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The Writers

Claire Bennett
Claire’s route to full time professional writing began in night classes at Birmingham University… defunct since some previous crunch. From writing for theatre she travelled into radio and then on to television where she won a prestigious National Soap Award. She enjoyed a detour back to small scale fringe theatre but is now a core writer on Birmingham’s own, gloriously fun Doctors. She has had people painted green and has had poo seep between their vertebrae in Holby City’s theatre but that’s not as much fun as Letherbridge nor as entertaining as Capital Plays.

Sarah Grochala
Sarah is a graduate of the MPhil(B) Playwriting Studies at Birmingham University. She was a finalist for the Leah Ryan Prize for Emerging Women Writers 2010. Her play S-27 won the inaugural iceandfire/Amnesty International Protect the Human Playwriting Competition and was also shortlisted for the King’s Cross Award 2007. It was produced at the Finborough in 2009 and at the Griffin Theatre (Sydney) in 2010. Her previous play Waiting for Romeo (Edinburgh Fringe 2006, Pleasance Islington 2009) was recently translated into Polish and has been performed at Klub Żak (Gdansk) and Teatr Ludowy (Krakow). Other short plays include Skin (Arcola), Accountable, Remains, Viable Alternatives (all Theatre 503).

Helen Kelly
Helen has too many degrees including a PhD in dramatic structure.  She has had plays produced by the Stephen Joseph Theatre, The Orange Tree,  Youth Theatre Arts Leicestershire and Chalkfoot Theatre Margate, where she was writer in residence.  Her play The Violent Romantic Hero in Women’s Fiction won the Literary Consultancy Playwriting Competition.  Catchment Christians will be staged by Friction Theatre Company in Birmingham next Spring.  Helen also writes/acts/directs for a weekly internet sketch show with the comedy group Missing Hen.

Keith R. Lindsay
Keith began his television comedy writing career working on the highly successful sit com Birds of a Feather and has branched out into both comedy drama, such as Love Hurts and more recently feature films having h
ad his first feature script The Northern Star optioned. Still in the sit com world Keith’s most recent experiences have been working with and for John Sullivan on the Only Fools and Horses spin off The Green Green Grass.

Deborah McAndrew
Playwright and actor Deborah McAndrew studied Drama at Manchester University. In her acting career she has worked extensively in theatre, television and radio. Writing credits include: King Macbeth (2010) Reveal Theatre Company: Oliver Twist (2009) Octagon Theatre, Bolton; Flamingoland (2008) New Vic Theatre; Accidental Death of an Anarchist(2008), Vacuum (2006) The Bells (2004) Northern Broadsides. Deborah’s adaptation of David Copperfield opens at the Octagon Theatre, Bolton on 19th November 2010; directed by Elizabeth Newman. Attachments: National Theatre Studio; Birmingham Repertory Theatre. Deborah is represented by Giles Smart at United Agents.

Ged McKenna
Ged is an actor, writer and director. His play The Farmer’s Bride was premiered at The Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough and toured extensively in 1997 while some short pieces, written under the umbrella title of Small Lives, were seen at The SJT, Scarborough and The New Vic, Stoke. He’s written two Pantomimes for Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds and recently won the M6 Theatre Company’s monologue competition with his play, Cheers, which the company continue to tour.

Vanessa Oakes
Vanessa trained as a theatre designer before working extensively in scenography, community arts and arts administration. Her recent plays include; The Permitted Number (Paines Plough/Belgrade Theatre), I Am Active (Red Teapot), The Kindness of Strangers (Warwick Words), Lost in Paradise CV6 (Belgrade Theatre), A Body Moving Through (the estate), Live Like Us (Belgrade Theatre). Current projects include; His Naked Eye a new play for Theatre in Action (Glasgow).

Simon Andrew Stirling
Simon was born, bred and educated in Birmingham.  After training as an actor at LAMDA he turned professional as a scriptwriter, winning a Writers’ Guild Award in 1995 for his work on the BBC’s Between the Lines.  He returned to the Midlands in 1999, moving to rural Worcestershire and working in local theatre and digital video production.  He is also a script consultant and a UK Film
Council-affliated screenwriting tutor.  In addition to developing new drama material for television, Simon is currently packaging a major historical nonfiction project about William Shakespeare.


Greg Hobbs

Greg was born in the Black Country, and served in the Royal Air Force. He studied Drama at Birmingham University. Recent theatre includes: The Boy Who said nothing for Mir Theatre Company (Bosnia Herzegovina), Dari (the Bridge) for Hanyong Theatre Company in South Korea, A Thin Red Line Birmingham Rep/kali Theatre Co. directed by Janet Steel. Octavius in Hull Truck’s production of Julius Caesar directed by John Godber, The Devil at CoventryHibernation, and A View From The Bridge all for Coventry Belgrade Theatre, Dinner Lady Man for Something and Nothing Theatre co.

