Looking back at…Audience with the Ghost Finder

Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling

8-17th May 2013 at The Selkirk Upstairs
22-24th October 2013 at The Etcetera Theatre

1912. To lift a cruel curse, ab-natural investigator Carnacki must tread the border between enlightenment and madness.

Sherlock Holmes meets Ghostbusters in this original tale of William Hope Hodgson’s classic character, Carnacki the ghost finder.

It was first seen at one of our new writing nights, and full show was premiered as part of a Wandsworth Arts Fringe double bill alongside London Pride. A few months later we transferred to the Etcetera Theatre as part of the London Horror Festival. Audience with the Ghostfinder was our first leap into full length, brand new playwriting.  The original staging was in the round, and really showcased just how versatile we can be. I can still smell the garlic and chalk…

a rare chance to see some outstanding new writing…brilliantly written and superbly acted, with ingenious staging

Public Reviews

Ellie Pitkin matches her taut direction with strong casting…you can’t help but come away from the evening feeling that this is a company who really care

A Younger Theatre

Hats off to Ellie Pitkin for the slick direction of this piece…the mystery of the piece is great fun and the pace is pitched perfectly

Stage to Page

CERIDWEN SMITH Dodgson/Mrs Allenby/Florence Allenby

TUTKU BARBAROS Assistant Director
LIZZIE COOPER Stage Manager & Lights Operator
SHERRY COENEN Lighting Designer
ZAHRA MANSOURI Set & Costume Designer
MICHELLE BRISTOW Costume Assistant
MIRANDA MARVIN Assistant Stage Manager
ANDREW CRANE Sound Operator
BARNEY BARRON Publicity, PR and Marketing
HELEN JOHNSON Publicity, PR and Marketing
COLE CAMPBELL Publicity, PR and Marketing
NICK TATCHELL Assistant Events Manager
VIKKI WESTON Education Manager
RICHARD STRATTON IT and Website Manager

M. J. Starling has since published an e-book of the original story, and playscript. It includes a foreword from Blackshaw’s Ellie Pitkin. We also recorded an audio drama version.

Looking back at…Gormenghast: Titus Groan

11th-14th April 2012
The Actors’ Church, Covent Garden

Gormenghast: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake
Adapted by Vikki Weston, Prudence Chamberlain, Poppy Corbett, Max Olesker, and Richard Stratton, for Blackshaw Theatre Company

Our first production. They say go big or go home, and with this as our debut show we went really, really big. It was a massive undertaking. Developing the script from Mervyn Peake’s original book, working with a cast of twenty, and creating an elaborate set that worked around the venue’s existing features. It was a great challenge, we had an enormous amount of fun and made some great friends in the process, many of whom we went on to work with again.

“Director Ellie Pitkin has undoubtedly achieved a feat of excellence in her homage to Peake’s novel. This was a brave and wonderful new world” – London Festival Fringe


Barquentine – John Rayment
Lady Cora – Angela Ferns
Lady Clarice – Clare Harlow
Lady Fuchsia Groan – Ceridwen Smith
Flay – Lee Ravitz
Countess Gertrude Groan – Terry Diab
Dr. Alfred Prunesquallor – Alexander Pankhurst
Irma Prunesquallor – Lucy McCabe
Rottcodd – Peter Picton
Lord Sepulchrave Groan – John Harwood
Nannie Slagg – Sarah Shelton
Sourdust – William Seaward
Steerpike – Francis Woolf
Swelter – Liam Fleming
Titus Groan – Esme Tennant
Pellet/Spurter/Soldier – Luke Manning
Book Bearer/Wrattler – Paul G Raymond
Soldier/Springer – Paddy Freeland
Ritual Servant/Twins’ Maid/Chipper – Miranda Marvin
Ritual Servant/Kitchen Boy – Greg Harradine

“Highly recommended…to be seen by all Mervyn Peake Fans.” – Sebastian Peake


Writers – Prudence Chamberlain, Poppy Corbett, Max Olesker, Richard Stratton
Script Editor – Vikki Weston
Director/Producer – Ellie Pitkin
Set & Costume Design – Zahra Mansouri
Composer – Greg Harradine
Sound Design – David Turnbull
Lighting Designer – Josh Yard
Stage Manager – Lizzie Cooper
Publicity Manager – George Islay Calderwood
Publicity Asst. – Bruce Asher
Asst. Director – James Barry
Marketing Manager – Matt Boothman
Education Coordinator – Charlie Limm
Filmmaker– James Burt
Costume Assistant – Flettie Bertram
Costume Assistant – Andrea Pierides
Lighting Asst. – Tom Woods
Sound Asst. – Andrew Crane
Make-up & Hair – Laura Jones
Photography – Nivine Keating (Morrighan Images)

