Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Audience Reviews For Red Riding Hood

These are a few of the things our audience are saying about this years Saddleworth Christmas Show Red Riding Hood. If you're looking for something to do this Christmas with your 3 - 7 year olds this is where to come.

'Loved red riding hood and didn't like the big bad wolf, he had scary ears!' Faith and Great Grandma

'My favourite bit was when the wolf was the grandma and when I made the cakes!' - Yasmin.

Great show. Just right for our pre-school children. They really enjoyed it. Thank you' - See Saw preschool, Grotton

‎​​'Absolutely fantastic - really worked hard. Fab touch bringing Santa out. See you next year' - Emma

Monday, 20 December 2010

Red Riding Hood 2010

Local News from Saddleworth News our story about Red Riding Hood is about 6 minutes in, I'm the fat bloke - enjoy

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

photo's of red riding hood

Great photo's from Red Riding Hood this years Christmas show at the civic hall Uppermill.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

record sales

I'm really pleased to tell you that we've already passed last years total of 1,200 ticket sales. We are in our third year and with the hard work of all our team - Judith Barker, Adele Parry and Claire Leaver we have gone from strength to strength.

But we don't want to rest on our laurels, we still have thousands of seats to sell for parents and grand parents looking for something to do over the Christmas period. Tickets available from our box office 0161 6242829 or online

Tuesday 7th 10.30am 1.30pm
Wednesday 8th SOLD OUT
Thursday 9th No Shows 1.30pm
Friday 10th 10.30am 1.30pm
Saturday 11th 10.30am 1.30pm
Sunday 12th SOLD OUT
Monday 13th 10.30am 1.30pm
Tuesday 14th 10.30am 1.30pm
Wednesday 15th No Shows
Thursday 16th 10.30am 1.30pm
Friday 17th 10.30am 1.30pm
Saturday 18th SOLD OUT
Sunday 19th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Monday 20th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Tuesday 21st 1.30pm 4.00pm
Wednesday 22nd No Shows
Thursday 23rd 1.30pm 4.00pm
Friday 24th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Saturday 25th No Shows
Sunday 26th No Shows

Monday 27th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Tuesday 28th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Wednesday 29th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Thursday 30th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Friday 31st 1.30pm 4.00pm

record sales

I'm really pleased to tell you that we've already passed last years total of 1,200 ticket sales. We are in our third year and with the hard work of all our team - Judith Barker, Adele Parry and Claire Leaver we have gone from strength to strength.

But we don't want to rest on our laurels, we still have thousands of seats to sell for parents and grand parents looking for something to do over the Christmas period. Tickets available from our box office 0161 6242829 or online

Tuesday 7th 10.30am 1.30pm
Wednesday 8th SOLD OUT
Thursday 9th No Shows 1.30pm
Friday 10th 10.30am 1.30pm
Saturday 11th 10.30am 1.30pm
Sunday 12th SOLD OUT
Monday 13th 10.30am 1.30pm
Tuesday 14th 10.30am 1.30pm
Wednesday 15th No Shows
Thursday 16th 10.30am 1.30pm
Friday 17th 10.30am 1.30pm
Saturday 18th SOLD OUT
Sunday 19th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Monday 20th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Tuesday 21st 1.30pm 4.00pm
Wednesday 22nd No Shows
Thursday 23rd 1.30pm 4.00pm
Friday 24th 1.30pm 4.00pm

Saturday 25th No Shows
Sunday 26th No Shows

Monday 27th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Tuesday 28th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Wednesday 29th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Thursday 30th 1.30pm 4.00pm
Friday 31st 1.30pm 4.00pm

Saturday, 4 December 2010

I wrote a poem

snow no.
go snow.

I've called it winter wonderland and I think its amazing. It goes hand in hand with my earlier work Rain Pain.

I went to build the set today for Red Riding Hood our latest Christmas show in Uppermill Saddleworth. I think and I know I biased that it will be the best ever.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

22 in the snow

First night of the new tour and I met some lovely people in Louth. three great volunteers for Curly Wurly (my new television game show) and a load of fun.

I took this photo just to prove I can entertain a audience, all be it small.

