nabokov's Kirsty Patrick Ward gears up to the big, most Present night at the Live...

So the day has finally arrived, and what a week we’ve had! All four companies have been working away to produce a brand spanking new piece of theatre in response to the chosen article from the Chronicle.


In that week, plays have been written, lines have been learnt, props, furniture and costume have been sourced and now its time to tech and then let our new work loose on Newcastle.

Yesterday afternoon the four companies gathered for a little run through, giving everyone the chance to see just what we’ve all been up to this week! My company kicked us off with a bench, a banana and a future without women. I’ve had a fantastic time working on Alison’s rich and beautiful play, (even if article wasn't quite what she had hoped for, it certainly has inspired a great play). 

The run-through proved to be incredibly useful for Bill and Tunji, it gave them some much needed fresh ears and few laughs too. Both Bill and Tunji have brought so much to the piece, and have been incredible to work with – thank you Live for bringing us together! After some tea and notes (tea is an integral part of my directing process), we joined the rest of the nabokov company for a pint and a chat at the ‘Eye on the Thyne’.



Having been a part of previous Present: Tenses, the excitement for me always lies in seeing how the writers have chosen to use the article, and what debates are sparked off by the plays. If last night's discussions in the pub are anything to go by, then this Present: Tense should be no exception in proving to be an exciting, thought provoking and dare I say it provocative night of new writing. 

So if you’re within a 100-mile radius, whats your excuse? Come join us at the Live and spread the word loud and wide across Newcastle, nabokov are here and we’ve got some cracking new writing to share with you!

Our director Phil Ormrod takes his turn at the keyboard to document working with Roz Wyllie on "Sorry"

As I’ve packed Roz off for a lovely evening of rewrites, I’m posting our update myself. It’s only fair. If nothing else, it’ll kill the hour or so before I need to pop down to the dungeons below Live and check on her.


I have to say, I don’t share Alison’s scepticism about the topic. Sure, it might sound a little dry on the face of it – lots of statistics about access to services and so on – but it illustrates a lot of really interesting questions. Some of these questions are pretty fundamental - they’re about power, and how we value each other, irrespective of gender.

Roz has written a cracking scene set in a horribly recognisable near future, in which local authorities have been privatised, and everyone has to demonstrate their contribution to the economy. That’s a lot harder for a woman, of course – they’re just not quite as good at things as men, and they insist on spending their time unproductively (e.g. having kids). Frankly, they’re a drain on the economy.


We’ve actually just finished working through to the end of it, and the actors are really fizzing. They’re a pretty energetic trio, and they seem to be enjoying the opportunity to grill each other on the aesthetics of their genitals, for instance. That enthusiasm and generosity is really helpful when you’re working with a writer on a new text, which inevitably will develop and evolve as the process goes on.

My job as director is to serve that process of evolution. I’m trying to ask the right questions, the ones that will help Roz arrive at the play she wants to show on Saturday.  That means listening very carefully to the text, and making sure that I’m staging the play she’s trying to write, rather than the one I’m expecting her to. It also means finding a staging style that will reveal rather than obscure it.

To do that sometimes requires you to play the invisible director, especially when you’re dealing with naturalism. It’s an exercise in realising the writer’s vision rather than being authorial in any real sense (although that’s a problematic distinction, clearly). But sometimes it’s a bit more of a collaboration, and that’s great fun. 


This certainly seems to be one of those times. Roz’s text is deceptively open and though it seems at first like naturalism, it’s actually more concrete than that.  She’s got a cracking sense of rhythm too. There are lots of opportunities that gives you: to play with gesture, pacing and space; to create a world that feels like this one gone wrong, close to home but pierced by a kind of moral tinnitus. I’m having a great time helping her to bring it to life.

Writer Alison Carr, teamed with nabokov's own Kirsty Patrick Ward, has found some enthusiasm for the project. Eventually...


Let’s get one thing straight from the off, I hated the topic we have ended up with for Present: Tense … “the disproportionate affects the government cuts are having on womennnn” … sorry, I lapsed into a coma just typing that sentence.


I was not happy when it was revealed (I *might* have thrown a tiny strop, *possibly* chucking my toys out my pram). I was still not happy when I woke up the next morning – primarily because upon waking up I realised it had not all been a nightmare and I had two measly days to write a play inspired by said hated topic.


Director Kirsty assured me it did not have to be a literal dramatisation but to use the newspaper article simply as a jumping off point. And once I got my panicked, fevered brain around this then things started to look up.


So, faced with the 40 line article and the CVs of the two actors I had been ‘assigned,’ I sat down and wrote a play. That made it all sound quite painless, didn’t it. To be honest, most of Saturday was spent trying to drown myself in cups of tea so Sunday saw the bulk of the work getting done – partly because there was no more time for fannying around, but also I had more confidence in the idea I had plumped for. It’s called “Until It’s Gone” and includes the eating of a banana live on stage (maybe they should put that in the publicity material?).

Kirsty both

Actors Bill and Tunji have really embraced the project and the play and, although Saturday hurtles towards us with frightening speed, we’re skilfully led by Kirsty.


(When all is said and done though, the play I *could* have written inspired by the article about the chicken nugget in the shape of Jesus might have been something REALLY special …!)  

Paddy Campbell talks us through his enthused response to the week's project



Write a play about the government cuts disproportionally affecting women. You’ve got a weekend. Go on, off you go.

No sweat, easy.

By Saturday night I had a brilliant plan, as to how I was going to fake my own death. I’d bought an Argos lilo, had a ticket on the night ferry to Amsterdam, and had created Marcel. Marcel is plank with a massive nail through the end of it, and would be deployed mercilessly in the event of a shark attack. So long cruel world.

"Hola, donde es el arbol de coco? He has llegado desde Inglattera y estay muy hambriento."

That means "Hello, where is the coconut tree? I’ve come from England and am very hungry." What could possibly go wrong?

Turns out DFS Ferries have a policy about planks with nails in over a certain length. Nazis. An ugly scene ensued. I was released on Sunday evening with no option but to write the bloody play. Bugger! My hair’s not long enough to get a good grip on to pull out, so I plucked some off my toes with tweezers. This worked wonders. Why hadn’t I tried that before? The play flew out of me, like a famished tiger charging at a lost toddler. I typed so hard my fingerprints are now blobs.



On Monday we got some actors wrapped up in a decorative basket. They’ve been lovely, and have proved essential to the making of the play. They seem to think the play’s ok. But you never know with actors. They’re actors, they might be acting. Why don’t you come on Saturday to see for yourselves?

And if you throw rotten veg at the actors then you’ll have Marcel to answer to.  

The nabokov 2012 Spring Season brochure

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 The nabokov 2012 Spring Season brochure, just click here to see what we have in store for you!


This week:

The nabokov Arts Club: Fable

Friday 2nd march and Saturday 3rd march 2012 // 8pm – 2am Battersea Arts Centre // Lavender Hill// Battersea // SW11 5TN £15 (earlybird) // £18 (advance) // £20 (on the door)
Advance booking online at

or over the phone on 020 7223 2223

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