Posts Tagged ‘Women’s Voices’

Busy Season of Theatre in Manchester

Written by NewLiveTheatre on . Posted in Blog

It’s a very busy time here at New Live Theatre Company. As always we’re learning a lot, growing a lot and meeting some great audiences, companies and theatre pros along the way.

It’s been a while since my last blog, so here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to at NLTCo HQ…

In September we had VIP (winner of the Manchester Theatre Showcase 2013) in production – it was a great success and such an interesting show to work on, with a brilliant cast by an exciting young and local Writer (Thomas Ingham). But there was no rest for the wicked as we were already in rehearsals for our following shows. September also saw this year’s tour of A Parson’s Tale come to a close down in Cheadle Hulme. The one-man play, directed by myself (starring Bob Young and written by Women’s Voices co-writer Christopher Owen), will return in January 2014.

Next up was Women’s Voices in October – another brilliant play written by the talented, award-winning Writer and Actor Christopher Owen, along with his writing partner Susan K Monson. Much like A Parson’s Tale, which I first directed at the end of 2012, Women’s Voices is a straight comedy-drama play with songs and snippets of songs performed at various points throughout – but it isn’t a musical. Women’s Voices, however, was directed by our talented Associate Director Clare Barry. Working with Clare on first the showcase, VIP and then Women’s Voices over the course of 8 months has been a great experience. She’s full of touring tales and directing tips – a real pleasure to work with.

But back on the subject of Women’s Voices and A Parson’s Tale… I recently got into a discussion on Twitter (follow me @PaulRKenney or @NewLiveTheatre) about ‘What is a musical?‘. My view is that a musical is a show where the songs carry the story forward (even back perhaps) or expose the feelings of the character(s) in that moment. A musical will most likely be dominated by the music. Women’s Voices and A Parson’s Tale aren’t, therefore they were challenging to categorise correctly. If you wish to express your view on what makes a musical a ‘musical’, I’d love to hear your thoughts and you can post them in the comment area at the bottom of the page! I do have a point to this topic… Because of working on these two shows, I have been approached to produce a mini-musical with some local musicians. Infact, I also have another show idea bubbling to the surface of my mind, too. I’ve had the idea for a while, but it’s now morphed into something very special I cannot wait to share. But naturally, I have a very busy schedule planned next year as we tackle touring so I’m not sure exactly where it’s all going to fit in yet. It may have to wait until 2015, we shall see. I’m still trying to learn the skill of keeping shtum about new projects. I’m getting better, I think. They’re just exciting.

Regrettably, we were left with no option but to cancel our Halloween production of Spook Manor due to availability. Sadly, on the rare occasion these things do happen and we were just unfortunate. If you have been following my blogs, you will know that the show had been a long time coming, so it was an extremely difficult decision. Unfortunately, with such a busy schedule, it will be near impossible to fit it back in during 2013/2014 so we have decided to set the script free and release it into the world. We already have some interest from a number of local companies, so hopefully it shouldn’t be left on its dusty victorian shelf too long. I believe everything happens for a reason and perhaps fresh eyes will bring something new to show. I’m looking forward to seeing what someone else will do with our play.

A Walk in the Park

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SO FINALLY… to end our season this year we’re stepping out of our comfort zone a little with a gritty northern drama called ‘A Walk in the Park’. Yes, technically it’s a comedy-drama, but it’s got far too much grit to justify the comedy tag. But it is very funny in parts. Sally Naden as the interfering ‘Wendy’ is hilarious. A Walk in the Park is the debut play by a young writer from Warrington called Emily Chriscoli. We met Emily through the Manchester Theatre Showcase (next year’s showcase is a whole other blog on it’s own!! I’ve been working hard on that front too and it [#MTS2014] shall be a beast of an event – rocketing further than last year’s 2 night sell out) and although her participating play (Scarlett Fever) wasn’t selected by the audience on that occasion, we kept in touch and were so impressed with her writing, attitude and determination we just had to take this show on.

