Putting People in Plays

Putting People in Plays with Nick Warburton

This is one of two WRiTEON Member Workshops, included in the 2021 membership fee. The good news is that it now only costs £12 a year to be a member (or £10 a year, if you set up an annual payment). For that, you can attend the March workshop (see here) and this one, at no extra cost, as well as taking advantage of all the other benefits of WRiTEON membership. (See here)

Date: Saturday 4th September 2021

Time: 10.00am – 12.00pm

Location: Zoom (You will be sent a link nearer the time)

Booking: Booking details will be provided to members via email and via our Members Facebook Group.


Please note, numbers are limited and places will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis. If you book and then find you are unable to attend, please let us know straightaway, so that your place can be offered to someone else.

 What to expectPutting People in Plays is an interactive online workshop, with examples and writing exercises. The focus will be on approaching drama through voice (finding a character’s voice; using narrative voices), dialogue (naturalistic and poetic ways of speaking to each other) and character (how to build a character; what not to include; character and plot). Some of the content will also be relevant to other forms of writing.

Nick Warburton has written scripts for stage, television and radio. He has won the BBC/Radio Times Drama Award, the Sandford St Martin Award, the Jerusalem Award and the Tinniswood Award, and has been short-listed for the Audio and Music Award, the Sony Award and the Prix Italia. He created the original drama series On Mardle Fen, which ran for six series. He has written TV scripts for Doctors, Holby City, Born and Bred and EastEnders. Several of his stage plays have been premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough. He has also worked with Pentabus and is a patron of the Cambridge group Bawds. He is the Chair of Radius (The Religious Drama Society of Great Britain) and is an Honorary Fellow of the University of Chichester.

First Stage 2021

First Stage 2021

First Stage is a series of staged rehearsed readings of new short pieces of drama for one to four actors, with an opportunity for audience feedback, to be presented in Spring or Summer 2021 (dates and venue to be confirmed).  We have had to postpone our planned readings, for obvious reasons.  We are now exploring the possibility of First Stage moving to an outside location. Submissions are currently closed.

A big thank you to all who submitted!

WRiTEON’ Zoomologues

WRiTEON Zoomologues

WRiTEON’s response to the lockdown was to create Zoomologues. Between May 2020 and April 2021, 42 monologues and 30 duologues, by 31 writers, were performed by 52 actors, over twelve nights, to an invited audience on live Zoom video calls. There were the inevitable lockdown stories; exploring how friendships, couple and family relationships might be forged, revived or broken, online, during these strange times, but there were also many other stories, ranging from Greek mythological sports commentators to a futuristic AI Priest and a homicidal clown. Our Zoomologues Gallery (Round 3) inspired wide-ranging interpretations of subjects of portrait paintings and Zoom Not Zoom took us out of Zoom into a range of imagined locations, including a dinosaur cave, a windswept heath, a vaccination centre and the after-life. Most of the writers and actors were local to Cambridge but a few joined us from elsewhere, including London, Edinburgh, France, Belgium and The U.S.A. 

Some writers went on to take their Zoomologues pieces to the next level. James Stedman developed his You Know Carol. Ciaran’s Mum (seen in Zoomologues 4, in October 2020), into an eight-part web series, while filmed versions of Barbara Anderson’s Confession (also seen in Zoomologues 4) and Julia Bolden’s A Foray into Romantic Fiction (seen in Zoomologues 5) were accepted in the Short Zoom Theatre Films category of the Manhattan Rep’s Stories Film Festival and viewed online by international audiences, throughout May 2021.

We plan to do further rounds of Zoomologues, even after live theatre makes a proper comeback, so watch out for news of Zoomologues 7, later in the year. 


Zoomologues is co-produced by Richard McNally & Julia Bolden


Comments on Zoomologues 1-6 included: 

‘I think I may prefer zoom to the experience of being in a theatre!’

‘A real treat! I enjoyed it so much. Thanks to all writers and actors – and let’s do it again soon.’

‘Another set of awesome evenings…I do hope you do more, they work really well and I’m loving some of the new voices we’re hearing…And of course the acting is top notch as well’

Check out some highlights from our previous Zoomologues performances below:

The Shadows

The Shadows

Corpus Playroom

7th – 11th December 2021

A strange scent… An eerie sound in the darkness… A hauntingly quiet memory… What did you just see in The Shadows?

Down a narrow alley, through a creaky old door, in a confined space, a truly terrible event awaits those who dare to set foot in the Playroom.
A new twist on tales of old; an uncomfortably intimate, unique horror experience that is not for the faint-hearted.
Are you brave enough to endure three terrifying Cambridge stories which will take your breath away?

