New musical On Hostile Ground to be released in a series of free online videos as part of Royal & Derngate’s Made in Northampton season

On Hostile Ground

On Hostile Ground is a new musical by Darren Clark (lyrics), Juliet Gilkes Romero (book), Michael Henry (music and orchestrations) and Charlotte Westenra (co-creator and director), inspired by the stories of the people affected by the government’s hostile environment policy. The musical is being released in a series of free videos, starting from Tuesday 16 February.

On Hostile Ground was due to be featured at BEAM 2020, a festival of new musical theatre which was cancelled because of COVID-19. With opportunities for live performance curtailed by the pandemic, the writers developed this work into a series of 14 music videos and straight-to-camera monologues filmed at home by the actors during lockdown. These brand new free to view videos are being released this month as part of Royal & Derngate’s upcoming Made in Northampton 2021 season of original new musical theatre.

The first three videos will be available from 16 February. That evening will also see the first of a series of free online Q+A sessions about the hostile ground policy and creation of the musical. The first is called The Hostile Environment: Impact and Legacy with panellists Amelia Gentleman (journalist and author of The Windrush Betrayal: Exposing the Hostile Environment), Jun Pang (Policy & Campaigns Officer, Liberty), Patrick Vernon OBE (social commentator, cultural historian and Windrush justice campaigner) and chaired by Juliette Foster (journalist and news presenter).

May 2013. Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street. Prime Minister David Cameron summons department heads from within his coalition government and tasks them with finding policies to make life in the UK unbearable for illegal immigrants – a sure fire plan to deliver his election promise of reducing net migration to the tens of thousands.

 On Hostile Ground is a musical about that meeting and the ongoing devastating impact it had on the lives of people who live here legally and call Britain their home. It sets the naturalistic dramatisation of the politicians’ policy discussions against a musical telling of the personal stories of those affected.

 Songs include Waiting Room about Albert Thompson (Ray Fearon, Fleabag, BBC) who was denied free NHS cancer care; Memory a lament by Paulette Wilson (Dawn Hope, Follies, National Theatre) as she waits in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre to be deported to a country she left when she was 10 years old; Actual Conversation about the absurdity of the immigration system (featuring composer Michael Henry and Norman Bowman, 42nd Street, West End); London Boy about twins Darrell and Darren Roberts (both played by Tyrone Huntley, Jesus Christ Superstar, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); who are being deported to different countries they have never visited; Generation Windrush (Arun Blair-Mangat, &Juliet, Shaftesbury Theatre, Nari Blair-Mangat Cyrano de Bergerac, Playhouse Theatre and Rodney Vubya Evita, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre); and Hide and Seek, a playground song (starring Paige Davies and Ashton James Griffiths from Royal & Derngate and Silhouette Youth Theatres) about the government’s attempt to have schools collect data on pupils’ nationality and country of birth.

Monologues include: Where have those years gone? (performed by Jacqui Dubois) looking at the continuing injustices that the Chagos Islanders face; Jean Demars (Jonathan Charles) charts how the Home Office piloted a scheme to detain and remove EU rough sleepers to their country of origin with assistance from homeless charities; and Agnesa Wokcik (Hannah Brown) who was caught in an immigration sting set up by her employer.

For more information about On Hostile Ground or to book free tickets for the online Q&A sessions, visit

The Made in Northampton season is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jewellers.

Royal & Derngate launch new partnership with the National Youth Theatre bringing pioneering youth arts organisation back to Northampton

Royal & Derngate

Royal & Derngate launch new partnership with the National Youth Theatre bringing pioneering youth arts organisation back to Northampton.

  • The organisations will jointly lead an annual summer residency providing vocational learning opportunities for up to 500 young people up to the age of 21 in performing, creative and production roles under Covid-adapted conditions.
  • The partnership will launch in February 2021 with two new co-productions performed by the NYT REP Company on the Royal stage, 75th anniversary production of Animal Farm, adapted by Tatty Hennessy and directed by Ed Stambollouian in collaboration with Kneehigh Theatre Company, and Othello directed by 2020 Olivier Award-winner Miranda Cromwell collaborating with dramatist Dzifa Benson and featuring Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in the title role.
  • The partnership marks a renewed commitment by Royal & Derngate to young people and emerging talent as it emerges from Covid closure.