Monday, 22 November 2010

The Riverhead Louth

The Riverhead Louth Lincolnshire on Thursday with my new show and I'm crapping it! All alone, new material, new gags, great story and one hell of a surprise for big wig in television world!

Red Riding Hood started rehearsing today. in two weeks our third Oldham and Saddleworth Christmas show will be under way, with over 1200 tickets already sold this is going to be the biggest and best one ever.

see you there.

Thursday, 11 November 2010


Our friend Amanda Holden is in Oldham town today. She's opening a couple of things in the North West. She's been a patron of Hard Graft for a few years now and is very supportive of our work.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Our friends at Diggle School have sent a lovely email and I thought I'd share it with you.

"Hard Graft's Christmas shows have become an eagerly anticipated highlight of our Christmas activities at pre-school. The children are able to experience first hand the joy of theatre and are always delighted and captivated by the innovative re-telling of traditional stories."

Andrea Brearley, Manager of Ofsted Outstanding Diggle Dandelions Pre-school

Thank you

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Oldham Panto

Well, we've been really busy this week with loads of meetings for our third Oldham Panto. Judith and I have been sorting out all the music (which is going to be great!).

Alec our assistant Producer has been marketing mad. 500 posters to go up all over Oldham and Saddleworth.

And to top it off I've started rehearsing my Famous show.

Got to go and make some trees!

see you later

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Live Shows

Just to let you cats know, these are my live gigs for the next 6 months.

November 2010
25th Riverhead Louth
January 2011 15th The Gate Goole
March 2nd Bury Met
17th Sefton Arts
25th Brewary Arts
April 6th Rotherham Arts
7th Barnsley

8th Guildford Yvonne Arnaud

23rd Drill Hall Lincoln
29th - 30th Lantern Sheffield
May 6trh Queens Park Arts
21st - 22nd Lowry Salford
June 3rd Stafford Gatehouse
9th The Plough

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

It’s Full Circle for Sam

It’s Full Circle for Sam

Unlike some, Sam Connolly did not grow up with a passion for the theatre, rather, like most Oldham schoolboys it was football that truly inspired him and his allegiance to Manchester City that dominated his weekends. He was also hyperactive and attention seeking, qualities which did not exactly endear Sam to his schoolteachers, indeed he freely admits to being “a bit of a rogue at school”. It was these qualities however, that led Sam’s mother to force him, at the age of 14, to attend Jude’s Drama school, a weekly class taught by noted actress Judith Barker; a woman who would change Sam’s life forever.

Things got off to a rocky start however with Sam still reluctant to embrace the theatrical world; “I saw 12 girls standing outside and thought I really don’t want to do this” and frequently led to him hovering outside and arriving up to 20 minutes late. This lack of focus caused initial friction between teacher and student as Judith recalls, “well, it wasn’t a great start and we did have a couple of blazing rows as he wasn’t aware of the discipline required”. Despite this the footy-mad teenager soon fell in love with acting, he now describes his first class as “the best experience of my life” and notes he quickly began looking forward to the weekend class as “I had a chance to express myself in a way you don’t usually get”. Talking to Sam it is clear that this notion of escapism fuels his passion for the theatre, he describes these early classes as an opportunity to “just let loose and be whoever you want to be”, an entrancing opportunity.

Equally evident during our chat is the strong bond between Sam and Judith, Sam asserts that “Judith was the first one to believe in me and the only one able to control be” and says that ultimately, “she made me realise that acting was what I wanted to do”. For her part Judith recognised Sam’s potential early, “ I always loved him and always thought he had an extraordinary quality” and nurtured his blossoming love of the stage, she has been his mentor ever since.

Old habits die hard however, and it was Sam’s passion for football that threatened to wreck this developing relationship. In the summer of 2006 preparations were well under way for Jude’s Drama’s bi-annual showcase and a rehearsal was set for Saturday 1st July 2006. The problem? This was also the date of England’s hotly anticipated quarterfinal with Portugal, a game no England fan wanted to miss. When Sam turned up to the rehearsal and immediately announced he was leaving early in order to watch the game, a blazing row quickly ensued, one which led to Sam storming off and Judith throwing him out. Sam soon realised he’d made a huge mistake and, apologies made, he was soon back and as passionate as ever.

