top of page

Hannah and Hanna tour ends - a new writing course begins

It was great to see Hannah and Hanna in Dreamland playing to packed houses at The Tramshed in London and for the final performances to the home crowd at the Theatre Royal in Margate. This theatre was built in 1786 and, against all the historical and economic odds, can still play host to a packed house over two weekend performances.

The two performers, Celia Meiras and Lisa Payne, have struck a wonderful accord with audiences throughout the tour and we hope to revive the production at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2019. Thanks especially to Jan Ryan, the producer, and everyone involved for a terrific tour -- plus a series of very successful workshops in schools.

If you want a copy of the play, please contact me at


My new playwriting course has got off to a powerful start; two outstanding groups. All have written to a high standard already, sometimes in biography or fiction and all share a desire to write a full-length play. Participants include actors, teachers, journalists, fiction and non-fiction writers, a doctor, an academic, a film producer, a civil servant, a social activist and a director of audio documentaries.

The first half of each session is taken up by listening to the writers’ own work: in the second part we have discussed five highly contrasting plays over the first five weeks: Lorraine Hansberry’s A RAISIN IN THE SUN, Joel Pommerat’s THIS CHILD, Gary Owen’s IPHIGENIA IN SPLOTT, Caryl Churchill’s TOP GIRLS and Ella Hickson’s THE WRITER.

With these plays, each one explicitly different in terms of subject, characterization and style, I ask, ‘what does the writer want to say, how does he/she say it and who does he/she say it for?’

The writers are beginning to focus on writing their own short play by Christmas – so these questions become increasingly relevant to them.

This is what I say to my writers regarding my leadership of the course:

‘My aim is to get the very best from each writer individually, and, in as much as it serves that explicit purpose, to extract the best from the group

I do not use one particular system or believe that only one type of play has merit.

I am a theatre maker – I direct and write plays.

On this course, I am working with two groups of writers who are accomplished in one writing field or another.

Each writer is ambitious to write a play and a better play than they have yet written.

Each writer wants to see that play performed and reviewed in the public arena.

Over the nine months of the course, my focus is to aid each writer towards that goal.’

From January, each will work on their own full-length play. Over three separate Saturday Workshops, they will see their work performed by professional actors.

The last workshop days take place in early June – please let me know if you wish to attend.

John Retallack



bottom of page