So here it is…….

So here it is the end of Fired Up Theatre’s performing season, we have completed our tours for this year and are planning the next.

  Preparing for another encounter with The Fell Walker.

However I am still busy finishing projects in the run up to the festive season,  which is mainly writing the book for I am Words project, a book for new writers with exercises to get started in their writing. The book builds on the workshops I ran in the summer and is based around Tamworth although it could be used in any town.

I am writing up the exercises and editing the pieces that were submitted by the people who took part.

I will keep you upto date with progress.

  I am Words 


My head is always full of ideas these days, now I am free to focus on my creative practice, my mind never seems to rest. This means that I find it difficult to read for any lenght of time. I have tried to engage with several writers and novels but my mind drifts and I loose the plot…… So to speak!

Something to think about…..

Along with putting a poetry set together for two bookings I have already in the diary and others that are in discussion.  I must admit that up until now I tend to decide what to read on the night, having heard the tone and themes of the evening from the other poets. But with these new bookings I am the only poet and I have an hour in which to present my thoughts on poetry.

I am really looking forward to  putting this together.

Right I shall now grab a beer and attend to my thoughts.

So here it is…….. Merry Christmas to you all.

The Fell Walker Flyer
This busy  week has been very productive as Fired Up Theatre confirmed further shows for both the Hound of the Baskervilles and the Fell Walker but more on these later in the post.


My week started  with a full day of workshops with year 5 pupils in a local primary school, exploring the world of kites through the poetry of the air, which resulted in the children writing their own poems and turning them into kites.  A really fantastic day full of imagination and great verse and as for the kites they look pretty good too.


Poetry Kites


Thursday and Friday saw a technical trip up North to Cumbria, to look at two theatre spaces. The Heron Theatre in Beetham where Fired Up Theatre will perform the Fell Walker on December 11th. The theatre is a wonderful space using an old school and set in a rural location. It is well supported and is very active in providing theatre, music and film to the local community. It has 80 seats so is an intimate space that will work well for production. I really look forward working there.

The Heron Theatre – Beetham, Cumbria.


The Heron Theatre – interior

Under Blencathra

Blencathra fell rises along side the A66 between Penrith and Keswick, it over looks the village of Threlkeld, this really is Fell Walker country and if you listened carefully you could hear the faint echo of a SNIFF from a flaring nostril as the murderer chased down his next victim. 


Blencathra Fell – from Threlkeld Viilage Hall & Cafe

Threlkeld Village Hall is the location of our production of The Fell Walker next April, this is a very different staging than at the Heron Theatre, Threlkeld Village Hall is  a wonderful space to perform, but it is not a theatre and therefore requires us to create a pop-up theatre, a challenge that between us and Threlkeld Village Hall we can rise too. This performance will be part of a three night tour, with a second performance at the Beggar’s Theatre in Millom and a third location as yet to be confirmed.


Threlkeld Village Hall – has the lights but the rest we need to build.

The Hound of Cromford.

Fired Up Theatre  are pleased to announce a further performance of the Hound of the Baskervilles at Cromford Mill on Friday 28th October 2016, this is added to our two performances at Cannock Chase Mining Museum in. August 2016.

More details of how to get tickets for our shows is available on our website http://www.fireduptheatre.co.uk 

Cromford Mill to host Hound of the Baskervilles

Following the success of our production of the Hound of the Baskervilles at The Garrick Studio theatre last weekend, Fired Up Theatre are pleased to announce that today we have agreed two further shows for Holmes and Watson and the Hound at Cannock Chase Mining Museum next Summer on the 19th and 20th of August 2016.

These two shows are be outdoor productions that will draw on our expertise in delivering theatre productions in unusual spaces.

Joint artistic directors, Simon Quinn and Mal Dewhirst today viewed the site at the museum and will start planning how to turn the production into pop-up theatre. 

Simon said “we are really excited to be able to stage our production of the Hound of the Baskervilles in the open air and are looking forward to working with the team at the Cannock Chase Mining Museum”

More details will be provided in the near future as we begin our planning.

Simon Quinn views the Cannock Chase site of our soon to be pop-up theatre 

Fired Up with Success.

Today is  so much slower paced following  the successful production of Fired Up Theatre’s Hound of the Baskervilles, which not only sold out but also received a great review from one of the Midlands foremost theatre critics, Gary Longden.


You can also read my pre-production interview with Gary at:


It was really satisfying to see our minimalist approach to theatre deliver an uncompromising version of this classic tale. 

