The Blackshaw Arts Hour – Episode 42

This week on The Blackshaw Arts Hour, Iasha is joined by Matt and Vikki in the studio.

Matt review The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and we discuss what other movies are out there where the lead characters don’t actually “learn anything”.
We here a piece of new writing by Rosie Marsh called An Unexpected Guest. Starring Angela Ferns and Emily Rae, recording live at The Horse and Stables.
Vikki brings us a live arts thing of the week. We discuss Adam Drivers Ted Talk and the brilliant work he is doing bringing theatre to American Marines in various places around the world.
Corey Hulls explains the different stages of a night out in his essay, “The Nine Stages of Drinking” and we discuss the ‘colourful’ TONY awards from last week and the huge success of musical ‘Hamilton’.



NEWS: Alice in Wonderland at WAF 2015

The Wandsworth Arts Fringe (WAF) is coming up in May, and we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be transferring last year’s WAF production, Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton, to the Battersea Library (Clapham Junction) 2-16th May 2015*.

It’s especially exciting because 2015 is the 150th anniversary of the original book’s publication by writer Lewis Carroll.

The show will be directed by Blackshaw’s Managing & Artistic Director, Ellie Pitkin, with assistance from Marcus Bazley.  Zahra Mansouri is designing set/costume, with associate designer, Michelle Bristow.  Andrew Crane is designing sound and lights.

Some original cast are returning, and some new faces are amongst us…



Alice has lost her cat, but when her search leads her to the library, Alice discovers more than she could ever imagine. Fall down the rabbit hole with Alice as her world is turned upside down in this new adaptation of Lewis Carroll’s classic tale. Suitable for ages 4+ (and plenty of jokes for the grownups).

ALICE-000207“this ingeniously directed production by Ellie Pitkin showcases all the theatrical tricks one can imagine…this resourceful and clever production” **** – Public Reviews

“an imaginative production…highly entertaining and engaging…a fun afternoon adventure” – Everything Theatre

“tightly directed and precisely performed – and gloriously silly” – Cumbria PR


*Sat 2nd May (6 & 7.30pm shows), Bank Holiday Mon 4th May (3pm and 4pm shows), Fri 8th May (7.30pm show), Sat 9th May (6 & 7.30pm shows), Fri 15th May (7.30pm show), Sat 16th May (6 & 7.30pm shows).

Character 2015 – promo photos

What? Character by Florence Vincent

Where? Tristan Bates Theatre

When? 9-14th March, 7.30pm (duration: 1 hour)

How much? £12/10.

Book Tickets!

Directed by Ellie Pitkin

Performed by Clare Harlow and Angela Ferns

Michelle is about to turn thirty and not coping well. Desperate to finish her novel before the big 3-0 arrives, she retreats to the countryside with a typewriter, a crate of wine, and her oldest friend Freya – who is harbouring problems of her own.

Character is the searingly funny and achingly dark story of two women trying to navigate their way through the modern world, and – in the process – keep their friendship afloat.

“A classic odd couple double act” – Public Reviews

“Played with great energy and conviction…a fantastic chemistry on stage…laugh-out-loud funny…a stark reminder of what is so fun and exciting about fringe theatre” – Remote Goat

Photos by Richard Stratton

Working for Blackshaw – Funding & Partnerships Manager, Nick

As Funding & Partnership Manager it is my job to search, apply and cross my fingers in hope for funding. As you can imagine, it’s not easy getting funding for arts based projects. The pots of money are getting smaller and the number of people applying to them is increasing! I also keep on the lookout for potential partnerships for our projects. Not only can this ease the burden in terms of financing a project but also it is good for us to work with new people. This role also means advising on some of our more dreary legal documents but nevertheless important to get right.

My day job is very similar. I work at the University of East London as a Research Funding Officer helping academics search and apply for funding for their research projects. This comes with a healthy dollop of project management once the grants are awarded. These skills are handy when it comes to working for Blackshaw.

Searching for funds mostly comes down to endless Googling until you find the right one, and requires a lot of reading eligibility requirements (not worth reading much else before that).

I work closely with our Strategy and Planning Manager, Vikki, AKA taskmaster general, when we collaborate on a funding application. Each application and project is ultimately overseen by Ellie, our Managing & Artistic Director (AKA arty boss). They are great to work with and even though it can get tough at times, it is ultimately satisfying getting the applications submitted and even more so when they are successful.

Working for Blackshaw – Radio Producer, Iasha

What is your role at Blackshaw?

My role at Blackshaw is to organise the content and produce our weekly radio show, The Blackshaw Arts Hour, on Wandsworth Radio.


What day to day tasks does that mean you do?

Generally my busiest day is a Sunday as that’s the day the show goes out live on the radio. I have to be at the studio about an hour before the show to load the clips we are playing and program all our content. The show goes out live on Wandsworth Radio from 6-7 and I am normally helped out by a co-host or two. I panel (press all the buttons), make sure the sound is going out at the right level and present the content while always keeping an eye on the time (and occasionally forgetting to turn the mics off!)

