Arcola Theatre

PlayWROUGHT New Writing Festival #5

Peter Knowles, Matthew Turner, Alice Malin, Nichola Rivers, Louise Breckon-Richards, Callum McGowan, Tariq Jordan, David Thame, Neasa O'Callaghan, James Harris, Tom Powell, Eva Edo, Angela Walsh and Ross Willis

Directed by: Kay Michael, Yasmeen Arden, Blythe Stewart, Andrew Keates, Alice Fitzgerald, Kalyl Kadri, Lucy Dunkerley, Richard Speir, Jack Gamble, Quentin Beroud, Georgie Staight, Lynette Linton, Elva Makins and Bec Martin-Williams


The word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder. When combined with the word play, this indicates someone who has wrought words, themes, and other elements into a dramatic form, someone who crafts plays.

PlayWROUGHT is Arcola’s week long celebration of new ideas, new voices and new writing. PlayWROUGHT #5 is set to be our biggest Festival yet, with fourteen exciting new plays presented as a series of rehearsed readings. Joined by exciting directors and actors, each play offers a unique insight into a world in flux, and all we need now is you!

Since the first PlayWROUGHT programme in 2014, Arcola has produced or presented five plays from the programme (including Offie Award Winning Clarion by Mark Jagasia in 2015, and most recently Asif Khan’s Offie nominated Combustion in June 2017). Come and see the future of British New Writing, and help play a part in shaping their development.

Full play synopses and writers biographies, click here. Or see the programme at a glance below.

14 writers. 14 plays. 14 new ways to see the world.

Monday 24 July 

6.30pm: ENGLISH SETTLEMENT by Peter Knowles – BOOK NOW

“Being a human being. It’s not a narrative. It’s not a story, is it? We can’t face not knowing what happens next. We can’t face the abyss…”

Whilst working on the restoration of a medieval hall and taking part in a series of market research interviews, tensions develops between ordinary lives and the algorithms of consumerism.

8.30pm: DEAD YARD by Matthew Turner – BOOK NOW

Call off the funeral, Mummy! Chuck him in a skip and be done with him!”

Pop-Pop is dead. Yet his widow is more intent on making war than mourning her late husband. And the children are her target. Battle commences over the traditional nine nights of festivities…

Tuesday 25 July

6.30pm: KILLER LANDSLIDES by Alice Malin – BOOK NOW

Welcome to England, Claire.”

It’s Carol’s 50th birthday. Her 41st, if you ask her. Claire has turned up with a box of Ferrero Rocher. But Carol’s doesn’t like Ferrero Rocher and doesn’t see anything worth celebrating in turning 41.

8.30pm: NO BIRD by Nichola Rivers – BOOK NOW

We’re all capable of great things, Iz. We just don’t do them well without pre warning. Or practice…”

A highly comic, yet deeply meaningful play exploring the idea of freedom, and identity.  Are we ‘where we come from’ or what we make of ourselves?  And do we ever learn the difference?

Wednesday 26 July

6.30pm: FIRE BLIGHT by Louise Breckon-Richards – BOOK NOW

“We’re pretty ugly fuckers, humans. But when times are like this, we have to look out for each other. We have to.”

Forced out of home with a new baby and moved into a cramped, social housing block in North London, Amber struggles to keep her territory safe from her new, invasive neighbours. 

8.30pm: WE BE SLUMBERING by Callum McGowan –  BOOK NOW

“You keep killing god’s creatures; he’ll turn away from you. He did from me.”

Set against the backdrop of the American slaughterhouse, We Be Slumbering examines one community’s tragic disintegration. The conveyer belt of flesh and soul has begun.

Thursday 27 July

6.30pm: ALI AND DAHLIA by Tariq Jordan –  BOOK NOW

“My father used to say, nearly everything in the world is made in China; except courage, this is made in Palestine.”

A harrowing Palestinian-Israeli love story set against the backdrop of the construction of the West Bank wall.

8.30pm: LONDON/BUDAPEST by David Thame –  BOOK NOW

“What a trail we leave behind us…..And we never look back to see who is shoveling it up.”

Rent boys and writers; saunas and spies: two deadly Sunday evenings in a London flat, fifty years apart.

Friday 28 July

6.30pm: THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT by Neasa O’Callaghan –  BOOK NOW

“That’s my world, already. Gates and borders, closed shut.”

Determined and ambitious, Abiola Okonkwo is en route to becoming a solicitor, until she learns she is below the Minimum Pay Requirement, with three months to leave the UK.

8.30pm: THE MAYOR OF HACKNEY by James Harris –  BOOK NOW

“When I entered politics I made two resolutions….”

A searing examination of the nature of electoral politics, which encompasses everything from Niccolò Machiavelli to Boris Johnson in a tutu.   

Saturday 29 July

6.30pm: WHITE LIGHT by Tom Powell –  BOOK NOW

I’mma tell you a secret. Yeah. I am. I’m gonna tell you a secret and you can’t stop me.”

J is 14, seduced by conspiracy theories and on a personal quest for the truth. He is also just a kid who has a shit day at school, sees a Lamborghini outside his house and thinks,  ‘why can’t I have that?’


Families like ours don’t do raising children”

It’s 3am and 15-year-old Alicia has broken her curfew at the children’s home – again. A new play that examines how society looks after its vulnerable children, but does not necessarily care for them.

Sunday 30 July


“Finally you came. You’d no red hair mind, but I didn’t care. I was besotted from the start.”

Lianna is used to dealing with learning difficulties: she’s had them all her life. But now her boyfriend keeps morphing into Dr Who and her mum is trying to walk from Liverpool to Skibbereen.

7pm: WONDER BOY by Ross Willis –  BOOK NOW

“You say these words be power. I say nah. Power is somethin you can use, like actually use, like an Octopus with six machine guns.”

Wonder Boy is a dynamic and tender new play exploring the failings of language and grief. A play about the conversations we will never be able to have.


Supported by the Harold Hyam Wingate Foundation.

PlayWROUGHT is a talent development programme produced by Arcola Creative Engagement.