By the age of 18, after four years in the class, drama school beckoned and so Sam was among the 2,500 hopefuls gunning for just 30 places at the prestigious Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. Incredibly Sam got in first time and was soon on his way to London for three years that he describes as “the best three years of my life”. Despite a gruelling 9 to 6 schedule, “I’ve never laughed so much in my life, it was hard work but also good fun”.

After an unusual experience performing Macbeth to London schoolchildren (preparing to have his throat cut by Lady Macbeth, he was startled to hear shouts of “She’s behind you) Sam got the opportunity to perform on the stage of the Criterion theatre in London’s glittering West End, an experience that crystallised his acting ambitions, “that showed me where I wanted to be in life, it gave me a goal”.

Now fresh out of drama school Sam attended audition after audition but was left empty handed and occasionally feeling like he’d “tried a little bit too hard”. Then an opportunity arose to audition for the role of the Wolf in Hard Graft Theatre Company’s production of Red Riding Hood, for Sam it would mean performing in Uppermill, within spitting distance of his home town, more importantly it also offered the chance of a reunion with Judith and the rekindling of a relationship that had been kept alive via constant phone calls during Sam’s drama school tenure. For Sam it was the role of a lifetime but the competition would be stiff, Sam would audition along with six professional actors, each with years of experience.

A nerve-wracking overnight wait followed his audition and then came a phone call the next morning. It was Judith, and the role was his, Sam was delighted “I was smiling for a good two hours afterwards” and his dream had come true, he was now a professional actor.

Despite having just landed his first role Sam has big ambitions, as well as wanting to act in the West End Sam’s passion for theatre is such that ultimately “I’d like to get theatre as big as TV”. Whatever happens next the future certainly looks bright for Sam, the classic story of the local boy done good.

Sam Connolly will be appearing in Red Riding Hood at the Uppermill Civic Hall throughout December, for tickets or more information call 0161 624 2829 or go to

By Alec Hawley

Red Start

We've sold 750 tickets already for Red Riding Hood, the majority on Christmas week. Santa will be busy in Uppermill this year won't he?

Thursday, 14 October 2010


I never thought it would be that difficult to get a tree for a stage set. I want to do a classic Red Riding Hood set with trees and countryside and, and nothing. No one has a tree. in the whole of the English speaking world of the north west no one has a tree. So I'm making a couple in my kitchen. The Civic Hall Uppermill will have a tree, made out of the middle of a carpet and a load of papier mache.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Writing and art

I have finished the first draft of the script for When Will I be Famous and I'm a lot less stressed. Over the last couple of years I've started writing more and more from my heart, to lay myself bare, this script is me in my underpants, this is the way I want to go today.

I want to pack art in. there I said it, I want to show it two fingers and walk away and be a....whatever you be when you're not being me. I want to walk away for dramatic effect, but no one would care would they?

So I'm stopping here, just to piss everyone off.

But I need help............

Monday, 4 October 2010


It is a hard job casting. You meet loads of really nice, talented actors - just like you, then you have to choose only one. We have, of cause cast Claire Lever as Red, she's been in all three shows now and is a brilliant professional to have on the team.

Last week we saw 5 boys, all lovely actors with great voices - but there can be only one.

And our one this year playing the Wolf is..............

Sunday, 3 October 2010

thick as thieves

Brilliant! I'm really proud of the work all at Reform theatre company have put into thick as thieves and I urge you all to hunt it out and go watch it. It's touring till November at a theatre near you. please let me know what you think.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Tour Schedule for Thick As Thieves


