As Charity Case prepares for its Covid-postponed premiere at London’s Drayton Arms Theatre, we caught up with writer Jeff Page about dramatising the world of fundraising, based on his own first-hand view of the charity sector. Time to get booking!
Jeff started writing seriously in Angela Street’s playwriting group and is a graduate of the John Burgess playwriting course. His other plays include Pentito (2012), Attack of the A&E Zombies (Descent Theatre, Rich Mix, 2014) and Checkpoint Chana (Finborough Theatre, 2018), also helmed by Charity Case director Manuel Bau. Outside of playwriting, Jeff has worked in the voluntary sector for many years.
In Charity Case, Karen and Paula have a day to raise funds to keep the charity they founded alive. The clock is ticking as they desperately fight a hostile red-top press and decide to break the law in a last-ditch attempt to survive.
Charity Case stars Bradley Crees, Louise Devlin, Laura Shipler Chico and Warren Palmer.
What made you want to start writing plays?
I went to a large comprehensive school on the south coast. We were lucky to have a fantastic drama department with a group of incredibly dedicated and inspirational teachers. My first theatre experiences were at places like the Bench Theatre in Havant and the Nuffield in Southampton on school trips. One teacher lent me their copies of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and Arturo Ui. Theatre is the only medium I’ve ever written for, inspired I think from those early experiences.
How did you start working with director Manuel Bau?
I first met Manuel when we teamed up for the Finborough’s Vibrant Festival in 2017. Since then, we haven’t looked back. We went on to full production of Checkpoint Chana and now, finally, Charity Case. Working with Manuel is a great partnership as he always seems to immediately get what I’m trying to achieve and has brilliant suggestions for the right tweaks and new scenes. He’s an amazing professional also, a director to watch.
Where did the initial idea come from for Charity Case?
I have worked in the charity sector for many years and felt it was a world worth portraying. Even better when you can turn it into an against-the-clock drama.
You were originally due to open in March 2020. What was that week like for you when theatres closed?
We were all massively disappointed, of course. Everyone had worked so hard, and we were 100% ready to go. Looking at the context of the times and the terrible pandemic, however, it’s important to place our postponed show in context.
In a nutshell, why should audiences see the show?
It deals with serious issues with some laughs and jeopardy on the way. The duty is to try to entertain and the reward you get is that people might take your ideas seriously. The actors in the show are superb also. I won’t single anyone out; they are all wonderful performers.
And, what message, if any, would you like them to take away from it?
Quite a few, I guess! Perhaps we could start with fully funding and massively extending respite care and paying far higher levels of Carer’s Allowance.
Charity Case runs from 16 to 20 November 2021 at the Drayton Arms Theatre, 153 Old Brompton Road, London SW5 0LJ, with performances Tuesday to Saturday at 7.30pm. Tickets are priced £12. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!