Birkbeck, University of London and RADA: Text and Performance MA – Michael Ross Award.

Birkbeck University and RADA have kindly joined forces with the Michael Ross Estate to create a yearly award for aspiring students in the Text and Performance MA course.

The winner of the Michael Ross Award this year is Emma-Louise Howell.

I would like to pass on my sincere thanks to the Ross family for this prize. I really am honoured to be the first recipient of the award which provides invaluable support, not just in the future development of Patterns, but for the initial steps into my directing career. It is an especially difficult time to be breaking into the industry but this award, and the support of RADA, Birkbeck and the Ross family, offers timely and much-appreciated encouragement, hope and confidence for my ongoing development. ” 

– Emma-Louise Howell

 Emma is an emerging writer and director from Lincolnshire. Committed to pursuing a career in the arts, she read English at Durham University and performed regularly in productions with Durham Student Theatre. In her final year, Emma was elected as the society’s President where she was responsible for taking productions to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, National Student Drama Festival and on both national and international tours. 

Upon graduating from Durham, Emma began her studies at RADA and Birkbeck, where she continued to develop her skills and passion for directing on the MA Text and Performance course. As a director, her work aims to investigate the thin line between humour and stark social truths; she enjoys exploring these boundaries in both existing and new writing alike. 

Alongside her studies, Emma has been fortunate to develop her skills by assisting directors at a number of venues such as the Arcola Theatre and VAULT Festival. Her credits include: 

Directing: Patterns (RADA and Birkbeck) The Last Straw (Arcola Theatre), Honest (E-Merge Festival) 

Assistant Directing: 21 for Lunch (Hope Theatre), Days of Significance (Arcola Theatre), Who Cares (VAULT Festival) 

Acting: Jessie in Screen 9 (Pleasance Theatre), Ophelia in The Secret Love Life of Ophelia (Greenwich Theatre), Viola in Twelfth Night (UK/US Tour), Louise in After the End (Durham Student Theatre, Special Commendation for the National Student Drama Festival). 

 Her final dissertation project, Patterns, for which she receives the Michael Ross Award, explores the psychological impact of coercive and controlling behaviour. It was was short-listed for the Royal Court’s Introduction to Playwriting Programme and the award will be fundamental in supporting its future development in 2021. 

Very successful run of ‘The Shy Manifesto’ in Copenhagen

The director Jeremy M Thomas of Down The Rabbit Hole and House of International Theatre have recently finished putting on a very successful run of Michael’s play ‘The Shy Manifesto’ in Copenhagen. The audience loved it and it won several 5 star reviews!

The reviews are on the House of international Theatre’s home page: http://www.houseofinternationaltheatre.dk

Director: Jeremy M. Thomas

Actor: Daniel Niel Ash.

Lights: Igor Halicki

Video and Sound Design: Karl Heding

Produced by Down the Rabbit Hole and House of International Theatre

Performed at Bøssehuset, Copenhagen, Denmark (Oct 13-Nov 7, 2020)

Photos by Benny Thaibert

The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 1
The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 2
The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 3
The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 4
The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 5
The Shy Manifesto in Copenhagen – 6

A HANDFUL OF MUSTARD SEED – REHEARSED READING AT THE PARK THEATRE

We had a rehearsed reading of Michael’s play ‘A handful of Mustard Seed’ this Friday last; 13th September 2019. It was organised by Katherine Kotz at the prestigious Park Theatre in Finsbury Park, London. It was a huge success, attended by the public and many industry people and Michael would of loved it!

We had an incredibly talented cast; Sophie Thompson as Shelley, Debbie Chazen as Linda, Toby Murray as Toby and Mark Fleischmann as Ben.

Here are some photos of the performance:

View the autosave

Sophie Thompson as Shelley
Debbie Chazen as Linda
Debbie opposite Sophie
Toby Murray as Toby
Mark Fleischmann as Ben
Sophie and Mark surrounded by an audience!
The curtain call!

It was directed and produced by Katherine Kotz with co-directing duties performed by Sam Phillips

Directed and produced by Katherine Kotz
Co-directed by Sam Phillips

Here are some tweets from the day:

Floored today by the late #MichaelRoss A HANDFUL OF MUSTARD SEEDS at @ParkTheatre – roared with laughter and wept by the end. Great cast one and all, lead by a brilliant Sophie Thompson, directed by @katherinekotz & @samphillips1984. Hope this funny, moving play gets a real run.

Really enjoyed it, Katherine, beautifully acted and directed and great writing. Incredible how much you all managed to find in Michael’s text in such a short rehearsal time. I’m sure he would have been very proud of you all.

@ParkTheatre please keep doing rehearsed readings.

Full house, brilliant celebration of Michael’s work @ParkTheatre Congrats to @katherinekotz  @samphillips1984 & Michael’s lovely family for putting this on. The cast brought every word to life. 

And lastly some candid backstage photos:

A huge thanks for Jez and Rachel at the Park Theatre for hosting it and for Nick Quinn at The Agency for publicising it!

Photos by Dean Shaw and Tom Ross

Work Makes You Free on at the Brighton Fringe.

Work Makes You Free By Michael Ross. 6-10th May at Rialto Theatre as part of Brighton Fringe 2019.

Adam is absolutely loving being Employment Minister, singer-songwriter Kirsty cries in the shower every morning before heading off to work at the Job Centre, struggling actress Willow must toil unpaid in a pound shop or lose her benefits, and banker Jane is disgusted by the sight of closed curtains as she leaves for Canary Wharf every morning.

