The Shy Manifesto at The Melbourne Fringe, 20 – 23rd October 2022

The director Gavin Roach is putting on The Shy Manifesto starring Jake Matricardi at the Victorian Pride Centre – Theatrette, Melbourne, Australia 20 – 23rd October 2022.

Here are some publicity stills for the event.

Jake Matricardi at Callum, Directed by Gavin Roach.

Here’s a review of the February 2022 performance from the UMSU website:

Written by Michael Ross and directed by Gavin Roach, the Australian premiere of The Shy Manifesto opened in Melbourne as part of Midsumma Festival. British playwright Michael Ross has enjoyed a string of accolades in the UK, including being shortlisted for the 2014 Off West End Adopt a Playwright Award.

Upon walking in to The Bluestone Church Arts Space in Footscray, I was struck by the size of the performance space. Situated in a relatively unassuming church hall, there were no elaborate sets or backdrops to give any indication as to how The Shy Manifesto would unfold. The only sign that this was indeed a play and not, say, a council meeting, were two lights on trusses at the back, throwing a warm shade of pink over the audience.

In defiance of its venue’s size, The Shy Manifesto greeted a surprisingly robust audience, and for good reason. The show is presented as a solo monologue, and Jake Matricardi delivers an utterly arresting performance. He plays Callum, a proudly shy person, who rebels against the conscriptions of a loud, extroverted society. Despite how vehemently Callum insists that other people shun him, we as the audience can’t help but find him likeable. Matricardi is a charismatic actor, armed with Ross’ beautiful turn of phrase and with an air of Hugh Grant about him, his performance makes Callum a charming character, for all his quirks and foibles.

Callum is dry-humoured, eloquent, and articulate; over the course of the hour, Matricardi didn’t stumble over a single word. Callum recounts amusing anecdotes about the times various people tried forcing him out of his skin, including his aunt Libby the “ruthless character assassin”, and his Drama teacher Ms Cherry, who tried to convince him that “all the best actors were shy people”. Callum derides these attempts, unable to believe or accept that people could be interested in having him around. The self-referential irony interwoven throughout the play enables us to clearly see the cracks in Callum’s shy sheathing.

Callum takes great pride in his social exclusion, revels in his anonymity, and gathers his self-professed shyness around him like armour. The arrival of a new kid at school, David ‘Gilby’ Gilbert, threatens shake the very foundations of Callum’s existence as a “fundamentalist shy separatist”. While his entire year level dismisses him, Gilby, to his horror, is nice to him. Why would this boy be nice to him, Callum frets. Matricardi deftly navigates the emotional range of a shy, overwhelmed teenage boy grappling with his sexuality, as we as an audience see exactly where Callum’s self-imposed shy lifestyle leads. His preoccupation with Gilby leads to a chain of events which culminates in Callum revealing more about himself than he ever wanted to.

Ross, Matricardi, and director Gavin Roach masterfully manipulate complex themes surrounding identity, coming of age, and coming out, in a perfect little gem of a production. As an audience, we can see that shyness, in Callum’s case, is not so much a choice as a defence strategy, a manifestation of his anxiety. Callum grapples with coming to terms with himself and his identity. The play culminates in a bittersweet ending, as what began as a manifesto is gradually revealed to be more of a self-imposed exile.

Michael Ross Award 2021: Aiden Strickland

Aiden Strickland performing.

Aiden is a theatre maker who grew up in Berkshire, before moving to Bristol to work for Theatre Bristol, an umbrella group that supports performers and producers. He read Performing Arts at Bath Spa University, where he found his voice as a solo performer, and is also an alumnus of both The Watershed’s Future Producers program and Marisa Carnesky’s Radical Cabaret School. As a writer and performer, Aiden has toured shows at UK theatre festivals based on Great Expectations, Virginia Woolf’s Orlando, and Katie Hopkins.

During his time on Birkbeck’s MA Text and Performance course, Aiden discovered that he can write earnest and personal work that is still provocative and worthwhile. His final dissertation piece, The Sodomite, for which he receives the Michael Ross Award, is both a tongue-in-cheek retelling of the biblical story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and an earnest reflection on Catholicism’s relationship to the LGBTQIA+ community. Aiden is passionate about gender and performance, including how queer aesthetics such as drag and cabaret can tackle cultural accessibility.

