Monthly Archives: March 2013

Cold Writing: The Live Blog (The Second)

reinvent001So WBN are doing another Cold Writing, how exciting! But, I hear you exclaim, where is the Live Blog? Because we love UNNECESSARY CAPITALISATION and riffs of toilet keys and what would Cold Writing be without those things? (Plays. It would be PLAYS.) But – I would hate to disappoint all one of you. So…HERE WE GO…

(As there’s no wifi in Jill where we’re doing this round of Cold Writing this isn’t quite a live-blog in the truest sense but – trust me – it was blogged as the day unfolded. The grammar alone can probably tell you that.)

10.17am: Our first actor arrives at Jill (Lucy who, fact fans, was in the first ever Cold Writing we did back in February 2010 in Brixton) and we have the first conversation of the day about the temperature of the shop.

10.25am: Our second actor, Sam, arrives. We have our second conversation of the day about the temperature of the shop. (See, we play at ‘Cold Writing’ being because the writers come in cold but, let us be honest, we only ever do it in places where the temperature is somewhere around freezing. One day I’d like us to do it on a beach in the Mediterranean.)

10.35am: SHOP TOUR. Which really means – come and see where the toilet that has the door that doesn’t close is.

10.40am: Charlie and I talk about seating. Which means that in five minutes we have covered the two topics that I have spent most of my time talking about as a person making theatre for non-traditional spaces. Basically any show boils down to: where people sit and what state the toilet is in. Should someone ever be foolish enough to ask me to dispense vague wisdom about theatre in shops my entire wisdom could be reduced to: FIND CHAIRS and CLEAN THE TOILET.

10.48am: We’re still talking about chairs.

10.50am: Yep, still going. Though now we have a plan. We’re going to talk some more about chairs this afternoon.

10.56am: I take delivery of a projector that has nothing to do with Cold Writing. It’s big and I almost drop it, much to the person delivering its dismay.

11.10am: Charlie, Sam and Lucy retreat to Kente, the coffee shop across the road from us, to Drink Coffee and Read Scripts. Regardless of anything else which performance might bring to the high street my extensive research has shown that local coffee shops benefit from the caffeine addictions of those who make theatre.

11.15am: Our final actor, Stevie, arrives. I direct him to The Coffee.

11.16am – 1.10pm: Read-throughs take place. I can’t live blog this because I’m in Jill asking people to tell me things that make them happy. So you’ll just have to imagine this yourself

1.31pm: Rehearsals begin. “Caulifower Soup”by Kimberly Ashman is up first. It’s set in a soup kitchen if you were wondering.

1.34pm: We do absolutely not, totally not, almost set my coat on fire.

1.35pm: I exclaim RISK ASSESSMENT several times and then take a tranquilizer.

1.40pm: “Put. The. Ladel. Down.” This might be my new favourite exclamation of ‘breaking news’.


1.46pm: My shoes are coming under some scrutiny as part of the audience interaction.

1.50pm: Our “No Prop Rule” has resulted in a need for a ladel. Which would be a prop. I’m asked if we have spoons. I refrain from saying that this time last week I made Andy, our Joseph Mills, take a teabag out of a cup with a biro lid. We do have cups though…

2.00pm: First complete run-through. They make me laugh. I’m an easy target but we shall take this as a Good Thing.

2.10pm: More running through. We lose a table and gain some standing in the midst of the audience. Amongst the chairs.

2.20pm: The actors are split for Lucy and Stevie to rehearse Richard Walls’s “Window Dressing” and Sam to rehearse Ella Ashman’s “Waste”. First though Stevie and Charlie have to discuss what sort of “dead” they want Steve to be when he is the on “stage” non-speaking presence. Not dead-dead, if you’re wondering.

2.30pm: Monologue time. This one, as its title of “Window Dressing” might be a subtle hint towards, is set in a shop. This is handy.

2.34pm: My stapler gets a prominent place as a gift given to a King’s betrothed. Really.

2.37pm: There’s a line about the Pizza Express on Bankside that overlooks St Paul’s. This is my most visited Pizza Express in the history of Pizza Express (if you were wondering).

2.40pm – 3.00pm: Rehearsing continues but my blogging doesn’t as I talk to people who have popped into the shop. What other theatre lets you watch rehearsals? (if that’s a question in a pub quiz, the answer is Shakespeare’s Globe, but we don’t make you take a 30 minute tour).

3.16pm: Sam has to leave through the shop door. This is clearly why Charlie wanted to keep the “tinckler” (this isn’t its proper name. I don’t know what its proper name is)



3.33pm: Stevie, as the non-speaking presence, gets cut. Such is an actors’ lot in life.

3.35pm: I play tealady. I don’t remove teabags with a biro lid because I do have a secret stash of spoons. Mwwwahhhh.

3.40pm: It’s time for “Waste”. Helpfully, the characters are drinking tea.

