Wednesday, 12 December 2012


For the past few years, members of North Cumbria Scriptwriters have worked with Radio Cumbria to produce five minute dramas for the week before Christmas. The seasonal offerings this year are on the theme of ghosts. The four plays are to be broadcast on 18th, 19th, 20th and 21st December between 11.00 and 11.30 in the morning, with repeats on Christmas Eve. Be sure to listen in for some unusual entertainment, brought to you by local actors!

A rainbow bloomed over Carlisle Castle on the day we recorded the Christmas plays.

Radio Cumbria's Belinda Artingstoll
listens critically to her recording.

Local actors Charlotte Bryceson, Sophia Atcha and Kelvin Dixon recording in the foyer at Radio Cumbria.

Location recording!

Peter Inglis provides an authentic Scottish voice beside the Cursing Stone

Actor Jenny Pike, watched by director Carole Ferguson and writer Stephanie Robinson and members of North Cumbria Scriptwriters

Wednesday, 7 November 2012


"Mum gave me my past, present and future. It's tense!"
A new play by a local actress with a Cumbrian setting, 'True' explores the evolving and challenging relationship between a mother and her daughter, from rebellious teenage to motherhood. The characters struggle with their ever changing roles in life until a walk on a Cumbrian fell allows them to reach a deeper understanding. Poignant, amusing, 'True' will warm the heart.
'True' won the Audience Award for best play at Manchester's 24.7 theatre festival in 2011 and stars Sarah Thurstan (Dukes Theatre, Lancaster, TV Coronation St, Emmerdale and East Enders) and Emma Rydal ( Stella in Britflick 'East is East' and Maz in Coronation Street) .
NB.The play contains "moderate sex references".
The second half of the evening will be a screening of Toby Gaffney's 30 min. feature film "One Last Walk" , based on the final part of Emma's play and shot on location near Crummock Water.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


What better thing to do on a wet and miserable Sunday afternoon, than dance away the hours? 

OK OK- it might not rain on Sunday I hear you say? Did I hear an Oink Oink from overhead?

For more details contact Tim Wood:

Saturday, 20 October 2012


Wigton Theatre Club started its new season with peals of laughter. A packed audience for the last night of Simon Brett's Murder in Play was a wonderful reassurance that despite all the entertainments available to people today, live theatre beats all.

I have worked with Wigton Players before, when I co-wrote and helped to direct The Throstle's Nest - which was another sell-out success in June, and I was already full of admiration for their professional attitude and high standards. However, I was not prepared for just how funny they could be: The Throstle's Nest had comic moments but most of the parts were straight, whereas everyone in Murder in Play is funny. Facial expressions alone had the audience in stitches and when all of them are hamming it up and over acting (in the play within the play) their lack of self consciousness, their concentration and their sheer energy had the audience gasping for breath. This all bodes well for the future: if you missed Murder in Play or The Throstle's Nest, make sure you put the dates below in your diary.

And above all be sure to get to this year's panto:
Robinson Crusoe- The Truth by James Barry, directed by Jordan Tweddle and Liz Chapman.

I have had a preview of the script and know it's very funny- it will all be set in Wigton, from whose docks Robinson sets sail for distant isles. (Whether he gets there is another story- you'll have to come and see for yourself) You didn't know there were docks in Wigton? Well, there's  plenty of nettles, and where there's nettles there's docks! There will be special guest appearances from Dame Fanny Featherstonhaugh and Ma Matilda Maharg (AKA Mike Bryceson and Dennis Graham) Mike (famous for his Dickens and his surveyor will not forget his lines (oh yes he will) and Dennis will be very quiet and meek (oh no he won't) They will have a bit to say about life the universe and everything, and will be trying to get their greedy paws on Mrs Crusoe's Wigton tavern  (I know because I am writing their script)

December 10th to 15th  Matinee on the 15th

February 26th to 1st March
Last of the Red Hot Lovers by Neil Simon
Directed by Pat Conlan
Barney, who has been married to an irreproachable wife for 23 years, feels the urge to join the sexual revolution before it is too late.

End of May (Hopefully to coincide with Windows Week)
Desperately Seeking Julie Written and directed by Helene Phillips
A comedy concerning a group of fans travelling by coach to a Julie Andrews Convention but a dodgy satnav means that the trip does not turn out as planned.

October 2013
Specially commissioned play by the Patchwork Scriveners to commemorate the club's diamond jubilee. (.and that's me and a couple of friends again!)

Wednesday, 17 October 2012


Tonight, tomorrow and Friday 
at the John Peel Theatre  Wigton - Simon Brett's witty and funny Murder in Play -tickets from Station Road Garage

Saturday 20th October Cumbrian meal with John Crouch at Warwick on Eden- details in an earlier post below

The Aomori String Quartet
(postgraduate students at Royal Northern College of Music)
present a programme of music by
Wigton Methodist Church Saturday 17th November 2012 7.30pm

Friday, 12 October 2012

John Crouch Cooks Cumbrian

Renowned Cumbrian Chef John Crouch will be cooking up a Cumbrian feast next Saturday at Warwick on Eden Village Hall to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Carlisle Overses Aid Trust. Here's a foretaste:
Westmorland Soup (Tomato & Lentil)
Cranberry and Juniper Glazed Pork
Vegetable Cobbler
  New Potatoes
Penrith Spiced Carrots
Red Cabbage With Apple
Cumberland Rum Nicky
Tickets:   £15 (BYOB)
Date:   Saturday 20th October at 7.30
Place:  Warwick on Eden Village Hall 
            (just off A69 at Warwick Bridge)
Contact:  Connie Jensen 016973 42570

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

If you missed that ... don't miss this!

