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Plays announced for Rapid Write Response: Occupied

April 10th, 2014

We are excited to announce that we have chosen the plays to be showcased in our Rapid Write Response show, taking place on Sunday 20th April at 8pm and Monday 21st April at 7:45pm.

Writers were invited to create a short play in response to Carla Grauls’ Occupied, taking inspiration from any aspect of the show they like. The nights have become an exciting and much-loved part of the theatre’s programme.

The plays are:

‘Trafalgar Dreams’ by Sevan K Greene
Directed by Carla Kingham

‘I Found her in a Bath of Blood’ by Roz Wylie
Directed by Micha Colombo

‘Porcelain’ by Felix O’Brien
Directed by Tommo Fowler

‘Sticks n Stones’ by Sherhan Lingham
Directed by Saul Reid

‘Welcome to the United Great British Republic’ by Nick Cheesman
Directed by Dom Riley

‘What I do’ by Daniel Davies
Directed by Lucy Appleby

‘In the Can’ by John Webber and Sarah Beckett
Directed by Kate Morrison-Wynne

ObamAmerica’s Obamablog!

April 7th, 2014

In June, Theatre503, in partnership with Over Here Theatre Company and Robert F Bradish, will showcase new American writing in the form of ‘ObamAmerica’, a festival of fifteen minute plays about life under the Obama administration. In the two month countdown of the festival, Artistic Director of ‘Over Here’, Lydia Parker, has been blogging about the process. Have a read here!


South West Londoner Article

April 3rd, 2014

Theatre 503: A hidden corner of South West London

By Joe Short

Published in the South West Londoner on Thursday 3rd April.

The Latchmere pub on Battersea Park Road is currently undergoing a £2m redevelopment. Their bar and dining area is receiving a full make over while builders transform a former derelict back yard into a new summer beer garden.

With all the hustle and bustle taking place on the ground, it’s easy to forget upstairs in a quiet, secluded corner of Battersea, theatre staff are working feverishly ahead of a new production.

I caught up with Carla Grauls, writer of Occupied, and literary manager for Theatre 503 Steve Harper, for a coffee on a blustery Friday morning.

It’s been a three-year labour of love for Carla and Steve to get Occupied, thematically centred around immigration and Englishness from the viewpoint of two Romanians in a London public toilet, ready for the theatre’s 60-seater auditorium.

Yet Steve, whose job it is to sift through the hundreds of script drafts sent in each year, insists Occupied’s issues remain contemporary.

“Immediately I was intrigued,” he said. “Ultimately the play manages to do something different to what I was expecting. So rather than being about immigration and bringing a heavy drudge on the play, it has its fun and it’s representing all sides of these characters and these people.

“If it was just another play about immigration then it wouldn’t have grabbed me so much but it has a very fresh approach. How Carla did that I don’t know. It’s a magic there that is just unquantifiable really.”

Carla benefitted from Theatre 503’s somewhat unique style of sourcing new, innovative material. Amateur writers and actors are invited to send in scripts to Steve and his team. If the scripts pass rigorous reading stages, writers and directors are paired, offered workspace and introduced to Labfest, a three-night mini production in front of paying audiences.

She was paired with Anna Mors, director of Dead Dog at Dry Cleaners and Holloway Road, and after their week of practice to hone ideas Occupied went before Labfest, possibly the greatest indicator of a show’s potential without blowing a fortune on sets and design.

“We road tested plays that we really hoped would go to full production,” said Steve.

“Teams would put together essentially an eight-minute production of the play. In the case of Carla’s, it was almost a full production of Occupied!

“It went incredibly well, got really great audience feedback and since then it’s been about putting together the money and the funding in order for the full-length production to happen.”

The theatre maintains its open hand to new writers and also offers debut productions the somewhat daunting prospect of a Rapid Writer Response night. Here, current writers and dramatists are invited to a production and then present a counter performance, analysing, critiquing and praising what they’ve seen.

It is initiatives such as these that give Theatre 503 its reputation. So successful have they become that the company is currently running the Theatre503 Playwriting Award, an open-field contest for amateurs and budding writers looking to launch their careers in the arts.

It offers a £6,000 reward and assurance of a full production and its popularity has meant pushing the deadline back to April 7 after Steve and his team received over 1,000 applications.

“Our new model is that we are developing work with the writers, matching writers with directors, teams and companies, and then supporting the development of that work through our involvement dramaturgically. We provide space in the theatre, marketing and producing expertise,” he said.

