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The Last Post

A big thank you to all my loyal lurkers who have followed this blog for the past four years. It’s been a fascinating project, bringing me into contact with many wonderful people and places, but now it is time to say goodbye.


                  May 6 2011 – the first post

Arts Council England have rejected my latest application to Grants for the Arts and so ‘A Ploughed Heart’ won’t be staged in the autumn. This isn’t the first time a script of mine has failed to reach the stage (an occupational hazard) but that doesn’t make it any easier to let this one go. I knew I was taking a huge gamble writing ‘A Ploughed Heart’. I was writing a play I wanted to write (rather than being commissioned to), writing a play for six actors (given the current financial climate), and last but not least writing a play about George Eliot (a brilliant woman who remains resolutely unfashionable). Still, I’m very proud of this play and glad that I wrote it. It is what it is. I can’t control what happens to my plays. I now need to let this one go. I need to stop struggling with the opaque rationale of ACE and write a new play. If you would like to read the final version of ‘A Ploughed Heart’ email me and I’ll send you a copy of the script: All best wishes Vanessa X

the here and now

So, the funding application went in at the start of the month and since then I’ve been trying my very best not to waste my time waiting. As a playwright I’ve spent far too long over the years waiting for things to happen – phone calls, meetings, plays to be acknowledged, read, reported on etc. etc. etc…


Luckily for me I have a short play to be getting on with  (click here for your FREE ticket/s:, a dog to walk and an allotment to help keep me grounded in the here and now.

However, I am always open to suggestions – what helps to keep you distracted from the endless waiting?



No Beyonce

Another week working on the planning and budget has been punctuated by watching the wonderful Birdman, a meeting with BOLDtext about our next two nights at The REP and some very good news (!).  Reminding me once again to be thankful for all the help and generosity of both my peers and friends. Thank you.


Rubis in the snow

When I write I’m often accompanied by music – this week’s soundtrack of choice has been Sarah Jane Morris’ ‘Bloody Rain’ (especially ‘No Beyonce‘ which is on loop in my head when I walk the dog).

plotting and planning


Jhinuk Sarkar

Yesterday I met up with Jhinuk to talk about her wonderful illustrated text and the promotional literature for ‘A Ploughed Heart’ at Griff House (an appropriate place to plot and plan).

It was great to get away from the keyboard for a couple of hours and hear about Jhinuk’s latest travels (Estonia) and exhibition ‘The land that faces away from the sun: changing lives on Baffin Island’

It’s starting to feel real…

Big Eyes


The Flower Seller by Dallas Simpson

The tough economic situation, atmosphere of anxiety regarding any perceived risk-taking and the acknowledged gender bias in new writing means that unsolicited scripts from women writers are unlikely to find a ‘life’ regardless of the quality of the writing (17% of produced plays are by women).

‘A Ploughed Heart’ is effectively unsolicited – I chose to write it – it’s my responsibility to get it to the stage. So, this week I’m working on a budget and notes for a funding bid (when I’d much rather be writing a new play).

On Sunday night I saw Tim Burton’s ‘Big Eyes‘, the story of why Margaret Keane (Amy Adams) allowed her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) to take the credit for her paintings. In the 1950’s the market place for women artists was even tougher – Walter assured Margaret: ‘people don’t buy lady art’.

While I had some sympathy with the views of the art critic (played brilliantly by Terence Stamp) it has always angered me that value is bestowed on artists and their work by such a small elite group of people or ‘gatekeepers’. The public loved work like Margaret’s – my own family did. When I cleared out my mum’s council house several years ago I just couldn’t bring myself to get rid of her favourite print, ‘The Flower Seller’ by Dallas Simpson (my dad won it for her playing prize bingo in Blackpool). Dallas painted from her caravan in West Sussex, earning just £30-£50 for each painting & the reproduction rights – over 5 million prints were sold worldwide.

I’m not quite sure why I keep thinking about Margaret while I write this bid, maybe it’s because Margaret and George both published their work under a man’s name? Maybe it’s because it’s an interesting biopic about a woman artist. Maybe it’s just because it’s such a great film.

The rehearsed readings of ‘A Ploughed Heart’ were so popular with audiences that I’m sure the public will support the play when we stage it later this year – I just hope that the theatre ‘elite’ come along to see what all the fuss is about.


PS A few years ago Wayne Hemingway published ‘Just Above The Mantlepiece: mass-market masterpieces’, which I can highly recommend if you’d like to find out more about mass market artists.

PPS We will be having a competition giveaway for a small number of FREE tickets to see the show so do keep visiting/lurking by the blog to make sure that you don’t miss out.

it certainly feels good to be back…

I’m working on the third and final draft of A Ploughed Heart this week – it feels like an age since I last looked at it but I think the distance is probably a good thing. There’s another project Selfies with BOLDtext  peering over my shoulder so I better get on (rather than write a longer post) but it certainly feels good to be back.

two turned into three (not that i’m complaining)

leaflet 1

Just a quick update for all you loyal lurkers out there who might be wondering why I’ve been so quiet of late. The two shows I had in the pipeline (‘A Diary Without Dates’ Open Door at Birmingham REP & ‘Runaway Boy’ Teatro Youth Theatre) turned into three (not that I’m complaining). So, my future plans for ‘A Ploughed Heart’ are on the back burner until late September after I’ve completed my next commission which is called ‘A New Way of Living’.

For more details about the project, play and exhibition visit

With only 15 tickets per timed 60 min entry (3 per day), if you are interested in attending one of the shows in The Experimental House, register your interest early and book a place today. Call Anna on 07966 507808 or email:

Doors will open to the public on 13th & 14th September.

Show times: 2.30pm, 4.30pm & 7.30pm (13th) & 11.30am, 2.30pm & 4.30pm (14th).

All performances are FREE to attend (donations only).

NB Project participants are invited to VIP preview performances on the 11th & 12th September.

leaflet 2






in the pipeline

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to the post show talk, sent emails and/or talked to me in person after the show – your feedback and comments are really useful. Lots of people have also been asking when will it be staged?

Well, before it is I want to write one more draft but before I can do that I have another two shows in the pipeline which will keep me busy writing/rehearsing up until the summer. The first is part of Open Door at The REP on 7th April – an excerpt of my stage adaptation of ‘A Diary Without Dates’ by Enid Bagnold:

At the outbreak of World War 1 Enid Bagnold immediately joined the Red Cross and went to work as a VAD nurse at the Royal Herbert Hospital in Woolwich. A Diary Without Dates is a record of her time there. On its publication in 1918 Enid was sacked for breach of military discipline, she also experienced her first literary success. This adaptation explores how the book might have been viewed by one of the hospital Sisters it describes and if it would have been possible for her to ever accept Enid’s apology.

The adaptation will be performed by Sonia Ritter who some of you will have met Walking With George in Coventry last summer.

Tickets for this event are FREE (suggested donation of £3). To book your ticket/s now either follow the link above or telephone 0121 245 4455

a bit more feedback

Hi Ness, just wanted to pass on some more feedback – from Matt Cox who’s one of my personal tutors team. I believe he spoke to you? He said that he loved the evening – he thought that was how all drama should be – never mind sets, costumes, just the script engrossed him so much more! A bit of an unusual pt of view – but enthusiastic! V x Viv Wood Vice Chair GEF 26/2/14