A Walk in the Park is being directed by Gregg Scott, who we also met via the Manchester Theatre Showcase. It’s a challenging piece we’re approaching delicately to the point where I have sworn the cast to secrecy as we would like the script to be judged on it’s own merit and avoid it being stereotyped before it’s even been seen. I say no more, aside from this – It runs 20-22 November at Chapel St Studios (which is so annoyingly on the very cusp of Manchester, but is technically Salford), come see it! There, shtum.

As always, any comments please post them below! If you want to email me directly you can reach me at

Until the next blog,
Paul – Artistic Director


From Page to Stage: The Waiting Game

Written by NewLiveTheatre on . Posted in Blog, Theatre Advice

Audience members don’t often realise how long it takes for a production to reach the stage before them. Sometimes it takes only a matter of months, but in many cases a playwright may have to wait years to see their creation live on a stage in a watchable, finished form. Thomas Ingham, the writer of ‘VIP‘, was one of the latter cases – we spent a mere eight months working with his script, but for Thomas it was a much longer process.

VIP Sell OutThomas first started writing VIP whilst studying Acting at university in 2011 and even went on to produce an early draft of the play on campus. It wasn’t until November 2012 when the script first landed in my email inbox as an entry for the Manchester Theatre Showcase 2013. I loved the script and its ethereal appeal and so added it to my shortlist which was eventually sent on to our 4 directors for the 2013 event. At this early point I had no idea which script the Directors would decide to work with and could not allow myself to get too attached to any entries. It wasn’t until 20th January 2013 when we finally informed Thomas that we wanted to showcase his script at our event in April. Although only running for a number of days, our showcase has a very lengthy and thorough process, which reflected in the quality of writing and acting displayed at the showcase this year. A ballot vote declared VIP the favourite script at the event and it was then another 3 months before work began on the show’s premiere. The majority of writers prefer to stay in the background – they do not have a great amount of input into the production process, casting, rehearsals or directing of their play. As a Producer who also writes, I know how much it takes to trust someone else with your vision and I find it very admirable when someone is able to cope with this level of detachment. Last week VIP had its premiere on the outskirts of Manchester and I was very pleased to hear that Thomas was happy with what we had done with his play. We had a great time producing the show, working with the cast and the sell-out audience on the final night was a nice cherry on the top.

Womens Voices Yellow WebHowever, our next production has been with us and the writers a little longer. Women’s Voices was first submitted to me in October 2012. I had been directing a one-man play (A Parson’s Tale) written by one of the co-writers, Christopher Owen, and was very flattered to receive a script directly from such an experienced and successfully published Writer. Working with Christopher Owen’s previous play was a little different as I was approached by the Actor (Bob Young, who I had previously directed) for that. When I read the script I immediately thought of Clare Barry. Although I loved the script, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable directing the play myself knowing that there was someone out there, who I knew, who fitted the production like a glove. I just had to get her on board. I approached Clare to direct Women’s Voices even before she was confirmed for the showcase, and I’m very pleased that I did. Clare’s level of dedication, understanding of the subject matter and direction has been amazing and I cannot wait for the premiere next month. But back on the subject of the Writer’s (or in this case WriterS’) Waiting Game – Women’s Voices has had an even longer journey to the stage which pre-dates New Live Theatre. Not your average Manchester Fringe production, Women’s Voices was first given a rehearsed reading at the Actor’s Centre in London (where the writers reside, although Susan K Monson originally hails from New York) in June 2012 – the cast consisted of Eve Polycarpou, Alwyne Taylor, Eva Traynor, Joanna Foster, Kate Crutchley, Clare Oberman and Bob Putt (recognise any of those names?). It’s an honour to be able to present the premiere of this production in Manchester next month and also to be able to attach it to the inaugural Women In Comedy UK Festival, run by the founder of ‘Laughing Cows Comedy’, who are an amazing platform for female stand up comediennes throughout the UK – they’ve worked with acts such as Jo Brand, Jenny Eclair, Barbara Nice, Ava Vidal, Sarah Millican and Kerry Leigh (who plays our ‘Anthea’ in Women’s Voices). I couldn’t think of a better association for a funny play about female empowerment and equality.