“And then when it comes to the funding of applications, no matter where they’re going, we’ve built up quite a body of work already on a project and that really helps. So I’m hoping that this in a way is a really successful model of a way of moving forward with other projects.”

It seems rather amateur on the surface to source new material from scratch and have fellow writers do the critiquing, but in fact Theatre 503 has one of the most organised set-ups in London.

The nation’s smallest venue to win an Olivier Award, Theatre 503 benefits from a dedicated backroom team led by artistic director Paul Robinson. They have connections to theatre people across the country and that is one of the reasons Carla, originally from South Africa, approached the company with her work.

“Strangely enough I was attracted by new writing here, so it was a kind of move as well to this vibrant place of new writing. This is a place where you can meet other people and collaborate,” she said.

After spending a year as a journalist volunteer in Romania in 2007, Carla moved to the UK and noticed Britons’ common perception of Romanians is far from the truth. She approached Steve with Occupied in a hope of upturning the bad headlines splashed across most newspapers.

“I got the opportunity to learn about Romania’s history, the culture and speak to a lot of people. It was really interesting getting to know about what was the communist era, the 1989 revolution, then what happened after that and the sense of all those hopes after the revolution not coming to the fore. And also how people saw the UK as a bit of a land of opportunity.

“It was really positive. There was no idea of ‘oh, we want to go to the UK for benefits.’ Then coming back here, that was 2007, I was really struck by all the negative portrayals of Romanians ‘coming over and taking things’ and it was just such a contrast.

“I had actually read an article in a newspaper about this guy going to a public pay toilet on the street and he found two Eastern Europeans sleeping in there in sleeping bags.

“Everything came together then. Strangely enough there are reviews online where people have said if public toilets are good places to stay overnight. So it’s quite a strange thing that does exist.”

Two Romanians in a toilet sums up Occupied, which launches this week and runs to 26 April. The struggle to understand what it means to be English was something Carla confronted herself and it is only through innovations like Theatre 503’s welcoming ethos that plays of this nature make the stage.

Occupied promises to be as much a hit as previous performances on the Theatre 503 boards and of course there is always something next in the pipeline.

“After this we’re running Billy Roche’s A Handful of Stars,’ Steve said. ‘That’s going to be one heck of an eye opener! The plays just keep on coming.”

View the original article here.

Cast Announcement for ‘A Handful of Stars’

April 2nd, 2014

We are delighted to announce the full cast for our upcoming production of Billy Roche’s ‘A Handful of Stars’. As part of our second look season the play will run from April 30th – May 24th.

Meet our cast:









Keith Duffy as Stapler

Brian Fenton as Tony

Colm Gormley as Conway

Maureen O’Connell as Linda

Michael O’Connor as Swann

Michael O’Hagan as Paddy

Ciaran Owens as Jimmy


Keith Duffy to star in ‘A Handful of Stars’

March 12th, 2014



30 APRIL – 24 MAY 2014

Keith Duffy Pic

Coronation Street actor and Boyzone star Keith Duffy is to tread the boards at the award-winning new writing venue Theatre503 in Battersea. Keith will play Stapler the Irish boxer, in Artistic Director Paul Robinson’s SECOND LOOK revival of Billy Roche’s 1988 play A HANDFUL OF STARS. The production will run here at Theatre503 (the smallest venue in the UK to receive an Olivier Award) from Wednesday 30 April until Saturday 24 May 2014.

First performed in 1988, Billy Roche’s A HANDFUL OF STARS is set in the Irish town of Wexford where ‘shot-gun’ weddings are outnumbered only by random acts of violence in the pool hall. The play was first presented as a stand alone in 1988, and then revived as part of the Wexford Trilogy at the Bush Theatre. The production is part of our SECOND LOOK series, introduced by Paul Robinson to give major productions to neglected modern classics.

Keith Duffy is a singer, actor, and a radio/television presenter. He is best known as a member of one of Ireland’s biggest boybands – Boyzone, which he joined in 1993. Since then the band has gone on to release twenty-one singles and seven albums, resulting in twenty five million record sales and hundreds of sold out live tours. He moved into acting in 2002 joining the UK’s biggest soap operas – CORONATION STREET, where he played lovable Rovers Return barman Ciaran.

A HANDFUL OF STARS marks Keith’s professional UK stage debut.


30 April – 24 May

Theatre503 presents


Director: Paul Robinson

Designer: Signe Beckmann

Lighting: Hartley T A Kemp

Composer: Simon Slater