Why is so much of the focus on young, up-and-coming writers? Happy Warriors is a brand-new play by 91-year-old, journalist-turned-debut playwright JamesHugh Macdonald, based on a real, wartime events involving novelist Evelyn Waugh and Randolph Churchill. The play receives its world premiere at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, where it’s being recorded this Friday for future broadcast. Learn more – and nab £10 tickets to be in the audience for filming!
Happy Warriors is set in a war zone and based on a true story. Winston Churchill, up to his eyes in the Second World War, sends his son to Yugoslavia to join a mission to aid Tito by supplying arms to him and his army of partisans to help rid the country of the occupying German forces. Randolph Churchill, renowned for his egotism, requests a companion of equal intellectual standing is sent to join him – preferably the novelist Evelyn Waugh. Back in England, Captain Waugh is waiting for a new posting. After much deliberation, he finally agrees to join Randolph.
Along with Randolph and Evelyn, who are billeted in a small deserted farmhouse, is Zora Panic, a young, belligerent, university-educated partisan. Zora is far from thrilled when, ahead of joining her comrades in the battle against Germany, her guerrilla commander advises her to be less arrogant. In addition, she’s put in the menial position of cook/housekeeper to the two Englishmen. Can this be endured? What could possibly go right?
With Happy Warriors, producers WT Stage wanted to buck the trend of launching new young writers by giving a veteran the chance to have his script come to life on stage. Born in 1925, author James Hugh Macdonald himself lived through the Second World War and served in the Royal Scots Fusiliers.
Director Andrew C Wadsworth describes Happy Warriors as “a fascinating relationship between great British writer, Evelyn Waugh and an over-privileged narcissist, Randolph Churchill, set amidst the turbulence in Yugoslavia during World War II.”
The production stars Simon Pontin as Randolph Churchill, Neil Chinneck as Evelyn Waugh and Martha Dancy as Zora Panic. This premiere production is designed by Sorcha Corcoran, with lighting by Aaron J Dootson and sound by Nico Menghini. It’s presented by Joan Lane for WT Stage with associate producer Julie Samuel.
Happy Warriors runs until 22 April 2018 at Upstairs at the Gatehouse, Highgate Village, Highgate, London N6 4BD, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.30pm, Sunday matinees at 4pm and one Saturday matinee at 3pm on 14 April. Tickets are usually priced £22-24. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!
Attend this Friday for just £10
For the special, filmed performance on Friday 13 April, tickets reduced to £10. Book online or call 020 8340 3488, quoting 'HW Filming N6'.
James Hugh Macdonald (writer) has had a varied career before turning to playwriting. He had to give up an early career in journalism after being commissioned in the Royal Scots Fusiliers where he served with his Regiment before going up to the University of Oxford, later passing the examination for entry to the Diplomatic Service. Thereafter, he studied in the School of Oriental and African Studies and the University of Hong Kong. Having decided to leave the Foreign Service he worked as an Assistant Principal and Principal in the Home Civil Service, subsequently turning to university administration, then to lecturing in Chinese and British politics. Once retired, he turned to the theatre, which he regards as the greatest of the arts. He is thrilled and excited that Happy Warriors is being produced and feels he has broken through the glass ceiling and the age barrier!
Simon Pontin (Randolph Churchill) studied at the Royal Academy of Music supported by the Ruby and Will George Trust. His many credits include a UK tour of ‘End Of The Rainbow’, ‘A Little Night Music’, ‘Home & Beauty’ and ‘The Lady In The Van’ for Pitlochry Festival Theatre, ‘Free As Air’ at the Finborough Theatre London, ‘Iolanthe’ for The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera Company at The International Gilbert & Sullivan Festival and UK tour, ‘The Dark Hour’ by Charlie Piper with Ensemble 360 for Music in the Round at The Sheffield Crucible, ‘Promise’ (an adaptation of Chekhov’s Three Sisters) at The Rosemary Branch Theatre London, UK tour & New York run of ‘The Hired Man’ for New Perspectives Theatre Company. ‘The Magic Flute’ at The Bikeshed Theatre Exeter, ‘Flahooley’ as part of The Lost Musicals project at Sadler’s Wells and ‘Housewives Choice’ for Forest Forge and Oxfordshire Theatre Company.