Fired Up Theatre prides itself on delivering high quality professional productions that rely upon good scripts performed with great acting, we can only measure this through the response from our audiences and I was pleased to see that Gary Longden’s review recognised our achievement.

I am beginning to feel that we now have enough work, with six major productions in our portfolio with The Wall, Quadrophenia, Enigma, at the Crossroads, The Fell Walker and now the Hound of the Baskervilles, that we can start to consider widening our ambitions, whilst at the same time maintaining our commitment to working with a mix of community and professional actors.

Simon and I are already talking to other venues about future performances of both The Fell Walker and The Hound of the Baskervilles for next year and the same time planning new projects that will explore more contemporary themes with our unique uncompromising approach to theatre.

Progress on all our work will be discussed through this blog and the Fired Up Theatre website at http://www.fireduptheatre.co.uk  or our Facebook page, please follow us to become part of our development.

Photographs Neil Thorne (c) 2015.   

Hounded Back to the Blog.

It has been some time since my last blog post and a lot has happened in my role as an artistic director and writer.

During the summer  I took the opportunity to take on my artistic endeavours full time, leaving my role in industry to focus my mind on developing new theatre and poetry.

I have been part time Joint artistic Director with Fired Up Theatre since our performance of Quadrophenia in 2013, my role is to develop Literature, through new writing, workshops creating the production on the page which is then transferred to the stage by  my fellow artistic director Simon Quinn.  In reality Simon and I share the writing  and the transfer to the stage, working with the company of actors to create outside of the box productions that we hope both delight and challenge our audiences.

Our current productions include a new interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Hound of the Baskervilles, paying homage to the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films of the 1930’s , with comedy, tragedy, projections, live action and shadow theatre. This brand new script brings new twists and perils to the stage. The production is at the Lichfield Garrick Studio on Friday and Saturday 16th/17th October.

For more information check out our website at http://www.fireduptheatre.co.uk 

Some of the cast of Fired Up Theatre’s  Hound of the Baskervilles suspects all.


Picture 107

An excellent few weeks, which saw the culmination of my year as Staffordshire Poet Laureate came to an end as I gave an account of my year at an event at Baswich Library in Stafford on National Poetry Day, before handing over to my successor Tom Wyre, I wish Tom all the very best in the role and my advice is for him to sculpt his own place in Staffordshire poetry.

The weeks in the run up to National Poetry Day saw many workshops with a range of groups and ages which saw the creation of some wonderful poetry to celebrate our towns and their rich characters built upon a history of often violent conflict to uncertain peace to today’s commercial theatre with its banal slogans and constant sales.


It seems like only yesterday that my first Commission was performed on the Streets of Tamworth, but it is 12 months ago, to the day, if not the date which is tomorrow, 30th October.

You can see the film recording of the production at: http://vimeo.com/53128350 

A full account of my time as Staffordshire Poet Laureate will be published on a permanent blog over the coming weeks. I move on now to support Tom and also to mentor the Staffordshire and Stoke On Trent Young Poet Laureate, Natalie Cotterill from Lichfield.


I also move on to take up my role as Joint Artistic Director of Fired Up Theatre, for which I have already started with the script for The Fell Walker.

My role is to focus on Literature and to bring new writing to the stage, which does not just include my writing, I am hoping to open up opportunities for others to develop their skills in taking a piece from page to stage.

Simon Quinn also brings an excellent writing pedigree to the company which he founded and has run since 2004. He is an excellent theatre director and devisor of theatrical productions. This builds our working relationship from our previous collaborations on the Wall, Colin Grazier Enigma, Quadrophenia and more recently 23 which saw me take the lead in directing for the first time.

So on to the Fell Walker.

An adaption of the book by Michael Wood.
Script by Mal Dewhirst and Simon Quinn
Directed by Simon Quinn and Mal Dewhirst.

The Fell Walker Flyer


Premier at Penrith Playhouse on 17th January 2014 – with further dates and theatres to be added.

Tickets are available from: http://penrithplayers.ticketsource.co.uk/

Work on the script continues into the rehearsals, as we create the visual representation as a film noir on the stage.

The play sees Local Journalist, Ben Foxley, caught up in investigating a series of deaths that take place on the Lake District Fells, with the authorities taking the view that these are just accidents, whilst a mysterious London journalist, Sophie Lund, thinks otherwise and tempts Ben into being her local eyes and ears as the evidence unfolds.

The piece is now fully cast and the rehearsals have begun, to bring this chilling piece to life.
Simon Quinn and I journeyed up to Cumbria to meet with the Michael Head who manages the Penrith Playhouse theatre. This is a gem of a theatre, built in an old auction mart, the theatre’s main auditorium seats 150 and is fully equipped for our purposes, including projections, lighting and sound.