During the week I email a lot of writers, actors and theatre associated people in order to generate content for the show. I try and have a couple of recordings lined up for the week so that my sound man Andy can have them edited and ready to go out on air at the end of that week.


How do you think of ideas for the radio show?

Thinking about what is coming up for Blackshaw is always my first point of call when coming up with content. Interviews and promos for upcoming productions are really easy ways to generate quick radio content and are also great in prmoting Blackshaw to our listeners! The pieces performed at new writing nights are also guaranteed audio entertainment.

Ideas I have found also come from talking to people about the show. Some people have things they have written that they would like to record, and I have obtained a lot of contacts from the people we have had on the show in the past. It has been really nice to hear the positivity from people and their willingness to be involved is a huge bonus.

If you have anything you think would sound great on our radio show, get in touch!  You can reach me at


Do you work particularly closely with anyone else on the Blackshaw team?

I work closely with Andy Crane, Blackshaw’s resident sound expert. He’s with me when we records radio plays and interviews and is the one that takes the audio we record away, makes it listenable with his editing prowess, and then sends it to me so I can program it into the show.

Matt Boothman has been with me live in the studio every week from the shows inception delighting us with his wonderfully worded film reviews. Director Ellie is my loyal co-presenter most weeks and Vikki has contributed content and co-presented too!


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the on air presenting side of my job. I had a bit of a break from live presenting but getting back into it this year has been really fun. It’s fantastic working with such a great bunch of motivated and creative people and the support from all members of the Blackshaw team has been fantastic.

It’s also really fun! From hanging out and meeting new people and recording them to being in the studio every week, it has been an absolute pleasure to get this radio show off the ground. It also means I get to see way more theatre than I ever have, which is always nice!

NEWS: ‘Character’ at the Tristan Bates, 9-14th March

If you haven’t already heard, we’re doing a run of hilarious comedy play ‘Character’, by Florence Vincent, at the Tristan Bates Theatre (Covent Garden), 9-14th March 2015.

Michelle is about to turn thirty and not coping well. Desperate to finish her first novel before the big 3-0 arrives, she retreats to the countryside with a typewriter, a crate of wine, and her oldest friend Freya – who is harbouring problems of her own.

More info about the show on our ‘What’s On’ page, AND here on this very blog, from when we did the show at the Wandsworth Arts Festival and Fringe 2014.

Tickets are on sale now, at the very reasonably priced £12 full, £10 concessions.

There are only 6 shows, so click and book to avoid disappointment.



‘Staying Alive’ by Kat Roberts, 15th Jan 2015, at the Pleasance Theatre StageSpace

Blackshaw’s Showcase Award Winner 2014

“There’s nothing worse than old friends…they always think they know exactly who you are.”

Mary had a son. Now her son is dead. And that is all. But Jen is having a dinner party, just like they used to, a chance to catch up. No pressure. Nothing big. Just old friends. It would be great to see you. If you’re free. If you’re ready.

Staying Alive follows Mary’s efforts to build herself a life, after his death. Is it possible to regain any sense of normalcy? If not, how will her friends support her today, a year from now, 5 years from now? When is it time to ‘move on’?


RACHEL NOTT           Mary
Rachel graduated from the Poor School in 2008. Credits include Billy Liar (Coopers Arms), Pirates! (Polka Theatre), Saturday, Sunday, Monday (Workhouse Theatre), The Memory of Water (Rose and Crowne), FourPlay (Hen & Chickens), The Bill (Talkback Television). Rachel is also a co-producer for Four Eyes and the Peach. She is delighted to be involved in Blackshaw Theatre’s showcase of Staying Alive.
BRENDAN JONES       Nathan
Brendan Jones trained at The Poor School. His TV and Film credits include ‘The bell boy’ in Bright Young Things directed by Stephen Fry (2002) and ‘John Housman’ in Days That Shook The World directed by David Bartlett (2005).

Brendan’s theatre credits include ‘Eugene’ in The Wolf directed by Jamie Harper (2011), and ‘Joan Miro’ in Café Duende directed by Jamie Harper (2013).

ELEANOR BURKE         Jenn
Theatre credits include: News Revue (Canal Café Theatre), Julius Caesar (Brockley Jack Theatre); Timbre (Torn Apart Theatre), Sketchageddon Live (Canal Café Theatre), The Women at The Tomb, La Ronde (Theatre Collection) and for Blackshaw Theatre Company; Alice Springs, and Staying Alive (Blackshaw New Writing Nights).

Film & TV credits include: Kon Tiki (RPC & Nordisk Film), Suspect 13, Coming Out (Shoot Me Films), The Violinist, Newsnight (BBC), First Light (Fervent Films), Four Tongues (The Ideas Factory), Thomas The Tank Engine & Friends (Red Caravan), Tequila (Eternal Media Productions), Bunking Off (Nic Penrake Films), On My Own/Russell Crowe (London Comedy Writers).

Training: The Poor School

Jonny is a core ensemble member of ‘The Faction’, a theatre company interpreting classical texts with a contemporary aesthetic. He also plays the regular doctor, Charlie Cavanagh, on ITV’s Emmerdale.

