As we come up to Christmas (Christmas already? Really???) I’ve realised that it’s been far too long since I updated this blog. This is however because I’ve been far too busy! What a six months…. I’ll try and see if I can sum it up succinctly.

Shakespeare Schools Festival

October and November has been jam packed with me jetting up and down the country working as a Stage Director with SSF delivering cast workshops and performance days. If you have never come across SSF before, they truly are an amazing organisation. Schools across the country get the chance to perform specially abridged versions of the bards works in professional theatres with three or four schools sharing their work to packed houses every night. Each performance evening is different and all in all I’ve had the pleasure of watching 48 shows in just over two months – quite a marathon I can tell you! 

From Preston to Portsmouth – I’ve been everywhere in the last six weeks!


In those two months I have witnessed almost everything you can think of; from a group of Year 4’s in Newcastle making everyone’s heart melt with their Romeo and Juliet, a group of secondary girls in Oxford performing possibly the most intense Hamlet I have seen since David Tenant and a Julius Caesar shared by a Special School in Corby done entirely by torchlight. It has been diverse, it has been creative but most of all it has been amazing fun. 

You can find out more about SSF here – they really are a bunch of good eggs doing some amazing stuff. 

Poems from Villagetown

My first poetry book was released in October and what a rollercoaster that process has been! Interviews with local papers and radio, countless live performances of the work in the book, even an invite to help open our local craft fair! (You know you’ve arrived when you are doing that sort of thing!) 

For a short time the digital version of the book was even floating around the top 5 of the Kindle chart kept off the top three by none other than Mr Shakespeare himself (I didn’t even know he had a book out…) 

In January I’m very excited to say that I’ll be performing some of the poems from the book at brilliant event organised as a fundraiser for Ramsbottom Community Hub, where I will be the support act for award winning Cartoonist Tony Husband and Radio 3’s Ian Mcmillan who will be bringing their two man show to our area. I’m a little nervous but extremely excited about the whole thing – reports of how it went will follow in the new year! Tickets for that event are available here.

 

PJ on tour with the new book


Coffee4Craig Street Store – Rainbow Saturday

Sometimes life throws you some amazing writing challenges and last week I was given just that. I was approached by the organising team of the ‘Street Store’ in Manchester, a one day pop up store for the homeless community. The concept is simple, customers are given raffle tickets as currency and are then invited into the shop to choose their own clothes, blankets and sundries from donations collected from the local community. The aim is simple – to give back a little freedom of choice back to those who for whatever reason find them self excluded from those decisions we take for granted everyday. Run the day directly after Black Friday, the event is seen as an antidote to the manic nature and grabby winner takes all experience of the previous day.

The amazing Coffee4Craig Street Store Team 2016 – Image (c) Jenson Forhsaw

My task was on the face of it very simple – immerse myself in the experience as a volunteer and document the day in word form. As you will see from the video – that was not at all easy as I found myself giving a voice to people whose life experiences are so very removed from my own. Hopefully I was able to do the day justice. 

Coffee4Craig Street Store video 2016

Onwards and upwards
As we march on into 2017 there will be much more to report – a new poetry book for kids is on the horizon, alongside plans for the sequel to ‘Requires Improvement’ which I began writing in earnest while I have been on the road. School workshops are continuing with enquiries coming in from across the country and I’m hoping as well to get some of my playscripts back out there working in classrooms. 
So much to do! Have a fantastic festive period and I’ll see you on the other side for more fun and frolics! 
PJ
X