Looking back at…The Scare Slam & Halloween Tales

Halloween Tales, 30th October – 1st November 2014, The Selkirk Upstairs

‘You think it’s all me and it’s not. It’s not always me.’

It starts as a normal night-shift – and then you start to see double…

Duncan Gates’ chilling short play, Fetch, alongside some spooky fireside stories, formed our first foray into scary short stories. Halloween Tales was almost certainly the spooky seed from which did grow the horror-bloom: Blackshaw’s Annual Scare Slam.

The Whistling Room by William Hope Hodgson, read by M. J. Starling

Wailing Well by M. R. James, read by Duncan Gates

Fetch by Duncan Gates

There’s a bunch of lovely photos, interviews, and behind the scenes joy available to browse.


ROSIE MARSH Ally (Fetch)
M. J. STARLING Storyteller
DUNCAN GATES Storyteller


ELLIE PITKIN Director & Producer
MICHELLE BRISTOW Set & Costume Designer
ANDREW CRANE Sound Design/Tech Operation

The Scare Slam, annually, October 2014-present

From the mind of Blackshaw associate, Helen Stratton, the Scare Slams were born. Over the years (we’ve done 5) the Scare Slam has been performed at The Horse & Stables, The Old Red Lion, and The Pleasance Theatre, as part of the London Horror Festival.

The show has provided a platform for the telling of terrifying short stories and poems. All in the dead of night. To the gentle hiss of a geriatric smoke machine…

Scare Slam 2015

Scare Slam 2016

Scare Slam 2017

Scare Slam 2018

Scare Slam 2019

You can drip some fear into your ear, and listen to the audio of the Scare Slams, whenever you like.

*ANNOUNCEMENT KLAXON* – Scare Slam 2017 Participants

We’re soooOoooOoooo *insert own spooky voice here* excited to announce this year’s Scare Slam line up…

Book your tickets now!

Chris Lincé – The Scratch
Synopsis – A woman suffering from workplace bullying, discovers a mysterious scratch on her arm.

Intro – Chris is the co-producer and director of Hermetic Arts, whose show BADD (Bothered About Dungeons & Dragons) is at the London Horror Festival at the end of the month.
Reece Connolly – The Fatberg of Whitechapel
Synopsis – Told from the perspective of the 130 tonne, 250 m long ‘fatberg’ of cooking oil, wet wipes, nappies, excrement, and other nastiness discovered in a sewer in East London, this piece of comedy-horror spoken
word details their birth, musings, and eventual decision to rise up and take revenge on its human creators who seek to destroy it [or at the very least, convert it into biofuel]. It’s Frankenstein, but a lot smellier.

Intro – Reece Connolly is a writer and theatre-maker based in East London, originally from deepest darkest Northumberland. He grew up next door to a Victorian cemetery in a household of one-eyed cats, dead farmer’s ghosts, garden-fairies, and a thing made of rags that lived in the attic – probably explains why he loves scary stuff so much. He is involved in two production at this year’s London Horror Festival, having written and co-directed MISTER MUSHROOM, and written and directed THE STOMACHING, in which he also performs as a psychotic nun.

Stack 10 Theatre – Murder of Crows
Synopsis – A crow is kicked to death. Crows remember faces, crows hold grudges, and one night a murder of them come for a reckoning.

Info – Stack 10 Theatre have returned to the Scare Slam to bring you more tales from Chiswick, the home of horror and gateway to hell.
Dan Weatherer – The Watching Eye
Synopsis – When Tom and Angela buy Wayside Cottage, they’re hoping for an escape from the rat-race, a slower pace of life in the countryside. They might get more than they bargained for…

Info – Award-Winning Staffordshire Based Author/Playwright Author of four collections, two novels (upcoming) a novella on Dr Crippen, ad a book of plays (due 2018) Visit http://www.danweatherer.com for more details

Joseph Willis – The Watcher
Synopsis – When a man discovers a pale figure stood watching his house and a mysterious doll in his child’s possession, his sanity and family’s safety will come into question; as he tries to work out what it wants, and more terrifyingly, what it’s going to do next.