27th Courtyard Theatre, Hereford

28th - 30th Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate


1st - 2nd Harrogate Theatre, Harrogate

4th Stowe School, Stowe

5th - 8th Entertainment Centre, Llanelli

9th Town Hall, Selby

11th Little Theatre, Doncaster

12th South Hill Park, Bracknell

14th Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford

16th Village Hall, Tickton

18th The Academy, Barnsley

19th Roses Theatre, Ormskirk

20th Palace Theatre, Newark

21st The Met, Bury

22nd Pavillion Theatre, Whitby

26th The Theatre, Middlesbrough

27th Arts Centre, Rotherham

28th Arts Centre Helmsley

29th Civic Theatre, Chelmsford

30th The Arc, Trowbridge


1st Town Hall, Bishop Auckland

2nd Gatehouse Theatre, Stafford

3rd The Castle, Wellingborough

11th Square Chapel, Halifax

12th The Junction, Goole

13th Victoria Hall, Settle

17th The Rondo, Bath

18th Tapton School, Sheffield

20th - 21st Lantern Theatre Sheffield

23rd Guildhall Theatre, Derby

24th The Artrix, Bromsgrove

25th Queens Hall Hexham

26th -27th Pomegranate Theatre Chesterfield

Monday, 13 September 2010

Fame Game

As you may know Thick As Thieves is about to tour the country later this month with Reform Theatre Company. I've written a brand new version for them and I think its going to be very good. To mark it, I found this memory from Dan and I.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

100 Free Theatre Tickets For Kids!

Hard graft Theatre Company are looking for Child Organisations, playgroups, schools or nurseries to give away 100 free tickets for their classic Christmas cracker RED RIDING HOOD.

Hard Graft are now in their third year of producing Christmas shows at the Civic Hall Uppermill and after last years sell out success with the Elves and the Shoemaker we have taken the step of trebling the capacity to meet the demand. There are hundreds of young children in Greater Manchester that will never be able to see Theatre because of the cost, if we can get a hundred through ours doors for nothing then we will be very happy company.

Red Riding Hood is aimed specifically at the under eight's, with songs, dance and a lot of Christmas Magic this is a show designed to keep little minds occupied for the whole performance. Directed by Oldham legend Judith Barker with choreography by Adele Parry.

To apply for Red Riding Hood free tickets complete the form HERE

Good Luck!

Monday, 16 August 2010

Boat Song

I'm having a ball writing my new show. I'm writing about fame, my fame. I'm telling the story of my career thus far, lows and lows. The best thing so far is the single I'm going to release. yes, I'm releasing a song. Me and Jon Mee wrote and recorded a song in 1994, to protect the copyright we posted it to ourselves and never opened it. As I write there is an unopened envelope upstairs waiting to be unleashed on the world of pop. the last time I heard this song was when I performed it live of BBC radio Nottingham, during a talent contest. we got battered by a load of old people. The opening and first listen to the song will happen live of stage in Louth of all places.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

bbc News 24

Last night I was called, again to give my opinion on a burglar. News 24 wanted to know what I thought about Bradley Wernham a 19 burglar who robbed 660 people down south. If you don't already know I was a convicted burglar in the 1980's, reeking havoc on the good people of Nottingham. Don't take my word for it, write "reformed burglar" in Google and see what it comes up with.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Red Riding Hood

Can I mention, if I already haven't, that Hard Graft Theatre will be producing our third piece of children's theatre in Saddleworth this Christmas. Because it's our third, we have already done Babushka and the Elves and the Shoemaker, we felt that we had to pick up our game and make it our best show ever. This year then, we have moved into a 200 seat venue at the Civic Hall and added another two weeks. It opens on the 7th December and runs until 31st December with two shows most days. Downstairs in my cellar is a six foot wolf, scary, but not too scary, and three foot dragon, called Davis.

Tickets have been on sale for two months at the Oldham Coliseum Box Office and I want to double last years audience and offer the young people of Greater Manchester a real alternative to Panto.

for what's on in Saddleworth, Oldham and Greater Manchester from Hard Graft Theatre Co. why not join our communication lists - Twitter (there's a link to your right) or send an email from the website.

