Tag Archives: Sandra Bendelow

Agent 160 and Joan Littlewood’s Fun Palaces….

October 2014 marks the centenary of the birth of legendary theatre director Joan Littlewood. In celebration of her vision, and in defiance of the austerity climate and cuts in the arts, Stella Duffy and Sarah Jane Rawlings are encouraging pop-up fun palaces across the UK.

Littlewood’s Fun Palace was an unrealised dream of a venue housing culture and science, inviting  participation and engagement.

“Choose what you want to do … dance, talk or be lifted up to where you can see how other people make things work. Sit out over space with a drink and tune in to what’s happening elsewhere in the city. Try starting a riot or beginning a painting – or just lie back and stare at the sky.”

2014’s pop-up Fun Palaces are happening all across the UK, using venues and buildings already in existence, but asking for a new attitude and mentality. You can read more of Stella Duffy’s approach here 

Agent 160 Theatre Company is creating the Fun Palace in Wales, and as one of the patrons of the organisation alongside Sharon Morgan and Timberlake Wertenbaker, I’m honoured to be involved. Agent 160 is a company of women playwrights, initiated to address the massive gender imbalance in professional theatre, where only 17% of all plays produced are by women playwrights. It takes its name from the Restoration playwright and spy, Aphra Behn (1640-1689), whose code name was Agent 160.

Agent 160 is commissioning 16 women playwrights to write short monologues, to be performed by women and directed by women, at The Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff over the weekend of October 4th and 5th 2014.The playwrights are: Sandra Bendelow, Sam Burns, Vittoria Cafolla, Poppy Corbett, Branwen Davies, Abigail Docherty, Clare Duffy, Samantha Ellis, Sarah Grochala, Katie McCullough, Sharon Morgan, Kaite O’Reilly, Lisa Parry, Marged Parry, Lindsay Rodden and Shannon Yee.

On her plans for the Welsh Agent 160 Fun Palace, designer Anna Bliss Scully says:

“I will create a space where members of the public can chance upon a new world; a secret story; a slip in time; a fresh perspective. It might be a car, a shed, a boat, or an area of a building they know well, but within it, the audience will find a new dimension: a space that responds to them, to its surrounding environment, and to the story we tell within it.” 

 Agent 160 have a Kickstarter campaign to ensure this dream project happens, and you can support the initiative or just find out more at: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/agent160/you-can-help-make-agent-160s-fun-palace-in-wales-h

Austerity is not a time for imaginations to become small, or the arts to be crushed. If you can support this initiative – either Agent 160’s Kickstarter campaign or whatever one may be local to you (or create your own!), please do so.


Sandra Bendelow. A One Woman Cultural Wave….

Izzy Rabey: EarCandy. Scriptography Productions

Izzy Rabey: EarCandy. Scriptography Productions

Last April my friend the writer Sandra Bendelow wrote a guest post about setting up a writing group. https://kaiteoreilly.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/setting-up-a-writers-group-guest-blog-by-sandra-bendelow/  Frustrated by the dearth of performance writing opportunities in our neck of the woods (the wilds of West Wales), and tired of waiting for an arts organisation, theatre, or someone ‘official’  to do something about it, she upped tools and started a mini hive of cultural activity herself.

She initiated several writing groups at Aberystwyth arts centre for playwrights and screenwriters, and also established Scriptography Productions, to seek training, development, mentoring, commissioning and production opportunities for writers for performance.Within a terrifyingly short time, Sandra has produced three script-in-hand short rehearsed readings, an evening of short plays, Playpen, two evenings of 20 minute plays and Catrin Fflur Huws’s full length play, To Kill a Machine. The company has also launched a work-in-progress night Crash Test which takes place every three months in Aberystwyth. From a town with no new writing culture, it has suddenly boomed, and all of it is down to the initiative and determination of the fabulous Sandra Bendelow.

The latest project is EarCandy, an audio drama project from a web-platform using social media interfaces. I urge you to listen to the plays at the link below, and to take inspiration from what she and her colleagues have achieved. In these days of austerity, where our libraries are being turned into bijou inner city apartments, and arts funding is ever thinner on the ground, Sandra’s achievements are a sober reminder of what can be achieved, if we but put our mind and muscle and ingenuity to it.

I shall let Scriptography Production’s press release speak for itself, and encourage you to listen to the plays at: http://earcandy.scriptographyproductions.co.uk/

SCRIPTOGRAPHY PRODUCTIONS in association with Aberystwyth Arts Centre



Aberystwyth Art’s Centre’s Writing for Performance Group celebrated its third anniversary with its most challenging project yet, an audio drama project from a web-platform using social media interfaces. The project includes short plays by thirteen writers and includes performances from over 15 performers playing over 50 characters.

In May the EarCandy project was launched at Aberystwyth Arts Centre to a packed bar who were shown the website before listening to two of the plays Duck by Debbie Moon and Lost by Branwen Davies.

Debbie Moon is the creator and writer of Wolfblood which recently won a Royal Television Society award for Best Children’s Drama. Branwen Davies has written for Sherman Cymru, Dirty Protest, Undeb Theatre Company and Sgript Cymru and is currently under commission with Living Pictures Theatr Genedlaethol Cymru.

