demons that haunt her alcoholic mother Rose.

When Ailleen’s Uncle Silco unexpectedly returns, her birthday party descends into shocking revelations and dangerous half-truths. Against the backdrop of boxed chicken, her coming of age is acutely shaped by the flawed adults and the secrets of those closest to her.

Max Katz has received rehearsed readings at theatres including the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre, Soho Upstairs Theatre, and Young Vic Theatre. She has also been short and long listed for various theatre awards, including the Alfred Fagon Award (2006 and 2008), the Verity Bargate Award (2008) and the Bruntwood Prize (2012). Katz works in south east London, supporting projects across London for vulnerable and diverse communities.

To launch this year’s Write Now Festival (May 17, 2014) there will be a selection of short plays. Chosen from submissions to the Jack, these plays explore different aspects of a chosen theme. Using the phrase ‘Speak Up, Speak Out’ as a starting point, writers were asked to explore this incredible human trait, to say something when others won’t, in any way they felt possible. The shorts are:

Lost in the Quagmire by Chris Shaw Swanson; The Limerick by Martin Nathan; A Small Act of Vandalism by Andrew Biss; Cinderella Story by Matt Hanf; Live With It by Zia Moher; On Flies Wings by Jessica Andrewartha; and Dead Dove by Nick Myles.

For more information or to book, call the box office on 0333 666 3366 or visit

Samuel Adamson’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House runs at the Jack Studio Theatre from Tuesday, April 22 to Saturday, May 3, 2014.