Saturday, 1 April 2017

It's really happening! Play with a Poem performance dates.

Play with a Poem
Theatre by the Lake
Friday April 7th, 7.30 pm

When you write plays you have to "play with" ideas, dramatic events, feelings, humour, character clashes, ways of staging, size of cast, and so on. North Cumbria Scriptwriters (NCS) decided last year that they would also like to "play with" poems! So they set up a competition for thirty-minute plays inspired by a poem of the writer's choice (see earlier postings).

The result is three thirty-minute plays by local writers, winners of the competition (see previous posts), that will be performed first in the Studio at Theatre by the Lake on Friday April 7th. It will be an evening of thought provoking, emotional, and humorous entertainment.

It has come about through unprecedented cooperation between local theatre groups Keswick Players, Penrith Players, Wigton Theatre Club, and Workington Playgoers. The competition judge was Ian Forrest, then Artistic Director of Theatre by the Lake, and there has been unwavering support and enthusiasm from Theatre by the Lake and its staff.

NCS are delighted to be the instigators of this unique project where 3 readers chose from 18 entries, 1 judge chose the 3 winning plays, 3 directors and 13 actors from 4 theatre groups rehearsed in 3 theatres to bring together this (and future) performances.

So far, two other performances are scheduled:
- at Penrith Playhouse on April 8th at 7.30 pm
- at John Peel Theatre in Wigton on April 20th at 7.30 pm

Tickets are available from:

Monday, 26 September 2016


Our distinguished judge Ian Forrest
Thanks to Ian and the reading team from North Cumbria Scriptwriters, we have our three winning plays:
  • Johanna Alberti- Jerusalem
  • Robin Acland- She Can't Not Be Doing Something
  • Kevan France-All Quiet On The Family Front
Thank you to everyone who took part- we had a great variety of interesting and challenging plays, and the task of the readers and judge was a fascinating, rewarding and difficult one!

The next task is to form a production company for each play. We have groups of actors and directors from Workington, Penrith and Wigton who will be meeting up to discuss who directs which play. The programme of three plays will be presented in the Studio at Theatre by the Lake on Friday, 7th April 2017 at 7.30 pm.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Are you thinking of entering?

To help us in our planning, we would love to have some indication of the likely numbers of entries. If you are thinking of entering, can you please let Carol know by email, phone or post?     01228 547043
Carol Donockley,
30, Knowe Park Avenue,
CA3 9EJ.

NB - this is in no way binding! In other words, you may decide to enter at the last minute, or you may find (having intended to enter) that your muse fails you - we've all been there.

We were hoping to provide a template of a suggested format that you could feed your script into. Unfortunately, we find we do not have the technology to do so on this blog. But if you would like a sample of an accepted format, please email and Connie Jensen will send you a relevant sample. You can then delete Connie's content and paste in your own.
If this last is not possible, please at least make sure that your entry is typed (i.e. not hand written), with speech and stage directions clearly distinguished, as explained in the instructions in the 'Format of Scripts' paragraph below.

Sunday, 1 May 2016


North Cumbria Scriptwriters (NCS) invites writers resident in Cumbria to take part in a competition for a play based around a poem. The three winning plays will be staged in the studio at Theatre by the Lake in April 2017 by local actors with local directors.

Information for Entrants
The play
1. Your play should be 30-35 minutes in length and must not have been previously performed.
2. It must be suitable for acting by a maximum cast of six, in traverse setting, with minimal/economical set and costume implications and with straightforward lighting and sound effects.
3. The poem around which the play is based must feature on its own as part of the envisaged performance: at the beginning or end of the piece, as preferred, or divided between the two; lasting not more than five minutes in all, with this timing to be included within the 30-35 minute overall requirement. 

The poem
1. The poem can be part of a longer piece if you wish; likewise it can be two or more shorter pieces.
2. It must not be the playwright’s own work.
3. Use of the poem in performance in this project must not involve NCS in any copyright or permissions issues, whether costs or negotiations. 