We also met with Michael Wood the author of the book, who is keen to see how we would adapt his book. I don’t think he is convinced that we can do it, I hope he appreciates what he sees as the production develops.

I will be working to complete the script over the next couple of weeks and then move onto creating the sounds and the projections.

Fired Up Theatre can be found at www.fireduptheatre.co.uk


“It was the Scutler’s voices, I heard, it was the Scutler’s.”
“All it proves is that I am no stranger to a grate.”
“No they can’t hang me, they weren’t mine.”
“The so called learned are fools.”
“Stale, putrid, mouldy bread.”
“That is what I think.”

23 poster2

All lines from 23, my poetic sound sculpture that brings the voices of the condemned men and women who had the misfortune to appear before the court at Shire Hall in Stafford.

The piece is now completed and in the final mastering phases of the production and I must say I am really pleased with the soundscape, with its repetitive court procedures broken by the words of the person in the dock. The characters whose voices are heard represent many different people who were brought before the court for committing of similar crimes. There is the bread thief, the coal thief, the murder, the coin clipper and the habitual drunkard all giving us an insight into their lives and the reasons or denials for the crimes for which they have been charged. We also include some insights from the Clerk and his wife.

These are all set at around 1850, when court cases lasted and average of eight minutes and the mere fact that you had found yourself in the dock was a sure sign that you were guilty. The piece draws its inspiration from the photographs and case files held by the county archive service.

The voices were provided by local actors from the Fired Up Theatre Company and I was keen to get the voices to be local dialect voices from Staffordshire and on 23 we hear Tamworth, Stone and Black Country voices along with some voices from outside of the county for some of the officials.

The day of recording was most enjoyable we had some real fun with the piece, despite its seriousness and there is perhaps a second sound sculpture of the outtakes, which may someday be heard as echoes in the annals of Staffordshire history.

The piece will become a permanent installation and I will advise you as to when it will be unveiled.

Another Poem Published.

My Poem Jerusalem Revisited (Blake Dub) was published in the magazine Here Come Everyone. The poem is my reflection on whether we ever built the New Jerusalem that Blake predicted and if we did, then where did it go as we grow in a post industrial Britain.

The Latest edition entitled Jerusalem can be view at http://herecomeseveryone.me/

Also check out their next theme “Idiots” and submit a poem, article or short story.

Recently I attended two great events.

Being Human – Coventry Belgrade Studio.

(c) Graeme Braidwood

(c) Graeme Braidwood

Friday 18th saw a performance of Being Human in Coventry, this production has always been something I think works really well, creating a theatrical narrative from 35 of the poems published in Bloodaxe’s anthology of the same name. This should not be confused with the BBC TV programme.
This is the second time I have seen it and it stirred up the same emotions as to when I first saw it and review it back in 2012.

For my review see https://pollysworda.wordpress.com/tag/being-human/

For details on the Anthology
Bloodaxe books – http://www.bloodaxebooks.com/titlepage.asp?isbn=1852248092

Being Human website – http://livepoetry.org/

Miners Hymns – Polesworth Memorial Hall.

253 gala

Miners Hymns is a collage of film clips from the North East Coal Fields that are sewn together to create a narrative on the lives of mining families. The seamless movement from the awkward delight of the participants at the Durham Miners Gala in the 1930’s to an awkward moodiness of a Gala from the 1950’s or 60’s, shows the change that suggests a growing uncertainty in the mining communities.

The film is excavated from the BFI archives and was dug out and constructed by American Film maker Bill Morrison. With an original score by the Icelandic composer Johann Johannson that draws on brass band traditions, with its signature minor keys that strikes a lost pride into the mourned sadness. The whole film revives the memories of the mining heritage to create a hypnotic experience which laments the loss of an industry, its jobs and its communities.

Shown here in Polesworth, which was once at the heart of the North Warwickshire Coalfield and now reflects on its own losses as nearby, the final pit, Daw Mill closes.

The film with its images from the Battle of Orgreave, which sounded the final whistle on many mining lives, to the building Stadium of light, on the site of Monkswearmouth Colliery, reflecting the new, supposedly out of the mining heritage. This, along with the old Gala’s, the pit work and life was all a powerful statement on the decline of industrial Britain but for me, whilst it was a very powerful piece that touched my thoughts, on reflection it lacked some of the humour and camaraderie that was prevalent among the miners and the communities, that I gathered from my experience as a poet working with ex-miners and as someone else mention to me on the night.

