THE ORACLE OF THE TAPROOMS which is presented as a free pop up performance on the streets on Nuneaton.

Director Mark Evans of Coventry University: There is inherent theatre in the man who berates you on the street corner. This intriguing and fascinating performance piece blends together our curiosity with the famous and the poor, the talented and the ne’er-do-well. It is a wonderful piece of writing – funny, engaging and at the same time asking difficult questions about fame, celebrity, ownership and place.

The public are invited to come along RAIN OR SHINE and MEET THE INFAMOUS WELL EDUCATED LOCAL LAYABOUT MR. JOSEPH HENRY LIGGINS as he tells us his extraordinary story.

After being asked to leave Cambridge, Joseph Liggins (1801–1872) struggled for years to make a living before being wrongly identified as the author of ‘Scenes of Clerical Life’ and ‘Adam Bede’.

In 2010 while playwright Vanessa Oakes was working with local teenagers who were photographing the George Eliot statue, a homeless gentleman who was bedding down for the night in Debenhams’ doorway called over with a warning, don’t you go taking the p*** out of my George Eliot or she’ll come back and haunt you!, which inspired her to write this short play.


11am Nuneaton Museum & Art Gallery

12noon George Eliot Memorial Gardens (obelisk)

1pm George Eliot Hotel (archway)

2pm St. Nicholas Community Centre

3pm Griff House, Coventry Road CV10 7PJ

Press Enquiries call 07974984374 or email m.evans@coventry.ac.uk


This project is funded by Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council, Arts Council England and is supported by Coventry University School of Art & Design

These performances are part of Vanessa Oakes’ residency at the George Eliot Collection. For more information visit www.desperatelyseekinggeorge.wordpress.com


The Game Anew

A playwright can wait ages for a script to get to the stage of its first read through, then just when you think it’s never going to happen two come along at once.

Following on from the read through of His Naked Eye at The Citz, I headed South to The Bush for a read through of The Game Anew which is part of May Fair (Pentabus at Latitude).

If you’re heading to Latitude you can catch May Fair on Friday at 2pm and/or Sunday at 7pm – hopefully see you there!

Last Tuesday we finally managed to get everyone together for a read through of the first draft of the script. Prior to the read through we had a mini production meeting at my house….

Anna and Ness have only met once before so it was a chance for them to get acquainted and a chance for us all to sit and go through how we are going to approach producing this piece with regard to venues, staging, funding etc

It went pretty well – at least Anna and Ness were still smiling by the end of the meeting!

Ness (foreground) and Anna still smiling!!

After a spot of lunch we headed to the Citizens’ Theatre where we had secured the Stalls Studio space for the read through thanks to David’s contacts! We did an audio recording of the whole thing including the post read through discussion which was invaluable.

It was fantastic to finally hear the words spoken – there is so much to be gained from a reading with actors and great that they were prepared to participate…

From left to right the participants are: David O’Neill (Director), Hazel Crawford, Ashley Smith, Mark Price, Ian Cameron, Kate Brailsford. (Mark will actually be composing the music for the show but kindly stepped in to read the part of the Ambassador)

I can now go as far as to say that the working title of this piece is……

and a little background reading might help you determine the subject matter……..

Any ideas?

Shepard Tone

I came across these You Tube pages a while ago.   There may be relevance to our project at a later point.

I’d been reading How Music Works by John Powell (ISBN 978-1-846-14315-1) and he mentioned “The Devil’s Staircase” – Etude 13 by Ligeti

It was from there that I came across Shepard Tones;

To get the basic idea – Dash To The Car

Taking it on a bit – Rain Hat On

WARNING – GEEK ALERT – This one is – Full Blown Anorak He does go on a bit.

and to round off again, the intro to the Devil’s Staircase with a spectrograph image.

Anyway, we’ll see if any of this crops up later on the project.

A favourite part of the country for us is the Borders, particularly around Coldingham.   A few years ago, when returning from visiting my sister near Hull and Mary-Jane’s brother in Bedlington, near Newcastle, we decided to take a meandering route home over several days.    Along the way, something that struck me, in many of the small coastal villages and towns along the way was the continued prescence of the memory of “Black Friday” – The Eyemouth Disaster, 14 October 1881.   Ultimately we chanced on Coldingham and have been returning there and there-abouts several times.    On a recent trip earlier this year we came across the latest memorial to that disaster in the village of St Abbs;


A couple of days later we were heading home and decided to make a detour to see the Capon Tree in Jedburgh.    It had come up in the discussions that Ness, Suzanne and myself had been having and it was a great opportunity to view it first hand.

Apparently named from a corruption of the name of the Capuchin monks in the nearby abbey in Jedburgh, it stands by the main road and not far from the river Jed.   Among many notable local residents that it has outlived is James Hutton, the father of modern Geology.   Was he given that title because he discovered the Mother of all geological features on the farm he inherited from his father?   I’d seen pictures on tinternet and had thought it an impressive looking tree – perhaps 500 or so years old, it had been around when Shakespeare had written “Hamlet”; before humans looked at the stars through telescopes.

However, the pictures don’t really give you the scale of how big this tree is.   Even with a person standing beside it for comparison (me in this instance) it’s sheer size still doesn’t come over.

There have been attempts over the years to keep it upright (most noticeably concrete and telegraph poles) but to varying degres of success.


Obviously second hand telegraph poles – I somehow like the incongruity of the old cable clips still embedded in the once living trunk of a pine tree now serving a second use in it’s death.   Up close there are many delightful details like the small sapling (beech I think) growing on one of the oak’s limbs (yet more sylvan inter-connectedness) or the amazing textures and patterns of bark, moss and rot (not unlike some of the renderings from the Myst computer games).


And from thence to Glasgow and to bed.


Tramway Meeting

Yesterday David and myself had a meeting at the Tramway with Anna who has recently joined our project in the capacity of Producer. We all worked together many years ago but have been persuing different career paths for some time. This project is the perfect opportunity for us all to work together again bringing with us new skills that will be pertinent to the producing of a new piece of  theatre/writing. This meeting was really an opportunity for us to sit down and discuss how we will take the project forward with regard to funding and the sort of venues we will be looking at to take the show and to clarify which areas we will each take particular responsibility for.  I am excited to announce that we will be holding a read through in the Stalls Studio at the Citizens’ Theatre in 2 weeks time. Ness will be travelling up from Coventry to attend and we are hoping for some useful feedback from the 5 actors participating. Outside the 4 of us (Ness, David, Anna and me) no one has any idea about the project, the subject matter and the form it has taken so it will be really interesting to see the reactions to the material. Hopefully we will all be updating this blog on a more regular basis as the project gathers momentum! I am looking forward to revealing the subject matter very soon! Until then here is a visual teaser…….


Draft No.1!

I am delighted to report that Ness delivered Draft No.1 of the script to David and myself a couple of weeks ago – very exciting! We are all agreed that the next step is to get some actors together for a read through to get a feel of the shape of the piece and to get some feedback on the characters. It will also be an opportunity for the three of us to meet face to face to discuss in more detail the sort of timetable we are working to and when we should start bringing in the rest of the team who will be working with us.

Ness has done her bit and it is down to David and I to do our bit to move the project forward – a very exciting prospect!