THE SENTENCE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2019

workingmother-juliaBOLDtext’s first all-female Open Door – three writers, two actors and a director – continued our focus on law and order, following our very successful site-specific production Behind Bars – Ghosts of the Lock-Up in October 2018.  This time we adopted a modern context by looking at sentencing in the UK today.  The BOLDtext writers scripted three short plays on that theme, after which we held a panel discussion with Warwick University law professor Jackie Hodgson and probation officer Keith Stokeld, discussing ‘weekend prison’, the impact of privatisation on the probation service, sentencing in domestic violence cases, and more.

Writers: Liz John, Vanessa Oakes & Julia Wright. Director: Vicki Duckett. Actors: Miriam Edwards and Bharti Patel. For more information follow this link…


BEHIND BARS – GHOSTS OF THE LOCK UP at Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up 2018


Very atmospheric – shivers down my spine several times

BOLDtext Playwrights’ Behind Bars – Ghosts of the Lock Up, went down a storm in Birmingham city centre’s Steelhouse Lane Lock-Up – with sell-out audiences who loved the humorous and heart-wrenching tales we told, as well as the more everyday stories embedded in the WM Police former Lock Up building.

Writers: Stephen Jackson, Liz John, Nicola Jones, Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes, Tim Stimpson and Julia Wright.  Director: Jo Gleave.  Actors: Alison Belbin, David Gray, Francesca Millican-Slater, Graeme Rose.

Funded by Arts Council England and The Sir Barry Jackson Trust


A MOUTHFUL OF RHINESTONES at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2018


On the evening of Elvis’ 83rd birthday we explored the crazy world of the ultimate celebrity and followed it up with our popular Unwanted Xmas Present Swap hosted by our Ted Pigeon (AKA Stephen Jackson).

Writers: Helen Kelly, Vanessa Oakes and Julia Wright. Director: Clare Smout. Actors: Ashleigh Aston and Vimal Korpal.


FAKING IT at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2017

BOLDtext returned for another season of Open Door at the Birmingham Rep with Fake Times – four short plays that ponder how to get real and counter today’s culture of lies.

Our theatrical deliberations tackled political extremism, fan obsession, social media news creation, and reality television.

Writers: Liz John, Nicola Jones, Tim Stimpson, Julia Wright. Director: Jon Legg. Actors: Miriam Edwards, Victoria Piper and Laurence Saunders.


DOUBLED UP 3  at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2017


Liz John and Julia Wright presented the first 40 minutes of brand new full-length plays. Liz’s World War 3 explored modern-day activism, and the challenges faced by young idealists living a non-ideal lives. Julia’s Unfollow Me was about the worrying consequences of stalking and its profound effect on, in this instance, a 25 year old young woman.

Writers: Liz John, Julia Wright.  Directors: Caroline Frewin, Julia Wright.  Actors: Jalleh Alizadeh, Phoebe Cresswell, Sarah Gain, Nadia Kemp Sayfi, Oli Leonard, Jack Richardson, Dru Stephenson.

Part-funded by Arts Council England


INSATIABLE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2017


Janice Connolly and Ted Pigeon (AKA Stephen Jackson) compere the present swap

Our post Christmas show explored the politics of consumption and asked: Why do we always want more than we need? Have you got an empty bank account, a tight waistband and a pile of unwanted Christmas presents? We finished the evening with an anarchic Unwanted Christmas Present Swap hosted by our director Janice Connolly (AKA Mrs Barbara Nice).

Writers: Stephen Jackson, Liz John, Vanessa Oakes and Julia Wright. Director: Janice Connolly. Actors: Shannon Anthony and Janice McKenzie.

BEHIND BARS at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2016


In November 2016, BOLDtext Playwrights took up the subject of prison reform in Behind Barsthree brand new short plays about Prison Reform from Liz John, Nicola Jones and Tim Stimpson, writer of Helen’s trial in The Archers.  Directed by the BBC’s Jessica Dromgoole, the show asked:  Does prison work?  Or is it a revolving door?  In Birmingham, this was an extremely pertinent question – the issues experienced in our local prison had been widely covered in the press, with 60% reoffending rates for those serving sentences under 12 months, and worrying levels of violence.

The plays were followed by a debate:  Does Prison Work?  with panellists from both sides of the justice system, including a spokesperson from the Howard League, serving probation officers, an academic and an ex-offender.

Writers: Liz John, Nicola Jones, Tim Stimpson. Director: Jessica Dromgoole. Actors: Murray Andrews, Marcus Hendry and Aimee Powell.


DISORDER at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2016


We decided to focus our dramatic microscope on mental health and asked: What happens when things in your head aren’t what they’re supposed to be? Or what if they are and it’s everyone else who has the problem?

Writers: Stephen Jackson, Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes and Julia Wright. Director: Ola Animashawun. Actors: Miriam Edwards and Greg Hobbs.

EUROTRASHED at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2016

Eurotrashed Flyer Front

In May 2015 The Tories were back in power and the European Referendum was on the horizon. That’s when one of us said: We should do something about thatSo, that’s exactly what we did. While we didn’t have any answers we hope we asked some of the right questions.