See you soon

Monday, 2 August 2010

Camp Amanda

My wife Jess with Amanda Holden with knickers on their heads. Jess has worked with Amanda many times down the years, this was the pair enjoying a weekend away at a posh camp site.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Scottish Tony

Scottish Tony phoned last night to see if I wanted any work, he's picking me up at 7. I don't mind Tony but he has 2 annoying faults:
1. He's Scottish. Don't get me wrong I'm not a racist, I love most races of people (except American's) Tony believes England is crap and not a patch on Scotland. He says the English are thick and rude and that Scotland and the Scots are a far better quality product. Thing is he has lived in England for 18 years - If you hate it that much Tony, go home.
2. He's a football fan. Still not a major problem I am a life long supporter of Nottingham Forest. But Tony is a Rangers fan; I neither know nor care anything for Scottish football its rubbish. All I know about Scottish football is that Forest bought Pierre Van Hoojjdonk from Celtic who single handedly got us relegated from the premiership after he went on strike.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Everyone's a winner baby

Can't believe how lucky I was today. As we got back from the shops this morning we were listening, as always to the local Millennium 106.5 FM radio. Every Saturday they have started this new competition and I've been tuning in.

Anyway, the quiz goes like this:

1. They open the phone lines and ask a simple question, this is to get everyone to ring and to get 2 contestants for the main quiz.

2. If you get through on the phone the DJ (Peppy Coulson) takes caller after caller "on air" till he gets a winning answer.

3. You answer the question and then and only then do you win the right to play for the big prize, in the big game called "FATAL FINAL".

4. 60 seconds of general knowledge questions to the 2 final contestants.

5. The most correct answers secure a place in "THE YES/NO GAME".

6. You face Peppy Coulson head to head in this classic game;

The prizes are as follows:

· if you do 10 seconds or less you get a CD (this week was Elton John's greatest hits)

· 11-20 seconds is a CD and a Millennium 104 goody bag

· 21-29 seconds 2 mugs and a limited edition "I ♥ 104 FM" sweat shirt

· Over 30 seconds and it's the star prize of £50 gift voucher for Mona Lisa's the poshest Italian restaurant in Oldham town, which isn't hard.

As I was saying this was a lucky day, the first question asked was which ex-DJ was attacked by a crazed fan in Nottingham earlier this year?

I'm sure no-one rings this bloke, because I didn't phone until half way through the second song and it only rang once before it was answered by Peppy himself, they can't have many people working for the show. "Dale Winton" I said and he played this tape of a bloke shouting "YOU ARE A WINNER!" and I knew then that I was through to the next stage.

What they did next was quite good. To save your phone bill they ring you back straight away and you and the other contestant chat and have a laugh with Peppy. He asked me what I did for a living and I lied and told him I was the Managing Director of a local security firm. He asked me what the company was called and laughed when I told him that I couldn't tell him for security reasons.

The other bloke was a teacher from Bacup (tramp) and was trying to win the star prize for his wedding anniversary but Peppy took the piss and said he should put his hand in his pocket if he really loved his wife.

I won the toss and he went first answering 7 correct. I had the harder questions but somehow managed to equal the teacher. Peppy said he couldn't believe it, it's the first time 2 people had tied on 7 points a piece, although to be right the quiz has only been going 3 weeks.

The tiebreaker question was a sudden death "whoever answers the question first " and they put this sound effect on of a drum roll. Its supposed to make it scarier but to be honest it didn't bother me. The question was unbelievable it was "Name the county also known as the English Rivera"? "Cornwall! Its Cornwall!" And that was me through to the "Yes/No Game".

The first and last time I played the game was at school, a teacher there used to do it if he'd given you lines. For example, let's say you were given 4 sides of lines to do, you could play the yes no game and if you won he'd wipe the slate clean, but if you lost your 4 sides would become 8.

Peppy thought he was the master of the game but he hadn't crossed me yet. All I said was "I might be", or "it could be" or "don't know" and I smashed him out the water. He got dead mardy at the end and said I was lucky "yes I'm lucky Peppy, or maybe you're crap!"

Jess wasn't that impressed, you would have thought that having a games master as a husband would have influenced her in the love making department but no, a peck on the cheek was the best I got.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010


I am really busy booking gigs for my new show. booked Guildford, Lowry, Brewhouse in Kendal, The Met Bury to name but a few.

question - how do you measure fame?

I need to know.

Maybe I need one of those Mary Poppins tape measures.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Clear the air

I'm selling two shows at the moment, do you want to buy? Red riding Hood - about a girl(young) who only wears a hood that is red. When will I be Famous - the story of me trying to become famous. I love a simple title don't you?

