Role Play

Written by Thea Smiley, directed by Julia Sowerbutts and James Christopher, premiered at INK Festival 2016, and transferred to the hugely successful HighTide 2016 Festival. Role Play has also been adapted into a short film by Shirley Day, with CreateFilms Productions.


I would like to say a big THANK YOU to Julia Sowerbutts, Clare Hawes, the amazing cast and crew, and INK Festival for all their support and hard work in getting Role Play performed at HighTide. I feel fortunate to have seen my play transformed, and grateful to everyone involved. This has been an incredible experience, and I know it will have a positive impact on my writing. I am now looking forward to stepping up a gear and making further developments to Role Play, and I hope that it can evolve in surprising new ways and keep on rolling.

Thea Smiley, writer for Role Play. 


Role Play short film Trailer

Clare Hawes – Jo East

Once shocked Simon Cowell with her rendition of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, played on two recorders, in harmony, through her nostrils…

Clare trained at Warwick University and the Drama Studio, London. Theatre includes several tours with Mikron, Proteus and In the Red, The Crucible (tour of Denmark), Halo in The Ballad of Halo Jones (Albany Empire), Nora in A Doll’s House, Maggie in Dancing at Lughnasa, Amy in Amy’s View (Norwich Playhouse), Lady Macbeth in Macbeth! The Musical (The Cut), The Brontes of Dunwich Heath…and Cliff (Eastern Angles), Role Play and Biggest Fear at the Ink festival. TV includes Boon, Night Network and the lead in Escher, which won the BBC short film award. Clare regularly roleplays across East Anglia, for medical and psychiatric students and health professionals. She was delighted to be both the original inspiration and part of the development process for Role Play.

Richard Blaine – Simon East

Richard was once advised by visionary theatre-maker Peter Brook to ditch culturally bankrupt little England and move to Europe. He did! Prior to this he read English at Warwick University and trained at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. Richard then worked in Repertory, TV and Film before becoming Joint Artistic Director of Confederacy of Fools Theatre Company, based in Cologne, Germany touring original work and modern classics to mainland Europe, UK, and USA. Writing, directing, and presenting world-wide for BBC America followed, and then recently, as resident in Suffolk, Richard has concentrated on writing – moving from drama to debut novel, The Price. He also continues to act, with The Fools, Southwold Summer Theatre, and INK, and is Voice and Reading Coach at Faber Academy. If Article 50 is ever triggered, he will be moving back to Europe permanently.

Martha Loader – Martha East

Martha went to the other side of the world to work with The Owl and Cat Theatre in Melbourne, Australia as an actor and playwright for their in-house writers’ collective. Her play The Binding was performed as part of the theatre’s 2016 Summer season. Other acting credits include BBC Radio 4’s I Capture the CastleThe Power of One Soren Bennick Productions, and Seated Reservations at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She has just completed a filmmaking course with GoFilm It Academy and is in the process of developing her first short film. Martha is a Suffolk based actor, director and writer.

Julia Busch – Linda Slapp

Julia was pushed onto the stage at the tender age of 34 and has never looked back. Training: She took a two year Theatre Arts Course run by Paul Aspland in 1986, followed by courses at Arts Studio in London. She also trained and danced as a professional Flamenco dancer with Espiritu Flamenco. Her acting credits include: Quartet, The Crucible, Death of a Salesman, A Murder is Announced, We Happy Few, Separate Tables, Rosencrantz and Guildenstein are Dead, Caucasian Chalk Circle, A Delicate Balance, Everyman and Beaux Stratagem. She also worked with Wildworks Company of Cornwall in Wolf’s Child and Tilted Productions  in Belonging for the Norfolk and Norwich Festival. Julia works as a role-play actor and is very pleased to be part of Ink New Writing at High Tide Festival.

Tessa Wojtczak – Kate Gash

Tessa shares an Oscar with Harry Enfield, and all involved, for the animated film “Bob’s Birthday”. After Cambridge University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, Tessa acted at Manchester (Contact and Library), Nottingham Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory, Liverpool Playhouse, Derby, Worcester, Chester and Plymouth. Also the New Vic, Belfast Lyric, Leicester Haymarket, Tron Glasgow, Edinburgh Traverse, Almeida Theatre, Soho Poly, Gate Theatre Notting Hill, Lilian Baylis and Wyndhams and Joint Stock in London. TV includes: Inspector Morse, The Widowmaker, A Casualty of War, Pillars of Society, The Deliberate Death of a Polish Priest, Czech Mate, Eldorado. Film credits include: Sammie and Rosie Get Laid, The Insurance Man, Bob’s Birthday (playing Mrs Schimmelbiscuit – Oscar winning animation). Radio drama for BBC and LBC

