In 2010, I co-founded fEast theatre with Rob John. fEast theatre is a theatre company specifically formed to develop and showcase new work by professional writers, actors and directors from Norfolk.
I directed their first two productions, 'One Eighty' by Rob John (April 20110) and 'Battery' by Beatrice Armstrong (June 2012) and more recently 'Winter '53' by Rob John in 2016.
I worked as Producer on 'The Canada Boys' (2013/14) and 'Parachute'(2015) by Rob John.
Norman: Owen Evans Mel: Hayley Thompson Stella: Sarah Langrish-Smith Dennis: Robin McLoughlin
Charlie: Robin McLoughlin Lucy: Alice Brown Anna: Tabitha Woodgett
fEast theatre's first production One-Eighty a new play by Rob John launched the company with a tour of Norfolk and Suffolk venues in April 2011 culminating in a three night run at Norwich Playhouse. The show (‘a sad comedy about darts’) starred Owen Evans of Nimmo Twins fame.
'Evans.. peels back his seemingly simple character’s complex layers with a powerful and poignant performance, as he wrestles with his fall from being in the world top 10, to a sad existence as a confidence-sapped semi-recluse, before the hope of resurrection arrives.
The other cast members of the new fEast theatre company, aiming to showcase local professional talent, also shine when they step up to the oche: Hayley Thompson as the long-suffering doting fan who takes Norman in during his troubled times, Robin McLoughlin as the flashy agent trying to resurrect the star’s career and image, and Sarah Langrish-Smith as his flirty partner whose signals confuse and derail Norman’s recovering self-confidence.'
Richard Batson EDP
fEast theatre commissioned Beatrice Armstrong to write a new full length play for them. 'Battery' developed and was read and discussed by actors and the company and Draft 4 was finalised.
This stunning new play is a poetic and funny play about life, death, sibling rivalry and cake.
'…the phrasing is neatly wrought - Armstrong has a particular talent for the visceral and violent‘
‘Brown and Woodgett are engaging and enthralling throughout.. physically and emotionally consumed throughout the 90 minute show'.
‘McLoughlin is handed a less kaleidoscopic character but is all the better for it, turning in a sharp and focused performance.'
‘Su Dean’s lighting design complements Mandy McKenna’s direction on a minimally dressed stage, with props flexibly used to deepen the storytelling.'
“It’s been brilliant working with fEast Theatre.
They’ve given me lots of support, advice and encouragement as I worked on my script. They even organised two readings with professional actors so I could hear the play and get a sense of how it needed to develop.
It’s very exciting now to be able to attend rehearsals and watch the show take shape.”
Beatrice Armstrong (2012)
fEast theatre Tour May 2013
and April 2014
Set in Norwich in 1912, The Canada Boys by Rob John is based on the true story of a group of workers at the world famous Colman’s mustard factory. Brothers Eddie and Jack Craske have never travelled west of Wymondham but their world is suddenly thrown into disarray by the offer of a new life on the other side of the Atlantic. This funny, sad and thought-provoking play which resonates with Norfolk voices and Norwich locations asks searching questions about love, labour, duty and family.
What they said about 'The Canada Boys' after two sell out tours.
'I thought the production last night was excellent, and it has been resonating with me all day. Very powerful and the ending was a beautiful moment. The performers kept the dialogue really sharp and energetic.' Chris Lawton
'We watched Canada Boys at Fakenham Community Centre last night and must say how impressed we were. It was superbly written and extremely well acted. It is vary unusual to find actors with such convincing Norfolk accents. We thoroughly enjoyed the performance. Thank You.' Ken Lake.
'I went to see this on 5/4/2014 in Kings Lynn and I thought it was the best show I have ever seen tops any I have seen at the West End. The acting was so good I laughed and cried and came away thinking how these are the plays that should be part of the schools curriculum. I would urge anyone to go to see this as it really moved me. Thanks for such a brilliant show. I would go again and again.' Verity Connolly
We were totally spellbound from beginning to end. Rob John is a brilliant writer - each character was drawn with such sympathy and with such grace. He laid bare each of their souls yet let us laugh with them too. I read online that this was a revival after great success last year. This must go further!' Fiona Thompson & Andrew Moncur'
Absolutely loved it, best £12 I have ever spent,' Betsy Staff
Producer - fEast theatre tour
fEast theatre plans a new production in Spring 2016
What they said about 'Parachute'
'Neatly plotted and movingly performed. Very highly recommended.'
Hugh Aldersey Williams
'What a wonderful performance at Wells last night. We wondered if you could top Canada Boys and Parachute was equally as good. Please can we have more!'
Sue and Mick Jeffery
'I hope you continue with the good work. It gives great pleasure and I think Norfolk still needs cultural high spots.Thank heavens for those who help provide them.'
'A stunningly good production. I really couldn’t fault it for its acting, writing and production values. It brought me to tears.'
Having taught and directed for many years I have returned to professional radio acting and production.
2015: Lady Bracknell : BBC World Service: Learning English. 'The Importance of being Earnest'. Directed by Finn Aberdein
2015 Queen Anne of Denmark: BBC World Service Learning English. Shakespeare Speaks.
Directed by Catherine Chapman
2016 The Truth About Anna : Assistant to the Producer on location in Norfolk. A Goldhawk Production for Radio 4. Directed by Carl Prekopp.
Set in the fictional Norfolk coastal village of Boxham in the months leading up to the catastrophic floods of January 1953, this sad but funny play explores the complex and turbulent relationships of the Spence family as they struggle to make sense of past events in the face of conflicting memories.
The show played to sell out houses in a range of Norfolk venues.
In Winter 53 three professional actors were joined by a chorus recruited from the community. The company ran a series of voice workshops to find and then train the community chorus team.
The choral sections in the play which included the verbatim memories of 1953 flood survivors were really important to the success of this production.
fEast Theatre has always been committed to developing new work which resonates for the people of our region.
What they said about 'Winter '53
'We thought the play was superb. We found it engaged us on so many levels. The actors did a splendid job!’
'The chorus were wonderful. They really made the story breathe. Such archetypal; faces- they looked like a real black and white living postcard. Gave the play such poignancy.’
‘I am going again. Loved it. Fascinating play. It is so multi-layered and well-crafted weaving past, present future, fact, memory and fantasy in such a compelling way. I was spellbound throughout.'
'Brilliant production. Just wanted to say how wonderful we all thought it was. Everyone was talking about it the next day. Others were upset that they couldn’t get tickets because it was fully booked.’
'Winter '53 is a rip roaring success. Excellent piece, superbly acted and directed. I heard nothing but positive comments from fellow audience members.'
Les Ash, Jude Booker, Josh Duckmanton, Graham Hampton, Lyn Irons,Mark Irons,
Angie Maddigan, Lydia Smart, Joan Spall
Tabitha Woodgett Dawn Finnerty Robin McLoughlin