Write By Numbers

Adventures in planning

Post It NotesSince the beginning of 2014 we’ve been busy doing lots of stuff that I would file under the category of “Things You Don’t Realise You’ll Have To Do When You Decide To Start A Theatre Company”. There’s some stuff that I should have reasonably envisaged (like sorting copy and promotional images and checking contracts and re-designing the website), some stuff that, had I thought about it for a few minutes, I could have thought about existing in some hazy ill-defined way (like funding applications and pitches and commission deadlines) and then there is the stuff that, even when I’m sitting in the meeting talking about them, I have little grasp of the fact that our chosen career path involves us having to do them (company accounts and branding and business plans and, possibly most terrifyingly of all, ORGANISATIONAL DEVELOPMENT).

What all of this stuff has forced us to do, however, is talk. About small stuff like how we express what Write By Numbers does in a single sentence and about the big stuff like how the way we structure and operate the company feeds into the way we make things. It’s also making us PLAN.

One of the PLANS has been about how we use our website and this blog. We’ve come up with lots of ideas (notably the one that got WBN-wide support featured cake) and, beginning this week, we’re going to start implementing them. This blog is going to be a mix of things in the way that WBN is a mix of things; so expect theatre and arts and community and opinions and board games and ridiculous travels with large pieces of furniture and cake. Definitely the cake.

(Co-)Writing and Directing Beneath the Albion Sky

Beneath the Albion Sky is the first piece of work that I have ever written (in this case co-written with Corinne) and then directed.

I must admit that there was a bit of fear in directing the show. Not least because I had written some of the words and maybe some of them were really precious to me and I hadn’t realised yet but also because I had lovingly crafted this script with Corinne. Now, Corinne is precious about certain lines and words. In some cases really rather precious. Far more than I am. Whereas I don’t have favourite lines to things I write I know that she does and that she did have special lines in Albion.  I knew that if I (or Andy) screwed up this line up, she would be disappointed. We would be getting one of her ‘It’s fine’ retorts that is so loaded with (potentially imagined by me) bile, hate and contempt that all you would be able to is say how sorry you are a million times over until you feel at least half way close to forgiveness. ‘It’s fine’ she would say… Over and over again.

But that’s enough about the fear of butchering the favourite line of Corinne Furness and my over the top imagination of how she might react. I had another fear in directing this piece in that I had written a bit of it myself. What if I shoehorned my writerly vision in to the piece at the expense of it? What if I couldn’t accept another reading of my words? What if any sort of ability I have to direct simply fades away as soon as we move from a line of Corinne’s to a line of mine? These were just some of the fears.

But it turns out – I was absolutely fine. I’m not being egotistical and saying that the directing is super awesome (you will have to come to The Yard, The Wardrobe or The BikeShed and decide that for yourself) but that I didn’t have a problem with directing something I wrote. I was delighted to find that I could take my writing hat off, put my directing hat on and just approach the play that was in front of me. Before I knew it, I was cutting lines, changing bits and seeing the play a-new. By the end of it all, I honestly couldn’t remember if I had written certain lines or if Corinne had.

I remember, back during my BA, Howard Barker came in to one of our Playwriting sessions. I was very excited (as I think Howard Barker is brilliant) and one of the things he said (amongst others) really stuck with me. He said something along the lines of ‘It is important to direct one’s own work because then you understand it better. You understand how it, and drama, work’. I can’t remember if that is exactly what he said but I remember the sentiment. I also remember the fear. I thought to myself ‘I can’t do that’, ‘I can’t direct’, ‘I’d end up blocking myself’, ‘Don’t try it you silly boy’ etc. Well, I finally had a go (admittedly with a piece I half wrote) and it was really rewarding.

I’m definitely going to try and direct my own work again (some, not all – let’s not be silly) and I would recommend that other people give it a try too.

Just please don’t blame me if, for you, it is the disaster we all fear. But I reckon there is a good chance it won’t be.

Charlie of WBN


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.


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


Situations Vacant

WBN has grown in something of an organic way (no rolling eyes please for that use of the word ‘organic’) and I like how we’ve met people along the way thus far who have (inadvertently) shaped how (and what) we are as a company.

But now we’re wanting to shape the WBN team to help us with all the things we’ve got coming up in the next 18 months or so. Thus – we’re looking for Project Managers to join us.

The job advert is here, currently the roles are unpaid though, on a project by project basis, this could change.

We’re happy to answer questions, either about the roles or about the projects we’re hoping to match people to so feel free to drop us an email (or a tweet @WBNtheatre) if there’s anything you’d like to ask.