Epigraphs- Chrissy Williams

Title: Epigraphs

By: Chrissy Williams

Publisher: If p then q

Released: March 2014

Epigraphs is exactly what the name suggests- a collection of various quotes that could be used as epigraphs. The range of the quotes covers authors, characters in novels, films, TV, comic books, interviews with famous people and social neworking posts. The art of the book is hidden in the arrangement of these quotes. They are not always linked thematically, yet they still manage to run on from each other in a cohesive narrative of sorts.

Chrissy Williams has taken advantage of a massive range of influences in order to create something fascinating. The book also has cultural relevance- showing how all of these pressing bites of information that surround us everyday can all be classfied as being about one thing- LIFE.





Benthic Lines- Dan Lyth and the Euphrates

Title: Benthic Lines

Artist: Dan Lyth and the Euphrates

Release Date: 12th May 2014

Label: Armellodie Records

Drifting sighs of melody signify the opening of a shimmering album. A myriad of unusual instruments accompany deadpan statements of depression. Saxaphone and Steel Drums are used as casually as electric guitar riffs. Ocassionally female vocalists toot along with the tune. Ever present are confused roots in both classic indie, and psychadelic pop.

Benthic Lines is the first album Dan and the Euphrates have made for Scottish indie label Armellodie Records. Yet again the folks at Armellodie have cherry picked the best of unusual indie music. Benthic Lines is a fascinating album with many faces.






John Hickman and his play ‘Looked After’


John Hickman is the writer of Playing Up’s second play for their series of script-in-hand performances at The Bridge Hotel. Here is what John had to say about his play.

Looked After tells the story of fourteen-year-old Ellie. She finds herself in a children’s home, due to her mother’s severe alcohol misuse. During the play Ellie develops friendships with a couple of the other kids at the home: Karl and Jordan. However her relationship with Jordan becomes volatile and Ellie flees home to her mum.

In the end, she’s left with a choice. Does she keep on trying to help her mum? Or does she finally put herself first and return to the children’s home?

Where did you get the idea?
My idea draws on my personal life, as well as my experiences as a social worker. I’ve worked with some great kids over the years and there’s bit and pieces of them all in there, I guess. I’ve also recently started a PhD, with a focus on the media representation of looked after children. I wanted to write something that felt representative of the kids I’ve met along the way, something that explored their dilemmas, but also highlighted their humour and resilience.

Why should people come and see it?
It’s an interesting take on a setting we don’t see a huge amount of. I hope that the characters are likable and interesting; but the subject matter is heavy going in places. Yet there is a lot of humour, which reflects the young people I’ve worked with along my way.

Is it the first play you have written?
My first play was performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and transferred to a theatre in London. However I’m pretty new to playwrighting and still wrapping my head around the medium.

So do you tend to write more in other styles?
I’ve written prose predominantly. On the back of my creative writing MA dissertation piece, I got an agent who represents my children’s fiction. It’s been in the last eighteen months that I’ve really got into other forms of writing. I’m currently working on several film projects, which I’m really enjoying.

What are your future ambitions with playwriting?
Seeing my stuff come to life with actors, and working with directors is really exciting. I just want to get as much of my work on as possible and learn as much as I can. Ultimately, I’d like to make my living as a writer.

What is more important for you- character or plot?
For me, characters are what it’s all about. If the characters aren’t engaging, no one will care about the story.

If you’re interested in new playwrighting please come and support us. John’s play is on at the Bridge Hotel on the 16th, and there will be more plays following it over the next few months.

Playing Up is our writing company, it would be awesome if you could also like our facebook page. We were founded through Arts in Touch, they have a facebook page in need of some liking too.


A Ladder for Mr Oscar Wilde

Title: A Ladder for Mr Oscar Wilde

By: Geoff Sawers, Peter Hay

Re-published: 2008

Publisher: Two Rivers Press

This short pamphlet is an inventive mixture of biography, debate and imaginative pen and ink illustrations. The text mostly focuses on Wilde’s unfair incarceration in Reading Goal, as well as commenting on the prison conditions and politics of the 1800s. The main body of the text is punctuated by Peter Hay’s illustrations and small contextual notes.

A Ladder for Mr Wilde would be a fascinating text for anyone interested in Oscar Wilde’s writing, not just his poem ‘The ballad of Reading Goal’ but also the expansive range of poetry, prose and plays that Wilde produced before his incarceration. It is also an informative resource for anyone interested in the system of punishment in the UK; or the bitter history of those prosecuted for homosexuality before it became legal in 1967.