Simon Armitage @ The Tithe Barn, Carlisle another sell-out success!

WHEN?     Friday September 14th 7.15- 9.15
WHERE?     The Chapel Restaurant Aspatria
Tickets £6.00 (£5.00 Solway Arts members) on sale from Billy Bowman Music (Cockermouth) and Wigton Library 


AND ALSO Letters to Wordsworth
presented by the Wordsworth Trust

WHEN?     Thursday 13th September at 6.30
WHERE?   Wordsworth Bookshop Penrith
Free admission (donations for refreshments) but call the bookshop on 01768 201604 to reserve

Thursday, 2 August 2012


UPDATE: "This is a great evening out- thought provoking and entertaining. The mix of characters and themes is excellent and will have you laughing and crying"


One Voice is an evening of four monologues written by local writers. This is a continuation of the collaboration between Penrith Players and North Cumbria Scriptwriters which was so successful last year with Pigeonholes. The monologues will be performed at the Playhouse from Friday 24 August to Sunday 26 August at 7.30 pm.

Dennis Henderson in End Piece

The four writers are Robin Acland from Mungrisedale, Martin Chambers from Cockermouth, Jo Lister from Plumbland and Carol Donockley from Carlisle. Their plays cover a wide range of subjects, amusing, moving and uplifting.

Chair of North Cumbria Scriptwriters, Connie Jensen, said: "I'm delighted that our group is again involved in our local theatrical community. We all enjoy the close contact with actors and audience. Having our work performed in this way keeps us on our toes, and we are grateful to Penrith Players for this opportunity. 
Gillian Briggs in Sweet Sorrow

Pigeonholes was a great experience last year, and so was our collaboration with Wigton Theatre Club in June this year for The Throstle's Nest"

Mike Head of Penrith Players welcomed the return of NCS to the theatre. “I’ve seen some of these plays in rehearsal and audiences are in for a treat. We are pleased to be able to put on new work, especially when it is of such high quality. Because this is the Bank Holiday weekend, we are experimenting with putting performances on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, hoping these are more convenient for people than the week days.”

Tickets are available at , on their Facebookpage or from Penrith TIC, telephone 01768 867466 at £8, £7 concessions and £4.50 for students .

Sunday, 29 July 2012


Two literary giants appear together in the Market Hall in Wigton: Melvyn Bragg in conversation with Man Booker prize winning author Howard Jacobson 

This interview will mark the national launch of Howard's new novel Zoo Time,  and will be followed by a book signing by the author.

2.30pm on Saturday 1st September 2012
at Wigton Market Hall

Tickets are £5, available in Wigton from: 
  • The Fountain Gallery
  • 1262 Cafe@The Market Hall
In Carlisle from: 
  • Bookends and Bookcase bookshops
In Keswick from:
  • Bookends
Your £5 ticket price is redeemable against the purchase of a signed copy of Zoo Time 

Friday, 22 June 2012


What a lovely atmosphere there was in Wigton yesterday. Despite the miserable, relentless rain hundreds of people packed the path of the Olympic torch and cheered runners, buses and the friendly police outriders.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012


... and these our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits and 
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind.

Well, a bit of a rack actually- after the last night party- the pizza, the wine, the cheese and the amazing cake- thanks Charlotte! 

But the real heroes cleared it all up on Sunday afternoon- like so much else that is important- it goes on quietly, and behind the scenes.

This is the first time I have worked with a local amateur theatre company, and I hope it won't be the last. This post is by way of a personal thank you to Wigton Theatre Club- to the actors and all the other people who made The Throstle's Nest a performance to remember, and made me, a stranger to many of them, feel like one of the family. 

To actors Donna, Dean, Jen, Jordan- the Wigton Theatre Club regulars- and to Rowan and Elli who heeded the call; to Mary, Dennis, Kath and Mike who came in later and made the whole thing possible- you were all such troopers!

To Pat for getting the Throstle off the page and onto the boards;

To Liz, who did so much behind the scenes, and did an amazing job with costumes- so many periods- so many changes! To Charlotte for the way she organised us all;

To Paul and John who worked on set and lighting; to Liam who was such a cool sound and lighting man;

To Laura, Alison, Shona and Elise for their amazing set painting;

And thank you all for all the extras, because nobody does just one job in the theatre; but above all, thank you for your friendship and all the laughs along the way.

