Cold Writing

And the Cold Writing theme is…

As I type this, our latest batch of 6 Cold Writing writers are frantically writing a ten minute piece based upon a theme I sprang on them yesterday afternoon at Babble.Jar.

And that theme was ‘Watching You’.

If you want to see what our writers come up with, come along to Babble.Jar in ‘Stokey’ this Wednesday at 7.45pm.

Tickets are £5 on the door – £4 if you email asking to be on the cheaplist.

See you then.

Charlie of WBN

Cold Writing – Meet The Writers: Caro Dixey

It’s safe to say there’s been quite a bit happening at WBN in the last couple of weeks. And only 20% of it has involved heavy lifting. Which is, y’know, a positive step. But in the midst of All Of The Stuff the fact that next week – NEXT WEEK – we’ve got our first Theatre.Jar has crept up on us. But we do! In five days time! And, to hold back on the exclamation points for a sentence or two, in only two days time our group of intrepid writers will be taking part in the Cold Writing workshop and Charlie can stop being secretive about the theme and we can tell you all (I’ve been sworn to secrecy, even though there’s a moderately amusing story I want to blog from the theme-deciding committee meeting).

But, for now, we asked our writers if they’d like to write something for this very blog and (drum roll please) first up we have Caro Dixey, complete with something of an analogy first for this blog…

This is the second blog I have been asked to write about my writing and I can’t help pointing out the paradoxical nature of this task. I’m not sure how to write about my writing, my process, my experience as a writer. If I’m honest I’m dying to take the easy way out and tell you to come and see my work and you’ll know everything you need to know about me as an artist (and you should, come and see my work). But in the spirit of ‘doing one thing every day that scares you’ (advise that should never be ignored) I shall persevere if you will afford me the time.

Without sounding trite or “arty-farty” (for want of a much better word) what I’ve said above is true, anything you need to know about me you can find out from my writing. This is because I can only write with the voice, the opinions, the emotions I have experienced and the challenges I have faced.

That said what I write is not solely the concern of a 28 years old single woman, struggling in the arts. Of course not. I delight in transposing  the voice I have been given and the things I have seen, as best I can, into universal issues that will captivate an audience of 75 year olds just as much as an audience of 30 somethings. More over I was recently very flattered by an audience member at a recent play of mine who was most surprised the piece was written by a woman.

I started writing before I can remember: writing poems – “angsty” poems of an average “angsty” teenager. Never in a million years would I have thought I would ever share anything I had written, but now I even share my poetry on my blog.

I decided I had to write for the stage in my third year studying Music with Drama at Anglia Ruskin university as a result of reading  Sarah Kane’s Blasted for my contemporary writing module. Now I know that the hype for Miss Kane’s work has long since passed and she became so fashionable that she is now, in fact, terribly unfashionable.  However, the 21 year old me read Blasted, read about Blasted,  read about Sarah Kane’s dissection of form and content and I began to understand a new way of looking at the world through the theatre, and from then on, I wanted to write for the stage.

It took me a long time to have the confidence to share my writing with the theatre world – despite training as a dramaturg and championing the writing of others for years. I saw my first solo piece of writing at a London showcase last year and this was enough to break free from the shackles of my insecurity and push my writing in front of anyone who would watch/read.

The best piece of advice I was given at the time was:

“Don’t think of your writing as your baby, think of it as sperm – shoot out as much of it as possible and see what happens.”

On the back of this advice I launched a personal crusade (personal because no-one else seems to be getting on board) to submit a piece of writing to a different competition, theatre, agent, writing opportunity anywhere, every single Monday. This is fondly known to my facebook friends and twitter followers as #SubmissionMonday and since I have been religiously #SubmissionMonday-ing I have seen six pieces on my work staged at various London venues this year alone.

And that pretty much brings me up to date. Applying for Cold Writing with Write By Numbers was a #SubmissionMonday affair and I am itching to get started on it. Writing for a brief, to a tight deadline is tough (I recently did exactly this with the fabulous Pensive Federation) but in my experience it can lead to some of the most exciting, challenging and honest work you can imagine.  I just can’t wait.

My website is a great place to start for anything else you might want to know about me or my experience as a writer and dramaturg or you can follow me on twitter @carodixey. Otherwise just make sure you are there on 10th July at Babble.Jar – you’ll probably find me in the bar.

(And if you would like to join Caro – and probably the rest of us – in the bar you can get your name on the all important list by emailing and we shall let you in for £4, which works out at 67p per play)

Theatre.Jar: Cold Writing writers chosen for our first new writing event @ Babble.Jar

May I have a drum roll please…

(hear this in your head as appropriate)

After scouring through a very high level of applications and much deliberating and pontificating, the chosen writers for Cold Writing @ Babble.Jar are:

Mike Carter
Matt Cunningham
Thanh Dang
Caro Dixey
Olivia Furber
and Felix O’Brien

I can’t wait to work with this fine bunch of writing talent. I will give them a theme in a workshop on Sunday 7th July. And then I will give them just 24 hours to use all their craft and guile (who says writers don’t have ‘guile’?) to make us an awesome short play.

And then we will put them on. On Wednesday 10th July at 7.45pm @ Babble.Jar

Fancy tickets for £4 instead of £5 on the door? Email before Tuesday 9th July and get yourself on the cheap list. Numbers permitting. Obviously.

Charlie of WBN

WBN Presents…Theatre.Jar

We’ve been keeping this under our hats (or, in my case, my headscarf) for a little bit but to demonstrate that we’re doing other things than just creating elaborate visual structure patterns of Beneath the Albion Sky whilst eating biscuits we’ve got some exciting news to announce…

*drum roll please*

On the 10th July we’ll be doing our pop-up theatre thing at Babble.Jar in Stoke Newington. Babble.Jar’s an awesome bar (look! at! the! cocktails!) who are supporting lots of artistic ventures and, because we’re always up for doing something we haven’t done before, we’re exploring what a regular writing-theatre-night (Write By Numbers style) might look like with them. It’s probably worth noting that for once Write By Numbers style doesn’t include sub-zero temperatures, carrying hundreds of chairs, or fixing a broken toilet. Babble.Jar have all of those things in order (also, they have board games and table tennis – literally WHAT MORE COULD YOU WANT?).

We’ve christened the night Theatre.Jar (see what we did there?) and we’ll be launching in July with a specially commissioned version of our write-and-make-a-play-in-72-hours-without-collapsing-from-exhaustion strand Cold Writing. You can read our call out for writers here and, if you’re not panicked by over use of capitals and mild panic, you can also find out about what’s exactly involved with Cold Writing in our live blogs from Cold Writing: Reinvent and Cold Writing: The Forest.

Theatre.Jar will start at Babble.Jar at 7.45pm on Wednesday 10th July and you can find directions here. Tickets are £4 if, to borrow a phrase, your name’s on the list or £5 on the door. To get your name on that all important list send us an email to

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.