Menagerie and BBC East have developed a unique collaboration to create 12 new plays for radio.  As part of our Arts Council-funded 2010-11 project to bring new writers into the company alongside Menagerie ‘veterans’, we commissioned the 12 to pen a short play for radio with one stipulation: it had to be located somewhere in the East of England. Patrick and Paul worked alongside each writer, helping to refine the pieces for recording.  The final dramaturgical input came from BBC producer Faith Collingwood, who directed all 12 plays in the BBC Voices Studio in Norwich. The plays were recorded by Menagerie Ensemble actors and have now been broadcast on the BBC network along with writer interviews.

Actors: Trevor Nichols, Jasmine Hyde, Martin Austin, Danusia Iwaszko, Theo Daveney, Bethan Walker, Patrick Morris

Director: Faith Collingwood

Editor: Alisdair McGregor

Commissioning: Paul Bourne and Patrick Morris

To listen to any of the plays please click on the links below:


01 Track 01 Rich Chilver – A Place of Importance

A story of remembering and betrayal, set on a Summer’s day in Colchester.

An Arts Council Escalator Award-winning writer based in Colchester.

02 Track 02 Benjamin Morris – Architecture

A young convicted murderer and his lawyer share a final conversation, on the way to court, before sentencing.

A writer of fiction and drama, who divides his time between Cambridge and Mississippi.

03 Track 03 Kate Miller – Circlemakers

A gentle comedy which pokes fun at lovers and crop-circle hoaxers in a barley field in East Cambridgeshire

Freelance feature writer for The Times, The Guardian, The Stage and The TES, and author of several non-fiction books.

She is based in Hertford.

04 Track 04 Tim Hughes – Four knocks at the door

She’s got a knife and she needs his money.  Now.  It’s late, outside a nightclub in Norwich and fear is in the air.

Tim Hughes is a young writer who recently completed his BA Scriptwriting Degree at UEA.

05 Track 05 Alan Dignam – Good Old Nick

A brief encounter on the Cambridge to Kings Lynn train, with a devilish twist in its tale.

Alan is Professor of Corporate Law at Queen Mary College, London.  He has written 4 non-fiction books, has articles published in The Times and The Guardian and he won Menagerie’s Hotbed 2009 One-Page Play Competition.

Originally from Dublin, Ireland, Alan is currently based in Cambridge.

06 Track 06 Kay Blayney – Gown Land

Town and Gown fight it out during the fireworks of Cambridge University’s 800th anniversary celebrations.

Kay Blayney is a Drama teacher at the Parkside Federation in Cambridge.  She has been a performer and writer for many years.  She was the winner of Menagerie’s One-Page Play Competition at Hotbed 2008.

Kay was born, grew up and lives in Cambridge.

07 Track 07 Craig Baxter – Isle of Eels

Set in 1835, in the west tower of Ely Cathedral, this captures the final battle of wills between the architect Basevi, and the then Dean of Ely, Peacock.  A watery end to one of their lives…

Craig is a well-established playwright with productions by Menagerie, Pursued by a Bear and commissions from Birmingham Rep.  In 2010 he won the prestigious STAGE award – an international competition for plays about science and technology.  His play, The Altruists, was chosen by Noble Laureates and Pulitzer prize winners to be the best of 225 entries from around the world.

Craig is a trained zoologist, based in Cambridge.

08 Track 08 Tamsin Astbury – Love For Lorne

Lorne’s been walking his donkeys up and down Lowestoft Beach for over 40 years.  His life, his love, his dreams mix in with the crashing waves.  Time passes.

Tamsin is a writer who recently completed the prestigious Mphil Playwriting course at Birmingham University.  She has had radio work read by BBC Development Producer Fiona Kelcher and a trial Archers script read by Julie Beckett.  In 2008, she was shortlisted for the Bruntwood Award at Manchester Royal Exchange Theatre.  That same year, she was also part of the Soho and Royal Court Young Writers Programmes.

She is based in Cambridge.

09 Track 09 Michelle Golder – Options

A wistful, romantic comedy of hi-tech manners, set in the Grand Arcade car park, Cambridge.

Michelle Golder is a freelance writer and chair of Cambridge scriptwriters’ collective, WRITEON.  The author of several plays, she also produces and directs.

Originally from California, she is currently based in Haslingfield, Cambridgeshire by way of Wellington, New Zealand.

10 Track 10 Helen Mort – Brian and Colin

A student and a local man try to work their way around a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ difficulty outside the gates of Kings College in Cambridge

An award-winning poet whose most recent piece, A Pint For The Ghost, was produced by Menagerie in 2009.  She is currently Poet-in-Residence at Dove Cottage (William Wordsworth’s house) in the Lake District.

11 Track 11 Yvonne Sampson – Wall Music

An isolated cottage at night.  Jenny’s hearing voices again.  Next door, Sheryl’s just trying to finish her play, but her kid’s playing up.  Somewhere, there’s a connection.

Yvonne is a secondary school drama teacher.  As a playwright, she has had productions at New End Theatre, Hampstead and Watford Palace Theatre.

She is based in Watford.

12 Track 12 Carl Miller – Window

A drama about welcoming new faces and fearing strangers, set in rural Cambridgeshire.  Compassion and mob rule in medieval and modern England.

Carl Miller is an established playwright, with productions from Birmingham Rep, Menagerie, Unicorn Theatre, Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds & Kennedy Centre Washington DC.

He is based in Stiffkey, Norfolk.