Production Assistants:
Nick Tatchell
Sophie Talbot
Laura Nixon
Miranda Blazeby
Cole Campbell
Rosie Fullwood
Chloe Courtney
Tom Walters
Helen Johnson
Chris Starkey

Brilliant and resourceful

Remote Goat

Photos by Morrigan Images (Nivine Keating).

The Blackshaw Arts Hour Episode 13

Join Iasha and Vikki this week for loads of new writing and theatre on The Blackshaw Arts Hour.

Vikki reviews John Wick in place of Matt’s regular movie review.

We heard three pieces of new writing.

1. Slowdown was written and performed by Hannah Puddefoot

2. SMS was performed by Emily Jane Kerr and written by Marianne Powell

3. Have You Seen Spider-Man 2 was written by Joe Banks and performed by Grace Felton and Smith Lowe

Regular Arts Thing Of The Week was back and Vikki gave us info about Kenneth Branagh’s upcoming Theatre Company and the run of plays he will be directing and starring in at the Garrick Theatre in the West End.

We also announced the winner of our Alice in Wonderland competition and had the first listen to our audio trailer for the production.



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The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 9

The highly anticipated Part 2 of Audience With The Ghostfinder is here this week on The Blackshaw Arts Hour!

Also this week on the show is poetry by Daisy Thurston-Gent and Owen Collins, a review by Corey Hulls and a piece of new writing by Marianne Powell performed by Emily Jane Kerr.

Enjoy and tune in next week on Wandsworth Radio from 6pm to 7pm!


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About Gormenghast

Here’s a little more info on that mammoth adaption we performed in 2012.

The Gormenghast series, or Titus books, written by artist, author and poet Mervyn Peake, are set in a timeless world with a rigid class structure, thousands of age old traditions, and one ambitious kitchen boy. Titus Groan tells the first part of the story; the birth of Gormenghast’s heir, the descent of the Earl into madness, and Steerpike; a kitchen boy determined to better himself at all costs and who by doing so shakes Gormenghast to its very core.

Mervyn Peake was a poet, illustrator, playwright and visionary creator of Gormenghast. He spent some years of his childhood in Tienstin, China – the world of which is very much present in Gormenghast. He went on to create innumerable illustrations, as well as writing wonderful poetry, novels and nonsense literature. Though he did not enjoy great success in his lifetime, he was well respected and admired by his peers. In more recent years, Peake’s work has received the recognition it deserves, and Blackshaw is proud to be a part of that.


“A somewhat dysphoric (though incredibly humorous) universe is painted in large swathes of theatrical colour from the moment one takes an actual pew. The Master of the Ritual unravels and drops an acme-sized scroll from balcony to floor and immediately we witness the sheer size and downright chutzpah that this production delivers all the way through.

They incorporate projection, mime, a very high level of physical theatre, impressively zany costuming and an incredible soundscape – both live and tinned An outstanding cast must be commended for carefully nurturing these characters into a cohesive circus of idiosyncrasies, all maintaining a sparkle of cartoon but never at the cost of anyone else. On that note, Director Ellie Pitkin has undoubtedly achieved a feat of excellence in her homage to Peake’s novel. This was a brave and wonderful new world for me, and it deserves a great deal of attention.” – London Festival Fringe

“Highly recommended, this very colourful & energetic production had some outstanding & very moving performances…to be seen by all Mervyn Peake Fans.” – Sebastian Peake

“the brilliant and resourceful use of the space…combined with atmospheric accompanying music ensured that my attention was soon entirely absorbed… the production hummed with energy, moving dextrously from the hilarity of satire to a real sense of a world and a family that is falling inexorably and tragically to pieces. Roll on part two of the Gormenghast trilogy!” **** FOUR STARS – Remote Goat

You can see production photos, behind the scenes snippets, and more, in our other blog posts.