On January 6th 2011, Blackshaw presented its first New Writing Night at The Horse & Stables (Lambeth North). There began a decade-long love story between Blackshaw and new writing. We hosted over 30 events, first at The Horse, and then at the Hen & Chickens (Islington). The New Writing Nights brought together writers, actors, and directors to try out their work and get constructive feedback from the audience.
In 2014, we began the annual Blackshaw Showcase Award – winners were supported by Blackshaw through the development process of their play, to get the script performance-ready and then staged as a one-off industry performance.
2014 Winner: Staying Aliveby Kat Roberts
2015: Call It Even by Naila Vázquez Tantinyà
2016: Cailleach Óg by Gerald Moynihan
2017: Moth Man by Nicole Locke
There are loads of brilliant photos, reviews, interviews and info on the New Writing Nights and Showcase Awards to look at.
Megan Pemberton is a graduate of the Oxford School of Drama and since graduating, her credits include Redefining Juliet at the Barbican (2016) ‘Pheobe’ in After Party (2017) at the Pleasance Theatre and most recently ‘Sargent Jackie Straker’ in Encompass Production’s Chummy (2017) by BAFTA award winning writer, John Foster. She has recently returned from Junkbox Theatre’s sell out Edinburgh Fringe Tour of Stiff Dicky and Mine.
EDDIE USHER – Dave
Eddie trained at Drama Studio London. Some of his theatre credits include A Clockwork Orange (UK/World Tour), Alkaline (Park Theatre), Romeo & Juliet (Camden Peoples Theatre), Should’ve Gone to Lourdes (The Arts Theatre), Smoking In The Boys Room (Theatre 503), Brainville At Night (The Old Red Lion), The Pope’s Wedding (The Cock Tavern). TV and film credits include: Literally A Festival (BBC), Eva’s Diamond (Soob Productions), Centurion (Millicent Productions), The Only One Who
Knows You’re Afraid (DeCantillon Films), Metatron (Bargus Films), Pink Teats (Fright Fest), Sinister Ministers (Discovery Channel). He’s waiting on the release of new film, A-Symmetry, which is in post-production.
LIAM FLEMING – Director
Liam works as a Director, Writer and Actor. He is the Artistic Director of in(ep)trepid, an immersive and interactive theatre company since 2014 producing shows for Green Space (2015) and Boomtown Festival (2017). He also runs Bare Essentials, a New Writing Night for Encompass Productions.
His most recent acting credits include: ‘Kevin’ in The Favourite By Yorgos Lanthamos (2018), ‘The Gate Keeper’ in The People’s Revolt By Differencengine (2017) and ‘Mr. Bliss’ for Boomtown Festival (2017).
Nicole is a graduate in English and Creative Writing from Royal Holloway University (2015) where she specialised in playwriting. She is currently completing a Masters degree at City University in Playwriting and Screenwriting, and looking for representation.
Nicole worked with Blackshaw (2013-2016), both as Company Administrator and New Writing Night Manager. Since then, Nicole has gone on to focus and develop her own writing, including tonight’s play, Moth Man. She enjoys writing dark comedies/dramas and has recently been experimenting with more supernatural elements. Her current ambition is to get a run of Moth Man in a fringe theatre, developing it further and getting a wider audience to see her work.
Performed Thursday 2nd March, 7.45pm, The Pleasance Theatre
‘CAILLEACH ÓG…? She arrived on the back of a pig. What else do ye need tae know?’
Husband and wife DÁITHÍ and MÁIRE UÍ DHOMHNAILL own a pub in Bally Briocht – frequented by local barfly SNIBBER BANNON. A strange woman calling herself CAILLEACH ÓG arrives, and is soon making wild claims about being “The Mother of Mountains”, much to the amusement of DÁITHÍ, MÁIRE and SNIBBER.
DÁITHÍ subsequently finds his fate increasingly intertwined with that of CAILLEACH ÓG. And as his life very quickly unravels beyond his control, he desperately tries to hold on to his marriage as well as his sanity.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Gerry is from Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland. He graduated in 2012 with an MA in Screenwriting from The London College of Communication. His projects include a feature King Billy And The Popes; a TV spec script for a Detective series Bundle, a spec script for BBC TV Series ‘Doctors’ Teenage Kicks and a radio play entitled The Bread of Life. He has also published one short story, Phantom Limbs.
