By Rosemary, Jul 25 2018 05:00PM

“I’m hoping over this centenary period there’s a whole set of events can be used to honour what they’ve done, also in order to highlight the need for continued advocacy.” Dr Helen Pankhurst

Throughout 2018, there have been many special anniversaries marking events in the journey for the rights of women in British society.

To celebrate and mark these anniversaries, venues, theatre companies and community groups from across Oxfordshire, Milton Keynes and Northamptonshire have come together to create five new exciting performances that seek to measure the impact of the last 100 years of social and political change for women - from the Suffragettes to the #MeToo movement.

This project is supported financially by The Arts Council, Awards For All, Milton Keynes Community Foundation.

MK Literature Festival

This performance showcases the one of the projects that have been developed in Milton Keynes. Paper Birds (one of the UK’s leading verbatim-based theatre companies) have been developing a new play with Peppers Ghost inclusive theatre company that explores women’s attitudes and feelings towards democracy now.

Do women now feel included, empowered and listened to?

Sunday 23rd September 9.15pm Tickets £5

Read more and book your tickets.

Stantonbury Theatre

This performance showcases the 2 projects that have been developed in Milton Keynes. Paper Birds (one of the UK’s leading verbatim-based theatre companies) have been developing a new play with Peppers Ghost inclusive theatre company that explores women’s attitudes and feelings towards democracy now.

Do women now feel included, empowered, listened to?

Stantonbury campus & Zoo Co Theatre Company (an award winning contemporary theatre ensemble with a strong visual aesthetic) have created a new piece that explores the suffragettes and their legacy in a ‘total theatre’ style. Read more and book your tickets.

Royal and Derngate Theatre

To mark this year’s anniversary of 100 years since Parliament passed a law which first allowed women to vote, Royal & Derngate, The Play’s The Thing Theatre Company and Cornerstone Arts Centre have been working with local professional theatre companies and local community groups to create four new performances and an installation that seek to measure the impact of the last 100 year of social and political change for women. Royal & Derngate’s own community theatre group The Actors Company will also perform in this uplifting festival of new commissions. Read more and book your tickets.

By Rosemary, Jul 12 2018 08:00AM

Well we have lots of things happening and lots to tell you about

“Shoulder To Shoulder”

Suffrage Project

This exciting project is really getting moving. Pepper’s Ghost Theatre Company ( our sister inclusive company) has had two amazing workshops with Paper Birds. Paper Birds are well known for their incisive social commentary theatre and their devising methods. Check out their website

In July and beyond we have a further four more workshops to devise a new play. In between we shall be rehearsing and working hard on all the great ideas which are coming forward.

Other companies are also getting going - Stantonbury are meeting with Zoo Co next week to start off their work and Abingdon and Witney College have been working with Vamos who are well known for using masks in their theatre work. Haste are working with Didcot Girls School to produce an installation. The Actors Company are working with Stan’s Cafe. We’ll be writing more in our blogs as all the projects unfold.

This overall project has been funded by Awards For All, The Arts Council and the Milton Keynes Community Foundation.

As well as performing at Stantonbury Theatre on 5th October and the Royal and Derngate on 21st October we have been invited to perform at the MK Lit Fest! We shall be performing a piece on Sunday 23rdSeptember. MK Lit Fest is based at the Holiday Inn and what an exciting line up we have this year. Check it out!

We are also part of MK Fringe Festival with “Funny Faces” and “Paradise Lost” – two very different events – Check them out!

Funny Faces

Next Page Productions

On 13th July at MK Gallery these two moving and funny monologues will start the next phase of the tour. “Simply Joan” and “Wot Sid Did” will be performed in Milton Keynes moving on to further destinations in the Midlands. The show is proving to be very popular and its simple staging means it is very easy to tour.

Don’t miss it!

From Anna Bee

“This work is about how we all try to be the architects of our own lives, just as the architects of MK tried to plan a utopian town. It’s a piece to mark MK50. Members of the homeless community chatted about how they feel about Milton Keynes, whilst ripping up some of the original architectural plans. Their thoughts are recorded and shown inside a tent, which is lined with the ripped-up plans. It’s ultimately a very human piece about how we all make plans in life and sometimes things don’t work out as we’d anticipated. (The title was suggested by one of the interviewees) This piece was created in collaboration with the wonderful Rosemary Hill, Elliot Willis, OpenDoorMK, and the amazing people who were prepared to chat with us. Many thanks to all of them”.