Royal & Derngate and The National Youth Theatre (NYT) are thrilled to announce a new partnership committed to providing outstanding vocational learning opportunities in theatre for up to 500 young people aged 14 to 21 in Summer 2021.

The partnership firmly positions opportunities for young people and emerging talent at the heart of Royal & Derngate’s future with the programme taking over the whole venue in summer 2021 for five weeks and the venue co-commissioning three productions with NYT. Teaching will take place on all three of their stages – Royal, Derngate and Underground – as well as in the Rehearsal Rooms and other Cultural Quarter venues. Participants will gain valuable insight into a 360-degree overview of a working theatre’s practice with time also spent with the venue’s wider staff.

Taking place in Northampton but open to young adults of all backgrounds from across the UK, the summer residency programme will offer 16 acting courses, with placements being made available for those who have completed NYT’s courses in costume design, to lighting and sound and stage management from September 2021 onwards. The residency includes a vital collaboration with the University of Northampton, with participants living at the University’s new Waterside Campus allowing them to be fully embedded in the town.

This dynamic partnership launches in February 2021 with two new Made in Northampton productions co-produced by the National Youth Theatre and Royal & Derngate and performed by NYT’s REP Company. Tatty Hennessy will adapt George Orwell’s Animal Farm as an allegory for our own times in a production directed by Ed Stambollouian (Olivier Award-winning Pinter at the Pinter) in association with Kneehigh Theatre. Miranda Cromwell (Olivier Award-winning Death of a Salesman) will direct Shakespeare’s Othello, in a new abridgement by multi-disciplinary artist and dramatist Dzifa BensonOthello will feature Francesca Amewudah-Rivers in the title role. The productions will play at Royal & Derngate from Friday 19 February to Saturday 13 March 2021 under Covid-secure conditions with socially-distanced audiences, before touring nationally and streaming online. Meanwhile, local director Andy Routledge will lead the company in developing an original play about a unique period in Northampton’s rich and often surprising history.

The NYT is a leader in industry-based alternatives to formal training, staging productions at major venues in the West End and around the UK each year and delivering free practical courses, including the NYT REP Company and access to higher-education course NYT Playing Up. In 2021 the NYT will also run online courses after the success of summer 2020, part-time intake courses for the first time and London-based courses to offer a range of flexible routes into NYT membership. Despite the challenging climate all arts charities continue to face, course fees for 2021 have been significantly reduced in response to the impact of the global pandemic on young people and bursaries are available for those requiring financial assistance. The NYT REP Company’s productions of Animal Farm and Othello are being supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

Applications to take part in the new summer vocational training with Royal & Derngate are open at and young people can sign up to audition and access a range of online workshops and resources for £2-a-month or £24-a-year through the NYT’s new Hub subscription.

Royal & Derngate Artistic Director James Dacre comments: “Working with the NYT as a freelance director before I joined Royal & Derngate, I experienced the passion, expertise and insight with which they champion every young artist to hone their craft and find their voice. Four years ago, Royal & Derngate and the NYT partnered on a co-production of The Tempest, enabling 30 young local actors to make their professional debut, many of whom have returned to perform on our stages since. That inspiring experience left us determined to partner on widening such training opportunities across all theatrical disciplines and so we are thrilled to be able to announce an annual programme that will enable hundreds of young artists from the widest possible range of backgrounds to train at Royal & Derngate, learning from our teams and placing young people at the heart of all that we do.”

NYT Artistic Director and CEO Paul Roseby OBE comments: “This key partnership is part of our ongoing commitment to create a national programme prioritising opportunities for young people across the UK. We wanted to give more young people the chance to experience theatre on a grand scale outside of London’s West End and being part of this prestigious venue will inspire a new generation to become story tellers, creative leaders and champions of live performances in our local communities. The programme will also offer up a professional creative network, inspirational role models and vital progression routes for our 2021 company at this critical time.”

Royal & Derngate Chief Executive Jo Gordon adds: On the back of such a devastating year for theatre but also young people who’ve had so many opportunities curtailed or removed, I am delighted that as Royal & Derngate begin to emerge from the pandemic and look to reopening, our future is focused on creating new opportunities to enable young people to have a future in theatre and become the creatives who will shape our industry in the years to come.”

Line-up announced for BEAM2020

BEAM 2020

Today, Mercury Musical Developments and Musical Theatre Network, in partnership with Royal & Derngate Northampton, are delighted to announce the line-up for their upcoming BEAM2020 showcase. BEAM2020 is the UK’s leading showcase for new British musical theatre writing and will take place on Thursday 26th March and Friday 27th March 2020 at Royal & Derngate, Northampton.