IMG_3192Training: Webber Douglas

For ‘The Faction’: Strindberg’s Apartment, Twelfth Night, Mary Stuart, Miss Julie, Fiesco, Three Sisters, Blood Wedding, Hamlet, Thebes, The Robbers, Theatre Economy of Thought (Assembly George Square), Write Me a Murder (Southwold and Aldeburgh Summer Theatre), Eddie and the Gold Tops (UK Tour), Toad (Southwark Playhouse), The James Herriot Story (UK Tour), A Yorkshire Christmas Carol (UK Tour), Hard Times (UK Tour).

TV: Emmerdale

Training: The Poor School
Theatre includes: u/s ‘Jack’, ‘Colin’, ‘Simeon’ in Life of Riley, (2011), ‘Bob’ in Tea & Filth (2010), ‘Mike’ in The Memory of Water (2010), ‘David’ in Take It or Leave It, (2010), ‘Adrian’ in If the Cap Fits, (2009), ‘Peter Quince’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, (2009), u/s ‘Andy’, ‘Bill’, ‘Gerald’ in Woman in Mind, (2009 – West End Debut), and ‘Prince’ in Romeo & Juliet, (2008).

EMILY RAE        Portia/Sarah/Social Worker
Emily graduated from The Guildford School of Acting in 2013. Her credits during training include ‘Masha’ in Three Sisters, ‘Hermia’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, ‘Leonardo’s Wife’ in Blood Wedding and ‘Midas’ Daughter’ in Metamorphoses. Professionally, Emily has worked previously with Blackshaw Theatre Company in the role of ‘Alice’ in their production of Alice in Wonderland as part of the Wandsworth Arts Festival and Fringe. She has also completed two UK tours as ‘Gerda’ in Quantum Theatre’s production of The Snow Queen, ‘Mrs Owl’ In Blunderbus Theatre Company’s Hugless Douglas and has also been invited to perform at several ‘Constellation CoLab’ events at The Hospital Club in Covent Garden.

Emily is thrilled to have her feet firmly back on the ground in London and to be working on a brilliant new script with Blackshaw, a company she is very fond of.


Kat studied Drama and Creative Writing at Royal Holloway Univeristy of London, before leaving to train as an actor at the Poor School. At the beginning of 2014, Kat changed her focus from acting back to writing, and applied for Blackshaw’s Showcase Award with her short play, Take Me. As winner of the Showcase Award, Kat has spent the remainder of the year developing the piece with Blackshaw Theatre Company. The full length play, now titled Staying Alive, is her first in production. Kat is also in the final year of an English Literature degree with The Open University and is a volunteer counsellor for Childline London.

ELLIE PITKIN Director & Producer
Ellie is the Managing & Artistic Director of Blackshaw Theatre, which she founded in May 2010. Directing credits include Arcadia by Tom Stoppard (2006) and Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker (2009). With Blackshaw, Ellie has directed Gormenghast: Titus Groan by Mervyn Peake (2012), Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014), Character by Florence Vincent (2014), London Pride by Katie McCullough (2013); Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2013); Fetch by Duncan Gates (2014).

A graduate in Theatre Studies from Royal Holloway University (2008), Ellie also comperes Blackshaw’s regular New Writing Nights.

JO GREAVES Assistant Director
Jo Greaves is a South London based director. She has worked with numerous new writing companies across London and has had work performed at the Southwark Playhouse, Tristan Bates and Park Theatre. Having directed for the Blackshaw New Writing Nights, she is thrilled to be assisting on the Staying Alive showcase.

MICHELLE BRISTOW Set & Costume Designer
Michelle has previously designed costumes for One Small Step For A Man (2012, directed by Sam Hayes) and assisted with the costumes for Theatre Giants Houdini The Play UK & Ireland Tour (2013). Michelle has assisted on costume and set for previous Blackshaw productions – Alice in Wonderland by Richard Stratton (2014), London Pride by Katie McCullough (2013); Audience with the Ghost Finder by M. J. Starling (2013). More recently she designed set and costume for Blackshaw’s Halloween Tales (2014), featuring a candlelit reading and Fetch by Duncan Gates.

Michelle is a graduate in Costume Design from Wimbledon College of Arts (2014) and was also part of the collaborating design team for ASC Random’s recent production of Hamlet (2014).

ANDREW CRANE Sound & Light Design/Operation

VIKKI WESTON Producer & Front of House

SIOBHAN WHELAN Publicity Manager

STANLEY WALTON Publicity Assistant


NICOLE LOCKE Company Administrator

NICK TATCHELL Front of House


For their generous help with research: Nicola Whitworth Co-founder of SLOW; Dr Hannah Davies MBChB; Anna Anderson BA Hons. Social Work & Social Policy; Toby Herniman BEng.; David Goddard BMus.; Charlie Davies CEO iGeolise.

With special thanks to Nic for sharing her story with me.

Remembering Naomi Grace Whitworth (12/11/1997 – 06/04/2005) and all lost children.


The Selkirk and staff
The Weston family
Zak Thomas