His first piece for theatre, a short play entitled Skiver, was staged at the Brockley Jack Theatre. His first full length play Continuity opened “Vibrant 2016” – The Finborough Theatre’s Annual Festival of New Writing and is currently being considered for a full production in the summer.
Cailleach Óg won The Blackshaw Theatre’s Showcase 2016 Award.
Marcus Bazley for his insightful script feedback. Matt Boothman, Vikki Weston and Ellie Pitkin for the support in making this production happen at all! The talented actors and crew whose combined efforts brought the script to life. To Ronnie Troughton for listening/arguing/supporting. And a very special thanks to my number one muse & critic who keeps me going; Claire Dongworth.
CAST & CREATIVES
VICTORIA OTTER – Cailleach Óg
Victoria graduated with an MA in Acting from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts and studied Drama at Exeter University. Recent theatre credits include ‘Jackie’ in Bad News (Briefs) by Shaun Kitchener (Waterloo East Theatre), ‘Gertrude’ in Hamlet (site specific), ‘Rivers’ in Richard III (Old Red Lion Theatre), ‘Stevie’ in Fitting Room by Tara Lepore (Eastern Angles, The Wolsley Theatre) and ‘Sarah Casey’ in The Tinker’s Wedding by J.Synge (London Irish Theatre).
Victoria first played Cailleach Óg as a rehearsed reading for Blackshaw Theatre at their New Writing night at the Hen & Chickens theatre.
NATHAN GORDON – Dáithí Ó Domhnaill
Nathan graduated in 2016 from the one-year acting course at Oxford School of Drama. Theatre credits include: ‘H’ in Flashes by Isley Lynn (Soho Theatre, 2016); ‘Lucio’ in Measure for Measure (North Wall Oxford, 2016); and ‘Ernest Beevers’ in Time and the Conways (OSD, 2016). Screen credits include: ‘Marc Vlessing’ in Foyle’s War (ITV, 2013) and ‘Duncan Stonehouse’ in Irish soap Fair City (RTÉ, 2008-10). Nathan very recently recorded The Secret by Deric Henderson as an audio book for RNIB Talking Books.
LIIS MIKK – Máire Uí Dhomhnaill
Liis trained with The National Youth Theatre. Her recent theatre credits include ‘Woman’ in The Ones with Urbn Theatr (2016), ‘Chorus’ in The Bacchae with Lazarus Theatre Company (2016), ‘Liz’ in Master of the Macabre with MOTM Productions (2015), and ‘Berta’ in Re:Tale with Written Foundations Theatre Company (2015).
Liis is currently seeking representation.
STEPHEN GOOD – Snibber
Stephen is a graduate of Drama Studio London. Credits include ‘Polonius’ in Hamlet (2012; directed by Jimmy Walters). For Mercurius Theatre (all directed by Jenny Eastop): ‘Chrysalde/Henry’ in School for Wives (2013); ‘Hoard’ in A Trick to Catch the Old One (2014); ‘Yellowhammer’ in A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (2015); ‘Everill/Sir Paul Eitherside’ in The Devil is an Ass (2015). For television: ‘Pete’ in Unbelievers (2015 TV pilot, directed by Matthew Colclough).
As an Irish actor, Stephen is particularly gratified to be involved in a new Irish play.
MARCUS J. BAZLEY – Director
Marcus is Artistic Director of Cyphers Productions, as well as a freelance director who has worked across the UK and in France. He has previously worked for Blackshaw as Assistant Director on Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2015) and Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (2015). Directing credits include: Henry V by William Shakespeare (2014 & 2015), Le Journal d’un Fou by Nikoli Gogol (2015), Communicate by Jeremy Fletcher (2016), as well as his own adaptations of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens (2015) and The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas (2016).
ANDREW CRANE – Sound & Lighting Designer
Andrew is a graduate in Drama and Theatre Studies from Royal Holloway University (2012), and has worked as a sound designer and technician for Blackshaw Theatre since 2012. Sound Design credits include Black Shuck by Duncan Hands (2016—Old Red Lion), Staying Alive by Kat Roberts (2015—The Pleasance), Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014 & 2015—Battersea Library), Character by Florence Vincent (2014—Tristan Bates), and Fetch by Duncan Gates (2014—The Selkirk).