Finally, a really big thank you to my fellow playwrights- all of whom did far more than me- I was more of a go-between. To Martin for his wit and for the gift to the rest of us of Seth; Julia for such a touching pair of young lovers; Heather for the ideas about unfulfilled love; Rick for cool judgement, great dialogue and the idea of the brooch; Liz for constant hard work, and a stunning sequence of scenes. I enjoyed working with you all, and I am sure that what we produced was a deal more than the sum of its parts.

When's the next one?

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Saturday, 23rd June at 7.30 at CALDBECK PARISH HALL

A recital of Dylan Thomas' 
adapted by David Robertson


Helene Hanff's  
witty New York/London letters that lend a touching nuance to the term book-lovers

  • On the door: £8.00
  • Paid in Advance: £6.00
  • Solway Arts: £5.00
  • Under 18s half price
  • Kirkland Stores Caldbeck
  • Wigton Library
  • Billy Bowman's Cockermouth 
Brass Band Concerts at St Mary's Church Wigton,  2.30:
(dates to be confirmed)
  • July 1st: Whitehaven Brass Band
  • August 5th: Cleator Moor Band
  • September 1st: to be arranged
Annual Art and Craft Exhibition : August 11th - 27th at Allhallows, Fletchertown
If you are interested in exhibiting (you must be willing and able to steward too) please let Nigel Sidaway know by 2th June- Gill House, Bromfield, CA7 3ND

Friday, 8 June 2012


    Thanks to cast and crew, the first performance of The Throstle's Nest went down a storm ... and it was a sell-out. More pics below. Thanks again to Trevor Grahamslaw!
Kath Graham

Mary Heslam

Donna Stephenson

Rowan Reed and Dean Ostle

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Thanks to Trevor Grahamslaw for these great pictures of The Throstle's Nest dress rehearsal:

Monday, 28 May 2012


Make sure you get your tickets from Station Road Petrol Station (Donna's) as they are going fast. Remember The Throstle's Nest is only on for three nights!

Thursday, 24 May 2012


Apologies from me- I got the wrong telephone number for Throstle's Nest tickets. 

Station Road Garage is 016973 44620

Fortunately, most people have ignored that and gone in personally to book their tickets, which are going fast.

Have you got yours yet?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Most of the set painting is now done, although details need finishing. And the brooch which plays a prominent part in the story is on its way. Here's a preview of both. Have you got your tickets yet?

Station Road Garage
016973 49244

Friday, 11 May 2012


Time to plan your weekend: what are you doing on the 7th, 8th and 9th June?

Saturday, 5 May 2012


Guest Appearances
As well as the seasoned performers of Wigton Theatre Club, there will be some other well known Wigton faces on stage at the end of Whit week, as local celebrities Mary Heslam and Dennis Graham make guest appearances in Wigton's very own play, The Throstle's Nest. The play will be performed at The John Peel Theatre for three nights only- 7th, 8th, 9th June- so make sure you get your tickets from Station Road Garage. Tickets are £7.00 and £6.00 for concessions.
Why not make it a real night out?
Monkey Tree Deli is supporting this production and would like to suggest you book your pre-performance tapas by phoning 016973 42779

Friday, 27 April 2012


Sketches for a unique piece of jewellery to celebrate Wigton Market's 750 Anniversary
I have thoroughly enjoyed being one of a small group from North Cumbria Scriptwriters working together to create a play for Wigton Players. I am in awe of my fellow writers' skills and ideas and it has been a privilege to work with them and with members of Wigton Theatre Club. Now I can look forward to working more closely with the Players as they bring the Throstle to life in the theatre. However, my involvement doesn't stop there: in trying to cover 750 years of the town's history in a couple of hours, we have created a series of cameos of life through the ages, and, in order to have some sense of continuity we have core characters who go through the whole play, and a theme of young lovers who give one another a brooch, a love token handed down through the generations. Of course- I now have to make this brooch, which will be elaborate and heavy, the design based on some Viking jewellery found near Penrith. I can't wait to get started! I intend to make some smaller, simpler "throstle" jewellery- earrings, brooches and pendants for sale in the Fountain Gallery too!

The Penrith Hoard of Viking silver brooches, now in the British Museum

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Prince Charles looked carefully and appreciatively at the work in Wigton's cooperative Fountain gallery today.

Chatting easily to painter Carol Burns, he remarked that he "might as well give up". Local MP Rory Stewart, who invited him to visit Wigton in its 750th Anniversary Year, had popped in earlier to say that he was very sorry, but the Prince's schedule would not let him fit in a visit; however as the party neared the Gallery, Rory pointed across the road, and Prince Charles went straight in! I had heard earlier that he does exactly what he wants to do on a visit like this, and we are very pleased he chose to visit us. The pictures tell the story:

Here he is just about opposite the door

Rory points out the Gallery to him (I am trying to take a pic with frozen hands)

He makes the decision and walks across the road!

Thanks to painter and gallery member Anne Bryson for these great photos, and to Rory Stewart for his efforts!

Wigton Prepares!

Excitement is building in Wigton: the nice man in Easton's (Mr Easton) looks splendid in a suit, kids are doing wheelies up the cordoned off High Street, and police are everywhere.