More Details can be found at:

There are further showings in Burntwood in Staffordshire and Bilston in the Black Country by Flatpack Festivals – http://www.flatpackfestival.org.uk/project/the-miners-hymns/
Plus further venues around the country.

Jordon Fradley

I met Yvonne Jordon and her husband Mark at the Open Arts awards at Stafford Shire Hall Gallery, I was commissioned to read my poem all around the shire and Yvonne had won the Stafford Railway Building Society award for her photograph ‘LAT 52816589 LONG 2119577’, an atmospheric street view taken at night, when the world is still, or is it.

We have had few conversations since and I am planning to use some of her work in the projections for The Fell Walker.

Take a look are the website and some of the images from her Longitude/Latitude project.

So that is me resting on my Laureate Laurels – as if I ever would!

Other Events


A Carnival of Christmas Curiosities – Stage IT Academy and Fired Up Theatre
Come and celebrate Christmas with the cast from Quadrophenia.
Thursday 5th December 2013 – Assembly Rooms Tamworth.

Tickets are available from


1st November – Cromford Mill Poetry – Derbyshire – 7:00pm
5th November –CORK POETS – Night Blue Fruit – Coventry – 8:00pm
6th November – CORK POETS – Poetry Alight – Lichfield – 8:00pm
13th November – Unity in the Community – Wednesbury – 7:30pm
15th November – Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent– 7:30pm

Spoken Worlds – Burton on Trent.

Spoken Worlds

Spoken Worlds

Old Cottage Tavern – Bykerley Street – Burton on Trent.
Friday 16th August at 7:30pm

Come and read in the now famous three halves – this is the host Gary Carr’s Birthday bash so come along and celebrate with a pint and some poetry.

At the Shire Hall Gallery Stafford.

Shire Hall Gallery

There is still a chance to add words to the Stafford Poem.


23 – Sound Sculpture of a Court Room.

I am working with Staffordshire Arts and Archives on a poetic sound sculpture to reflect on the spirit of Court Room number 1 at the Shire Hall Gallery in Stafford.

My Script is in rehearsal with Fired Up Theatre and HydanoidMusia to produce a poetic sound sculpture that will be played in the Court Room at the Shire Hall Gallery.

Hear the lives of murderers, bread thieves, drunkards, coal thieves and coin clippers along with the voices of the Clerk and his wife.

The recording takes place on Sunday 18th August between 12:30 and 16:00 in the court room and we are welcoming the public to come and observe and may be add their voices to some of the chants.

23 poster2

St Dominics Literature Festival – Brewood Staffordshire.

This is unique event for the writers of the future a literature festival aimed at children and young people.

31st August at St Dominic’s High School For Girls in Brewood Staffordshire.

I will be sharing my Staffordshire words, hosting an Open Mic session for yound poets and introducing the British Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy as the guest speaker.


Unity in the Community.

I will be reading at the Unity in the Community event in Wednesbury at 7:30 pm on Tuesday 3rd September.


THE FIZZ at Stafford Arts Festival

I am hosting THE FIZZ Poetry and Spoken Word event at Stafford Arts Festival on 7th September at the Gatehouse Theatre.

The programme includes many local voices along with readings from the candidates for the Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent Young Poet Laureate.

Readings from 10:00 to 12:00 and then 13:00 to 16:00 in the main auditorium.

Fizz 2013


Other poetic events include Bert Flitcroft as Poet In Residence at the Shire Hall Library – see the timetable on the website for full details of all the arts festival events.

Poetry Workshop at Lichfield Library

Saturday 14th Sept 2013 – 10:30 – 14:30

Lichfield is celebrating local and community History month in September and as part of the celebrations, Staffordshire Poet Laureate, Mal Dewhirst will be running a FREE poetry workshop to explore some of the local history artefacts held in the Library.

The workshop is open to everyone over the age of 16 and will look at the changing environs of Lichfield through maps and photographs, building around the theme of Lichfield : a Victorian Life.

Through exercises participants will gather ideas and then be given time to write a piece which they can read out in the library at the end of the workshop.

Library Lichfield Poster

My Coming soon doings.

The Fell Walker

A Fired Up Theatre Production of Mal and Simon’s adaption of the novel by Michael Wood. – Script writing in August – Auditions and Rehearsals start in September – The premier is at the Penrith Playhouse in January 2014.

The Fell Walker Flyer

Crossroads – Satan, The Master and The Blues.

A new production by Mal Dewhirst and Simon Quinn with Fired Up Theatre for the Lichfield Mysteries to be staged at the Lichfield Garrick Studio Theatre in May 2014.