For Blackshaw’s Arts Hour on Wandsworth Radio, Andrew has edited several radio plays including Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2015), and a serialised adaptation of Great Expectations by Marcus Bazley.
ADAM PENNY—Assistant Producer
VIKKI WESTON—Script Consultant
MATT BOOTHMAN—Script Consultant
JESSICA BAILES, VIOLAINE BRUNELIN, IASHA CHAPMAN, SUSANA COLUNGA, CHARLOTTE DISCOMBE, LIAM STEWARD-GEORGE, RICHARD STRATTON—Associate Producers
CAILLEACH ÓG, JESUS, HOMER SIMPSON, ME & DUFF BEER…
by Gerry Moynihan.
Sometimes you write something and when its finished, or more precisely when it finally reaches a level of acceptability, you are left wondering rather as one of the characters in CAILLEACH ÓG might put it, “Where in under Jesus did that come from?”
I’ll try and retrace some of my steps.
For a ten minute play challenge I wrote a scenario called CAILLEACH ÓG involving two women in the west of Ireland having a confrontation over a missing man. The play involved a black hole (i.e. a circular piece of black cloth) and it appeared that the man was pushed into the hole by one of the women, CAILLEACH ÓG, who also subsequently pushed the other woman – her adversary – in as well, only for her to get mauled to death by a ferocious animal. The man is then made to re-appear by CAILLEACH ÓG in the form of a small black kitten…
See what I mean?
“Where in under Jesus did that come from?”
But it was only when I won the Blackshaw Showcase Award that I revisited the script and tried to answer that because now I was charged with the challenge of turning it into a full length play due to be staged roughly nine months thence.
I immediately had to confront a series of questions.
To once again echo the character in CAILLEACH ÓG; “Who in under Jesus was CAILLEACH ÓG and where in under Jesus did she come from?”
“What in under Jesus was it really about anyway?” and so on.
The “when and where in under Jesus?” were the easiest questions to answer; it would still be set somewhere in the west of Ireland in the present day.
Next came the “Who in under Jesus?”
“The Cailleach” is a figure from Irish/Scottish mythology who shaped the landscape. She was very often portrayed as an ‘old hag’. I found out that this was largely down to the usurping of of pagan mythology by Christian mythology and, as a sign of the churches future patriarchal nature, “The Cailleach” was recast from being a powerful Goddess/deity, to that of and old hag, who was barren and who lamented the loss of her youth. That was why I had already decided from the outset that I would call her CAILLEACH ÓG, óg being the Irish word for young for I wanted to make her young(er) and feisty again.
The “What in under Jesus?” was going to be harder and so “I played it by ear” as the saying goes.
And after many false starts and attempts at different scenarios I sat down one day and the whole opening scene in the pub seemed to write itself and there was very little about that scene that would change. Indeed it would dictate the general direction that the rest of the play would take. And so, there it was; instead of an Irish man walking into the pub and being the main story teller it would be a woman; CAILLEACH ÓG – younger, feisty and of course, enigmatic.
I now had the main characters and the pub setting – a solid basis on which to build since the first scene raised all the questions that an audience would expect to be answered in some way or another… so my work was cut out for me… to try and answer those questions was the spur needed to move forward and progress.
I also knew by then that I would be incorporating either poetry, song, dance or music or perhaps a combination of all three as music and song loom large in my background having been a gigging musician all my life in various guises. And so to this end I rifled through my music and book collection.
Then it was time to mull again…
After another bout of fits and starts in the writing I took a break from it until I went on holiday where I found that I was able to move forward… just as well because it was coming up to Christmas and the showcase was scheduled for March.
I came back from holiday, submitted a draft, was happy with the feedback, made some changes, did a lot of tweaking and suddenly the story direction was becoming clear. I was of course hoping that any meaning(s) taken from the play would amount to a lot more than the sum of its parts – that certain themes would come to the fore – but it is a matter for the audience to decide upon as to whether or not this is the case and if I am successful in that respect.
Eventually after months of feeling like Homer Simpson – who, when he decided to get fit, took on the challenge of climbing a mountain and each time mistakenly thinking that he’s reached the summit, only to find that it was in fact just another ledge on the way to the real summit – I finally felt that I made it to the summit.
There was only one thing to do.
Just like Homer, get in some Duff beer and bask for a while on the sofa.
But still, all I could think as I swilled my Duff was – “Where in under Jesus did that come from?”