Because he tends to make solo performances, Aiden splits his time between producing and writing and devising in the studio. The support and advice Aiden has received from the staff and his peers, both at Birkbeck and RADA, has supported him in these endeavours, but due to the pandemic, his experience of developing The Sodomite has felt solitary at times. With the help of the Michael Ross Award, Aiden will be able to give The Sodomite the attention it deserves, while also exploiting his classmates’ creativity and tenacity more equitably.

Samuel French Off Off Broadway Festival in New York

I am incredibly excited to be heading to the US in August to see my work performed on a New York stage for the very first time. My play ‘Eyes Full of Pornography’ has been selected from over 1,000 entries as one of the 30 finalists at the Samuel French Off Off Broadway (OOB) Festival at the East 13th Street Theater, where it will be performed on Tuesday August the 8th at 6.30pm.

Organised by the venerable play publishers Samuel French, the OOB Festival is now in its 42nd year. 30 plays are performed over one week, with a panel of theatre professionals then whittling the plays down to a final few which are then performed again on Saturday, the last day of the festival, with six of the best plays being published in an anthology. The festival has showcased the early work of many successful playwrights over the course of it’s long history, including Theresa Rebeck (author of Broadway hit Seminar) amongst many others.

I’m also thrilled to be meeting one of my playwright heroes, Will Eno, who will be guest of honour at an event to open the festival on the 7th of August.

My play tells the story of two men, Dan and Matthew, who recount how they first met many years ago in a gay bar in Greenwich Village when Dan leant over and whispered in Matthew’s ear the chilling words which would change his life forever. The director is Rachel Dart and the cast are Colin Waitt and Alexander Haynes.

Rachel Dart (Director): recent credits include Project Y’s Women in Theatre Festival, EST/Sloan First Light, and NYU’s Steinhardt School and the upcoming The Trojan Women at The New Collectives. Website.

Colin Waitt (Dan): previous credits include The Checker Game (SF OOB 2015), The Mysteries (The Flea), Kapow-i GoGo (The PIT), Versailles (This Is Not a Theater Company).  He also produces Puffs, currently playing at New World Stages.

Alexander Haynes (Mathew): previous credits include Campfire at Lincoln Center, and Public Enemy at The Pearl Theatre Company. He is the voice of Talonflame on Cartoon Network’s Pokemon. Website.

Tickets for the OOB Festival can be purchased here.

More info on my play (and a short Q and A) here.


Blood Wedding at Mumford Theatre, Cambridge



I have written a new version of Federico Garcia Lorca’s Blood Wedding for Anglia Ruskin University, which will be performed by the University’s 2nd year Drama students at the Mumford Theatre, Cambridge, in January 2017. (cast pictured below)


This is my first adaptation of another playwright’s work, and it’s been a daunting challenge, as Lorca was such a great writer with a distinctive style so very different to mine. My version still takes place in Spain, but is set a few years later, in the 1940s, with General Franco very much in charge of a country haunted by the dead of the Civil War.

Blood Wedding is directed by Andrew Pritchard (who directed my play Protect and Survive at VAULT Festival 2016) and is being performed as a double bill with another play, Upwardly Down. Performances are at 7.30pm on Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st of January 2017. Tickets are available to book online here.


Happy To Help at Park Theatre

Landscape for Web

My new play Happy To Help runs from the 14th June to the 9th July 2016 at Park Theatre, London. .

A destitute farmer sells his land to the supermarket chain that drove him out of business. Fifteen years later and a bustling supermarket stands on the same spot. UK managing director Tony is coming to work undercover at the store for a week. Branch manager Vicky is determined to give him a more grimly authentic experience than he’d ever dared wish for. Shelf-stacker Josh dreams of escape and rock stardom. Union organiser Elliot dreams of Josh. By Friday, nothing will ever be the same for them again.

Directed by Roxy Cook. The cast are Charles Armstrong, David Bauckham, Katherine Kotz, Ben Mann, Rachel Marwood and Jonny Weldon.

Producer: Celia Dugua, Associate Producer: Claire Evans, Casting Director: Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn, Designer: Emma Tompkins, Sound Designer: Alexandra Faye Braithwaite, Lighting Designer: Sherry Coenen.

