THE FRIGHT BEFORE
In the 19th Century, telling scary stories round the fire on Christmas Eve was as traditional as mince pies and John Lewis Christmas adverts are now. Victorian friends and family came from far and wide to exploit creaky floorboards and creepy candles to terrify beyond measure.
In December 2021, Harpy Productions teamed up with horror-based theatre company, Danse Macabre, to bring this Christmas tradition back from the dead.
Created by Harpy Productions & Danse Macabre Productions
Hosted by Lady Aria Grey
Venue: The Space Theatre
Judging Panel: Chris Nials, Mike Muncer & Sampira
"Six shorts put together for a night of fun and horror. A great evening that hopefully saw some future stars of writing, directing and acting."
- Rob Warren, Everything Theatre
"An excellent selection of well-staged and produced short plays.
It did not disappoint and has genres for all types of horror fans."
- Storefront City
"With horror an underserved stage medium, and one that is particularly tricky to pull off well, having six writers attack the genre with such vigour is a prize in itself.
- Scott Matthewman, The Reviews Hub
Freddie Valdosta; Ben Whitehead; Sarah Hamilton; Jane Morris; Rachel O'Neil; Rachel Bellman.
Freddie Gilbraith; Oscar Koronka; Ben Whitehead; Nalân Burgess; Jo Shirley; Guillaume Remy; Beth Clarke; Hellena Fischer; Nea Ranganathan; David McCulloch; Tallulah Wrey; Niamh Bennett;
Robyn Hoedemaker (All I Want For Christmas...Is You)
Hamish Inglis (Flip The Switch)
'FLIP THE SWITCH' is the story of John, and the complicated rituals he engages in to prevent the sinister voice in his head causing harm to him and his loved ones. It is based on the writer's own experience with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Freddie Valdosta is an aspiring comedy/horror writer who can’t decide if she prefers audiences laughing or screaming. Her other works include: Angels in Erotica, Plague Town (Podcast) and 21 Galactica Drive (Podcast).
'THE SISTER INSIDE' is a chilling poem about a fetus in fetu (a developmental abnormality in which a mass of tissue resembling a fetus forms inside the body of its twin). Set in a children's orphanage in Victorian London, it soon becomes clear that 'the twin within' may be inhabited by something sinister...
Ben Whitehead has been performing the macabre character of Fred Strangebone on the cabaret scene for more than 10 years.
He recently hosted the London Horror Festival opening night, as well as performing a new solo show at the Space as part of the festival.
'ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS...IS YOU' is a seasonal slasher play of twisted storytelling inspired by Greek mythology. Christmas turns from a time of forgiveness to a time of revenge when a young woman taken to a remote safe house agrees to help a stranded motorist. Prepare for Christmas songs, presents, and a not so silent night.
Sarah Tejal Hamilton is a playwright and narrative artist. She is a former winner of London Horror Festival's playwriting competition and more recently performed her horror rap at Blackshaw Theatre's Scare Slam. She is also working on a sci-fi screenplay and crime thriller novel.
OUR OTHER AMAZING FINALISTS
'EIGHT LEGS. EIGHT ARMS' tells the story of a girl walking home alone at night, and the anxieties which run through her head on an empty street. As she walks, she is spoken to by a voice which expands on her fear of the many possible creatures that could be hiding in the dark. Playing with genres like surreal and cosmic horror, this piece intends to interrogate the many consequences of a woman's fear of a man waiting for her in the dark.
Written by Jane Morris and students of the Theatre and Social Change BS Hons course at the Rose Bruford College, this piece is inspired by works such as China Miéville’s ‘Marxism and Halloween,’ the writings of M.R. James.
'THEY COMES' explores flipping gendered expectations and Body Horror. In the play, a man is pressuring his partner to have a baby to satisfy his ego, a need to love, his granny - it's not quite clear. What is clear is that there is a darker, more primal force at work that they cannot resist. "They comes when they want".
Rachel O'Neill is a writer, director and the MD of a professional theatre company based in Winchester. She has staged two of her plays - Sir Walter's Women (2018) and Tilly and the Spitfires (2019) with professional casts, directors and musicians. She has also directed Keats: A Fruitful Season (2019) and Pies and Prejudice (2021).
'TOOTING BEC ASYLUM' follows a young professional couple in London. Hayley has just moved into a one bed flat, determined to pay-through-the-nose to live by herself and focus on work. However, as the nights go on, she begins to see the ghosts of the patients from the hospital - all of whom are suffering from ‘senile dementia’.
Rachel Bellman is a London-based playwright and musical theatre librettist, with an interest in original, strange and/or untold stories - particularly stories with female-led narratives. She is currently developing the full-length horror play These Demons, which received an Arts Council funded R&D in July 2021.
Lady Aria Grey is the stage name and drag persona of Callum Tilbury, a writer, comedian, and drag artist. Born and raised in South Africa, they moved to the United Kingdom in 2017. After completing an MFA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, they won the London Horror Festival Playwriting Competition in 2019 with Grey Widow. They also won Best New Comedy Script at the 2020 Edinburgh TV Festival New Voice Awards with a script for a draggy TV pilot, Vague.
Before they moved to the UK, Callum completed their BA at the University of Cape Town, and thereafter they were nominated for three Muse Awards by the Writers Guild of South Africa, one of which they won, for an almost-musical, The Pitch (co-written with Roland Perold).
As well as writing, Lady Aria performs herself at drag venues and theatre across London - and sometimes even further afield! Most notably alongside Taylor Mac and Gateau Chocolat in A 24 Decade History of Popular Music at the Barbican.
Her performances are mostly based in writing, be they stand-up comedy, stage plays, pantomimes, or live readings of her own ridiculous erotica. She loves her audiences to think while they laugh.
Chris founded the London Horror Society in 2012 to try and find a bunch of like-minded people to watch horror movies with. He was quickly swept up by the sheer passion and love for the genre that he found within the indie horror community.
Chris’ overall ambition is to close the vast audience gap between studio and indie-produced films, so that a great movie is seen by as many people as possible, no matter what size the marketing budget.
Find out more at www.londonhorrorsociety.co.uk
A film journalist, producer and presenter, Mike is the creator and host of the Evolution of Horror Podcast, which explores the history of the horror genre by delving into particular sub-genres across several weeks.
Each episode, Mike is joined by a different guest - a critic, filmmaker or expert - to discuss a particular film in depth, to look at it’s place within a sub-genre and it’s impact and legacy on cinema history.
On October 2nd 2021, the podcast reached 2 million downloads! Be sure to check it out at www.evolutionofhorror.com
Sampira is a horror producer and curator based in Birmingham. Her work centers around unheard voices and communities in horror and takes the form of immersive exhibitions that intersect visual art, grime, hip hop and film.
She also works as a consultant and project officer with Inc Arts, who pioneer racial and disability equality in the arts. She has curated her first exhibition on the history of Black Horror and has written articles for Hear Us Scream and Fangoria.
The Space is a theatre on the Isle of Dogs, managed by St Paul’s Arts Trust built in a reconstructed Victorian church. The Space aims are to increase access to the arts and provide support for new artists.
They provide opportunities for local residents to engage with the arts and a range of platforms for performance and artist development. Their activities include hosting live performances (throughout the year at the Space and during the Summer at the Roof Garden), delivering workshops and performance opportunities through their participatory theatre project and bringing people together for arts festivals and special events.
The Space Theatre's patrons are Sir Ian McKellen and Marie McLaughlin.
You can find out more on their website https://space.org.uk/