Writers: Stephen Jackson, Nicola Jones, Liz John, Helen Kelly, Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes, Tim Stimpson and Julia Wright. Director: Bob Eaton. Actors: Jade Samuels, Jenny Stokes and Rich Stokes.

Funded by Arts Council England

DOUBLED UP 2 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2016

Doubled Up Flyer Front (2)

Excerpts from two new plays exploring the human cost of the accident in 1986 at Chernobyl and reliving a 1966 road trip across Greece, Turkey, and Syria (based on Tony Fisher’s autobiographical book).

Writers: Vanessa Oakes and Tim Stimpson. Directors: Mark Evans and Milli Bhatia. Actors: Aimee Berwick, Mark Carey, Daniel Hoffman-Gill, Nadi Kemp-Sayfi, Janice McKenzie, David Nicolle, Ben Norris, Rochi Rampal and Sam Swann.

Funded by Arts Council England

LEAP at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2016

Aimee Powell in The Arnolfini Portrait by Vanessa Oakes

In 1582 Pope Gregory XIII replaced the old Julian calendar with the modern day Gregorian calendar, adding one extra day to the shortest month every four years, thus keeping the months in time with the seasons. Taking this event as inspiration, BOLDtext Playwrights return to Birmingham Repertory Theatre with six micro-plays about what this extra day means to the ordinary person.

Writers: Stephen Jackson, Liz John, Nicola Jones Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes and Julia Wright. Director Peter Leslie-Wild. Actors: Therese Collins, Chris Hampton and Aimee Powell.

DOUBLED UP 1 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2015

Doubled Up

ellaYella – The Poppera by Stephen Jackson

Guaranteed to get your toes tapping, with plenty of laughs along the way, ‘ellaYella – The Poppera’ is a play within a concert featuring Emma Skipp as ellaYella: “Will ellaYella and Joe Lonely ever get together – or will she sail away on the Queen of All Heartache and drown in the bay?”

Cold Cuts by Nicola Jones

nicola-coldcuts-pic-2015 A dark rural tale about fading dreams and desperate measures, ‘Cold Cuts’ promises plenty of twists and turns along the way: “When three old friends meet at a remote hillside café, a seemingly innocent reunion takes an unsettling turn as it becomes clear the setting holds a dark history that none can escape.”

Actors: Murray Andrews, Adrian Ross-Jones, Nick Wilkes. Director: Jonathan Legg.

Funded by Arts Council England


SUNSTROKE at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2015

A5 Front of SUNSTROKE at the REP copy 2015

Eight microplays told tales of British tourists caught up in events beyond their control.  Ordinary holiday-makers reflected on the unfolding chaos around them in an increasingly frightening and uncertain world, when they found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.  How should we react to catastrophic global events? And what responsibility do we bear when all we want is a couple of weeks in the sun?

Writers: Stephen Jackson,  Liz John, Nicola Jones, Helen Kelly, Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes, Tim Stimpson and Julia Wright. Actors: Sean Connelly, Bharti Patel. Director: Jessica Dromgoole.



at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2015

russell-brand-effect-press-image-copy 2015

As the General Election approached, Russell Brand expressed his opinion that it was pointless to vote (then later changed his mind).  This triggered an indepth BOLDtext discussion – followed by this two-part show – about the political helplessness felt by a generation of potential voters.

Writers: Stephen Jackson,  Liz John, Nicola Jones, Helen Kelly, Sayan Kent, Vanessa Oakes, Tim Stimpson and Julia Wright.  Actors: Shannon Anthony, Dan Hagley, Marcus Hendry, Rochi Rampal, Sonia Ritter, Jan Summerfield.  Directors: Ali Belbin, Ola Animashawun.

Funded by Arts Council England

SELFIES at Birmingham Repertory Theatre 2014

In the Autumn 2014 season of Open Doors at The Rep, we presented Selfies and More Selfies – a series of self-portraits exposing what it’s really like to be a working playwright in the Midlands today.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

For once, we were the ones on stage, engaging directly with our audience as we presented our own monologues.  The results, like all good selfies, were entertaining, diverse, occasionally comedic – and sometimes downright bizarre!

These shows were curated by Vanessa Oakes and toured literary festivals in 2015/16.

REP NIGHT 1, 2 & 3 at Birmingham Repertory Theatre, 2014

REP Night 1 featured hard-hitting contemporary drama from Sayan Kent (The Predator), an innovative stage adaptation of a WWI diary by Vanessa Oakes (A Diary without Dates), and a thought-provoking political piece from Tim Stimpson called Liberal Guilt. 

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At REP Night 2, we enjoyed a
2014-04-28 19.56.14rip-roaring musical comedy
called Roller Diner from Stephen Jackson and a dark and intimate drama about post-natal depression called Post by Helen Kelly.

Our third and final night, REP Night 3, featured two contrasting family dramas – Friday AfternoonsIMGP0537 from Liz John (directed by Janice Connolly) and Never Let Me Down by Julia Wright (directed by Ali Belbin).

As well as helping to develop some exciting new stageplays, our Open Door programme has also showcased the considerable talents of Midland actors and directors.  Their input was greatly appreciated by BOLDtext playwrights and by our enthusiastic audience.

Our three Rep Nights were funded by Arts Council England.