Developed with Park’s Script Accelerator Programme and shortlisted for the 2015 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize. This show is supported by the Royal Victoria Hall Foundation.

Tickets available here. Tickets £18 (£16.50 concessions) Previews (14/15 June) £14.50. Tues-Sat 7.45pm. Thurs & Sat Matinees 3.15pm.

The playtext is being published by Methuen Drama to coincide with the run and is available here.

Photograph by Crusoe Weston.

Protect and Survive at VAULT Festival 2016


Protect and Survive from Michael Ross on Vimeo.

Tickets are now on sale for my new play from the VAULT Festival website here. Tickets are £8 and performances are at 6.15pm from Wednesday the 2nd of March until Sunday the 6th of March with a matinee on Saturday the 5th at 3.15pm.

Protect and Survive VAULT image

Above: Karl Mercer as Jack and Carla Rose as Kirsty. Photo: Andrew Pritchard

Protect and Survive is a tense drama set in rural England, 1984, against the backdrop of the Cold War. Kirsty has recently moved to the village with her brother Charlie and their widowed father. Out walking one day, she meets local boy Jack who tells her about a government nuclear bunker hidden beneath his family’s farm. At first she doesn’t believe him, but Jack promises to take her, and her brother Charlie, down into the bunker. As dark secrets and repressed desires come to the surface, not everyone will emerge alive.

Below: Josh Husselbee as Charlie. Photo by Patricia Oliveira.


Above: Carla Rose as Kirsty and Karl Mercer as Jack. Photo by Patricia Oliveira.

A Shout In The Dark Production, directed by Andrew Pritchard with Carla Rose as Kirsty, Karl Mercer as Jack and Josh Husselbee as Charlie.

Protect and Survive flyer

Happy To Help Kickstarter successfully funded!

Happy To Help image

Look how delighted Katherine Kotz is! All must have chips and Smash!

The Kickstarter for my play Happy To Help reached its goal of £5,000 (actually exceeding it by 70 pounds) just minutes before the 5pm deadline on Friday the 31st of July. To have raised over £5,000 in just 2 weeks is an incredible achievement, but it’s all down to you kind and lovely backers (all 139 of you!) who came forward and pledged.

Thank you so much to everyone who contributed- your generosity and support is astounding and hugely appreciated. We now have enough for our Park Theatre deposit, plus a successful crowd-funding campaign behind us which should put us in good standing going forwards as we seek further funding and investment.

But we couldn’t have done with you, so hearty thanks from myself and Katherine Kotz go out to (in chronological order of pledges placed); Sally Bunker, James Greveson Hickie, Saskia Lortz, Toby Strutt, Rachel Salisbury, Barbara Cala-Lesina, Amy Draper, Magda Koc, Laura Wyatt, Adrian Weston, Olivier Tunmero, Duncan Lloyd, Izzy Smith, John Rodgers, Dorota Kotz, Harry Mackrill, Stephanie, Jay Hannaford, Marysia Koc, Douglas Walker, Jane Collingwood, Pete, Carl Harrison, Jackie Ramsay, Nick Diakanastasis, Lou Stephens, Adwoa Alexsis Mintah, Liis Mikk, Martin Prendergast, Helen Bauer, Cassie-Jo Sims, Will Columbine, Miran Hadzic, Arthur McBain, Sofie Mason, Michas Kotz, Zofia Williams, Hannah Wilde, Tom Ross-Steen, Andrew Walters, Victoria Carlin, Daniel Turner, Emer Duffy, Angela Clarke, Liz McCarthy, Charly Fraser Annand, Tommy Doyle, Saul Reid, Rob Fahy, Emily Horn, Morag Small, Marek Bublik, Hamble Wallace, Nick Payne, Kate Johnson, Ash Parker, Crisp Wotsit-Pringle, Kate Darach, Paul Murphy, Helen Franklin, Ashley Young, Tom Spencer, Bruce Ross, Carol Ross, Crusoe Weston, The Underground Clown Club (Andrew Skipper & Katie Overstall), Lucinda Westcar, Colette Flanagan, Ceri Williams, Daniel Strutt, Matt West, Carrie Hill, Alex Middleton, Thomas Dykes, Stef Ross-Steen, Christopher Roberts, Sarah Giles, Bryony Mills, Edward Yelland, Liliana Colombo, Mr Davy Tyler, Rachel Clarke, Ruth Naylor, Kitty Craske, Ben Ellis, Becca Melhuish, Marilii Saar, David Gray, Jake Strutt, Maria LoCastro, Rachel Tookey, John & Sonia Foster, Ellie Marshall, Daisy Watford, Ella Wiggans, Ricci, Jess, Cicely Taylor, Abbie Lucas, Hal Thompson, Ty Paul Read, Elke Wiebalck, Lucy Hagan-Walker, Pippa Mawbey, Hannah Hooper, Luca Ponzetta, Susan Allen, Adam Howe, Dominique Trotter, Mike Francis, Stacey Williams, Kit Greveson, Karl Mercer, Dean Jones, Lydia Koshiw, Angus Kemp, Laurie Harrington, Steph Lodge, Gabriella Shimeld-Fenn, Eleanor Crosswell, Alex Reynolds, John Handscombe, Blaine Tookey, Elliot Richards, Sarah Pitard, Andrew Pritchard, Jo Royce, Holly Welham, Janis Handscombe, Patricia Oliveira, Victoria Murray, Emma Digby, Robyn Holmes, Tricia Kelly, Cameron McLeod, Joe Dennis, Sophie Quin.