The show runs without interval and contains strobe lighting


Created by The Cambridge Ghost Writers

WRiTEON are currently working with 24 writers to collaborate on this latest fully-staged production. The participants have received a full day workshop on the horror genre from an industry professional, a stimulus workshop, and will receive a reading from actors halfway through the writing process. Three scripts will then be selected to feature in this new production to be developed, rehearsed and performed at the Corpus Playroom.


The development process consists of six stages:


  1. The Weekend Workshops

We hosted a weekend that consisted of two days of workshops (delivered over Zoom) that gave our writers all the tools they needed to write the stories for the play.

Saturday 29th May – The Horror Workshop 9.30am – 5.30pm

This was a full-day workshop on writing horror led by Ian Long, a professional writer who teaches for Euroscript:



Sunday 30th May – Stimulus Workshop 2pm – 5pm

Existing Cambridge Ghost Stories

We looked at existing ghost stories from Cambridge, which they may use as inspiration.

Outlining the Process

We outlined the process going forward and the limitations the writers need to take into consideration when writing.

Technical Overview

We gave a presentation about what is possible technically in the Playroom, i.e. in terms of sound, lighting, set, special effects etc.


  1. The First Writing Stage


The writers have a little over a month to write the first draft of their short ghost story. 


  1. The Readings


We will have a private reading of all the scripts to help the writers see what is and isn’t working about their story.


  1. Editing Stage


The writers will then have about one month to polish their script based on what they learned from the readings.


  1. Selection Stage


A small panel of WRiTEON readers will then read all the final scripts that have been submitted and select three to feature in the final performance. Selection will be based both on quality and how the three scripts may compliment each other (i.e. no repetition and a good mixture of ages & genders in the characters).


  1. Rehearsals and Performance


The play will then be cast and rehearsed over two months. Richard McNally (Seven Words for Love, Butterfly Effect, Blood Music) will direct the production.  The production will be fully-staged i.e. lines learnt with full set, props & costumes.


How to Take Part


If you are interested in participating as an actor or behind the scenes then please send an email to:



2020 First Stage

First Stage 2020

First Stage is a series of staged rehearsed readings of new short pieces of drama for one to four actors, with an opportunity for audience feedback, to be presented once the lockdown is over (dates and venue to be confirmed).

Scripts (which must adhere to our formatting requirements and include the submission form below) should be e-mailed to firststage@writeon.org.uk (we cannot accept scripts by post). Scripts must be received by midnight on Sunday 6th September 2020.

First Stage 2020 Guidelines & Submission Form

You must be a paid-up WRiTEON Member to submit. There is no additional submission fee. Membership is £20 for the year. Membership runs from 1st January to 31st December so, if you have not joined/renewed your membership since 1st January 2020, you will need to do so. For details of how to join/renew for 2020, by standing order or credit card, go to: http://www.writeon.org.uk/membership/

Our submission criteria is below:

  • Scripts must be your own original work.
  • Scripts may be for 1, 2, 3 or 4 actors.
  • Scripts should be between 5 and 20 minutes long. It is always useful to carefully time your piece, especially if it looks like it might be close to the maximum, as it is easy to underestimate duration.
  • Ideally, we are looking for DRAMA (serious or comedy) with credible characters, which tells an interesting story, uses the limitations of time, space, number of actors and simplicity of staging to its advantage, will inspire a director, provide satisfying roles for actors and delight an audience.
  • Scripts may be in any style and on any topic you like.
  • Ideally your play should only require a simplistic set, e.g. up to 4 chairs and a table.
  • Sound and Lighting effects, if used, should be kept simple.
  • Writers may submit an extract or the beginning of a longer piece only if it makes sense in isolation and will provide a satisfying experience for an audience.
  • Each writer may submit a maximum of two scripts.
  • We will not be able to stage musicals, due to WRiTEON’s limited expertise in this area.

WRiTEON Stage Festival- Buy Tickets

WRiTEON Stage Festival



Select which play you wish to buy tickets for buy clicking on any of the images below:

Rose’s place was the best home Alan and Kurt ever knew, and years later they return for their foster mother’s funeral. Alan is haunted by scenes from their childhood that he longs to put right. The young never appreciate the consequences of their actions, but whatever happened in the summerhouse, it’s time to face the truth.

2003- UK oil consultant Ryan Ellis is working in the Balkans. Although miles from the civil unrest (following the collapse of the Yugoslav Federation), Ryan is taking no chances. So when his wife Lidia comes out for a short visit, he hires Masluch, a local bodyguard, to look after her.

Shelagh is in her thirties. She has everything she could wish for: healthy body, long-term relationship, job with prospects of promotion … But in order to keep up with the competitive world she lives in, she will have to up her game. Is it worth losing yourself so that you can have it all?

Participation of Kim Komljanec kindly supported by the Slovenian Ministry of Culture and Embassy of Slovenia in London.


 “All brains and no blood…well that’s just no good for anyone.”