Emma Parsons – Rosie Padwick

Emma has worked internationally from London to Vienna to Gothenburg to New York. Emma trained at Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and since then she has worked in theatre, television, commercials, & short independent films in the UK, Sweden, Austria and the USA. Theatre credits include: Pygmalion (Vienna), The Mousetrap & A Busy Day (West End), Lady Windermere’s Fan (Northampton), Hitting Town (Edinburgh Festival), After Miss Julie (Gothenburg, Sweden), A Million Tiny Plays About London (London Fringe), Miracle on 34th Street (New York), A Wedding Story (New York), Macbeth (New York). Television & film credits include: The Bill, London’s Burning, Solution to Writer’s Block, Homecoming, & Friday till Sunday.Most recently, Emma has appeared at the INK Festival (The Cut, Halesworth) performing in Powerhouse, Write In to A War (2015) and Role Play (2016).

Joe Sowerbutts – Max Retchford

Joe stars in the film Late Shift, the world’s first interactive film. Joe Trained at Leeds University and Mountview. Television includes: Casualty, The Lost Prince, Goodbye Mr Chips, Inspector Lynley (BBC), Doc Martin, The Turn of the Screw (ITV.) Film includes: Late Shift, I Capture the Castle, Parallel Lines. Joe’s theatre credits include: The King & I (London Palladium), Rope, Spring Awakening (Brockley Jack), Oedipus Rex, (Courtyard Theatre). A Matter of Life and Death (Sanderlings Theatre Company) and for INK: Biggest Fear, 14 Mouthfuls and The Other Woman. Radio work includes: Swallows and Amazons, BBC Radio 4.

Jack Solloway – Mark Fish

Jack is transferring to Camden in October with a play he helped devise whilst at Sheffield University.

Richard Bates – Dr. Watt

Richard once danced with Prince Charles at Belvoir castle and then later with Princess Anne. He also trained at Webber Douglas. Richard’s repertory work includes seasons at: Cheltenham, Derby, Bristol, Leicester Phoenix, Westcliff and Manchester Contact. Also The Taming of the Shrew RSC tour, Eurydice Chichester Festival, The Alchemist National Theatre, Anthony & Cleopatra Bridewell Theatre, The Jaws of Darkness Orange Tree, Richmond, Guys & Dolls Edinburgh Lyceum, The Lucky Ones Old Red Lion and The Infant Gate Theatre. His film and television work include: Casualty, Hi-De-Hi, Waiting for God, Circles of Deceit, The Cleopatras (BBC). Peak Practice, The Stalker’s Apprentice (STV), Heidi (Disney Channel) King of the Wind (HTV films) and Gipsy Girl (CITV). Richard has lived in Suffolk since 1991 working at The Wolsey, Ipswich, Southwold Summer Theatre, INK and on several Eastern Angles Christmas Shows.

Julia Sowerbutts -Director

Julia segued from professional actress to director when she moved to Suffolk 15 years ago. She trained at Durham University, The Drama Studio, London and at UEA where she gained a distinction in a Theatre Directing MA. For INK she has directed Steam, The Other Woman, Biggest Fear, Powerhouse, Write into War, Daughter and Beached. The latter won Velvet Trumpet’s 2015 new comedy award at Southwark Playhouse. Julia also helped develop and direct Role Play for High Tide 2016 and in November she directed a full length Daughter for The Pleasance Theatre, London. Other recent productions include:  Happy Families Tangled Lives and Julia’s adaptation of A Matter of Life and Death for her theatre company Sanderlings, Sunshine on Leith, A Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, Henry IV Part 1, Travesties, A Christmas Carol, Ajax, Ann Boleyn, Pack of Lies, Wind in the Willows and Letters from Aldeburgh.

Thea Smiley – Writer

Thea’s first play was performed in 2012 and in 2014, she won the Words and Women ‘About’ competition and her monologue was published and performed the following year at The Forum, Norwich. Thea Smiley graduated from the UEA in 2012. Her first play, The Books, was performed at the Cut Arts Centre, Halesworth, that same year. Thea’s short stories have been published in anthologies and shortlisted for the Flipside Festival and the Bridport Prize. Her play, Powerhouse, was selected for the first INK Festival. Then Return of the Wildman, commissioned by Wonderful Beast Theatre Company, sold out at HighTide 2015 and was performed in May as part of Wonderful Beast’s Storm of Stories. A short version of Role Play premiered at INK 2016, and has since been rewritten as a full-length play.

Special thanks: Smoke & Fire, James Christopher, Emma Struthers, Denise Brentnall.