Alongside presentations of 41 new musicals in development, BEAM will include masterclasses, networking opportunities, panel discussions and an evening, public-facing showcase in association with ALP’s Signal on Thursday 26th March. BEAM2020 is the largest marketplace of its kind – bringing together key industry figures and talent.  BEAM will contribute to three years of developing new musical theatre by a consortium led by Royal & Derngate, funded by an Ambition for Excellence grant from Arts Council England. You can book tickets for BEAM2020 at or by ringing 01604 624811.

The following new British musicals will receive a 25 minute showcase at BEAM2020:

By Urielle Klein-Mekong (Writer / Composer) and Richard Melkonian (Co-Composer / MD)
Black Power Desk is produced by Steph Weller and directed by Miranda Cromwell


By Catherine Forde (Writer) and Michael John McCarthy (Composer), aka. Visible Fictions.
Fat Boy Swim is produced by Laura Penny and directed by Dougie Irvine

By April de Angelis (Book / Lyrics) and Lucy Rivers (Music / Lyrics)

By Darren Clark (Lyricist), Michael Henry (Composer / Lyricist) and Juliet Gilkes Romero (Bookwriter)
On Hostile Ground is directed by Charlie Westenra, with dramaturgy by Charlie Westenra

PERFECT PITCH MUSICALS will also present an array of new British musicals in a 25 minute showcase, produced by Andy Barnes and Wendy Barnes.

By Cordelia O’Driscoll (Composer / Lyricist / Musical Director) and Tom Williams (Book)
You and I is produced by Jack Robertson and directed by Elin Schofield

The following new British musicals will receive a 10 minute showcase at BEAM2020:

By Tom Brennan (Director / Writer), Tom Crosley-Thorne (Composer / Writer) and Jack Drewry (Musical Director / Writer)

By Eleanor Griffiths (Composer / Lyricist)

By Sarah Middleton (Bookwriter / Lyricist) and Josh Sneesby (Composer / Lyricist)

By Ajay Srivastav (Composer / Lyricist) and Sumerah Srivastava (Bookwriter)

By Samir Bhamra (Writer)
Bombay Superstar is directed by Samir Bhamra and produced by Phizzical

By Tim Sutton (Composer / Lyricist) and Roy Williams (Bookwriter / Lyricist)
Bristol Bus Boycott is produced by China Plate, conceived and directed by Christopher Haydon

By Jessica Butcher (Writer) and Anoushka Lucas (Composer / Lyricist)
Canon is directed by Jessica Edwards

By Joseph Atkins (Composer / Lyricist) and Megan Cronin (Writer / Director)
Carnation For A Song is produced by Imogen Brodie and Dan de la Motte

By Patrick Steed (Composer) and Mike Stocks (Bookwriter / Lyricist)

By Rebecca Brewer (Writer / Performer) and Daisy Chute (Writer / Performer)

By Ruth Chan (Story / Composer), Jonathan Man (Story / Dramaturg) and Simon Wu (Book / Lyrics)

By Darren Clark (Composer / Lyricist / MD) and Anne-Marie Piazza (Bookwriter / Actor)

By Oliver Emanuel (Bookwriter / Lyricist) and Gareth Williams (Composer)

By Kate Marlais (Composer) and Alex Young (Writer)

Improvised by the company – a different show every time.

By Zara Nunn (Composer / Lyricist)

By Luke Bateman (Composer), Richy Hughes (Lyricist) and Richard Voyce (Bookwriter)

By Henry Jenkinson (Composer / Lyricist) and Ellen Robertson (Bookwriter / Lyricist)

By Natasha Sutton Williams (Writer / Composer / Performer)
Lesbian Pirates! is produced by Steph Weller, with music performed by Phil Blandford

LOVE THY FRO           
By Stephen Adu-Ontoh  (Writer), Casey Elisha (Writer), Malachi Green (Writer) and Enoch Ronald Nsubuga (Writer)

By Meg McGrady (Writer / Composer) and Zoe Morris (Writer / Lyricist)
The Phase is produced by James Leggat and Katie Wilmore, with musical direction by Jake Pople

By Poppy Burton-Morgan (Writer / Director) and Ben Glasstone (Composer / Lyricist)

By Ben Goddard (Composer / MD) and Peter Rowe (Bookwriter / Lyricist / Director)

By Sam Cochrane (Bookwriter / Lyricist / Co-Director / Producer) and David Fallon (Composer / Lyricist / MD), aka. Gigglemug Theatre

By Nishla Smith (Creator / Composer)
Sister is arranged and musically directed by Tom Harris with visual design by Luca Shaw

By Hannah-Jane Fox (Composer / Lyricist), Andrew Holdsworth (Composer / Lyricist) and Nigel Planer (Bookwriter)
She Devil! is produced by Rina Gill and Gary McQuinn.