Happy To Help on Kickstarter

Above: short video filmed by our producer Hannah Tookey, featuring Katherine-Ellen Kotz, myself, and Stephen Mangan being a very good sport.

My play Happy To Help has been offered a slot at the Park Theatre next year following a successful showcase performance as part of their Script Accelerator Programme last Summer, but we need  your support to help us get there in 2016.

Happy To Help is set in a supermarket and it explores the absurd and far-reaching powers of these multinational corporations, but its not just about that; it’s also a play about having to do that job you hate instead of pursuing that thing you love, about joining a union, about unrequited love in the workplace, and about the tragic burden of keeping secrets. It’s a funny play, but also a bit sad and a bit scary.

Putting on a professional theatre production in London is very expensive and we want to put on the best production we can and pay everyone a decent wage. This £5,000 Kickstarter goal is just one part of the total final budget we will need, but we hope to get the rest through arts funding, foundations, private investors and other sources, but the reality is that no funding body will give us everything we need- they will expect us to have other sources of funding. But we hope that with a successful Kickstarter behind us we will stand a better chance of securing further funding. Our Kickstarter finishes on Friday the 31st of July at 5pm and if we don’t reach our goal then we don’t get anything.

If you decide to pledge, we have a range of rewards on offer. We want to involve you as part of our team, with regular updates as the production progresses and (depending on what you choose to pledge) invitations to attend dress rehearsals, tickets to performances and even supermarket props named in your honour. Full details here.

Shortlisted for Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize

15-wi-MichaelRoss-award-2015I have been shortlisted for the Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for Happy To Help. My play is one of ten selected from over 200 entries, judged by a panel including Kathy Burke, John Godber and Frank Cottrell Boyce. The winning play will be considered for production at the Royal Court Liverpool and the winning writer will receive £10,000. More details in the Liverpool Echo here.

Script Accelerator 2014 at the Park Theatre

Park Script AccMy play Happy To Help has been selected by the Park Theatre as part of their Script Accelerator Programme 2014, in which five pieces (supported by and developed in association with the Park) will be presented as works in progress in front of an audience in the theatre’s main Park200 space.

There will be 30 minute excerpts from Happy To Help performed on Wednesday the 25th and Friday the 27th of June, 7.30pm (alongside two other plays, Full Of Bees by Rick Bland and Broken by Upstanding Productions).

Happy To Help is set in the branch of a giant multinational supermarket chain and tells the story of managing director Tony Manning, who decides to spend a week working undercover at one of his stores to see what life is really like on the shop floor, and ends up getting a far more authentic experience than he’d have ever wished for. The cast are Keith Hill, Katherine-Ellen Kotz, Edward Yelland, Joe Dennis, Helen Reuben and Charlie Allen, the director is Gemma Kerr and the assistant producer is Katerina Elliott.

Tickets are £6 and can be booked via the website (click on the screenshot above to take you there)