Entertaining Mr Sloane

by Joe Orton

We now have a full cast for this and we are very excited!

Sloane – Richard Galloway

Kath – Lisa Stenhouse

Ed – Peter Halpin

Kemp – Colin Jeffrey

It’s on at Stantonbury Theatre on 1st, 2nd and 3rd November.

tickets are on sale now!

So we are keeping very, very busy and we love it!

Rosemary Hill

Artistic Director

By Rosemary, Jun 13 2018 09:59AM

Well, it’s been a while! We’ve been on holiday to the Lofoten Islands and engaging in other great interests – travel and photography.

Then a week later I went to the Buckingham Palace Garden Party. I was nominated and invited as a “thank you” for our contribution to the arts in Milton Keynes. I wouldn’t say I was a great monarchist, but I was very chuffed to be invited. It’s wonderful to be recognised and appreciated.

It was a great day - the tea was lovely, there were bands playing and the gardens were open and they are beautiful. The sun also shone. We also bumped into another great supporter of the arts in MK – Chris Bridgman and his wife Sarah. Chris has been very supportive of our theatre work both financially and in many other ways. He’s always been a wonderful advocate. It was great to see him there. He really deserves a big thank you also.

Shoulder To Shoulder – One Hundred Years of Women’s Suffrage

This is really getting going now! We had our first workshop with the wonderful Paper Birds Theatre Company this week.

Led by Kylie Perry we had a really fun day and there was a great turn out. Kylie shared the Paper Birds way of devising and we were all buzzing by the end ready to go off and do lots of research. We also had member of the Fawcett Society there who will be helping with research, but they also threw themselves into the devising process so will be performing also!

Named after Millicent Fawcett (a statue has just been erected on her honour in London), a keen suffragist who used peaceful means to try and gain the vote, the society is now the country’s leading charity in the continued campaign for gender equality and women’s rights.

As we progress we’ll keep you updated on the project which is also running in Oxfordshire and Northampton. We’ll have more information on these in the weeks to come.

By Rosemary, May 14 2018 09:00AM

Shoulder To Shoulder

celebrating one hundred years of women’s suffrage

Well, it’s been glorious hasn’t it? Sun at last and we are able to sit in the garden. It’s wonderful to see the plants blossoming. Lots blossoming and growing culturally too. The weekend started with going to see Frozen by Bryony Lavery at the Haymarket Theatre Royal in London. Lavery is one of our favourite playwrights and it is good to see her receive the recognition she deserves. Frozen is not an easy play to watch as it concerns the subject of a horrendous murder. It tells the story of the disappearance of a 10-year-old girl, Rhona. The play follows Rhona's mother and killer over the years that follow. They are linked by a doctor who is studying what causes men to commit such crimes. The themes of the play include emotional paralysis and forgiveness. I’ve directed it myself and it certainly had a profound effect on the cast and production team. It does what all great plays do it makes one think and it is very challenging. I want that though. I may sometimes go to the theatre to be entertained on a light note, but mostly I want to be churned up. I want to confront difficult issues. Lavery’s play is riveting and as relevant as ever. This review gives a good idea of the effect of the play.

Shoulder To Shoulder” – celebrating one hundred years of women’s suffrage

We are so lucky to have been awarded funding from the Arts Council, Awards For All, and the

MK Community Foundation. Groups have started working with the wonderful professional companies.

Over the coming weeks we’ll be charting progress of each group and writing about it.

Pepper’s Ghost, our sister inclusive company, will be working with the wonderful Paper Birds.

This is what they say about how they work

“The Paper Birds are an award-winning devising theatre company with a political agenda. We are artists and educators. We pride ourselves on taking socio-political subjects and making them accessible.

We are story collectors. We spend time in communities, listening to personal experiences. The words of the people we meet form the backbone of our shows, giving voice to the voiceless, painting powerful and very human alternative social commentaries. Our desire to listen, to understand and then ‘give voice’ means not only making space for the under-represented and the misunderstood, but also that our shows explore voices from all walks of life. We aim to do this in breathtaking theatrical fashion”.