By Daniel Foxx (Writer), Tim Gilvin (Composer) and Robyn Grant (Bookwriter / Lyricist), aka. Fat Rascal Theatre

By Neo Vilakazi (Composer / Writer)

By Maimuna Memon (Composer / Lyricist)

By Kate Mulgrew (Bookwriter) and Vikki Stone (Composer / Lyricist / MD)

By Christian Czornyj (Bookwriter / Composer / Lyricist)
Stages is directed by Adam Lenson

By Gwyneth Glyn (Writer) and Twm Morys (Writer / Composer)
Y Tylwyth is directed by Angharad Lee, with dramaturgy from Angharad Lee

By Ellie Coote (Bookwriter) and Jack Godfrey (Composer / Lyricist)
Untitled is produced by Vicky Graham

Jen Green (Bookwriter / Composer / Lyricist) and Caroline Wigmore (Bookwriter / Composer / Lyricist)

By Jim Barne (Composer), Kit Buchan (Bookwriter / Lyricist) and Poppy Burton-Morgan (Bookwriter / Director)


Five Made in Northampton productions transfer to London

Royal & Derngate, Northampton’s acclaimed theatre, is celebrating a run of London transfers, with five productions playing over this season. Three productions move to the West End, whilst Our Lady in Kibeho, directed by Artistic Director James Dacre is being restaged for a six-week season at the Theatre Royal Stratford East and The Lovely Bones tours nationally and internationally, visiting Hackney Empire and Rose Theatre Kingston.

Royal & Derngate’s “Resident Ensemble” company The Wardrobe Ensemble has just enjoyed a run at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 1 with Education, Education, Education. Originally commissioned and created in Northampton, the production won The Stage Award and a Fringe First Award.

The theatre’s much-loved 2018 Christmas show, The Worst Witch, has been touring the UK since January and now heads to theVaudeville Theatre for a summer season running from 24 July to 8 September.

Royal & Derngate’s UK premiere of Katori Hall’s Our Lady of Kibeho transfers to Theatre Royal Stratford East, from 25 September to 2 November, after an acclaimed run in Northampton in February.

Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones premiered at Royal & Derngate last September and will now tour the UK, visiting Rose Theatre Kingston and Hackney Empire alongside nine other dates.

Touching the Void, based on Joe Simpson’s harrowing mountaineering memoir, a co-production with Bristol Old Vic, Royal Lyceum Edinburgh and Fuel, has toured internationally since opening last October. The critically acclaimed production will start its West End run at the Duke of York’s Theatre on 9 November, running till 29 February 2020.

Casting announced for the West End transfer of Tom Morris’ production of Touching the Void

Touching The Void by David Greig, directed by Tom Morris. Bristol Old Vic Theatre. CREDIT Geraint Lewis

Casting has today been announced for Touching The Void. Following critically acclaimed runs at the Bristol Old Vic, Royal & Derngate, Northampton, Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh, Hong Kong Festival and on Tour in the UK Tom Morris’ production of Touching the Void will see original cast members Fiona Hampton, Patrick McNamee and Josh Williams return to the show, joined by Angus Yellowlees. The show will open in the West End at the Duke of York’s Theatre previewing from November 9th for a strictly limited season with an opening night of November 14th.

Fiona Hampton will play Sarah. Her theatre credits include: Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare’s Globe); Tamburlaine (Yellow Earth/Arcola Theatre and UK tour); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (New Wolsey Theatre); Private Lives (Octagon Theatre/New Victoria Theatre); Winter HillThe Glass MenagerieTullOf Mice and MenLighthearted Intercourse (all Octagon Theatre); Don’t Laugh (Cockpit Theatre); Playhouse Creatures(Chichester Festival Theatre); The Changeling (The Production Works/Southwark Playhouse); RoarClockheart Boy (Rose Theatre Kingston); The Merchant of Venice (Derby LIVE). Film includes: The Good NeighbourRevolutionKingsman: Secret ServiceThe WindmillLegacy. Television includes: The Collection (Amazon Prime/BBC Worldwide); Switch (ITV); Holby City (BBC); The Sarah Jane Adventures (DW Productions).