I want to have clear the air talks with someone - email me

Off to Glastonbury festival on Thursday with Matt Aston in a van that is a camper.

I wanna be... from Andonis Anthony on Vimeo.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Bon Jour

Is that how you spell Bon Jour? any way who cares. I've been on my travels to France (its a large country south of Folkstone, likes cheese and wine). All I know on this blog is that you should never bring back stray dogs from abroad, but more the stray dog later.

I think you should see this its a friend of mine, Rebecca Mahon who is a lovely writer/performer. Her latest offering is at this years 24:7 festival in Manchester.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

U2 can have the day off.

I've just had Bono on the phone moaning about his back. I was a bit bored if I'm honest, people talking about their ailments, puts you right off. Did I pull out of Panto when I hurt my back, did I cancel Poles Apart because I was deaf and couldn't hear my cues from Dan, did I stop the audience from seeing me in agony every evening when we walked across the country? NO! Get a grip and rip up your sick note Bono.

I've got a bucket handled tear on my knee but I'll still be at Nottingham Lakeside on Thursday.

Come on England!

I can see it now, all the doom mongers droning on how bad we (England) are at football. "He's rubbish" they'll say, "Can't pass, can't shoot," You know the rest. I don't care I think we are going to win, I always think we're going to win. This time though, the stars have aligned, spirits have come together and our country will speak as one to answer critics and hold aloft the cup. Or will I just get my heart broken again?

This is our time, our competition, our cup.

I do worry about the grass though, its not the right kind.....

Saturday, 22 May 2010

A bloke over the road.

I saw a man over the road yesterday just sitting on the steps opposite our house. i was working and as I came down for a cup of tea he was sat there, sitting. I watched a while then went over to him. he was shaking, really trembling, there was a pile of sick in front of him.

"Can I help"?

"No" He said.

"Are you sure?" He looked really rough.

"I'm all right" He said.

I left him, alone to continue my watch from the house. He dragged himself down on his arse to the bottom of the steps and was gone. There's no help.

All life passers this way if you're patient.

Thursday, 20 May 2010

Jobs for actors

I've just left actor David Crowley cleaning carpets at my mother in laws house and it got me thinking about the type of jobs actors do whilst waiting. in the past I've done numerous jobs, debt collector, Polish Immigrant and anal refuge collector.

Somebody somewhere should set up a web site listing actor's other jobs and business's go we can keep our colleagues alive during this recession. like sort of thing, maybe the union, equity could run it or another out of work actor like YOU who needs a job to bide them over.

We're off to Smethwick this afternoon.


What a happy birthday

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Eddie Stobart

How do you pass the time driving the thousands of miles from venue to venue on a theatre tour? You play a great game called Eddie Stobart.   It's very simple every time you see an Eddie Stobart lorry you say 'Eddie, Eddie Stobart' this gives you 10 points.   When you spot a Royal Mail you get 50 points, a Motorbike is 2 and a Plane or Train wins you the game.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

An email this morning

We were in Derby this week performing to an audience of 7.

but, one of the seven sent this....

Dear Mark,

Please could you pass on our very grateful thanks to Nicky, John, Howard and Jill?

We THOROUGHLY enjoyed Knife Edge.

It was a very powerful piece of theatre, up to date theme, clever plot and totally believable characters.

It made me cry.

It really brings it all home - the futility of knife crime, the unimaginable...


We've heard from Ed and David Miliband - what about the other two brothers Steve and Glen?

Tweet Tweet


Wow, aren't you lot lucky? You can now follow HG on Twitter. We're the theatre company that just keeps on giving....
Follow hardgraft_uk on Twitter

Friday, 7 May 2010


Knife Edge by Mark Whiteley

Hard Graft Theatre Company,

The Maltings Theatre,

6 May 2010

Knife Edge by Mark Whiteley is a thought-provoking piece of theatre. Brian Shelton, sensitively played by Howard Chadwick, is “just a normal bloke” whose son was stabbed to death months earlier. He believes he knows who did it, and has challenged him to a “duel to the death”.