Christina Maiden and her play ‘Spending A Penny’


Hello Christina, Could you tell me a bit about your play ‘Spending A Penny’?

Spending a Penny is about two airport toilet attendants – Gillian and Jackie. On a normal morning at work, Gillian is behaving unusually. She’s decked the toilets out with fairy lights, bunting and even a lava lamp. Jackie’s convinced something’s going on. And she’s right.

Where did you get the idea?

I started thinking about the location first. Public toilets are such bizarre places. The host of different people who go in and out, the snatched conversations at the sink or over cubicle doors, the embarrassing sounds people sometimes make and the fact that people go there to do something so completely normal but often not talked about made me think it would be a fascinating place to tell a story. I then considered whose perspective I would be most interested in and so decided to look at a few hours in the airport toilet as experience by two cleaners.

Why should people come and see it?

It’s not every day you can watch a play set in an airport toilet! Spending a Penny is a warm story that will make you laugh. My fondess of toilet humour certainly played a part in the location choice. However for me plays are about all about the characters. I love exploring characters. Delving into their stories – why they are the way they are and the way in which this influences how they relate to others. I find people absolutely fascinating and I really enjoy exploring the intricacies of human relationships through scriptwriting.

Could you tell me a bit about what you have written before?

Plays are my style of choice, certainly. Dialogue and the space between what characters say to each other and what they mean is what I love about writing. Plays give the perfect platform to explore that. I write bits of poetry here and there but for my eyes only. I wouldn’t want to inflict that on anyone else

.I’ve written a couple of short plays for young performers Once Upon a Story and The Last Word. The Last Word was one of the winners of Trinity College’s International Playwriting Competition 2012 and was also performed by Shincliffe Primary School in December. I really enjoy writing for children as it gives me permission to explore weird and wonderful ideas in a way that isn’t as possible when writing for adults. I’ve also written a one act play, Instructions Not Included, about a young woman looking back on the past seven years as she packs up her house. This was performed by Northumberland Theatre Company in March 2013

What are your future ambitions with your work?

I hope to develop my skills and experience as a playwright and doing the Live course has been fantastic for that! I would love to be able to make a living from writing plays – bringing beautiful stories and interesting characters to life.




Playing Up- New Theatre Writing in Newcastle

‘Playing Up’ is a new local company of dramatic writers; with a series of plays being performed over the next few months. Supported by Arts in Touch this group of fresh-faced writers will be producing a series of one-act plays. Each play will be performed script-in-hand at The Bridge Hotel in Newcastle (http://www.bridgehotelnewcastle.co.uk/). Please come along!

I will be the resident blogger for the group (my own play ‘The Last Experiment’ will also be performed as part of the program). As resident blogger I will be previewing each play before it comes on and interviewing the writers. First up is Christina Maiden.


Ten Thousand Things

Title: Ten Thousand Things

By: Jeremy Toombs

Publisher: Burning Eye Books

Released: 2013

Numberous reviews of Jeremy Toombs’ poetry have noted its similarities with the Beat poets and writers of the 1960s (this is also something Toombs acknowledges himself in the poem ‘Kerouac’). Yet a reading of ‘Ten Thousand Things’ reveals just as much common ground with traditional and romantic poetry. Toombs observes nature as well as human psychology. Although all of his poems are held together with rhythm (like the beats), they also take on many different forms and styles. The poems also carry an intense sense of place, inspired by Toombs’ own experiences whilst travelling.

My favourite poem of the collection is ‘Imagination’. It is the most vivid and urgent of the collection, and embraces the full range of Toombs’ topics and poetic devices. Maddness, nature, the sea and (of course) flights of imagination are all covered in this single poem. The entire poem clicks together to form one long sentence from a series of seperate lines. There is a definate beat- this must be one of the poems that encourages comparision between Toombs and the Beat poets.

Throughout the collection Toombs quotes many religious and poetic sources; presumably collected on his travels…and also the wisdom of Yoda (in fact there is an entire poem dedicated to Star Wars references (‘On Trying’).

A few of the poems are aided by erratic and sketchy illustrations. In places these help with the poems and their imaginative flow; but in other places the images only serve to impede the imapact of the words.

Overall ‘Ten Thousand Things’ is a varied read; but it has enough positive points to take a look at. It frequently provides a new or at least eccentric perception of the world.