Patrick McNamee will play Richard. His theatre credits include: French Without Tears (Orange Tree Theatre); The History Boys (Selladoor);Sweeney ToddA Few Good MenLove and a BottleThe Way of the WorldThree SistersHamletWomen Beware WomenIona RainFor Services Rendered (all LAMDA). Film includes: The Invisible Hours (VR project). Television includes: Series regular on Our GirlInspector George Gently(BBC).

Josh Williams will play Joe. His theatre includes: If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You (Project Arts Centre); One Night in Miami (Donmar Warehouse); Barbarians (Found 111); New Views: Is There a WIFI in Heaven? (National Theatre); Wendy and Peter Pan(RSC); Love and InformationOur Private Life (Royal Court); Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare’s Globe); Shivered (Southwark Playhouse); Lord of the Flies (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre). Television includes: DoctorsMay DayHolby City (BBC); Agatha Raison (Sky One); Midsomer Murders,Law and Order (ITV).

Angus Yellowlees will play Simon. Angus trained at LAMDA graduating in 2017 where credits whilst training included Bury FairHobson’s Choiceand The Cherry Orchard. Screen credits include The Last Commanders (BBC) and We Have Everywhere To Go (NFTS). Radio work includes The Balloaloes and The Gnats. Angus is originally from the Scottish Borders and is a keen climber. Touching the Void will be his professional stage debut.

Bristol Old Vic’s Tom Morris (War Horse, Swallows & Amazons,) directs the first stage version of Touching the Void, adapted by The Lyceum’s David Greig (The Events, The Suppliant Women, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) from the award-winning memoir by Joe Simpson, which also became a BAFTA-winning film. They are joined by Designer Ti Green, Sound Designer and Composer Jon Nicholls, Lighting DesignerChris Davey, Movement Director Sasha Milavic Davies and with casting by Jill Green CDG. This production marks the 30th anniversary of the publication of Joe Simpson’s best-selling memoir, charting his extraordinary struggle for survival on the perilous Siula Grande mountain in the Peruvian Andes. Alongside this struggle is the appalling dilemma of his climbing partner Simon Yates, perched on an unstable snow-cliff, clinging onto the rope tying him to the severely injured Joe. Unable to recover Joe from the void, Simon is faced with the agonising decision to cut the rope that binds them…


Touching the Void 
Based on the book by Joe Simpson
Adapted by David Greig
Directed by Tom Morris

Performance Dates:

Duke of York’s Theatre
St Martin’s Lane, Charing Cross, London WC2N 4BG
0844 871 7623
Saturday 9th November 2019 – Saturday 29th February 2020
Monday – Saturday 7:30 pm
Wednesday and Saturday 2.30pm
First Saturday matinee 16th November
First Wednesday matinee 20th November

Press Night Thursday 14th November


Tickets from £15
Groups Bookings: 020 7206 1174
Access Bookings: 0844 871 7677

Children’s Theatre Partnership and Royal & Derngate Northampton present UK Tour of HOLES by Louis Sachar

The Children’s Theatre Partnership (CTP) and Royal & Derngate, Northampton  present a UK Tour of the Nottingham Playhouse production of “HOLES”, written by Louis Sachar and directed by Adam Penford.

The production will open at Royal & Derngate, Northampton on 24 January 2020 before embarking on a UK tour. The tour will visit,Nottingham PlayhouseCoventry Belgrade TheatreNewcastle Theatre RoyalTheatre Royal Plymouth, Liverpool PlayhouseHigh Wycombe SwanNorwich Theatre RoyalWolverhampton Grand Theatre and Canterbury Marlowe Theatre. Further dates to be announced.

“HOLES” is an inventive new stage show based on the multi-award-winning novel and blockbuster film of the same name. It is a thrilling off-beat comedy adventure which tells the story of Stanley Yelnats, who is born into a family cursed with bad luck and finds himself accused of a crime he didn’t commit.