Intro – Born in Sheffield, Joseph studied a Masters in Writing, Directing and Performance at the University of York, before starting his own horror theatre collective ‘Danse Macabre Productions’. His usual work can be categorised as ‘bloody tongue in cheek’ and his piece ‘The Watcher’, is a psychological horror that taps into his irrational fear, that people staring into space, are usually doing anything but.

Liam Steward-George – Big Eyes
Synopsis – Modern look at Little Red Riding Hood set in the context of a club and taxi.

Info – Another moralistic tale about a numpty who gets it all wrong. Just don’t be a dick…

Looking back at 2015

We’ve had a corker of a year, and as we settle down in front of the fire with a mulled wine in hand and snazzy christmas jumper firmly on, we thought we’d take you through the highlights…


The Blackshaw Arts Hour on Wandsworth Radio (fortnightly from Jan 2015)

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Subscribe on iTunes.

Available to download or stream here.

Read more about it and listen to past episodes.


10-29th November 2015 – Staying Alive by Kat Roberts, at the Pleasance Islington

Published by Nick Hern Books.  Buy your copy here.
“explosive emotion…a strong cast…lively and full of wit…” West End Wilma


“Proof that given enough time, talent and perseverance, theatre that really says something about the human condition can be made.”
5-starsFemale Arts


“highly original, nuanced and enlightening…deeply observed social comedy…compelling from start to finish”
5-starsRemote Goat


“wonderfully human…a really powerful exploration of grief – honest and tender…”
four-star-rating-black-hiLondon Theatre 1

Read more here.


25th November 2015 – Blackshaw’s Scare Slam, at the Horse & Stables, Lambeth


Read more here.


4-5th July 2015 – Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton, at the British Home as part of the Streatham Festival


Read more here.


Sunday 7th June 2015 – Blackshaw’s 5th Birthday Party!


Read more here.


2-16th May 2015 – Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton, at the Battersea Library
A sell-out run, as part of the Wandsworth Arts Fringe.
“…creative, imaginative and seemingly effortless style…The whole performance buzzed with energy, fun and joy.”
5-starsLondon Theatre 1


“The fun-filled show brims with chaos, madness and high jinks…the wild but classic tale of Alice in her fantastically retold Wonderland.” – A Younger Theatre


Read more here.

25th March, 17th May, 29th July, 30th September 2015 – New Writing Nights at the Horse & Stables, Lambeth




nwn_250415 2015-03-25 (14)

Read more here.


9-14th March 2015 – Character by Florence Vincent, at the Tristan Bates Theatre
“a delightful theatre production on in Covent Garden. Funny, nostalgic, well acted 2 hander” – London Culture Blog


“a witty play…reminiscent of Ab Fab’s Edina and Saffy” – In & Around Covent Garden magazineSONY DSC

Read more here.


15th Jan 2015 – Staying Alive by Kat Roberts, at the Pleasance Islington 
One night only industry showcase – Winner of Blackshaw’s Showcase Award 2014.


Read more here.


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!


See you in 2016.


Ellie & the Team at Blackshaw


Xmas Blackshaw Logo


The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 29

This week on the show Iasha is joined in the studio by Ellie and Matt who reviews The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2 . Helen reviews ACS Random’s new production of The Knight From Nowhere/The Bells. It’s playing at The Park Theatre until the 19th of December.

We also heard an interview with Marcus Bazely, Rupert Sadler and Andrew Crane, some of the people involved in our upcoming production of Great Expectations. The first episode will be aired on the 3rd of January, so make sure you tune in!
To promote our excellent Scare Slam that happened a few weeks ago we heard a spooky story from our MC Duncan Gates. If you tune in to the next instalment of The Blackshaw Arts Hour you can hear the full live recording of the Slam, playing out live on the 20th of December and available to podcast here! 

