I am a playwright, director, historian, lyricist 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 before a short tour of village halls in Warwickshire.
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 first and last 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, and, not least, the novelist Garry Kilworth.
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, with its sequel, Isle of Deep Waters, published in September 2018. The third volume, Star of Hidden Skies, will be published in May 2019.
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.
In 2017, The Bird of Prey Theatre Company, with Trinity Players performed my piece 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 and directed by me at the Dirty Duck on Sunday October 28th. And in November, on the 25th, we performed 1918 – A Cantata, written for three singers and a narrator, again at the Duck. The words were mine, with the music composed by Matt Leonard Price.
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’m now working on an opera with Matt, which should be ready for 2020.
I have a BA(Hons) in The Humanities with History, and a Diploma in European Humanities