I Capture the Castle

I Capture the Castle
I Capture the Castle based on the novel by Dodie Smith Book and lyrics Teresa Howard music Steven Edis

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

A Profound Secret

Supper with Timothy Wilson (the Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean) and his wife Jane was magical. I learned so much and was made to feel so welcome. Timothy and Jane were truly fabulous company. They had both been to see Possessed at Oxford Playhouse and were excited by the connection between the art and theatre world. Colin Harrison the Keeper of Pre-Raphaelite Art also made an appearance, before he had to rush off to give a lecture. Colin told me about the up and coming exhibitions and was a wealth of knowledge on everything Pre-Raphaelite. He knew Margaretta Frederick, the curator at the Delaware Art Museum, whom I am meeting during my trip to the States, and knew about every museum in the world which housed the most famous paintings. Before he left he invited me to come to the Museum the following day and look at the drawings and watercolours that Edward Burne-Jones had given to Amy Gaskell, which are housed in the print room. Josceline Dimbleby wrote a wonderful book about her great Aunt Amy, called A Profound Secret. In the book she traces the family secret behind the life and loves of her beautiful great aunt, who sat for one of Burne-Jones' most famous portraits (above). This painting is part of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Collection.

The next day I was allowed into the inner sanctum of the museum to look at the Burne-Jones box of work he had given Amy. I was also able to look through some wonderful drawings by Rossetti, mostly of Lizzie Siddal. Ever since I went to the print room of the British Museum to look at the letters between the characters in the musical I have been obsessed by these people. But the real highlight of the morning was going to look again at the corner of the museum which held the great wardrobe Burne Jones had given Morris and Jane as a wedding present. Janey, of course, featured on the painting at the front. Beside it were two beautiful chalk Rossetti's of Jane - Daydream and Pandora. The richness of the colour and emotion emanating from Jane's face vindicated everything Steve and I had worked for in Possessed.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Spring Awakening

Only two weeks before I go to New York! I am very excited about going to see Atlantic Theatre Company's production of Spring Awakening, a remarkable musical based on Wedekind's play, of the same name. Even though it has been one of the hottest shows on Broadway it will be closing in January, so I am glad I'll see it before it goes. It won 8 Tony Awards! The Book and lyrics of the show are by Steven Sater and the music is by Duncan Sheik.

Spring Awakening is a story about puberty and teenage sexual discovery, set in Germany in 1891. It was banned from the stage when Wedekind first wrote it and not performed in the English version for 100 years. I wonder if anyone is considering it for the UK?

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Micheline Steinberg, my agent, has suggested that Steve and I find an agent in New York because she doesn't represent clients out there. So I am attempting to do this. Most US theatres and production companies prefer to be contacted by agents rather than receive unsolicited material from writers. If an agent sends your work in, a producer is far more likely to take notice of it because they know it has been vetted by an agent first. When I first started writing stage plays I worked as a literary agent for a while. Initially I worked for Michael Imison and Alan Brodie and then set up my own agency. I represented a handful of young writers and also the Estates of some very well known writers, including Dorothy Parker, HE BAtes, DH Lawrence and John Wyndham. There is nothing like working as an agent for a few years to really learn how it all works. While I was working for Michael, as his assistant, he was very generous. He took me to all the openings and introduced me to everyone. I remember it as a very exciting time in my life, where I met some amazing writers and actors and read hundreds of plays!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Hackney Empire

Steve has now begun his annual stint at Hackney Empire, helping to create London's most popular panto. This year it is Morther Goose, starring the glorious Clive Rowe. After the critical triumph of last year's Dick Whittington they have brought together the same fantastic artistic team to present this new production. Clive's co-star is Sharon D Clarke from Holby City and Last Choir Standing along with a host of other fantastic performers including Tameka Empson, Kat B, Anthony Whittle, Matt Dempsey, Susie McKenna, Alex Ross, Abigail Rosser and Carl Parris.

The show is written and directed by the multi-talented Susie McKenna with Music by Steven Edis.

To book your ticket for the Panto you can click on the title link above which will take you directly to the Hackney Empire website.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


I am going to visit the Pre-Raphaelite Collection at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford next week. In the evening I have a meeting with Timothy Wilson, the Keeper of Western Art from the Museum. He came along to see the Oxford Showcase of Possessed and we have been meaning to meet up and talk about it all ever since. I thought it would be helpful to see him before I go off to visit Margaretta Frederick at the Delaware Art Museum in November.

The Ashmolean, was the first public museum in Britain. It began with a collection of natural history items from the Tradescants which were bequeathed to Elias Ashmole. The grand classical museum building, and the Taylorian Institute nearby, were designed by the architect C. R. Cockerell. It is going through an enormous redevelopment at the moment and there will be a whole gallery devoted to the Pre-Raphaelites, when it is finished. Many of the Pre-Raphaelite works which the museum holds are from the collection of Thomas Coombe, one of the early patrons of the Brotherhood. The Ashmolean is directly opposite Oxford Playhouse

Monday, 13 October 2008

Books for Writers

I have invested in some good books for writers on the New York Theatre scene: The Dramatists Guild Resource Directory, Dramatists Sourcebook and the most recently published Theatre World, which have all proved to be very useful. It is only when you are trying to make connections in another city that you realise how much you know about your own. Just checking things out on the internet is just not enough.

After going to Delaware I am going to be staying in New York between 16th November and 21st in a lovely little brownstone hotel in Chelsea. I found it in The Dramatists Guild book, which has a couple of pages of reasonable hotel suggestions along with all the usual stuff about theatres, agents and producers.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Imagine This?

Peter Polycarpou, who played the role of Topsy (William Morris), in the Greenwich Theatre Showcase of Possessed in 2006, is starring in the new musical IMAGINE THIS! The story of the musical is by Glenn Berenbeim with music by Shuki Levy and lyrics by David Goldsmith. It opens at the New London Theatre on November 19th. Sadly, I will be in New York on the opening night but have promised Peter I will come as soon as I return. I visited the site of the Warsaw Ghettos during a tour of Eastern Europe in 2005 and above is a heartbreaking photograph that Charles Girdham took of some of the remains of the ghetto wall, which is now a children's playground. More photographs of the ghetto and Poland can bee seen on his website Images change the World.