The audience is almost literally involved, addressed by the cast as attendees of the community meeting he has organised, and at which Brian hopes to flush out the killer.Whiteley’s play is an interesting study of a family beset by grief, guilt, and in particular anger. Brian rails against the local community (“solidarity and all that”), the press, the police, and the ‘killer’, but is also racked with guilt, and apparently unable to communicate with his wife and daughter.

John Elkington excels as the be-cardiganed, local reporter, whose job is to be impartial, to “sit and watch”. He is reluctantly drawn into the centre of the action – his bloody nose literal as well as metaphorical. Whiteley subtly asks questions about the role of the press – at best campaigning, in this instance on knife crime, but at worst happy to betray principles and become a player in the action in order to get an exclusive.Adam Sunderland’s direction is strong – the play is taut, well-paced, and laced with beautifully judged moments of black comedy. But it is the rawness of his wife Jane’s (Jill Myers) hurt, anger and anxiety, and Brian’s dramatic confrontation with the initially cocky young ‘lieutenant’, Danny, a role in which Nicky Bell is all too believable, that become the central drivers of the play.Fittingly for a play with such dark themes, the dram is bookended by music from the man in black, Johnny Cash. Knife Edge packs a powerful, compelling, angry and emotional punch.

Verdict: King of Herts (4 out of 5)

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

a bit

If music be the food of love play on.

Sorry, we're a theatre company, you need a bit of culture now and again.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Week three Knife Edge

Knife Edge moved east and south this week. First stop Spalding a smallish market town in Lincolnshire. I think it's a very conservative area so I was wondering how we'd do. We sold 60 seats with many young people in the audience and I thought it went down rather well. I always find it hard to be selling 60 minutes to venues that you feel want 2 hours and an interval before they think they've had value for money, I used to think that a show had to at least have an interval to make it worthy, but no more. I think I've sit and watched far too many padded out shows that all would benefit in a cut or two.
After Spalding we left for that there London! Where everyone looks sad, wear weird fashions and for the most part are skint. In London everyone smokes marlboro Lights cigarettes and Camels, In London they pay 20 pence for a penny chew In London there are approx 13 Million people, but we could only manage to entice 21. Which is not very good. I traveled 400 miles, that's 19 miles per person.

Next week we're having a visit from one of our patron.

Hard Graft Theatre Company are performing at Civic Hall Uppermill (box office 0161 624 2829 ) , St. Albans Maltings and Newark Palace Nottinghamshire

Also you may like to hear this Mark Whiteley on BBC Radio Nottingham

until next time

Monday, 26 April 2010

Marathon Man

I don't want to take it away from all those people who ran the London marathon yesterday, but Dan Hoffmann- Gill and I did 26 miles a day for 16 days Coast to Coast and performed our show every night. We also had no money, food or accommodation.

It must be very hard turning up to an organised event with food, water and first aid laid on.

I do know that I could not run 26 miles and nor would I want to.

Friday, 23 April 2010

What's Been Said....

I've found some quotes online about Knife Edge and I thought you might like to read them.

"Howard Chadwick as Brian balances the father and the avenger beautifully;" What's On Stage

What the Audiences have to say

"Plays like these come along rarely and should be given the literary respect they deserve." Lynsey

"This play is like an onion with many layers"

"Certainly makes you consider what you would do if you were a member of the public invited to the duel. In any event, go and see it and make your own minds up" Alan Bennetts Glasses Case

perils of touring

Touring theatre is tough. Last night I got home at 5.30 am after we were stuck behind a lorry fire on the M5. This would be fine if I didn't have a 14month and 5yr old getting up at 6.30.

The play is however growing and gathering momentum. Other theatre's that we aren't touring to this time have started calling me asking about availability. This makes me happy, but it doesn't pay the wages.

And for all you with a sense of humor here comes that story again
here enjoy!