Neil Chinneck (Evelyn Waugh) trained at the Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. A career highlight was with Action To The Word’s incredibly successful production of ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in which he toured for several years from its first incarnation at the Edinburgh Fringe through the run at the Soho Theatre including a tour of Australia and Hong Kong. He is associate producer with Project One Theatre and in 2017 assistant-produced and performed in its inaugural production of ‘Caste’ at the Finborough Theatre. He has also performed at The Vaudeville Theatre in ‘Handbagged’ and in shows at The Kings Head and The Arcola Theatre. He co-starred in a short film ‘Putting on the Dish’, written largely in Polari, which has been successful on the festival circuit and is currently available to view on YouTube.
Martha Dancy‘s (Zora Panic) many theatre credits include ‘Wendy House’ (Vaults Theatre), ‘School for Scheming’ and ‘Mary Broom’ (The Orange Tree);’The Littlest Quirky’ (Theatre Centre, Stratford Circus and The Egg);’The Erpingham Camp’ (Brighton Pier); ‘Access All Areas’, ‘Little Miss Jocelyn’ (Soho Theatre); ‘Moll Flanders’ (Southwark Playhouse) ‘Red, Black and Ignorant’ (The Cock Tavern); ‘Metamorphosis’ (Churchill Theatre); ‘Meeting Mary’ (Jermyn Street Theatre); ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (Eye Theatre, Suffolk); ‘Great Expectations’, ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (The Minack); ‘Written with Light’ (The Roundhouse); ‘The Children’s Hour’ (The Union Theatre);’The Frog Prince and the Untold Story’ (Cockpit Theatre).TV credits include ‘Lord Lucan: My Husband, the Truth’ (ITV) ‘Little Miss Jocelyn’ (BBC 2) and ‘Splitting Cells’ (BBC 3). Short films include: ‘Desmond’, ‘A Performance,’ ‘Life Death and Stuff’’ and ‘Her Long and Winding Road’.
Andrew C Wadsworth (director) is also an Olivier nominated actor who has played major roles in over 25 London productions, in the West End and at the National Theatre. These include playing the original Anthony in ‘Sweeney Todd’, the original Eddie in ‘Blood Brothers’, ‘Songbook’, ‘South Pacific’, ‘Les Miserables’, ‘Oklahoma’, ‘Zipp’, ‘Marguerite’, ‘Guys and Dolls’, ‘Antony and Cleopatra’, ‘Coming into Land’, ‘She Stoops to Conquer’, ‘Martine’ and ‘Kiss Me Kate’ for which he was Olivier Award nominated for Best Actor in a Musical. Andrew has directed at the Jermyn Street Theatre, Kings Head, New End and the Royal Festival Hall. Productions include a highly successful tour of ‘A Comedy of Arias’ and on ‘Dick Barton Special Agent’ and ‘Zipp’ in the West End. Other productions he has directed include ‘Assassins’, ‘The ‘Mystery of Edwin Drood’, ‘Sweeney Todd’, ‘Billy’, ‘A Slice of Life’, ‘This Thing Called Love’ and ‘The Threepenny Opera’. Andrew directed ‘Aladdin’ at Milton Keynes Theatre starring Gareth Gates, Anita Dobson and Russell Grant and Gary Wilmot in the musical revue ‘A Bowl of Cherries’ at the Charing Cross Theatre. Andrew recently directed a short film ‘Home’ about homelessness and refugees in London, which had its first screening at The Tricycle Theatre and was shown at the House of Commons in April 2016. The film won a Silver Award at the 2017 Charity Film Awards at BAFTA.
Joan Lane (producer) has worked in arts management and production for 30 years. Her company, Wild Thyme Productions has toured six innovative productions of Shakespeare’s plays in the UK and in Germany. She is a member of Musical Theatre Network, which supports the writing of new musicals and of the British Shakespeare Association. As a consultant for the BBC, her skills were used for the recording, filming and Royal Opera House performance of ‘The Little Prince’ and she was a director for BBC Radio Two and BBC Television’s New Talent UK-wide search for the ‘Voice of Musical Theatre’. As well as touring with her own company, she has worked on several plays at the National Theatre and toured with ATG and Pleasance Theatre. She developed the film The King’s Speech, directed by Tom Hooper, starring Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter and which was adapted from the stage play by its author David Seidler. She is working with new writers on 2 films and 3 new TV series and has developed a screenplay from a radio play and written a screenplay based on a true story.