The twelve plays were rolled out over 6 days with two plays “going live” to the website each day. All plays are available to listen to for free from the website though CD’s featuring all twelve plays are also available for purchase.

The audio dramas also include Constant Hunger of the Troll under the Bridge by Catrin Fflur Huws whose full length play about war-time codebreaker Alan Turing was premiered at Aberystwyth Arts Centre last year and was recently selected to be presented as part of the Picnic Plays readings at Theatre Clwyd’s Celtic Festival. She is currently writing the Castaway Community Theatre summer show.

Other audio dramas in the EarCandy project are Starlings by Sarah Taylor, Cursed by Sandra Bendelow, The Surge by Tracey Goddard and Julie Grady-Thomas, Rules are Rules by Dean Scott, My Mother Told Me by Rachel McAdam, Blood in Brecon by Christopher T Harris, Burn the Rich by Tony Jones, The Planning Stage by Matt Christmas and The Extension by Carmel George.

Fifteen performers played over fifty characters in the play including the Writing for Performance Group company of actors; Tom O’Malley, Sian Taylor, Milly Jackdaw, Julie McNicholls, Norma Izon, Izzy Rabey and Jim Finnis. Performances also include Robert Harper, who was in the BBC Radio Drama Company performing in over 200 radio plays including Against The Grain, Aunt Julia and The Scriptwriter, Einstein In Cromer, People Like Us, The Tree of Liberty, War & Peace, Anna Karenina, and was also a lead character, Matt in BBC Wales radio soap opera Station Road.  

All the plays were directed by Tom Wentworth who is currently working with BBC Radio Drama Wales and post-production sound was created by Audio Shorts. The project also includes several Wales based creative companies, illustrations by Boz Groden who created an illustration for each audio drama, a website especially developed by Greenweeds and filmed interviews by Trebuchet Films, whose short film Legacy has just been selected for the Cardiff Short Film Festival, of each writer talking about their play and sharing tips for writing.

Sandra Bendelow from Scriptography Productions who produced the project and is also involved as the writer of one of the audio dramas said,  “It’s a very different and fantastically ambitious project to get twelve new short audio dramas produced. The plays were all recorded at Aberystwyth Arts Centre and locations around the town including a day spent in a writers bedroom where the bedroom filled in for a fire engine, a hospital room and an underwater cave amongst other things.

The plays are all so amazingly different in style and subject and we’re very proud of this project. The group’s writing showcases have always been really well supported at Aberystwyth Arts Centre but this project is different because it allows the writers to get their work out to a much wider audience. The plays are the web so there is in fact no limit to who can hear their writing. We’ve had a fantastic response to the audio project on-line. People are following the project on-line through Facebook and Twitter and listened each day as the plays went live and now we’re getting more and more people heading to the website to listen in. In fact I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the number of people visiting the site to listen to the plays.

And it doesn’t stop here, we have more things lined up as part of the project including a week of twitter interviews with the writers and also some very special interviews with characters from the plays. We have an interview with the rubber duck from Debbie Moon’s play and also the dog in Branwen Davies play. Also there is a character in Tracey Goddard and Julie Grady-Thomas’s play The Surge who is a quite frightening character who creeps up and down a hospital corridor and never speaks and we’re going to interview her. These are all extra challenges for the writers and a way to expand the project to keep offering more to people who visit the Facebook page and follow the twitter account.

The biggest problem we have at the moment is trying to work out what we’re going to do next. This is going to be a very difficult project to follow!”

You can listen to the plays at the EarCandy website http://earcandy.scriptographyproductions.co.uk/

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International Women’s Day

It’s March 8th, International women’s day, and women of Wales have been invited to blog about those who inspire them. 

Today I am both humbled and brought to the edge of tears by a blog my friend and fellow writer, Sandra Bendelow, posted:


So in reply, who might I name?

There are so many – maybe too many to name or this becomes a self-congratulatory roll call. The presence of many of the women who inspire me to strive to be better than I am are already on this blog.

But perhaps it is important to reflect on women and their achievements in what has felt to me recently as an increasingly misogynistic world. It is a world where a fifteen year old girl can be shot in the head on a school bus for wanting to have an education; it is a world where a female medical student can be raped on a public bus and left to die at the roadside in Delhi; it is a world where a sixteen year old girl can be stabbed fatally on the Birmingham bus taking her to school, twenty four hours ago. Sexual assaults in august institutions and by ‘national treasures’ dominate the press amidst gagging orders and white-washing, whilst casual sexism creeps back into the media and stalks popular culture.

Maybe it’s my skin getting thinner as I age, but I am feeling the cold more – and the gender climate outside is feeling decidedly hostile and chilly.

So before I depress you all, let’s seize the moment to celebrate and give thanks. I salute the campaigners and the whistle blowers, the activists and the doers, ‘the  difficult women’ and ‘the ball breakers’, the scary marys and their redoubtable chums, the viragos and the slatterns, the harpies, hags, and shrews, the biddies and the xanthippes, the jezebels, medusas, gorgons and graeaes, the vixens and the fishwives, the battleaxes and witches, the crones, ogresses, and old bags… keep answering back, keep leaving your mark, never be bowed and long may you continue….