3.44pm: To be momentarily serious (it won’t last) one of the brilliant things about Cold Writing is the variety of responses the writers come up with. I’m someone who loves a bit of Structure (seriously, structure makes me happy) and, having had audience interaction and a monologue we’ve now got a duologue around a table. Stuff like this EXCITES me.

3.55pm. RUN-THROUGH.

4.06pm: We realise there are two Sarahs mentioned in the play (well, a Sarah and a Sara but since we’re not spelling them out that’s probably academic) and decide to rename a character. Girls names are flung about until Charlie settles on Amy. I don’t say that I think this is because of Amy Pond (it is totally because of Amy Pond).

4.17pm: Big dramaturgical question about why one character says something to the other character (I can’t say what, it’s a spoiler). But it’s a biggie.

4.28pm: More big dramaturgical talk about The End.

4.35pm: Time for our final play, Judy Upton’s “True Grit”. The desk that is normally mine in Jill becomes a prison cell. Standard.

4.40pm: In Structure Watch “True Grit” is the only play today which isn’t in real-time. Boom.

4.51pm: “Deliver it as if you’re Tony Blair. This hand. Then this hand. He was all about the hands”. Yes. Yes he was.

4.55pm: A brief – but significant – interlude about where the phrase “seat of your pants” comes from.

4.56pm: With some help from google I fill the gap in everyone’s knowledge.


4.59pm: This play makes me want to eat chocolate. I eat some of the mini eggs that are for the under fives Easter Bonnet making workshops.

5.02pm: Also: lots of The Funny.


5.10pm: Everyone is given a 20 minute break. Which means: COFFEE TIME.

5.16pm: Y’know what comes here? Another conversation about chairs.

5.31pm: We start the full RUN THROUGH.

5.33pm: Ah, “Put. Down. Your. Ladels”.

5.35pm: More feature time for my shoes.

5.40pm: Soup kitchen into father –daughter heart to heart.

5.49pm: Into shop monologue.

6.00pm: I miss the change into chocolate cornflakes (yes, I know I haven’t mentioned chocolate cornflakes before, but, hey, let’s pretend that’s deliberate and I’m keeping you on your toes, so – chocolate cornflakes, right?) because I’m talking about making plays in 48 hours to a visitor to the shop. I only just avoid using “fly by the seat of your pants”.

6.10pm: RUN THROUGH FINISHES. For the first time ever Cold Writing has produced actually ten minute plays (I, as a writer with a tendency to over-run, can say that).

And, fittingly, this is where the live blog also finishes because I HAVE TO MOVE SOME CHAIRS.

(If you’re wondering where the serious reflection on Cold Writing is I’m leaving that to Charlie and Estelle. I promise they’ll use fewer capital letters)

And the upcoming Cold Writing theme is…

Due to the wonders of scheduled blogging, this post will be reaching the the world whilst I am in the middle of leading the workshop with our fine Cold Writing writers.

The theme of the festival should just be settling in with our writers now and (right now) I will be leading exercises with them as they explore the possibilities of the theme.

So without any further ado, I give you:


Yes, our third Cold Writing festival is to have the theme of ‘Reinvent’.

To see what our writers come up with, don’t miss Cold Writing: Reinvent at Jill, the Community Hub on Thursday 21st March at 7.30pm and Saturday 23rd March at 12.30pm and 3.00pm.


Things I rarely do (but have done this week)

Hello blog world. Let me introduce myself. I am Estelle, the other member of WBN and as I am directing ‘Reasons For Listing’ this week i thought it would be appropriate for my first blog post to be a list, so…

Estelle’s list of things I rarely do (but have done in the last week)

1. Blogged. Well, that’s something I NEVER did til now

2. Watched a forum theatre show. I often use forum but rarely watch any to check if I’m doing it right!

3. Written a script at 8am. Both the activity & the time are unusual ( I usually leave that kind of behaviour up to Corinne & Charlie, but I’ve never seen either if them at it at 8am)

4. Watched boys with guitars (went to a gig) upstairs in a pub. This is something I used to do a lot (& I think Corinne would approve of) although it is a rare activity these days.

5. Said NO to some work. Ok that’s a lie. This is aspirational.

Real No 5. Did not do any work on a Sunday. This one IS true.

6. Danced the charleston on stage. I would like this to happen more often.

7. Went to the gym. Yes, seriously.

8. Went to Pilates. I actually felt energised & relaxed after. This can’t possibly last.

9. Got tempted by MacDonalds. See last two points. I need to compensate for 7 & 8.

10. Rehearsed ‘Reasons For Listing’ in a shop. Jill to be precise. Hurrah!

So, that’s it. You catch me in the midst of stuff I don’t normally do and it makes me happy.

Cold Writing: We have chosen our Writers!

So it has been a bit of a slog through, and it has probably been the hardest choice yet due to the quality of applications we received, but we have finally chosen four writers to be involved in the upcoming Cold Writing Festival at Jill, the Community Hub in Sydenham.