Format of scripts
1. Scripts must be typed on white paper in Arial font, size 12, double-spaced, with speaker names ranged left (not above speeches centrally) and with voice- and stage-directions clearly distinguished (e.g. italic).
2. Printing must be single-sided with pages clearly numbered, but without any running headers or footers.
3. Include the poem, with title and author given, and placed before or after (or part and part) as you intend for performance.
4. Scripts must not carry any identification of the writer.

1. The deadline for submissions is 31st August 2016.
2. Writers should submit one play only.
3. Three printed hard copies of your script are to be submitted.
4. On a separate A4 sheet, please provide your name, the title of your play, your Cumbrian residential address and other contact details, together with a signed and dated undertaking:
“Except for the poem, this play is my own original piece and I recognise that NCS has no responsibility for any copyright or permissions implications financial or otherwise in regard to the poem or to any quotations and/or music featured”.
5. Acknowledgement of receipt will be made only if a stamped addressed envelope or card is included.
6. Please send the three copies, the separate sheet and, if included, the stamped addressed envelope or card, to:
Carol Donockley,
30, Knowe Park Avenue,
CA3 9EJ.

Judging and selection of plays
1. Submitted scripts will initially be read by three members of NCS, none of whom has written a piece for the competition. They will select five plays to go forward to Ian Forrest, the Artistic Director of Theatre by the Lake who will have been totally independent of all previous proceedings. He will decide on the three plays for performance.
2. The three successful writers will then be contacted at once, with their names and the titles of their plays being posted also on this NCS website. The anticipated timing for this is late October 2016.
3. If any of the three successful scripts is subsequently withdrawn by the writer, the three NCS members will select one of the remaining plays on the shortlist for performance instead.
4. Decisions in all cases are final. No opportunity for discussion or correspondence will be offered.

Subsequent arrangements
1. NCS undertakes to work with local actors, directors and others to ensure their commitment to the one performance at Theatre by the Lake in April 2017. If at all practicable, repeat performances elsewhere in the county will be arranged. Involvement of the writers of the successful plays at all or any stages will be welcome.
2. The directors of the winning plays will reserve the right, in consultation with the playwrights, to amend the script where they feel it is necessary for the successful performance of the play. The director's decision will be final.


Friday, 4 December 2015

North Cumbria Scriptwriters' projects before 2011

Dream Department Trainee, by Martin Chambers
Top of the Tree, Bottom of the Garden, by Rick Thomas
Winter Escape, by Rachael Howard
Wordsworth Hearing, Connie Jensen
Howgill, by Jen Mattinson


Ten Plays for Ten Years
To mark our 10th Anniversary, we cooperated with BBC Radio Cumbria to broadcast five, five-minute radio plays written by our members plus one which was to be the winner of a public competition, judged by Radio Cumbria.
We were surprised at the number of entries and delighted with the quality of the writing, but of course there could be only one winner.
This was Mr Robert Armitage from Ambleside, with his piece, 'Cultivating Cumbria'.
We recorded this piece with the help of our friends at Radio Cumbria, for inclusion on a CD of our work. Some of the pieces were selected for broadcast on Radio Cumbria during one winter week.
Due to its success, this became an annual event until 2014. Our thanks to Radio Cumbria and to Rick Thomas for hosting the recordings.

2009 BBC 5-minute radio plays:
Crowned Heads, by Martin Chambers
Eros and the Handbag, by Julia Newsome
Fifth Dimension, by Jenny Yates
The Last Pub in England, by Rick Thomas
Supply Teacher, by Carol Donockley


Write Angles
With Arts Council and Allerdale Council funding, Write Angles 2008 started as workshops with professional directors and writers, and a public competition. These led to script-in-hand performances of works in progress by our members and the competition winner. These were directed by Daniel Bye of the Silvertongue Theatre in York and our own Ian Hinde.
The scripts were read/acted by local amateur actors. The audience, actors and directors were invited to discuss each piece with a view to ways to develop it further. A format emerged and the second and third performances were arranged to include four pieces about 15 minutes long, each immediately followed by discussion. This resulted in many useful ideas and was enjoyed by all who took part.
In April and June, the performances were at Theatre by the Lake in the Studio. In November it was at the Penrith Playhouse.

