I am a playwright and freelance writer living and working in Shakespeare’s Stratford.
My first play, Tamarind was produced in 1988 at the Half Moon Theatre in London, then again at the Belgrade Studio, Coventry, before moving to the Edinburgh Fringe.
This was followed by Am I Blue- A Jazz Musical, staged at the RSC Fringe Festival in 1997.
In late 1997 I co-founded – with two other Stratford playwrights, Reg Mitchell and Ian Harris – The Bird of Prey Theatre Company. It was, and is, a company dedicated to new work.
In 2008 my wife and I created the Stratford-upon-Avon International Festival of Literature, which was held at The Shakespeare Hotel over a weekend with guests that included novelist Catherine O’Flynn, Colin Wilson, the Canadian actor and playwright Brian Gordon Sinclair, novelist Guy Adams, jazz musician and writer Digby Fairweather, and the sadly missed Sebastian Peake, the writer and wine expert son of novelist Mervyn Peake.
Later in 2008 we also created Newman Books, and have published several titles over the years, including Pete Cubitt’s book of poetry, Walking with Words, and in October 2016, Dallin Chapman’s first novel, Tree of Shadow. Its sequel, Isle of Deep Waters, was published in September 2018.
Hilary and I re-invented The Bird of Prey Theatre Company in 2010, with a re-staging of my play, 1651: An Evening with Oliver Cromwell, at the Dirty Duck, and later for The Battle of Worcester Society at the Commandery in Worcester. Gerald Farmer’s Fighting is a Soldier’s Job, A Story of the Korean War, which I devised as a visual radio play, was also staged at the Duck.
In 2016 I was commissioned by The Worshipful Company of Bakers to write a dinner play to commemorate the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire of London. The resulting play, The Great Fire of London Remembered: An Evening with Samuel Pepys was performed, for five nights, at The Baker’s Hall in the City of London.
Last year, The Bird of Prey Theatre Company, with Trinity Players – Holy Trinity’s own theatre company – performed October 1917, which included six original songs, co-written with composer Matt Leonard Price.
There were two new projects in October and November 2018. The first was a new visual radio play by Kathleen O’Neil called The Ghost of the Fairy Queen, produced at the Dirty Duck on Sunday October 28th. And in November, on the 25th, we performed a cantata for three singers and a narrator, simply called 1918 – A Cantata, again at the Duck. The words were mine, with the music composed by Matt Leonard Price. The cantata looks at the last days and hours of the First World War.
Over the years I’ve written extensively about the work and lives of Ernest Hemingway, Walt Whitman, D. H. Lawrence, John Steinbeck, Edward Elgar and T. E. Lawrence, amongst others, plus features on military and theatrical history.
I love jazz, and have been something of a chronicler of the music over the years, and was lucky enough to have been around to see such greats as Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Stan Kenton, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, and the explosion of British modern jazz of the 1960s.
I have a BA(Hons) in The Humanities with History, and a Diploma in European Humanities