Sent to a labour camp as punishment, he is tasked with digging one hole, five-foot wide by five-foot deep, every day. He is told it is to build ‘character’. But the tyrannical Warden is definitely hiding something. How will Stanley and his fellow inmates deal with her demands, her two cronies, plus the fearsome rattlesnakes and yellow-spotted lizards? And will Stanley and his new friends unearth what’s really going on?

“HOLES”, written by Louis Sachar won the 1998 U.S. National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and the 1999 Newbery Medal for the year’s most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Louis also wrote the screenplay for the 2003 film adaptation.

This production will be directed by Adam Penford who has been the Artistic Director at Nottingham Playhouse since 2016. Adam’s directing credits include “The Madness of George III” at the Nottingham Playhouse, “Boys in the Band” at the Vaudeville Theatre and “Committee” at the Donmar Warehouse.

“HOLES” is the first production from CTP since the partnership announced three years of support from Arts Council England. CTP aims to produce new and exciting productions, created for a young and diverse audience. Previous CTP productions include the Olivier award winning “Goodnight Mr Tom”, “Swallows and Amazons”, “The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas”, Michael Morpurgo’s “Running Wild” and a new adaptation of “The Jungle Book”.

Tour listings 2020:

24 January – 2 February

Northampton, Royal & Derngate


5 – 8 February

Nottingham Playhouse

18 – 22 February

Coventry Belgrade Theatre

26 – 29 February

Newcastle Theatre Royal


17 – 21 March

Theatre Royal Plymouth


24 – 28 March

Liverpool Playhouse

31 March – 4 April

High Wycombe Swan


14 – 18 April

Norwich Theatre Royal


19 – 23 May

Wolverhampton Grand Theatre

27 – 30 May

Canterbury, Marlowe Theatre

Royal & Derngate and New Wolsey Theatre announce new musical The Season

The Season

Royal & Derngate, Northampton, and New Wolsey Theatre, Ipswich, have just announced their co-production of a new musical, The Season, by 2018 Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award winners, Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, playing in Northampton and Ipswich in November.

It’s Christmas Eve and Dougal has travelled from Northampton to New York for his father’s wedding. At JFK Airport he’s greeted by Robyn. Tomorrow her sister becomes his stepmother and Robyn’s dreading it. Dougal can’t wait.

Thrown together for a wild weekend in the city that never sleeps, their adventure becomes a musical whirlwind of confession, frustration and excess. Will these two endearing misfits provide the ultimate test for the theory that opposites always attract?

This brand new romantic comedy, filled with heart-warming and hilarious songs from exciting young writers Jim Barne and Kit Buchan, is the recipient of the 2018 MTI Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award, celebrating the very best of emerging British song-writing talent.

Jim Barne and Kit Buchan said: “We are proud and happy that The Season, the first full-length Buchan Barne musical, will be having its debut run at Royal & Derngate and New Wolsey theatres this autumn. Both theatres have been incredibly supportive and enthusiastic throughout the development process. We’ve spent the last six months workshopping The Season with Royal & Derngate and New Wolsey Ipswich, under the wing of the Stiles + Drewe mentorship programme, and we can’t wait to see Dougal and Robyn up on such well respected stages this November.”

George Stiles and Anthony Drewe added: “We are both delighted that The Season, which was the winning musical in the 3rd year of our Stiles + Drewe Mentorship Award, has been selected for a full scale production in Northampton and Ipswich later this year. Over the past 9 months we have thoroughly enjoyed working with Kit and Jim on honing their story, and it is particularly gratifying when our belief in both the writers and their musical is endorsed by two of our great regional theatres.”

James Dacre, Artistic Director of Royal & Derngate commented: “Since first seeing Kit and Jim’s work at BEAM 2018, it has been thrilling to collaborate with New Wolsey to develop these remarkable artists’ first full scale musical, which has so benefited from the mentorship of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe.”

The cast and creative team will be announced later in the year.

The Season is a co-production in association with Glass Half Full Productions and Tim Johanson Productions, and is part of Royal & Derngate’s Made in Northampton season, which is sponsored locally by Michael Jones Jeweller.



