Samuel Crompton – A Fine Spinner

I am currently working with Bolton Little Theatre on an unusual one day theater piece called Samuel Crompton – A Fine Spinner.

Samuel Crompton is one Bolton’s most famous sons, a gifted engineer and inventor who created one of the key machines of the Industrial Revolution – the Spinning Mule. It changed the face of the cotton industry, enabling a worker to reliably spin yard upon yard of cotton thread without it breaking. It was also very scalable, leading to huge mills with rows of machines and much of Bolton’s wealth was built on it. But the man himself saw only a fraction of the wealth that he might have earned from his genius, due to not patenting his invention, but instead accepting payments from mill owners to come and view his designs.

A Fine Spinner by Donna A Hughes, is the story of Samuel Crompton, his invention and his troubled relationship with the new world that machine ushered in. A cast of five actors from Bolton Little Theatre will be performing this one act play at Crompton’s former home of Hall’ith Wood, on Tuesday 26 July 2016, as one of the events celebrating Manchester’s status as European City of Science 2016. Admission is to the house and the play is free, and we will be performing the play three times during the day.

You can find out more about the year long festival at

European City of Science Logo_BLACK


It has been an interesting challenge so far to plan this production. The author originally intended the play for the theatre, with multiple sets, scenes and a larger cast. My first job was to sensitively edit her play to make it feasible for staging in one room and with the minimum of props. I also had to cut several characters to bring the cast down to a manageable level. First to go was the narrator, a fictional neighbour of the Crompton’s. He was purely a narrator, with no other role in the story, so it seemed sensible to take him out and give parts of his speeches to the characters to perform to the audience as asides. It also made the speeches a little more dynamic if the people involved were relating them. I chose to remove the first scene altogether, featuring Sam and his sister Ruth as children, since child actors bring their own complications and the scene mostly repeated information for elsewhere. My other main deletion was the Prime Minister, since he only appeared for about half a page. Instead the other characters will act as if he is there, while he remains off-camera as it were.

Hall’ith Wood is now a museum, dedicated to telling the story of the house, its role in the English civil war and its most famous tenant – Samuel Crompton. Open Tuesdays and Saturdays, free admission. You can find out more about the place by visiting its website.

I’ll be sharing some details about this production when we start rehearsal. But for now, if you are free during the day on Tuesday 26th July 2015, please mark your diaries!

How To Approach Literary Agents – free seminar in Bolton

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Creative Industries Trafford have been running some excellent events for new and upcoming writers locally. I’ve been to several of their previous events and will be turning up for this one next week in my home town of Bolton. There are still places available – so book now if interested. Here’s their description:

How To Approach Literary Agents
7th July 2015 – 6.30pm – 8.30pm

The Gallery at St Georges, St George’s House St Georges Road, Bolton BL1 2DD


Join Juliet Pickering (Blake Friedmman Literary Agency) as she reveals how to approach literary agents and what writers can do to stand out from the slush pile – the stack of submitted books and proposals that appears on every agents’ desk or e-reader, waiting to be read.

Juliet will outline how to give your work has the best chance of succeeding, the agent will cover everything from drafting your cover letter, to writing a synopsis, to making sure your first three chapters are edited and ready to be seen. The best written submissions often go straight to the top of the pile, and the aim of this session is that yours should too.

Book here.

For more information on CIT events, visit or follow us on Twitter @CITrafford

Watch the best of our Bolton poetry festival – Live from Worktown 2015

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So after all the stressful planning, the filming and the late nights, the second Live from Worktown festival of the spoken word is over. Well I say over, you can still buy copies of our accompanying poetry anthology with contributions from all over the UK and beyond, not to mention a long overdue reissue of Hovis Presley’s bestselling collection “Poetic Off-License”. Sometime soon the committee will have a review meeting to consider what succeeded and what could have been done better.

Plus you can watch my videos of many of the events, which I’ve been busy editing during the course of the festival. I’ve put them together into a Youtube playlist below. You’ll find local poets like Jefferama and Louise Fazackerly rubbing shoulders with major names like John Hegley and Brian Patten. I think the part of the festival I’m most proud of is the connections it makes between people, connections which might flower into new creative projects, or just make people’s lives a bit brighter.

