I particularly enjoy writing for stage – you have more time to collaborate with actors and directors than in screen work.
Rehearsals are a real joy because you can work closely with your actors and director to explore different approaches to a scene and, moment by moment, you watch your work coming alive.
For BOLDtext Playwrights, I often write short, fast-response political theatre like the Maslow – the Upgrade (Insatiable, Jan 2017) exploring the politics of consumption; Escape about prison reform (Behind Bars, Nov 2016), Seeing the World Part 2 (Sunstroke, Sept 2015) about the refugee crisis; and Duty of Care about the exploitative elements of the care industry (The Russell Brand Effect, May 2015). In Eurotrashed (May 2016), my piece Cogs & Co portrayed a family business in crisis when an important member leaves. I was delighted that this earned me another lovely review: “But my favourite piece was Liz John’s ‘Cogs and Co’ which employed the cleverly sustained metaphor of a family firm with its bickering alliances and betrayals to remind us that politics, even when it’s the EU, is about people too.”
Away from BOLDtext, I wrote my second collaborative play with Julia Wright last year. With script development funding from Arts Council England, Calling for Help emerged as an interactive, immersive comedy set in a call centre, featuring a talking baby, and tracing the strained relationships in a modern family where young people remain dependent on family for a home, job and future.
Next Page Productions put the play on its feet and, with performers Caroline Nash and Oli Leonard, and direction from Jonathan Legg, it toured the Midlands in April 2016. We enjoyed wonderful, lively audiences and 4* reviews.
My historical play, Perversion of Science, ran in Big Script’s WW1 Home Fires Burning at the Mockingbird Theatre in November 2015, funded by Arts Council England. This play also attracted an impressive 4* review.
Directed by Ian Craddock, the play portrays the tragic death of German scientist Dr Clara Immerhawr who desperately tried to stop her husband Fritz Haber from bringing gas warfare to the trenches. Featuring Caroline Frewin, Nick Baldock and Rebecca Newman. “Liz John’s Perversion of Science shone out as a masterpiece of compression whose overshadowing back-story loomed to monstrous proportions.” Lichfield Live.
In July 2015, as part of Extreme for Big Script at the Old Joint Stock in Birmingham Fest, Life Goes On followed a teenage boy as he struggles to come to terms with his father’s suicide…and his mother’s superior skills on FIFA.
Invisible was a black comedy co-written with Julia Wright set in a barbers shop, exploring two sisters’ experience of reaching 40 and the wild extremes of grief at losing their father.
Produced by Next Page Productions, Invisible toured during June/July 2013. It starred Caroline Nash, Ali Belbin & Robert Harper. Directed by Janice Connolly.
www.stagereviews.co.uk Photos by Sarah Bennett.
Papering Over was commissioned by Pentabus and toured nationally, including many smaller rural venues. Parodying TV makeover shows, this comedy contrasted the transformation of a couple’s home with their crumbling relationship. Directed by Theresa Heskins.
Second-Hand Dreams was a lunchtime comedy drama for Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough, in which a young woman with big ideas starts work in a charity shop. Reality – and a world-weary colleague – quickly shatter her dreams.
My short play Care was performed as part of Taking Care of Business, Big Script/Old Joint Stock Theatre and was the opening show for Birmingham Fest 2013. A lonely elderly man awaits his care-workers, while his neighbours and nephew are distracted by their own worries.
Friday Afternoons – rehearsed reading, Birmingham Rep Theatre. I am currently developing this piece into a full length play.
Umbilical is a short play in which a teenage girl struggles to get her childhood back. Can her outraged father accept her again? Performed in Awakenings, Blue Orange Theatre (Big Script). Photo by Graeme Braidwood.
Love, Honour, Obey was part of Love Sex Confusion! Blue Orange Theatre (Big Script).Set in the late 1800s, the vicar is warned by a local doctor to refrain from conjugal relations while his wife recovers from giving birth. Directed by Graeme Braidwood.
I’ve also regularly contributed silly Christmas sketches to Big Script, Wild Orchid and Atherstone Drama Society seasonal shows, as well as more serious short pieces to Big Script shows such as their site-specific Arts Fest show Back to Backs. Most recently, I had a challenging short play, Self-Reflection, at Theatre Exchange at the Old Joint Stock theatre in Birmingham, which I am continuing to develop.
I founded BOLDtext Playwrights – eight professional writers seeking to create more opportunities and new platforms for our work in the Midlands.
I curated our first venture in the Birmingham Rep’s Open Door initiative in Spring 2014 when The Rep gave us space to test out new work in front of an invited audience.
In 2012/13, I was involved in a musical theatre project called LOVING ME for looked after young people (14+ year-olds who are or have been in the care system). The project was devised by Women and Theatre in partnership with Birmingham Hippodrome, and helped the young people devise their own songs and scenes, and then perform them to a professional standard in front of an audience at the Hippodrome. Supporting the director Janice Connolly and musician Sarah Wilson in this project and working alongside the young people was challenging, inspirational and, above all, great fun. The impact on the young people was enormous.