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Once in a House on Fire Press Release

1st March 2011 by Martin Gibbons

Press information…Press information….

Monkeywood bring bestselling memoir to life…

Monkeywood Theatre developed with The Lowry Studio

Once in a House on Fire

By Sarah McDonald Hughes

Directed by Martin Gibbons

The Lowry, Salford Quays Thu 31 March – Sat 2 April 2011 at 8pm and extra date added in The Quays Theatre, Mon 11 April at 8pm

The Civic, Barnsley Thursday 5 May 2011 at 7.30pm
The Continental,
Preston Friday 6 May 2011 at 8pm

Manchester based Monkeywood Theatre have been earning a reputation for creating and producing ambitious, innovative and accessible high quality theatre since 2003 and their latest work looks set to continue this ambition. Following the huge success of the 2010 tour of Maine Road, their new project is a new play based on the characters, themes and places in the memoir, Once in a House on Fire by Andrea Ashworth, which opens at The Lowry on Thu 31 March 2011.

Developed with The Lowry Studio, supported by Arts Council England and funded through grants for the arts, Once in a House on Fire, by Sarah McDonald Hughes, is a compelling story set across South Manchester during the 1970s and 80s. Focussing on a family of four women living in the shadow of domestic violence and poverty, it is a hopeful, truthful and moving story of sisters, survival, and growing up.

Andy and her sisters haven’t had it easy. They escape through stories, games and dreams of a ‘happy family’. With each new start ending faster than the last, their hopes of ever getting it right are stubbed out along with their mum’s cigarettes. As a life beyond Manchester’s grey sky beckons, Andy knows her escape will come at a cost.

Monkeywood’s Co-Artistic Director Francesca Waite met author Andrea Ashworth in Los Angeles, where she is now based and Editor in Chief of online platform Womens Worldwide Web. Andrea and her family have supported the project from its inception, with Andrea’s sister and niece even attending one of the initial rehearsals. Andrea said, “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 Once in a House on Fire project began in August 2010 when Monkeywood and associate writer Sarah worked collaboratively with actors, a director, a video artist and young people from a local school and sixth form college to produce a first draft of the play. Growing up in Moss Side, Andrea attended Chorlton High School (formerly Oakwood High) and Xaverian Sixth Form College in Rusholme, which Monkeywood’s Sarah and Francesca also attended. Monkeywood ran workshops with both groups of young people and will present the final production to them in April. Of the young people’s involvement Francesca Waite said, “It was great to be able to work with the sixth formers to get their ideas on a story set in their neighbourhood, involving characters of a similar age to them. Although it was strange to return to our college, it was lovely to realise how far we’ve come since those days and share our experiences of making theatre with the drama students.”

Once in a House on Fire will tour nationally throughout 2011 and will appear in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The production will help to support Women’s Worldwide Web, an online platform that empowers women, their families and communities, through microfinance, education, mentoring and social networking. For more information visit

Images: (l-r) Monkeywood Theatre’s Francesca Waite & Sarah McDonald Hughes at Xaverian College © Miriam Ainsworth; Francesca Waite & Author Andrea Ashworth in LA © Helen Cresswell; Monkeywood Theatre Martin Gibbons, Sarah & Francesca with Andrea’s family, Hannah & Sarah Tompkins outside of The Lowry © Miriam Ainsworth

Once in a House on Fire

The Lowry, Salford Quays Thu 31 March, Fri 1, Sat 2 & Mon 11 April 2011 Box Office 0843 208 6000

The Civic, Barnsley Thursday 5 May 2011 at 7.30pm Box Office 01226 327 000
The Continental,
Preston Friday 6 May 2011 at 8pm Box Office 01772 499 425

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@AlisonCarr_ @WomensPlayPrize @painesplough Congratulations 🥳 ❤️

20 Jan 2022

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