Royal & Derngate, Guildhall Road, Northampton NN1 1DP
Dates: Fri 1 & Sat 2 November
Tue 19 to Sat 30 November
Times: Evenings 7.45pm (except Wed 20 November 7pm)
Matinees – Thu and Sat 2.30pm (excl. Sat 2 November)
No performances on Sundays and Mondays
Box Office:  01604 624811 or online at

New Wolsey Theatre, Civic Drive, Ipswich IP1 2AS
Dates: Thu 5 – Sat 16 November
Times: Evenings 7.45pm (except Tue 7pm)
Matinees – Sat 9, Wed 13 & Sat 16 November 2.30pm
Box Office:  01473 295900 or online at



Director Abigail Graham on Death of A Salesman, Molly Sweeney, Love Actually, Mike Leigh and more

Abigail Graham is a freelance theatre director and artistic director of OpenWorks Theatre. Her work includes Black Sheep, DEBRIS and Molly Sweeney.

Abigail is currently right in the middle of rehearsals for Death of a Salesman at the Royal & Derngate. The production runs in Northampton from 8 to 29 April 2017, before touring to Cambridge, Bath, Malvern, Exeter, Canterbury, Portsmouth, Edinburgh and Truro. Graham’s production is the first independent tour from the Royal & Derngate. No pressure.


Abigail with Mike Leigh

Hi ya! Royal and Derngate is quite a good theatre isn’t it?
Yes. The team are wonderful, a really  creative, supportive atmosphere.


What was the last new play you saw and left thinking – ‘bloody hell!’?
Castorf’s version of The Brothers Karamasow at the Volksbuehne in Berlin. It was epic.

Why should we come along to see your Death of A Salesman?
Firstly, it’s an extraordinary play, and we’ve got a brilliant team of actors and creatives; all of whom are working to open this classic up to a new generation of theatre goers.
It’s also a mind bending, time bending play – like being sucked into a whirlpool; Miller takes us into Willy Loman’s head and that opens up exciting staging possibilities as you leave objective reality and enter a more subjective world.  The creative team and I have enjoyed meeting that challenge and we hope the audience will enjoy coming on that journey with us – being sucked into the whirlpool too if you like. The cast are incredible – at the end of week two I’m pleased to say they’re all being really brave. So all being well, audiences will be in for a really good night out.
Crucially, Miller wrote it to ‘put a timebomb under the bullshit of American capitalism’…and considering the current political climate, it feels like a good time to be having that conversation.

Molly Sweeney was a quite successful wasn’t it. Do you have fond memories of that time?
Yes – having Brian Friel as a pen pal was really humbling. I miss him.

Death of A Salesman

Your production is the first independent tour from the Royal & Derngate. Nervous?
Not really, I’m looking forward to the play meeting audiences from all over the country. With a play as political as this one, I reckon it will be really interesting to see how people from opposite ends of the UK respond to it.

What’s your No 1 piece of Directing advice?
Keep learning.

Death of a Salesman is a classic text full of broken and misplaced dreams. Is it a metaphor for life?
I hope not.

Are you looking forward to Love Actually for Comic Relief?
(Let’s hope the hot French guy is in it thought.) Will Emma Thompson be re-enacting my favourite bit? You know the bit I mean….

Does Tim Piggot Smith have any dressing room demands?
I.e cayenne pepper, and rose-scented candles, rooms must maintain a constant temperature of 68 to 75 degrees etc etc. Not as far as I’m aware….

Can you tell us a bit about OpenWorks Theatre company?
Sure – I set up OpenWorks in 2013 as I believe you can only change who goes to the theatre if you change who makes it. On a very basic level, we are working to create a holistic relationship between art, outreach and audience development. It started out with each member of the creative team having a paid mentee who was in rehearsals afternoon a week, they then act as ambassadors for the show amongst their peers; giving word of mouth only discount codes to members of their community who haven’t been to their local theatre independently before.
It’s now evolved; our current commission, a new play by Caroline Bird, was inspired by a Looked After Young Person who was a trainee on our last production. I can’t say too much, but we were chatting about zombies and it all came from there. Following an exploratory week with him and his peers, Caroline has gone away to write the play, and we hope to return to the group and workshop it with them and some actors, and then when we go into production to keep them as trainees who will act as ambassadors for the work.

Mike Leigh is your hero, isn’t he?
I love his work. I saw All or Nothing in the cinema when I was at university; I had never seen acting like it. I guess he’s one of my heroes because he just keeps doing his thing his way, making the work he wants to make the way he wants to make it. He came to see Molly Sweeney at The Print Room. We ended up chatting for about an hour after the show.

Is there anything you’d like to add, Abigail?
Nope. Have a lovely week.

Death of a Salesman will run at the Royal & Derngate from 8 to 29 April 2017.