One to watch out for | Chapter One: She, the Storyteller

As far as musical theatre projects go, I’m terrible at finding out about new pieces of work being staged. Typically, I’ll hear about something long after it’s closed and kick myself for not knowing out about it sooner. It’s for this reason that I’m glad to have recently found out about The Ceiling Project’s brand-new venture.

This year, The Ceiling Project had a call out for short new musical theatre pieces written by female led writing teams which tell the stories of untold women across contemporary and historical settings.

After receiving submissions from across the UK, US and Australia, The Ceiling Project have now announced its final selection for their first project, Chapter One: She, the Storyteller. Each show will be workshopped and rehearsed with West End associate director Grace Taylor and be presented at Bishopsgate Institute on 15 November 2019.

In their media release, Grace Taylor, Director, says:

“Supporting women writers is important to us – we were talking about the work that we were excited about at the time and what we wanted to see more of in the industry. The aim of this project was to make one performance that was rehearsed and slick and went one step further than just a showcase. I’m doing this because I am passionate about supporting women in musical theatre. I am also excited about effective storytelling and the idea of a whole narrative being told in just 20 minutes, there’s something really exciting about the economy of that. After this showing in November, we aim to take this to a venue for a full run”

Corey Reynolds, Producer, Somewhat Awkward also comments:

“Grace and the Bigger Fish Theatre team came up with this concept to support female led writing teams, and to shine a light on writers who may not be getting the attention they deserve. We’re delighted to be supporting this initiative and to be working with such a talented array of writers”.

The exciting line-up is as follows:

  • Garsin & Shields: Cicely Saunders (Working Title)

“Cicely Saunders” centres on the founder of the St Christopher’s Hospice and pioneer of the hospice movement. Creators Emily Garsin and Anna Shields met on the steps of London’s Central School of Speech and Drama in 2008. Since then they have written three musicals, all of them exploring big questions, life lessons and great stories. They are in the process of writing their fourth full-length musical together; an empowering tale about women and girls, the great things they do and the obstacles that can sometimes block their path to greatness.

  • Rhiannon Drake & Will Drake: ‘Gwen’ | A Bronze Age Pop-Rock Musical

11th Century BC. Queen Gwendolen, the legendary ruler of Ancient Britain, has just discovered her husband, King Loncrinus, in bed with another woman. He tells her he wants a divorce. She tells him she will take all of his lands… so she does! Rhiannon Drake & Will Drake (Drake & Drake) are a sibling composing duo, based in London. Their first full musical, ‘Herstoric’, was performed at The Drayton Arms Theatre earlier in 2019.

  • Freya Smith and Jack Williams – RIDE

RIDE explores the life of Annie Londonderry (born Annie Kopchovsky), an extraordinary American woman who cycled across the world over the course of 15 months, between 1894-1895. Freya Smith and Jack Williams are award-winning musical theatre writers who aim to create bold, accessible and thought-provoking work. Their previous work includes THE LIMIT (Sell-out show and winner of VAULT Festival’s Outstanding) and PART A (Edinburgh sell-out show, The Roundhouse, The Leicester Square Theatre).

  • Lucy O’Brien and Jamie Buxton – The Fox (USA)

The Fox, which is set in Berkshire, England shortly after the war, centres on two women living harmonious, simple lives running a farm. A one-act musical about sexuality, relationships and power, Nellie is the centre of this piece as she grapples with an attraction to a man and a woman, without any means of deciding between two different lives she could live. Lucy is a composer from Australia, and Jamie is a wordsperson (lyric and book) from Oklahoma. Both are studying at the Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program, NYU.

  • Ellie Coote & Holly Musgrave – Andromeda Unchained

Andromeda stands naked and chained to a rock off the coast of Ethiopia. A sacrificial victim to a fire-breathing dragon after her family provokes the wrath of a sea-god, her only chance at freedom is help of hero Perseus… If she agrees to marry him. But what if she could rearrange the stars and rewrite her story? Ellie is a director, writer and dramaturg, specialising in new musical theatre and has assisted on a number of new musicals, including Imaginary (The Other Palace), Lock & Key (The Vaults) and Wasted (Southwark Playhouse). Holly is a singer-songwriter and actress. She originated the role of Jane Seymour in SIX at the Edinburgh Fringe, and is a trained classical and jazz singer, and pianist.

The Ceiling Project’s Chapter One: She, the Storyteller will be performed at Bishopsgate Institute Library on 15 November. For more information, visit or @ceilingproject on Twitter.


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