A script-writing workshop at Bowness on Solway Literary Festival, on ways to extend a script, was also a success.

A Blessed Release
This play by Martin Chambers, was performed by the Black Sheep Theatre Group as part of the Cumbria Darma Festival 2008, on 15 March in Grange over Sands.


Mighty Oak
NCS member Martin Chambers was commissioned by the Nation Trust to write a play about Hardewicke Drummond Rawnsley, one of the founders of the Nation Trust. It was performed in the open air by the Keswick Theatre Club as part of the celebrations to mark the 100th anniversary of the acquisition by the Trust of Brandlehowe Park.

Acting Workshop
Led by Stefan Escreet and held in the Studio at Theatre by the Lake, the aim was to help writers to write for performance.

North Cumbria Scriptwriters' projects 2012

Two exciting opportunities came our way in  2012:

North Cumbria Scriptwriters and Penrith Players have worked together successfully on several occasions and we were thrilled to be invited to take part in 'Penrith Players' Monologue Festival'.
The plays, entitled 'One Voice', were produced at Penrith Players' Theatre at the end of August and the festival was a great success.
Visit Penrith Players at:

In 2012, the market town of Wigton celebrated the 750th anniversary of the granting of its Market Charter.
Six of our members worked together on a script covering the major events in Wigton since 1262. This was our first attempt at team writing so we had lots to learn. The project proved worthwhile and we were delighted to have the play, entitled 'The Throstle's Nest', performed by Wigton Theatre Group at the John Peel Theatre, Wigton, in June.
Visit John Peel Theatre Group at:

As this was the first time we had worked together on a play and because we found it so rewarding, Connie thought it would be interesting to share the experience with others. Follow the link to see what she had to say:

BBC Radio Cumbria 5-minute radio plays 2012


BBC Radio Cumbria 5-minute radio plays 2013

Send me a Postcard, by Martin Chambers
Interpub Polevaulting Competition, by Rachael Howard
Increase to 40, by Stephanie Robinson
?Adam, by Charlotte Coulthard
The Old Place, by Robin Acland

BBC Radio Cumbria 5-minute radio plays 2014 (only four this time)

20 Million Eggs, by Robin Acland
Mam, by Anne Ginty
The Memorial, by Kevan France
Yellow for the Sunshine, by Stephanie Robinson

On 17th January 2014 Rick’s play ‘Death and Glory’ was performed, script in hand, by members of the cast of the Theatre by the Lake’s Christmas production of ‘Swallows and Amazons’.  

It was followed by a post reading discussion and questions from the audience.

‘Death and Glory’  tells the story of Arthur Ransome and was very well received.

Congratulations Rick!

Sophia Atcha

Following on from her success in the 24:7 Theatre Festival, Sophia was approached to write a play in three days for the Manchester Library Theatre Company, New Script Night 2013.

Sophia accepted the challenge and wrote ‘The Calling’  which was selected for reading.

‘The Calling’ was produced by Danny Stewart.
Directed by Martha Salmon and the actor was Feroza Shah.
Congratulations Sophia
We look forward to hearing more about

‘The Calling’ soon

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Welcome to North Cumbria Scriptwriters!

[This is our new on line presence. The original webpage at will disappear from the end of December 2015.]

We are a group of writers with a serious commitment to writing for performance on stage, screen and radio.

We are associated with the Theatre By The Lake (TBTL) in Keswick, Cumbria, UK.

Our members pay a small annual subscription and we meet on the last Thursday of the month (except December) usually at the Theatre by the Lake, but occasionally at other venues, for instance The Penrith Players Theatre.