Robert Lister

Robert trained at the Rose Bruford College and, after teaching for one year, began his career as a professional actor in 1967.  He describes himself as a ‘Journeyman-Actor’ and is a veteran of the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Royal National Theatre, the New Shakespeare Company, and English Touring Theatre. During an extremely varied stage career he has toured nearly every major theatre in the UK, and travelled overseas to the Far and Middle East, Greece, Western Europe, and both North and South America. Robert has made countless radio dramas for the BBC on Radio 4, BBC 7 and the World Service.  He has most recently been heard as Hooker in  Playing With Fire, and Jan Matkovic in Shape of the Table, both plays by David Edgar, and as Philip Kershaw in the Woman’s Hour serial, The Private Patient by PD James.  He also plays Lewis Carmichael in The Archers.

Ged McKenna

Ged has been an actor for 25 years and was nominated in the Best Actor category for Faith Healer in the prestigious M.E.N Awards in 2008. He has worked with companies such as The RNT, Shared Experience, Cheek by Jowl, The Bush, The Royal Court, The Traverse and several rep and touring theatre companies, as well as in TV and film. Recent theatre includes And A Nightingale Sang (New Vic/ Oldham Coliseum), Much Ado About Nothing/ Hercules (Chester Performs) and Kes (Oldham Coliseum).

Barrett Robertson

Barrett Robertson was born in Coventry and started acting at the age of 6 when he joined the Coventry Belgrade youth theatre where he was involved in many productions. He trained at Stratford on Avon College and has subsequently worked on a wide range of theatre productions including Teachers, From a Jack to a King, The Good Woman of Szechuan, A Tale of Two Cities and most recently the national  tour of Porridge. He has appeared on various TV shows including Casualty, The Bill, and Doctors. Barrett can also be seen in the recent British film Clubbed.

Janette Summerfield

Janette was born just outside Birmingham and started her career as an Interior Designer before becoming an actor.  Credits include: The Fourposter (English Theatre of Hamburg), When Time Collapses/Revolving Door (Hearth Productions), Son et Lumiere, Worcester Cathedral, Portia in The Merchant of Venice (Palace Theatre, Redditch), Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet (Millfield Theatre), Gambling Housewife, (Independent short film by Helen Kelly), Brown Paper Bag (BAFTA winning short film), The Foundling Fox (Short Story, Audio CD), The Sound of Language (Audio CD).

Becky Wright
Becky trained at Bristol University and Mountview. She plays ‘Nic Hanson’ in  The ArchersOther recent work includes: Hansel & Gretel – A Cat’s Tale (Croydon Clocktower), Kindertransport (Listening Books), Moore Outside (Coney/Tate Britain), ‘Wiggy’ (Short Story Radio), Timewatch: Young Victoria (BBC 2), Stressed (Grosvenor TV), Where is the honour? (Media Trust), The Red Ribbon (Peopletalkradio), Series Four & Seven: Crime & Spies/Horror (Bunbury Banter), A Twist in the Tale for the BBC Audio Music Festival, The Fibonacci Project (Hampstead Theatre), The Position (joinedupwriters) at The Old Red Lion, Kate in Taming of the Shrew (Original Theatre – National tour), Big Maggie (INDA), The Witches (ATG) at Wyndhams Theatre, Children of Witchwood (BBC Radio Drama), Honolulu (Nominated for the Amnesty International Theatre Award), Charlatan, The Powder Jars and The Aquatic Ape all for Host Universal in the 5065 Lift at The Pleasance. She understudied Nuala in The Cavalcaders at The Tricycle and on tour. Her first audiobook Genesis is currently on release. Spotlight view pin: 2212-9083-9571


Ian Billings
Showcase, Small Plays About Big Society

Ian has written, directed and appeared in some of the biggest pantomimes in the country including Aladdin at the Grand Theatre Wolverhampton for Cannon and Ball, Babes in the Wood at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham for Little and Large, Dick Whittington for Timmy Mallet and Cinderella for Zoe Ball both at the Derngate Theatre, Northampton.  For Mark Cartier Productions Ian adapted four children’s classics Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio, Alice in Wonderland and The Tales of Hans Andersen which toured theatres through the UK.  Under the tutorage of Tony award-winning playwright, David Edgar, Ian studied at the University of Birmingham and achieved a Masters Degree in Playwriting Studies in 1999.  He currently runs Theatre Works with BBC Radio Four playwright, Stephanie Dale, delivering vibrant and exciting literacy workshops into schools throughout the UK, Germany and Cyprus.

Mark Evans

The Kindness of Strangers

Mark trained in Paris with Jacques Lecoq (École Jacques Lecoq), Monika Pagneux and Philippe Gaulier. Mark has spent over twenty years teaching theatre practice and is currently Associate Dean at Coventry School of Art & Design, Coventry University. Mark’s work as a director includes: A Body Moving Through, Touching Jane and The Last Things (the estate), 1994 – 2001 STORM Theatre Company, 1987 – 1990 Pendley Theatre Company, 1985 Yorick Theatre Company, 1984 Floorboards Theatre Company, 1981 – 1983 Hallmark Theatre Co. His books include Jacques Copeau (Routledge, 2006) and Movement Training for the Modern Actor (Routledge, 2009). Mark is an Entrepreneurship Education Fellow of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship. He is currently researching creative entrepreneurship education and a new book on theatre training for the twenty-first century.