A Glass of Nothing a writer's life Actors Brighton Fringe Comedy

A Glass of Nothing – update

So, this play then… ‘A Glass of Nothing’ Its first staging will be at The Warren, Theatre Box, Brighton on Tuesday 17th, Wednesday 18th, and Thursday 19th May. I will be obviously trumpeting this from the rooftops before it happens.

To give you an idea of what it’s about, here is some blurb:

Have you ever watched an actor on stage drink from an empty glass? See how she wipes her hand across her mouth and belches appreciatively.

When a young woman’s life is blighted by no money, no job and no one to love, what choice does she have but to drink from a glass of nothing? But what really is in this glass? Not nothing, oh no. It’s brimful of imagination and fizzing with dark comedy.

Beth Symons plays our heroine, gulping from a glass of nothing to transform herself into anything she desires. Tonight she is the most beautiful woman in the world, a woman whose love life is a tapestry of intrigue and excitement, whose career ascends to dizzying heights…

But what happens when her imagination invites argumentative, wrong-headed people on stage who refuse to follow her script? Watch as Beth battles to keep her vision pure, and stave off the dangers of self loathing and the banal challenges of life in a rented room.

Dare you join her in a glass of nothing?

The play is a three-hander. Beth, who I am writing it for, is pictured below. Beth and I will be auditioning for two parts ‘1F 1M’ starting this Thursday. Through her networks Beth has arranged for several people to audition over the next few weeks. We’ve booked a room and (among other things) will be asking people to read a snippet of early dialogue (which still needs a bit of polishing). As the dialogue is pacy we’re obviously looking for good timing.

I’m still working on to complete the first draft, which will then be thrown to the actors to see what works, what can be funnier and so on. I am fairly pragmatic about all this. The play has a strong structure, and in my, um, vast experience (of having a few plays performed in fringe theatres) I want the play to work as a drama as well as making people laugh. If the story intrigues people that’s a real bonus. I also like a disturbing current to flow through the narrative so the funny bits sparkle.

Beth’s part will call for bravery. She is going to have to be a complete vamp at times. We have been looking at everything from Burlesque dancers to the amazing Eartha Kitt for inspiration. When people are playing a comedy grotesques is that you can’t do anything with self-consciousness. It communicates itself to an audience, and they start squirming on your behalf. And we can’t have that!

I’ll let you know how the auditions go…

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A Glass of Nothing a writer's life Poetry Theatre Working

Life in splinters

All work at present with a forest of deadlines. This mixed with unpleasant things like a house flood and the death of an old friend, means my life is being lived in weekend splinters.

So a few of the splinters:

My play with Beth Symons, A Glass of Nothing will be staged at The Box Theatre, The Warren in May as part of the Brighton Fringe. There is lots to be done between then and now, casting starts in a few weeks. More details here when we, quite literally, get our act together.

Had the Telltale Poets AGM two weeks ago. It’s a privilege to be know such a talented group of poets. More news about forthcoming Telltale announcements shortly. I did a reading with them at the beginning of January. I felt the force wasn’t with me that evening, however one of my poems Ernstophilia was filmed by Robin Houghton which can be watched here… along with a performance by the splendid Jack Underwood.

I finally read all of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen having been very taken with her performance at the T.S. Eliot wards. It seems to me to be concerned with how history amplifies everyday slights and unfairness, and gives them a resonance for people of colour in the US and elsewhere. A legacy which will take a lot of healing. This is illustrated through chunks of elegantly  anecdotal prose, an essay on Serena Williams, photographs and so on. It is an interesting miscellany (and IMO only poetry if you cast your modernist net wide enough). An important work, but did I enjoy it? Frankly not much. When poetry is dealing with really difficult subjects it can make the heart soar and affirm life. I personally didn’t get this from Citizen. But I am certain there are loads who will – and I am pleased I read it.

As usual I’m reading several things at once. Life, the biography of Keith Richards, I’m listening to as an audiobook. I’m not a massive Rolling Stone’s fan but as a glimpse into hedonistic life lived with gusto it is bracing and strangely cheering. And quite funny too.

A Year with Swollen Appendixes by Brian Eno is a book I return to when I need to refocus and remotivate. For those who have not read it, it is essentially Eno’s diary for 1995. Or to look at it another way, a prototype blog. His engagement with creativity is utterly inspiring, as well as his friendships with so many amazing people. Including David Bowie. But Bowie is another blog post, bless him.




A Glass of Nothing Actors Performance Theatre Uncategorized

Actors with comdey chops wanted


Beth Symons, pictured in one of her calmer moments above, has got the casting underway for our play A Glass of Nothing. So if this is you, then get in touch with Beth using the email below, or via this site.

Brighton Blonde Productions is a new theatre company based in Brighton, and set to take Brighton Fringe Festival 2016 by storm with their witty and dark comedy “A Glass of Nothing”.

We are looking for 1 male actor and 1 female actor to join our cast. Playing age 22-30 for both parts.

  • Male characters: embarrassed boyfriend, dream man and pervy boss.
  • Female characters: outraged girlfriend and bitchy co-worker.

If you are interested please email with your CV and headshot if possible. If you don’t have these a small bio of your experience will do. We will send you more information about the piece and possibly arrange a meeting with Beth and Peter (co-founders of Brighton Blonde Productions).

