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Monkeywood Production History

5th January 2010 by Martin Gibbons

Monkeywood are Martin Gibbons, Sarah McDonald Hughes and Francesca Waite.

Monkeywood were formed in 2003 and have been producing plays in Manchester to great acclaim ever since.

Once in a House on Fire (Sept 2010 – Ongoing) by Monkeywood Theatre & Sarah McDonald Hughes

Monkeywood and their associate writer Sarah McDonald Hughes are currently developing Once in a House on Fire, based on Andrea Ashworth’s book, recipient of the 1999 Somerset Maugham award. The script will undergo a series of rehearsed readings and Script in Hand performances this Autumn, with a national tour planned for Spring & Autumn 2011.

Developed with The Lowry Studio, supported by Arts Council England and funded through grants for the arts, Once in a House on Fire is a compelling story set across South Manchester during the 1970s and 80s. It is an inspiring, vibrant, truthful and moving story of sisters, survival and growing up.

Mancunian Andrea Ashworth is delighted that Monkeywood are working on her story;

“I’m thrilled that Once in a House on Fire is being brought to life on the stage through the fabulous Monkeywood Theatre, and immensely proud that they’re devoting their unique talents and passion to sharing this story.  I can’t wait to see what they do…”

The script has been collaboratively written with young people from Xaverian Sixth Form College in Rusholme and Chorlton High School, which both feature in the original novel.

Last Orders (Jan 2011 & Dec 2009) by Sarah McDonald Hughes

Accepted by the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, to be part of their PUB season. The studio was turned into a functioning traditional English pub in November/December with Monkeywood performing on Thu 3 Dec, alongside ‘pub landlord’ James Quinn, in their favourite positions – at the bar!

In Jan 2011, Last Orders was selected for The Library Theatre’s Re:Play season, presented by The Contact.  The production was performed in a site-specific location at Jabez Clegg. Four performances completely sold out and it received 4 star reviews.

“The warm and funny script roots the play firmly in its Manchester location, providing a window onto an almost-love story that often occurs, but is rarely told.” Whatsonstage.com

“Beautifully written to celebrate and emphasise the Northern voice using easily accessible and recognisable dialect; Last Orders effortless captures the excitement of a night out – that final push in to adulthood and the emotions that can be brought to the surface when seeing an old flame.” Public Reviews

Maine Road (July 2009 – April 2010) by Sarah McDonald Hughes

July 2009: Directed by Martin Gibbons. Receiving 4 star reviews when it premiered at Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival. Whatsonstage.com summed it up with 4 stars as… “a gentle and moving play examining the effect of change upon those things from which we derive our identity and sense of community…. Maine Road avoids nostalgia to deliver a bittersweet, moving tale that is highly recommended.”

Jan 2010: Sarah submitted the Maine Road script to the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award 2009, the most prestigious radio drama prize in the country. It was highly commended in a shortlist of 9, winning Sarah a year’s mentorship at the BBC. Following some redevelopment of the script the play was produced for BBC Radio 4, airing in January.

March – April 2010: The script underwent further redevelopment for a 2010 tour to The Lowry, Whitby Hall, Saltburn Community Theatre and Halifax Square Chapel. The tour was supported by Arts Council England with funding awarded through the Grants for the Arts initiative and Sarah’s rewriting was supported by the Peggy Ramsay Foundation. Maine Road sold out 3 performances at The Lowry 3 months in advance, before adding an extra matinee in the studio followed by an additional evening to première in the 450 seater Quays Theatre.

It was given 4 stars from Public Reviews, “My expectations for this play were high and after seeing Nedum Onuoha sat behind me and City fans turning up wearing scarves my excitement was probably higher… it is unique, sad, nostalgic, warm and occasionally funny, it is also about families and Manchester City which in my eyes makes it one of the finest pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed.”

A Song for the Lovers (2006 – 2008) by Sarah McDonald Hughes

July 2006: Debuted at Manchester’s 24:7 Theatre Festival.

Oct 2008: A redevised and rewritten production directed by Jo Fisher at The Lowry in Salford. Marking Sarah’s playwriting debut, it was given 5 stars by whatsonstage.com, described as “highly charged and engaging…packed with humour and pathos”, making their final list of top productions of 2008.

Coach G (May – June 2005) by Stephen Morris

Directed by Stephen Morris. Performed in Manchester at Taurus Bar, Chorlton Arts Festival and Studio Salford. “Hip… edgy and watchable… compelling and intriguing new play… well-served by a talented young cast.” – Manchester Evening News.

Closer (Oct 2003) by Patrick Marber

Directed by Steven Hobson. Performed in Platt Chapel, a 300 year old church building on Wilmslow Road, Manchester.

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20 Jan 2022

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