Upstart Theatre will be presenting the premiere of Oh Well Never Mind Bye by Steven Lally at the Union Theatre from Tuesday 16 June 2009 to Saturday 4 July 2009 at 7.30pm, with Press Night on Thursday 18 June 2009.
The power of the media – and the challenges for individuals struggling to use their influence with responsibility and integrity – are the subject of this compelling and biting new play by Steven Lally.
Oh Well Never Mind Bye depicts a newsroom struggling to accurately report real-life events against a backdrop of the political panic of July 2005. In the aftermath of the London bombings, Charlotte, George, Fin and James are pushing to meet deadlines in the increasingly demanding world of 24 hour news. When the Metropolitan police shoot dead a man at Stockwell tube station, the characters’ professional and personal lives are thrown into conflict by rivalry, political maneuvering, resentment and outside pressure.
Steven Lally trained as a writer under April De Angelis on the MPhil Playwrighting programme at the University of Birmingham. His first full length play was These Things Happen at the Crescent Theatre Birmingham. In 2003 he was selected for BBC Northern Exposure with his short play Dealing (West Yorkshire Playhouse). After working at Liverpool’s Unity Theatre, Mersey TV and Talkbackthames, Steven wrote his second short I Never for Upstart as part of a season of shorts at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden. He has also worked with Small Change Theatre, Emergency Exit Arts and If You Dare We Are Shameless, who produced Hood (the final part of a trilogy of shorts and currently being adapted for Grain Media). In 2007 his play Mr Lorrimer was selected for reading by the Operating Theatre Company at the Tristan Bates Theatre.
Oh Well Never Mind Bye is the first in Upstart Theatre’s season of work reacting to the killing of Jean Charles de Menezes. On 22nd July 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot repeatedly by armed police officers as he sat on a Northern Line train at Stockwell tube station. Initial reports to the press claimed that his clothing and behaviour, added to the fact that he lived in the same block of flats as a suspect in previous attempted bombings, made him a potential suicide bomber and it was necessary to end his life to protect the public. The inquest into his death concluded that Jean Charles was a totally innocent man whose actions had given no reason to suspect him, and that he was given no warning before police marksmen opened fire. Upstart Theatre began work on Jean’s story with a series of workshops presented by the Oval House Theatre in February 2006. Since then, their research process has involved interviewing members of Jean’s family, members of the Justice for Jean campaign, senior police officers, former employees of the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the volunteers responsible for maintaining the “shrine” to his memory at Stockwell station.
Upstart Theatre believe that the theatre offers the most immediate and compelling way to explore the human reality of his death and what this has meant for people he knew – and many that he did not. At a time when our civil liberties are being eroded in the name of protecting us against terrorism, and when recent events continue to show the power of the press in reporting police reaction to public fears, the story of Jean Charles de Menezes stands as important as ever. Artistic Director of Upstart Theatre, Tom Mansfield says, “One of the first thing we discovered when we started working on these plays is that this isn’t only the story of Jean Charles de Menezes – July 2005 was a pivotal time for Britain as a country. Attitudes shifted – we became a lot more scared of each other. We’re in 2009, but this story hasn’t gone away. Now is the time to step back and assess with calmness, to prevent mistakes like this ever happening again. If everybody says, ‘I want to know what’s really going on’, then perhaps we will get the media, politicians and police force that will give us that.”
Upstart Theatre is a company of emerging actors, writers and directors dedicated to creating entertaining, politically engaged and vital new theatre work. Since 2004 we have produced new work in Edinburgh, as well as at London venues including Theatre503, the Etcetera Theatre and the Union Theatre, working with award-winning writers including Dawn King, Jack Thorne and Andrew Taylor.
Producer: Upstart Theatre
Writer: Steven Lally
Director: Tom Mansfield
Cast: Matthew Duggan, Susanna Fiore, Charlotte Flintham, Benjamin Peters
Venue: The Union Theatre, 204 Union Street, London SE1 OLX
Dates: Tuesday 16 June 2009 to Saturday 4 July 2009 (no performances Sun/Mon)
Press Night: Thursday 18 June 2009
Performance Starts: 7.30pm
Running Times: 1hr30 including interval
Upstart Theatre Website: www.upstart-theatre.co.uk