We can’t think of a better company to work with on such a project.

Workshops with Paper Birds are due to start on

10th June 12pm – 4pm at the Scout Hut, Furze Way, Wolverton, MK12 5AQ

Subsequent workshops on 17th June, 15th July and 22nd July.

Rosemary Hill will then rehearse on Wednesday evening and Sunday afternoons (our well established pattern). The work will lead to a local performance in September and then a finale performance in October. More details will follow. Many people have expressed interest, but you can still get involved with this amazing project. Email Rosemary.

Entertaining Mr Sloane by Joe Orton

“Mr Sloane .........You should wear more clothes. Mr Sloane, I believe you are as naked as me”.

A landlady and her brother entice a psychopathic young man into sexual liaisons. Witty, sharp, alarming and hilarious, “Entertaining Mr Sloane” is a subversive black comedy of unscrupulous sexual manipulation.

Joe Orton tells the provocative story of Mr Sloane, a sly and handsome young man who works his way into the household of Kath, her brother Ed, and their father. Kath wants something between a lover and a substitute baby, while Ed wants someone to drive his car dressed in a tight t-shirt and a leather cap. The charismatic Mr Sloane thinks that he can play a good game with both brother and sister vying for his attention, but he quickly finds he is drawn into a shameless and unnerving tangle of sex, blackmail, bribery and violence. Not that he minds of course!

Entertaining Mr Sloane was Orton’s first full-length play. It was first staged in 1964.

We are in the process of casting and we can assure you there will be a fabulous cast and team!

Performances will be at Stantonbury Theatre on 1st, 2nd and 3rd November 7.30pm

By Rosemary, Apr 15 2018 10:58PM

Well, we are well into the tour of “Funny Faces” two plays by Steve Dimmer - “Simply Joan” and “Wot Sid Did” working with Next Page Productions. The first outing was the Sid play for Oldham Sit Com Festival which went brilliantly! Then the whole programme i.e. both plays were launched at The Place Theatre in Bedford. A packed house and very appreciative audience. What more could we ask. What a lovely venue The Place is too. Helpful and friendly staff. Intimate and versatile venue. It was just right. Now it’s out to other venues. Of course, the thing about touring is everything has to be kept very simple and we did just that. The set and props fit into the back of a car, not even a van and everything is easily assembled. The lighting design is simple yet effective, so a three hour Get In is perfectly feasible. The Get Out can happen quickly too.

We are really enjoying working with Next Page. Great actors and team. We took some photos at Bedford as we were lucky enough to have a run through before the performance. (Last one is in the dressing room!

FANTASTIC NEWS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We also have two more pieces of exciting news.

Firstly, we have been awarded Arts Council Funding and Awards For All for a new project “Shoulder To Shoulder” which will be a celebration of one hundred years of women’s suffrage. We shall we working with The Royal and Derngate Theatre in Northampton and Cornerstone Arts, Oxfordshire. Other partners and supporters are- The Fawcett Society, The Living Archive, Stantonbury Theatre, MK Library, MK Council, MK Gallery, South Oxfordshire Council, Oxfordshire Museum Service, University of Oxford, University of Northampton. We shall also be working with exciting theatre companies – Townsend, Paper Birds, Vamos, Zoo Co and Haste. We are so very excited!!!! More news will follow very shortly..

Our second piece of fantastic news is that we have been granted the rights to stage “Entertaining Mr Sloane” by Joe Orton by the Orton estate. It’s a play we have been wanting to do for some time. It will be in November of this year at Stantonbury Theatre. More news to follow on this too.

Rosemary Hill

Artistic Director

Janine Haynes,

Blogger for Pepper's Ghost


Passionate about theatre in the community. She is a professional actress having graduated from the Academy of Live & Recorded Arts and also holds a BA Hons Degree in Performance Writing from Dartington College of Arts.


"I aim to provide an insight into all the mechanics of Pepper's Ghost and to provide useful information about the context of our current shows as well as useful tips for the aspiring actor."

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