Highlights for me have been the energy, enthusiasm and sheer quality of the performers on the INSYT Media vs Young Identity evening. John Hegley’s hilarious clever set, and the good feedback I’ve had from the Hovis Presley night. The latter was the evening I was overseeing and it pushed me into new responsibilities and has given me more confidence for future happenings.

Low-lights have been the problems of finding good venues for our festival programme, money worries when it looked like our Arts Council grant application had failed and trying to think of new ways to promote the festival at the eleventh hour.

However I think Live from Worktown as a brand has definitely raised its profile and reputation significantly this year. Most of the credit goes to Dave Morgan, Scott Devon, Paul Blackburn and Louise Coulson for all their hard work. Now its time to put some of my other projects back on the table and get them completed. Hopefully I’ll have more to tell you about soon. Thanks for reading.

For more information about the festival, or if you want to buy a copy of the anthology, please visit

Live from Worktown poetry/comedy/music festival in Bolton

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Whilst I’m not intending to spam the timeline with Live from Worktown notices, I’d be remiss if I didn’t put up links to both main webpage and the online box office
Especially since I’ve just been putting a lot of work into the latter, listing all the events the organisers have planned for April and May. We’ve really got some big names coming to my home town of Bolton, UK, including one of the original Merseybeat poets – Brian Patten, and poet, comedian and singer John Hegley. Plus workshops, debates and a one-night revival of Dave Morgan’s play for voices “Hovis in Wonderland”, celebrating the work of poet Hovis Presley.

I’m currently editing a big launch trailer, so expect that to be posted here soon.

The weird thing about all this is, I couldn’t write a poem myself to save my life!

Exciting times ahead – Music, Poetry and Bolton

Live from Worktown was a 2014 festival of poetry and music based around the UK town of Bolton, my home. As well as the best local talents, it also featured sets from international names George Wallace and Anjum Malik. I was involved on the filming side and general gophering.

Tonight I’ve been at a meeting to discuss the forthcoming arts festival Live from Worktown and I’ve come away feeling very excited. There’s much to be done between now and May but already it looks as if our follow up to last year’s inaugeral event will be bigger and bolder. I’ll be posting up specifics about what I will be doing once they are confirmed but in the meantime, if you’ve not taken a look at the official website then please do. There is also a brand new archive site containing a permanent record of 2014’s events.

Thanks for reading. Stay tuned.

Arsenic and Old Lace


I’m shamelessly plugging my upcoming appearance in “Arsenic and Old Lace”, the classic American black comedy by Joseph Kesselring. I’m playing Dr Herman Einstein, the plastic surgeon and cringing henchman of the fiendish Jonathan Brewster. Armed with a comic German accent, I’ve been part of a hard working cast of actors and technicians at Bolton Little Theater and the rehearsals have been busy but rewarding.

The play is on for seven nights between 6th to 13th of December, tickets are £10 and if you are interested in watching then find out more from:

Written in 1939, this brilliantly constructed comedy, has impressively stood the test of time. As a writer I love the script, not just for its tightly designed plot and atmosphere of matter of fact madness, but for some jokes about writers which are still bang on target. Take Office O’Hara, the would-be playwright for whom his policeman job is “just a temporary thing”. “How long have you been a policeman?”, asks Mortimer, “Twelve years”, replies O’Hara blithely. Later on, after boring the room senseless with his hours long pitch, the cop protests, “I know the first two acts are a bit long, but I can’t see what we can leave out!”

It’s a play that combines slapstick of hiding dead bodies with some sharp satire on the hypocrisies of the monied establishment. The Brewster sister are hailed for the good works, but they are shown to be rather prejudiced as well as murderers. Their money and position means that the police treat them with rather too much respect. Although we are a British theater troupe, we are playing with American accents, because somehow the comedy just doesn’t work without them. This play is both timeless, yet fixed to a specific place and time.

Expect some production photos in a little while.