Please like us on facebook (Brighton Blonde Productions) and follow us on twitter @BrightonBlondes.

Marketing Metaphor

Cyberbullying words wound


Sore to touch, and weirdly painful. I like this thought-provoking image from The Cybersmile Foundation. It is metaphor depicting how bullying words can ‘get under your skin’. It is the result, the site tells us, of collaboration between photographer Max Oppenheim and prosthetic artist Bill Turpin.

Its power comes from how it translates emotional harm into physical damage. Because of this, not only does this image depict the consequences of bullying, it makes me think of self harm too. The UK’s Mental Health Foundation estimates between ‘1 in 12 and 1 in 15 young people self harm in the UK‘. While online self-harm, self-trolling, has already contributed to suicides that have hit the news. For me, this image derives much of its power from the cloud of anxiety around the hidden hell of bullying and self harm that teenagers endure.

Constructing this image involved making a cast of a young woman’s back. Randomly, this happened to be my stepdaughter, actress Beth Symons. I am told this is all in a day’s work for an actress.


Brighton Fringe – Relationship Status: Desperate

Relationship Status: Desperate
Bradley Walker, Martin McEvoy, Emily Mawer, Beth Symons, Grant Williams, Matt Swales.

In the week or so since I saw Relationship Status: Desperate I have been forcibly reminded of the sheer power of getting off your butt making something happen. Beth Symons, as well as being my new stepdaughter, is also an actress with absolutely natural comedic chops. In partnership with her fellow actor and writing partner Emily Mawer, they staged their show in the Purple Playhouse during as part of the Brighton Fringe. The play was called Relationship Status: Desperate and as its name suggests the play was about online dating. Beth and Emily’s characters having a series of outlandish dates with a series of horrific boys played with gusto by fellow students Bradley, Martin, Matt, and Grant. The girls had two good houses, did somewhat better than break even, and even picked up an encouraging notice in The Brighton Argus. The play had been their final year dissertation piece at college and here it was, a few weeks later, attracting a real audience in the Fringe.

For creative people of all kinds there are often moments when power drains away from you. As a writer it lurks in those moments when you have sent off your manuscript and what happens next is out of your hands. For actors it is waiting for the callback or just for the phone to ring, and for some of the Open Houses artists of Brighton it is waiting for one or two of the tide of visitors to turn into a purchaser.  I am a firm believer in taking control and doing things yourself. Frankly it is the only way to stay sane. The Fringe as a whole is frequently a celebration of those mavericks who are pioneering ideas and approaches to see if they fly. Naturally there are a few duds, but The Brighton Fringe is an exhilarating time – and for creative people of all disciplines it is a laboratory of where all kinds of valuable experience can happen. Just one reason why Brighton’s Fringe is so exhilarating.

Pack of 3

The Marlborough Theatre Brighton again is the venue for my next thespy business on the 26th & 27th August. Pack of 3 will be three short plays. My Wrong and Betty the Spacegirl, plus Mark Gandey has an excellent idea for a pirate play, which is as yet unnamed.

As before the three actors will be Beth Symons, Mark Gandey and Callum McIntyre. I wrote Betty the Spacegirl specifically for these three, and it is great when you have pre-cast the roles, as you can hear the actors in your head saying their lines. Both Betty the Spacegirl and Wrong are comedies with dark hearts.

I am also planning a Christmas Play, and have already cast one of the lead roles. More news of this nearer the time.

A bite to eat

Here is one of my sketches from the first half of the Wrong show. Beth Symons and Mark Gandey are the Zombies. Callum McIntyre is the corpse.

Wrong at the Marlborough Theatre Brighton

After a two day trialling my play at the Marlborough theatre I am delighted with how things went. It has resulted in lots of positive outcomes. From my perspective there was confirmation that the play works and is funny. There was lots of laughter on both nights. This made me feel vindicated and happy.

Then there were the actors. Both are 19. Mark Gandey gave a powerhouse performance. I had often seen him in lead roles and was aware that he has a great stage presence was a massive asset. Beth Symons however was the biggest revelation. Whenever I have seen her act she has had to make do with fairly uninspiring roles. I had always suspected that she had real comedy talent, but I had my expectations greatly exceeded: she is fantastic. Her timing is impeccable and she has a physical comedic presence that can make people laugh with just a change of expression. You can’t teach that kind of thing, and everyone was full of praise for her afterwards, and I felt really pleased I had created a platform where she could shine.

Our first half was a collection of short sketches we used a piece written by Mark Gandey. This is his first performed piece as a writer, and it was done excellently by Callum. I think Mark has real potential as a writer, which is good news as he is off to study comedy writing in the new academic year.

I am a control freak when it comes to my artistic projects, but this time I let go and by trusting the young cast they felt an empowered ownership which produced excellent results. Perhaps even better, the theatre manager talked to me afterwards about putting more work on there. So watch this space. Learnings all round then, and a real confidence boost for me.

Below: the programme.

‘Wrong’ at the Marlborough Theatre, Brighton 1st & 3rd March

Have finalised dates for these evenings at the Marlborough. Betty and Mark, with their pal Callum doing ‘Wrong’, which is my short farce involving a corpse, plus another wee piece I wrote recently called ‘A bite to eat’ which is mainly to do with zombies. Mark is writing some material too and it should be a feast of black comedy.

Tickets available here