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5 Minutes with M.J. Starling

One of Blackshaw’s favourite writers, M.J. Starling, not only agreed to read ‘The Whistling Room’ by William Hope Hodgson for our Halloween Tales production but ALSO agreed to spend a few minutes answering our questions. What a hero.

Why did you decide to pick the William Hope Hodgson story that you’re reading for Halloween Tales?

It was a difficult choice between The Whistling Room and The Gateway of the Monster. (I think my favourite Carnacki the ghost finder story is actually The Hog, but that one would take over an hour to read aloud, plus its copyright situation is a bit fuzzy in the UK.) Gateway features Carnacki’s iconic Electric Pentacle, which Whistling Room only mentions; and Carnacki’s a bit more active in defending himself and defeating the monster in Gateway, too. I could argue that’s why I picked Whistling Room – horror’s scarier when you’re helpless, when the powers involved are just too huge and dangerous to handle – but really? It’s just because I love it so much. It was the first Carnacki story I experienced, and I want it to be that for some people in the audience as well.

What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?

GuruGuru, by Rotozaza (rotozaza.co.uk). It’s a fun, cyberpunky, unspeakably meta, unapologetically experimental little show-in-a-box for an audience of five, who are also the performers. You all wear earbuds that feed you lines to speak to each other and to the sixth character, a computer-genersted disembodied floating head on a screen which is trying to coach you all out of your stage fright. Which sounds a bit gimmicky, but I’ve never seen another show whose format is so perfectly designed to illustrate its subject matter (in this case free will and determinism, with some stuff about outer performativity versus inner selfhood thrown in for added spice), plus it’s both fun and funny. It’s also the show that made me think properly for the first time about theatricality, what constitutes a play or show, and whether the traditional business models of theatre are still the best we can do in the 21st century.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

Ridley Scott’s ALIEN.

What scares you silly?

Shipwrecks. Real ones or fictional ones; seeing them on TV, hearing about them in stories people tell, reading about them in books; ancient wrecks and wrecks in progress: they give me the screaming shivers (me timbers (sorry I make stupid jokes when I’m frightened)). I mean, think about it: a shipwreck is like a haunted house, except it’s haunted by be-tentacled deep-sea horrors as well as drowned spectres. And if you were to visit one, you’d already be out of your element, reliant on fallible breathing equipment to survive, much less well evolved to defend yourself or escape from anything you might find down there. Brr. I think this might stem from a childhood visit to the wreck of the Mary Rose. Even in drydock, I was awestruck by it – this huge, impressive human creation, designed to express and exert power, just destroyed by the sea.

Have you ever had a spooky experience?

Back in school, year 7 or 8, I dreamed one night that one of my friends was trying to axe-murder me. I think I escaped being axe-murdered, but only because he chased me right off a cliff and that woke me up.

So I mentioned this to him the next day at school, and we were laughing about it when another of our friends piped up from the desk behind: this same friend had tried to axe-murder him in a dream as well, that same night.

The dreams hadn’t particularly spooked me or the other dreamer, but the coincidence certainly spooked our friend, who worried for the rest of the day that he might be some kind of living, unwitting, secretly-friend-hating version of Freddy Krueger.

You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?

Humanity is unique among Earth’s creatures in our ability to comprehend the sheer scale of the universe; and the price we pay for this intellectual superiority is exposure to the soul-crushing revelation of our own cosmic insignificance. So I’d go as that – but you know, like, a sexy version?

Not a lot of people know that…

…if you find yourself in the path of a swarm of bees, you mustn’t run: instead, drop to the ground, lie as flat as possible and let the swarm go over you. You might still get stung, but not nearly as badly as if the swarm thinks you’re in its way.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

There are no guilty pleasures. No one should be made to feel ashamed of enjoying something, unless their enjoyment of it is harming someone else.