Basically, writers need to have patience in bucket loads. Unless you’re one to write, produce and direct a play yourself (which, believe you me, is a huge task if you’re going to do it well, and should never be left until last minute or rushed) you’re probably in for a little wait before you see your play live on a stage that isn’t in your head. But if you’re going to attempt to produce your script yourself then plan, plan and plan ahead and then just get on with it. Producing a play is a huge learning curve which never really stops curving.

You can catch Women’s Voices 16-17th October at Jabez Clegg (just off Oxford Rd) and 18-19th October at The John Cooper-Clarke Theatre (above the Black Lion on Chapel St, Salford). It’s a fantastic play, and I hope the men can man up and come along to have a laugh, too. Click Here to Book Online.

Until the next blog,
Paul – Artistic Director

Showcase Underway and More…

Written by NewLiveTheatre on . Posted in Blog

MANCHESTER_THEATRE_SHOWCASE_ADSo, after months of planning, advertising for and reading scripts and two round of auditions, the Manchester Theatre Showcase is now well underway! We now have our new venue (3MT), 4 Writers, 4 Directors, 12 Actors and 3 Stand Up Comedians confirmed! There are a total of 23 participants in this year’s April Showcase – more than double that of our last showcase in July 2012! The details of who is involved have already been updated on the website but I’m going to be announcing the information officially throughout today.

As an extension to the Theatre Showcase, I have been speaking with a London based PR company called ‘Penguin In the Room‘ and have arranged for them to run a 3 hour Workshop for us in 2 weeks time on ‘Marketing and Social Media for Actors‘ – it’s going to be a great workshop if you can make it along. Samantha, an Award Winning Arts Marketeer, will also be visiting us again in April to deliver a shorter seminar on the opening day of the Theatre Showcase. I arranged for Penguin In the Room to visit us as I believe that every Actor (or Director, Writer, Theatre Company – or anyone in the arts business) HAS to be aware of how to MARKET themselves. In today’s harsh, fast-moving industry, talent on it’s own just isn’t enough – you need to be aware of how to sell yourself and know what you’re selling; I remember that in my training, this is something that I never had explained to me and had to discover for myself via other means. I’m sure I’ll learn some great tips from the workshop too and am greatly looking forward to it! Try and get yourself along if you can. (Click here for more info)

aparsonstaleAs well as arranging the showcase, we have now kicked off our 2013 tour of Christopher Owen’s ‘A Parson’s Tale‘, after our debut show with it last November in Bolton. We had a great show down in Manley, Cheshire, last month and we will be visiting St Thomas’s Church Hall in Delph (near Saddleworth, Oldham) in a couple of weeks, followed by a visit to Hesketh Bank in Preston the week after. I’ve also learned today that Bob Young (our Rev. J T Smith) will be interviewed by the lovely Norma Kelly on Preston FM on the 18th March to promote the show, so that should be good fun! After Hesketh Bank, we’re closer to home up in Rossendale in April visiting a brilliantly refurbished 19th century church – St Anne’s in Waterfoot (our first ‘Church’ venue, as opposed to church hall or village hall). We’re still adding venues all the time, and it was nice to get our first requested booking from a venue last week after they heard feedback from our show at Manley. If you’re interested in getting along to see A Parson’s Tale, you can find all the details at

Women's VoicesI have been getting a lot of interest in Women’s Voices; another comedy by Christopher Owen, but this time co-written with Susan Monson, about a feminist a cappella choir. We (myself and Clare Barry, who I approached, with crossed fingers, to Direct this great script, knowing it would be right up her street) will be starting pre-production for the show after we’ve completed work on the Showcase in April (in which Clare will be directing a new piece called ‘VIP’, by Thomas Ingham). We should then begin casting around the end of May. We have lots of great suggestions for cast already and I look forward to meeting everyone. This is truly a great, funny show, and the choir – which we will be putting together as a ‘choir‘ – will bring a brilliant dynamic to the production, which isn’t necessarily a musical (much like A Parson’s Tale, I would describe it as a play with musical highlights).

But for now, I think that’s enough of my rambling. As always, if you have any questions about anything New Live Theatre related please feel free to email me at

So until the next blog, that’s me waffled out…



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