Michael Ross’s biting and very funny satire delivers a piece very much for our times, reflecting on the dignity – and many indignities – of labour. It explores how some people are defined by their job, whilst for others it’s the main obstacle to becoming who they truly are. It is a funny, smart and ingenious examination of what work means in Twenty-First Century Britain.

“A current, relevant commentary on the aspects of life we see every day – it touches the full spectrum of working life in the modern age.” **** (LondonTheatre1)

***** (Remote Goat)
***** (Fringe Guru)

https://www.brightonfringe.org/whats-on/work-makes-you-free-by-michael-ross-135501/

Michael Ross Obituary

The playwright Michael Ross, whose latest work, The Shy Manifesto, recently finished a five-week UK tour, has died of cancer, aged 40.

A graduate of the Royal Court’s Young Writers Programme, Ross tackled contemporary issues such as social media, housing, homelessness and corporate greed. His play, Happy to Help, an acerbic comedy set in a supermarket, was produced at London’s Park Theatre in 2014, having been previously short-listed for the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize. It was later published by Methuen Plays.

He also wrote They Won’t Kill You (2006), A Handful of Mustard Seed (2010), Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (2012), Saving Souls in Soho (2013), The Utility People (2013), Work Makes You Free (2014), Damn Your Eyes (2015) and, most recently, The Good Landlord, about London’s housing crisis, which played at Vault Festival in February. A review of The Good Landlord on the theatreweekly.com website described it as “a fantastically funny and energetic performance”.

It was while The Shy Manifesto and The Good Landlord were both in rehearsal that Ross succumbed to the cancer that had only been diagnosed in December. Anthony Hollis, co-producer of The Shy Manifesto, spoke of the “shock and sadness” of the whole company. “Although Michael didn’t get to see the production, we managed to get an audio recording to him in the hospice, and he saw the published text of the play before he died,” said Hollis.

The Shy Manifesto, which opened at the Newcastle Live Theatre on January 30, was thought to be Ross’ most autobiographical play to date, about a teenage boy, Callum, who is not ashamed to be shy in a world full of narcissism and bluster. Even as an adult, Ross was quiet and unassuming.

Theo Ancient, a close friend of Ross who played Callum in this solo show and appeared in Ross’ play The Utility People, in 2013, said the rehearsal period for The Shy Manifesto had been “emotionally tough”, knowing Ross was unlikely to live to see his play performed. “It gave the director Cat Robey and me a real determination to keep going because it was the best way to honour his memory,” he said.

In an appreciation of the playwright in the Guardian, critic Miriam Gillinson described him as “a witty dramatist with a particular interest in the alienating impact of technology”. His work, she wrote, was “a gift to actors: light and energetic, lacking in pretension and full of compassion”.

Tracy Sinclair’s review of The Shy Manifesto for The Stage spoke of a “compact and often very funny show… a bittersweet examination of growing up in the social media age”.

Ross grew up in Surbiton, Surrey, and studied scriptwriting at Bournemouth University before returning to live and work in London. While honing his craft as a playwright, he worked at the National Theatre bookshop for more than 10 years, where he was responsible for providing monologue suggestions to young actors.

NT bookshop manager Christopher Roberts said: “Michael made an incomparable contribution to the National Theatre with his encyclopaedic knowledge of plays and playwriting.”

His agent, Nick Quinn, described Ross as “an exceptional talent, with a darkly funny tow to his writing. It is a great cruelty that he was taken so young. His work has touched and delighted audiences for more than a decade.”

Michael Ross was born on January 3, 1979, and died on January 23, 2019. He is survived by his mother, brother and sister.

The Shy Manifesto toured in 2019

The Shy Manifesto’s Theo Ancient (Photo credit Anthony Hollis)

My new play The Shy Manifesto is to tour in early 2019, taking in 27 dates at 20 venues across the country.

It’s a bittersweet coming-of-age comedy drama for one actor about a teenage boy who is proud to be shy and thinks you should be too, because what this crazy world needs right now is a bit more self restraint. Callum is to address an audience of radical shy comrades and incite the meek to finally rise up and inherit the earth, but memories of the previous night’s drunken escapades at end-of-term party keep intruding and threaten to upend the fragile identity he has created for himself.

Performed by Theo Ancient and directed by Cat Robey, it’s produced by Joe C Brown and Anthony Hollis and opens at Live Theatre, Newcastle on the 29th of January before travelling to Greenwich Theatre, Theatr Clwyd, The Met Manchester, The Marlowe Canterbury, Portsmouth Guildhall and Harrogate Theatre, amongst many others.

Edit: The Shy Manifesto did go on tour in 2019 and was a big hit and it was a shame Michael was not able to see it. Here are photographs from the run as well as tweets and reviews:

The Shy Manifesto gang posing for a photo for Michael in the hospice.

Top Reviews:

The Theatre Critic: The Shy Manifesto Review

Breaking The Fourth wall: The Shy Manifesto Review

Monstagigz: The Shy Manifesto Review

Onceaweektheatre: The Shy Manifesto Review

The Times: The Shy Manifesto Review

The Stage: The Shy Manifesto

The Guardian: The Shy Manifesto Review

The Shy Manifesto was nominated for two awards :

Nominated for Monstagigz Best New Play of 2019

Nominated for Monstagigz Best Theatre Actor of 2019