I'm going to do a show one day about my life of crime LOL!

see you soon


Monday, 19 April 2010

Feedback from Lowry

"Well done."
"Great Mark, can you let me know what you're doing next?"
"Brilliant, I wanted to see more..."
"That was great..."
"Here, take this £50,000 in cash and write me something else, anything, I think you're amazing and you're handsome to boot." (I made this one up)
These were just a few comments I received after last night's 'triumph' (Am I allowed to say that about my work?)
It was though, bloody marvelous cast, bloody marvelous direction, I urged you to see it.
Oh, and we'd sold out!
When people stand for your work, I think you know you've done alright.

see you sooner

mark x

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Law is the law

Just had a really curt email from Peter Halls people. I don't want to go into it because of legal reasons, but I'm sorry. I hope that satisfies you.

Technical rehearsal tomorrow. Nicky Bell has a sprained ankle. Never easy is it?

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Sir Peter Hall on the phone

I've just had Sir Peter Hall on the phone asking for comps for Friday night's performance of Knife Edge. cheek of it! he must be on at least £10 an hour, one ticket costs £10 that's one hours work. Of course then I feel bad because he's a Lord and all that.
He's heard about it at a dinner party held by Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne

I hope Sir Peter doesn't go on the internet....

I think though at his age you might even get a concession, I'll send him a telegram.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

On a day like this.

I spent the day collecting props and sitting in rehearsals, watching Adam Sunderland direct John Elkington, Howard Chadwick and Jill Myers and wasn't it exciting? It's a nerve wracking time auditioning for a play. to know that we did a good job is fantastic. this cast is top shelf and I mean up their with Razzle and Hustler.

We also had another fantastic lift today, our great friend Warren Clarke popped in to with us luck. We auditioned Warren for the part of Brian, but we felt he wasn't completely right for it.

We start work in the Lowry tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010


What do get if you cross 4 actors, a director, 2 children under 5 and a dog called Kit?


It is very stressful running the theatre company that is hard graft at the moment. And then to top it all I owe the tax man money that needs to paid ASAP.

On a brighter note the sun is shining and our play is going to knock them dead.

see you next week at the Lowry, Salford.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Top of the world ma, top of the world.

You see, be patient and things will happen.

I am pleased to announce Howard Chadwick will be playing Brian in our new, brand spanking show Knife Edge.

See you in April at the Lowry....

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

As promised, here are names of the cast for Knife Edge thus far. We are still negotiating for the part of Brian so I'll keep you in the loop later this week - hopefully.
John Elkington plays Alan. John is a class act, he's just finished a four month stint at the Nottingham Playhouse and I know we are very lucky to have him. As are we to secure the services of Jill Myers. Jill will play Jane (I tell you characters name forgetting that its never been seen yet and most of you don't know who I'm talking about). In the role of Danny is Nicky Bell a very talented young man with a lot to do. I know from all the theatre's I've spoken to that pre-sales are very good, so pull your finger out and buy a seat, you're going to find it very, very frightening.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Knife Edge

What would you do if your son were murdered and you knew who did it? Like James Bulgar's Mum and Dad or the family of Rhys Jones. I have heard said from scores of people the line "Give me five minutes in a room and I'll sort them out". But let's say the rules changed and you were allowed to be locked in a room with a murderer - what would you really do? What if you challenge them, in front of your community to a duel to the death, an eye for an eye?
Knife Edge by Mark Whiteley opens at the Lowry before touring nationally later this spring.
I hope you find it interesting

Monday, 1 March 2010

Bad News

I've got some bad news I'm afraid. I have just heard the unfortunate news that the Arts Council have cut our funding for Knife Edge, this makes the process of making a fantastic, innovative piece of theatre very difficult, but not impossible. I spent last weekend deep in self pity and bemoaning every one and every thing. This is good for a day or two but doesn't get things done. On Monday I picked myself up, dusted myself down and started what a good (I use that word loosely of course) producer has to do when the sh*t hits the fan - I started hustling.

I have had to cut back, but somehow I have managed to keep hold of my director, Adam Sunderland (nominated for TMA award this year) and so far 50% of my cast (I'll tell you when I've contracted them). This is testament to both Adam and the script. I have managed to make the sums add up, but I really need your help. Because of the shortfall I need bums on seats to survive. Losing our funding will have no bearing on the quality of this performance, it just means we have to be more inventive - but the arts are good at that.

So please, tell your friends, book a ticket and come and support the arts.

Thank you for your support