The world premiere production of award-winning new play ‘Valhalla’ by Paul Murphy at Theatre503 in London this autumn
by Corinne Salisbury in London
This autumn Theatre503, in association with Sheer Drop Theatre, will present the world premiere of groundbreaking new play ‘Valhalla’ by Paul Murphy. We are seeking funding to ensure this production will be able to go ahead and achieve the highest possible production standards, to give this extraordinary play the showcase it deserves.
‘Valhalla’ was the joint winner of the inaugural Theatre503 Playwrighting Award 2014, chosen from over 1600 entries.
“You know the words but when it comes to pain and fear and love we are a breed apart.”
‘Valhalla’ will run at Theatre503 in south west London from 30th September to 24th October 2015, produced by Theatre503 in association with Sheer Drop Theatre and directed by Jo McInnes.
It is a fictional drama centred on a medical researcher and his wife, a doctor, on the verge of a major discovery of a cure for a previously incurable disease. Their relationship is compromised by accusations of unethical behaviour in the husband’s research, and the revelation that his potential cure could cause major side effects for a select few.
As the outside world grows increasingly hostile, the couple are forced to choose between conflicting allegiances. As they battle for power and the truth, the future of the human race is at stake.
Suffused with Norse mythology, Valhalla depicts a world where the boundaries of scientific research and the endurance of human love are stretched to their limits.
Inspired by Nessa Carey's book 'The Epigenetics Revolution', Paul Murphy has crafted an intense drama exploring epigenetics and the complex bioethical dilemmas found at the cutting edge of medical research, and their personal, social and cultural impact. Ultimately it addresses the basic question, “What makes us human?”
What Is Different About This Show?
‘Valhalla’ represents an all-too-rare opportunity to launch a major new voice in UK theatre. Paul Murphy has been involved in several projects with Theatre503, but this is his first major production; and as joint winner of the Theatre503 Award, this play will bring him major attention from the UK theatre scene for the first time. Paul is an entirely distinctive talent: his writing is characterised by extensive research into the historical, social, political and scientific ideas he explores, and his work brilliantly combines intellectual content with emotional force.
“Paul has an incredibly rigorous and astute intellectual engagement with the world and a singular artistic vision that sets him apart from most other new writers I engage with."
Steve Harper, Literary Manager, Theatre503
Plus, the play has a fascinating and immensely relevant subject matter. It will change our understanding of medical research and the sort of scientific breakthroughs that so often go unreported but have a massive impact on all our lives.
We’ll offer additional participation activities, to help increase people’s understanding of the world of medical research that the play delves into. This will include forum theatre workshops, play development projects, and post-show discussions featuring scientific experts to stimulate debate around epigenetics and bioethics.
This production will also be a major platform for Sheer Drop: as our first time working as associate producers at Theatre503, it will help to showcase our work and connect us with a huge range of new emerging writers who we can then work with on other projects in future.
Paul Murphy and Bea Roberts at the presentation of the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award, November 2014
What Do We Need?
Sheer Drop are leading the campaign to raise the remaining funds needed to ensure that this brilliant new play can reach the stage, and be given the dynamic and innovative production that it deserves. Currently we are in need of an additional £1000 in order to reach our fundraising target. We have already raised £2000 through the company’s earned income activities over the past year; and are also awaiting the outcomes of a number of trust applications. An additional £1000 raised through crowdfunding will make a huge difference in getting us to our overall fundraising target: to allow the production budget to break even overall and all the cast, creatives and technical team involved to be paid a fair wage to match their skills and experience.
We have only six weeks to hit this target – to give this play the showcase it deserves, and to plan as full a programme of education activities as we possibly can.
Theatre503 are a small theatre who do not receive any regular public funding. A fundraising effort is therefore required for every individual production that is staged there. In particular, this production is planned to involve complex and innovative design elements, to fully create the atmosphere and the world that the script suggests – so support from donors is especially crucial to enable this to happen.
How You Can Help
We would be immensely grateful for any donation at all you can contribute towards our fundraising target. On the right you’ll see our suggestions of the different levels you can donate at; along with what we’ll give you as a thank-you for different levels of donation. But if you would be interested in donating at any other level than those specified, you’re of course welcome to discuss this with us – it all helps enormously.
You can also help by spreading word about our campaign to your friends and peers; by engaging in conversation with us about the ideas behind the play (we’re always interested to hold these conversations and answer any questions); and by coming to see the show!
An image from past Offie award-nominated Sheer Drop production 'Dirty Promises'
by Lilly Driscoll at the Hope Theatre, Islington, August 2014
Sheer Drop Theatre is a not-for-profit organisation that develops and stages the work of new and emerging playwrights of any age. Working with writers to develop plays through script-reading and dramaturgy, workshop processes, rehearsed readings and showings, we are committed to becoming a vital part of the whole country’s theatrical seedbed. Our particular passion is to nurture writing talent at the beginning of their careers to create the leading playwrights of the future. To date of the ten plays we have produced, 7 were the writer’s first major production.
We are drawn to plays which explore the big issues of the day through human stories. Drama which is thought-provoking and touching. Plays which make you think, melt the heart and tickle the funny-bone all at once.
Praise for Sheer Drop’s work
"clever and powerful...too visceral to ignore…the production only enhances this excellent script - it's not like a lot of other theatre, but that's the beauty of new writing as good as this”
[One Stop Arts on ‘The Death of Norman Tortilla’ by Charlotte Coates, 2012]
“launches with high energy and laughter, descends a slope of horror and heartbreak, gathering speed like a boulder down a mountain to reach its gut-wrenching conclusion… a beautifully crafted story that will hit you hard and remain with you when the lights go up”
[The Upcoming on ’Dirty Promises’ by Lilly Driscoll, 2014]
Nominated for Off West End Awards 2014 – Best Director
Sheer Drop is run by actress and producer Morag Sims, and director and dramaturg Tom Latter.
This project offers rewards in return for your donation.