Preview by Jack Foley
NEW writing theatre company, Upstart, are delighted
to announce that Gardening Leave, by Joanna Pinto,
will be performed at The Union Theatre in Southwark
from July 5 to 9, 2005.
Joanna has attracted increasing recognition and exposure in
London since having been placed on Young Writer programmes at
both the prestigious Royal Court and Soho theatres, and Gardening
Leave is the first professional production of her work.
Tom Mansfield, Director, commented: "What excites me about
Jo’s play is that it brings together two people who have
been damaged by the lives that they’ve lived.
"Unlike a lot of new plays that are around it argues that
compassion, friendship, and tolerance are possible in an increasingly
"It’s particularly topical right now because it deals
with a failed asylum seeker- and at the moment our media seem
to be intent on de-humanising these people and robbing them of
any kind of human dignity.
"I think it’s very important to make the point that
ultimately these people are victims of circumstance. The subject
lends itself to drama because drama never works when trying to
portray people as villains or heroes."
The play picks up as Henry (Robert Lockhart ) is signed off from
his high-powered City job as a result of inexplicable depression.
Finding solace in creating a roof
garden at his mother's house in the East End of London, he is
then interviewed by Maryam (played by Helen Johns, pictured),
a young Iranian woman, working for the local paper.
In Maryam, Henry finally finds someone he can let into his world,
setting the scene for an unusual friendship with unexpected consequences.
Upstart exists to promote new plays which challenge, provoke
and entertain their audience, which promote discussion and argument,
and which stand as a challenge to more simplistic ways of viewing
In 2005, they are producing three productions of new plays by
Joanna Pinto, Ethan Lipton and Steven Lally, as well as continuing
their ongoing writer development work.
In addition, their Brief Chronicles season of
rehearsed readings, taking place at a variety of venues around
London, allows new writers to test their work through an immediate
and challenging encounter with a group of actors, a director,
and an audience.
Writers they have previously helped to develop include Jack Thorne,
currently under commission to the Bush Theatre, Jennifer Tuckett,
winner of the International Student Playscript Competition and
a winner of the International Playwriting Festival, and Heather
Taylor, a winner of the International Playwriting Festival.
With Gardening Leave opening in July, and another production,
Meat, by Dramalogue Award winning Ethan Lipton,
enjoying a three week run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in
August, Upstart are keen to use this opportunity to develop relationships
with businesses who they can work with and promote either on a
one-off or long term basis.