I used to buy into this idea as much as the next person, and back at school I felt shame particularly about some of the music I enjoyed (that’s too poppy! that sounds like something tween girls would like! that’s not truly deeply emotional and true and raw enough!) until I realised that had more to do with the snobbishness and, to be frank, sexism that I and my friends of the time were passing off as rational critical thought about music. I feel ashamed of thinking that way back then; I don’t feel a scrap of shame at buying Call Me Maybe, which came in for a fair bit of “criticism” that reminded me of those days.

Don’t forget, you can catch M.J. Starling reading ‘The Whistling Room’ by William Hope Hodgson on 30th October. Tickets for that (and the other two performances) are still available.

5 Minutes with Bryony Tebbutt

Bryony Tebbutt, who’s playing Vic in ‘Fetch’ as a part of our Halloween Tales production, spent a few minutes answering some questions for us.

Bryony Tebbutt, actor playing Vic in 'Fetch'
Bryony Tebbutt, actor playing Vic in ‘Fetch’

What’s your favourite past production that you’ve worked on?

Romeo&Juliet with Antic Disposition, we toured the South of France for two weeks. Sun, storms and Shakespeare, beautiful!

What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?

I adored Warhorse at the National.

What’s your favourite horror movie?


What scares you silly?

Big spiders!!!

You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?

A decaying fairy, an evil green witch, a headless ghoul. Always something scary!

Have you ever had a spooky experience?

Several, lots of ghost stories in my family. (ed. Bryony also told us that the women in her family can see ghosts and her grandparents used to live in a haunted house!)

What’s your guilty pleasure?

Tea+Digestive biscuits, seriously, packets by the whole!

You can catch Bryony as Vic in ‘Fetch’ by Duncan Gates on 30th, 31st October and 1st November. Get your discounted advance tickets now!

5 Minutes with Rosie Marsh

The lovely Rosie Marsh, who’s playing Ally in Fetch, gave us 5 minutes of her valuable line-learning time to answer our questions.

Rosie Marsh, playing Ally in 'Fetch'
Rosie Marsh, playing Ally in ‘Fetch’

What do you like best about your character?

I think she’s hilarious. She’s not a bad person but she has let life make her bitter, and as a result she’s developed an incredibly sarky, quick persona with some brilliant one-liners. The nasty ones are always the most fun to play.

What’s your favourite past production that you’ve worked on?

Aah, really tough one! Probably for the overall experience, my first Edinburgh experience with the play I co-wrote, ‘twenty something.’ our whole cast were all mates, we were there for a whole month and we had an absolute blast. It wasn’t what most would deem ‘high theatre’ but I loved every minute of it.

What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?

Stop asking tough questions! Too difficult to say, but my favourite recent play was ‘King Charles III’; brilliantly written, funny and thought provoking, everything I like in a play.

What’s your favourite horror movie?

I hate horror movies. But I loved Hocus Pocus- that counts, right? (Blackshaw says: “It totally does”)

What scares you silly?

My own imagination.

You’re going to a Halloween Party, what are you dressing up as?

Im quite good at stage makeup so i like to crack out a zombie at a party; I like that you can go for a few looks with a zombie; zombie princess, zombie firewoman, zombie farmer….you get the idea.

Have you ever had a spooky experience?

Yes. I was lying in bed in our old house in Exeter, just about to turn the light off via the cord above the bed, when someone whispered in my ear ‘are you going to turn out the light?’ I screamed blue murder, and I maintain to this day that that happened!

Not a lot of people know that…

I find spiders so scary I will cry if you bring one too close to me.

What’s your guilty pleasure?

I do love a bit of TOWIE. judge me all you want.

What really grinds your gears?

People eating too loudly. Or eating on the radio. Why?!? It’s disgusting!

Don’t miss Rosie in Fetch as a part of our Halloween Tales on 30th, 31st October and 1st November. Tickets are still available, but not for long.