These writers are:

Ella Ashman
Kymberly Ashman
Judy Upton
and Richard Walls

I can’t wait to run the workshop next Monday with these four fine writers, I’m even more excited to see what work they produce in just 48 hours and, I can’t deny, I’m intrigued to find out if Ella and Kymberly are related – or if it is just a coincidence that 2 of our final  4 share the same surname!

Stay tuned to the blog for when we reveal what this festival’s Mystery Theme will be (which will be approximately 5 minutes after I inform the writers as to what it is)

And stick in your diary the festival itself:

Thursday 21st March at 7.30pm
Saturday 23rd March at 12.30pm & 3.00pm

Charlie of WBN

WBN News: We’ve got shows coming up!

Write By Numbers are going to be busy bees in the next couple of months, so I thought I would just let you people who read blogs know about a couple of projects and shows that are happening soon:

Joseph Mills Presents…Reasons For Listing: 16 Facts and One Story About Things That Make Me Happy

Reasons for Listing is going to be popping up in a few places in the next couple of months. It is first going to be at Jill in Sydenham on the 16th and 17th March at 12.30pm, 2.00pm and 4.00pm.

The venue is part of the SEE3 Portas Pilot in Sydenham, Kirkdale and Forest Hill. The space is well worth a look, especially as such Portas Pilots might end being the future of our  High Streets… (I’ll let Corinne blog about that properly in the future as I’m sure she will have plenty to say about such things – especially as she has managed to get herself involved in this one.)

We are also excited that Reasons will be part of Scarborough Literary Festival, with Joseph doing his presentation in a Library for the first time (details here if you are in the North come the 11th April). It is great that Reasons is getting a run out in a Library. Way back, when Corinne and myself (with invaluable help from our friend Olly Hawes) started developing and working on Reasons, we always felt it would have a home in libraries so it is exciting that is starting to happen.

Cold Writing

We have also got another Cold Writing festival coming up. If you fancy applying to be a writer, you have just one day to get to it! If you fancy seeing what plays some lucky writers come up with (which I will maniacally direct in one day), then please come along to the performances. These will be happening at the Jill in Sydenham, just the week after Reasons is there, on 21st March at 7.30pm and on Saturday 23rd at 12.30pm and 3pm.

We gave got other coals in the fire as well which we will let everyone know about as and when. In the mean time, hopefully we will see you at one of the above!

Charlie @ Write By Numbers

What WBN Has Been Doing (whilst we haven’t been blogging) PART 2:

Important team building and research. Naturally.

Important team building and research. Naturally. See point 12.

Last time we hadn’t blogged in a while, we let everyone know exactly what was so important that we couldn’t write some words in a bloggy format. Well, we are in this junction once again so I have come up with another list so that you can see what we have been up to:

1. Writing. (Now Corinne and I are even writing TOGETHER – which hasn’t been the unmitigated disaster some may have predicted. By ‘some’, I mean Corinne and I)

2. Planning. So much planning.

3. Meetings. So many meetings. To do point 2.

4. Moving house. For me, this was my first time moving house in London. For Estelle it was move number 4 in London for the same period. For Corinne, it was move 576 in London in the same period. Here’s hoping Corinne can settle now.

5. Having pieces on in Walthamstow, Latitude and Exeter. What jet setters we are.

6. Getting ready for shows in Forest Hill and Sydenham (x2) and Scarborough.

7. Eating lots of Biscuits.

8. ALL OF US having Norovirus. At the same time (please note, this was not due to the biscuits).

9. Eating lots of ice lollies (this was a result of having Norovirus and the fragile nature of our tummies)

10. Working very hard on various projects (not all of them for WBN, we must admit)

11. Going on a Writers Retreat in Wales where we discovered wild ‘Sheep-Goats’.

12. Going to AltonTowers for my birthday (even though I had an Ear Infection, and crazy up and down rides are not great for balance. Especially, when said Ear Infection means you can’t stand upright at the best of times)

13. Realised that despite all the scary rides, the most frightening part for Corinne was being made to walk through the Aquarium. She is not a fish lover, suffice to say. Unless it is covered in battered and comes with chips (she is from Yorkshire, after all?)

14. Watching a hell of a lot of Doctor Who.

15. Estelle and Corinne putting up with me ‘singing’ along (singing is the wrong word here) to the Doctor Who theme tune. VERY LOUDLY.

16. I have started wearing less clothes with holes in, Estelle has branched out into new colours and even wears green whereas Corinne still gets stopped and asked questions whenever a vintage fashion fair is happening in London.

17. Me insisting that Estelle and Corinne try every ale that we come across.

18. Group hugs. Again, on my insistence.

19. Having strong reactions to most things in the news.

20. Really enjoying the Olympics and going to one of the Paralympics athletics sessions.

Back again soon.

WBN Charlie x