Emily and Andy said they were soulmates, but the music of their blood broke them apart. How will a chance reunion impact their lives now they’re “all grown up”? A gently comic exploration of friendship, love, sex and meaning.

John and Claire Cunningham are an average couple: married for years, they’re stuck in a rut, with only experimentation seeming to hold the key to invigoration. Except, those aren’t their real names, and their attempts to inject some much-needed excitement into their lives has led to a crisis of identity from which neither seems able to awaken.  

Three Gargoyles, The First, Second and Third, sit static atop three plinths atop a cathedral.  They spend their nights prattling on about priceless nonsense, until one night ‘The First’ is granted the gift of movement. The Offensive explores the case for freedom of expression and satirically navigates the logical rabbit holes of modern day identity politics

WRiTEON Stage Festival Readings

WRiTEON Stage Festival- Shortlist Readings

In July we will be bringing 6 thrilling new plays to the ADC Theatre venues as part of our WRiTEON Stage Festival. These are just some of the 60 submissions that we received last year. In fact we were so impressed with the other six plays that made the shortlist that we decided that we just had to share them with you! So we will be showcasing these in the form of script-in-hand staged readings at the Larkum Studio on the 10th,11th & 12th April. Each evening will feature a double-bill and costs a mere £3. That’s £3 for two hours of brand new theatre! Click the links below to find out more:

Canopy by Rachel Carnes

Canopy explores the sheltering space that people foster over time, as their mutual annoyance creates a kind of protection. When do the things that drive me crazy about you, become the things I would miss most? What if we were so busy caring for our family, we forgot to care for ourselves? What if we live long enough to discover that life’s promises are still ours to fulfill? What if we’re afraid? Where does love go — When we’re separated? And what remains? Canopy is about love — In whatever form that takes — And the patience love requires.

The Way it Is by Donna Hoke

After eight years, Cane dumps his fiancee Yasmine because he thinks he’s found “the one.” But when he heads back to their apartment to collect his things, Yasmine’s not about to let him go without getting what she wants–starting with an explanation about why he wasted her time for so long, and ending with something Cane never expected. In real time, Cane and Yasmine fight for the lives they think they deserve in a taut two-hander about inertia, truth… and consequences.

Headhog by Tom Jensen

Life is fairly humdrum for Malcolm, until a rather prickly problem raises its head and turns his world upside down. He is forced to take drastic action that results in a truly mind-blowing experience.

Member by Hugo Chiarella

‘Member’ takes place entirely in the bedroom of a couple, Jo and Steve. Jo is a PR manager for a ride sharing startup. Steve is tepidly volunteering for a fledgling foundation that wants to transform the democratic process. Jo wants to work and prosper within the system, Steve has lost faith in the system. 

The play is a philosophical and political exploration about the tension between idealism and action. In a time when the world is increasingly divided by totalizing ideological positions, ‘Member; examines the ways in which these positions affect our interactions on an intimate and interpersonal level as well as a societal and global level.

A Mandarin Remembers by David Hutchison

Sir Andrew Drummond is a former civil servant who has had a distinguished career first in the Foreign Office and then elsewhere in government and public life. He is visited by a researcher who is employed by an up-market version of ‘Desert Island Discs’. She is ostensibly there to check on his choices for the programme but she is not all that she seems, and Sir Andrew finds himself having to confront the human consequences of policies for which he had a major responsibility.

With British troops still fighting – and dying – in the Middle East and Afghanistan, this play explores how politicians and civil servants reach decisions which can have fateful, and sometimes catastrophic, consequences.

The Contract by Trish Rawson

Two young people rescued from homelessness by a kindly, older and childless woman seems to be the perfect ending to cold nights sleeping rough in a doorway.  But Cynthia, their landlady, proves to be a challenge to live with. Who keeps knocking on the door? And why won’t she answer it?  Insistent on changing the ‘contract’ which she thinks binds them together, Joe and Deborah find their lives much more of a challenge than they could possibly have envisaged.  But living with Cynthia has affected their mental health. Will they manage to escape and if so, how?

Click the poster below to visit the main festival page:

Writeon Committee Member has play on in Soho!

Richard Peoples (who is a WRiTEON committee member, prolific writer, workshop leader and project lead) is having a short play of his entitled “Up to the Mark” staged at the Tristan Bates Theatre in Soho, London from 17 to 21 July. It’s one of a set of short pieces under the title ‘Invisible Light’. More info can be found here:


The play was shown as part of one of our First Stage seasons a few years ago. We are very proud to see him succeed and pleased that WRiTEON helped him develop the piece!


WRiTEON Social

WRiTEON Social

Come join us for the next WRiTEON Social upstairs at The Castle Inn on Friday 3rd November at 7pm. There will be drinks, merriment and the best word-based game there is, Articulate!