Sarah Wooley

Sarah Wooley is a writer and director who trained at RSAMD. She has written many stage plays, but now most of her work is for the radio and television.Her website is at www.sarahwooley.com.

Her radio credits:
2018 Festival
2018 The Robber Bride (Classic Serial)
2018 4/4 Four comedy dramas about a professional string quartet (with Robin Brooks)
2018 Intelligence (about Muriel Spark)
2017 Everyone's Got Conditions (about Tennessee Williams / Bette Davis)
2015 1977 (about Angela Morley / Wally Stott)
2015 Fifteen Minutes
2014 Planning Permission
2013 Moving Music
2012 Coalition
2010 A Nice Little Holiday; rpt 2012
2008 Life Savings
2008 The have oak trees in North Carolina (stage play ad. for radio)
2006 Let them call it Jazz
2005 Folie ŗ Trois

Her theatre writing credits include:
UNDER THE CONCRETE WAITING (National Theatre Studio)
SHIRLEY AND THE DEVEREAUXS (performed by 3rd year students at Arts Educational Drama School).

She was invited onto the NT writers course in 2003 and was one of five writers who took part in the Guiding Lights season for BBC Radio Drama in 2006. I met Sarah briefly at the Imison Award in 2006 when her play Folie ŗ Trois was shortlisted .

Sarah has worked for two years at the National Theatre as a Staff Director with Peter Gill, Trevor Nunn, Di Trevis , Harold Pinter and Tim Supple. Her productions include ROMEO AND JULIET, REMEMBRANCE OF THINGS PAST and LUTHER.

She was Director on attachment at the National Theatre Studio (2003) working on readings of plays by Kwami Kwei- Armah , Steve Waters, Simon Bowen, Trevor Williams and others. She was Acting Artistic Director for Thea Sharrock at Southwark Playhouse in the same year. She was Assistant Director to Steven Daldry on Caryl Churchill's A NUMBER working with Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig and Trainee Director for the Tron Theatre, Glasgow and Assistant Director at the Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park.

Other directing credits:
SLADEK and A SEXUAL CONGRESS at the National (Platforms)
VENUS AND ADONIS at Regent's Park
Howard Brentonís THIRTEENTH NIGHT at Southwark Playhouse and Arches Theatre, Glasgow
THREE MORE SLEEPLESS NIGHTS by Caryl Churchill at the Royal Court
HUMAN CANNON by Edward Bond RNT Studio,
DEPARTURES at the Old Vic for Old Vic New Voices
SCOTT OF THE ANTARTIC at Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow

She has also directed at Drama schools in London: plays by Caryl Churchill, Rebecca Gilman, David Greig, Chris Hannan, Vladimir Gubaryev and Michel Tremblay.

Sarah has a new stage play, THEY HAVE OAK TREES IN SOUTH CAROLINA, which has just opened at the Tristan Bates Theatre. There is an excellent review of the production in "The Stage", Nov 07.

Sarah is represented by Giles Smart at PFD. Drury House 34-43 Russell Street London WC2B 5HA.


31 Jul 18: Festival
By Sarah Wooley, set in 1962, when the novelist Elizabeth Howard, later married to Kingsley Amis, took on the job of running the Cheltenham Literary Festival. In 1956 she had been one of its resident young writers. The job of running the event was far from straightforward. Elizabeth: Melody Grove, John Moore: Tony Gardner, Colin Howard: Will Howard, Kingsley: Jonathan Forbes, with Emma Handy (three parts) and John Lightbody (three parts). Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane.

22 Jan 18: ep. 1 4/4: Introduction & Allegro
By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. A new comedy drama recording the exploits and life of the members of a fictional string quartet. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Lucy/Claire: Karen Bartke, Philippe/Usher/Guard: Nick Underwood, Hans/journalist/fan: Kenny Blyth. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music supplied by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    29 Jan: 4/4: Scherzo
    By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. Ep. 2. The Benjamin Quartet, with its new member, has played to a tiny audience In Brussels. Fergus has been taken ill with a suspected heart attack. Paul, the new member: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Claire/receptionist: Karen Bartke, ,taxi driver/doctor: Kenny Blyth. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    5 Feb 18: 4/4 Rondo Mysterioso
    By Robin Brooks and Sarah Wooley. Ep. 3. After a difficult night in a casualty department in Brussels, the quartet is invited to play at a festival in Lucca. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Kelly: Karen Bartke, with Kenny Blyth, Nick Underwood and Finlay Welsh. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

    12 Feb: 4/4 Finale Con Porca
    By Sarah Wooley. Ep. 4. After playing in a festival in Lucca, the quartet is on its way home. Then the musicians receive another booking. Paul: Alasdair Hankinson, Fergus: Simon Donaldson, Archie: Robin Laing, Skye: Shauna Macdonald, Kelly: Karen Bartke, with Laurie Brown and Kyle Gardiner. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane. Music by the Edinburgh Quartet.

5 Jan 18: Intelligence
By Sarah Wooley, based on Muriel Spark's time with MI6. Muriel: Jessica Hardwick, Sefton Delmer: Stuart McQuarrie, Marcelle / Nurse: Lucianne McEvoy, Erich / Officer: Finn den Hertog, Betty: Francesca Dymond, Crips/Hans/Engineer: Robin Laing. Producer: Gaynor MacFarlane.

5 June 2017: Everyone's Got Conditions
By Sarah Wooley. Bette Davis is cast in Tennessee Williams' play "Night of the Iguana". It's not long before the playwright has to fight for his reputation. TW: Justin Salinger, Bette Davis: Amelia Bullmore, Chuck Bowden: Simon Harrison, Paula Laurence: Teresa Gallagher, with David Sturzaker, Simon Ludders and Georgie Glen. Produced by Gaynor MacFarlane.

3 Dec 2015: 1977
By Sarah Wooley. In 1977 the novel 'Watership Down' was made into an animated film. But when the film's conductor, Marcus Dods, looked at the music score he found that there was nowhere near enough music for the film; what there was lasted about 7 minutes. He turned to the composer and arranger Angela Morley for help. Angela: Rebecca Root, Christine Parker: Debra Baker, Marcus: William Gaminara, Terry Rawlings: Bryan Dick, Malcolm Williamson: Chris Pavlo, John Sanders/Larry Ashmore: David Seddon, other parts: Evie Killip. Produced by Gaynot Macfarlane.

    In 1977, the composer and arranger Angela Morley was summoned from self-imposed seclusion to provide the music for the final Goon Show and the soundtrack of Watership Down. She wasnít comfortable with the attention. (summarised from David Hepworth's review, Guardian)

      There was an interesting write-up of the play (with spoilers, so if you haven't heard the play, delay reading this until afterwards) on the BBC website. Here is my summary of it.

      Sarah first came across the story of Angela Morley, the composer, after watching the film "Watership Down". After the film there was an interview with the editor, Terry Rawlings and the director, Martin Rosen. They were talking about all aspects of the film and eventually got on to the subject of the score. Malcolm Williamson had been given the job of composing the score but unfortunately when the time came to record it, it was incomplete; in fact the conductor, Marcus Dods, found that it was barely started; there were just two short sketches. Furthermore the rehearsal, with full orchestra booked, was now only days away. Dods was desperate to find someone to supply him with a full score. He turned to his long-time friend Angela Morley (aka Wally Stott) and she rapidly did the orchestration of Williamson's fragments, assisted by Larry Ashmore. Then Dods cautiously asked if she would take over as the film's composer.

      Sarah noticed at this point that the conversation between Rosen and Rawlings began to stall. Rosen said that Angela hadnít worked in a long time out of choice...... What did he mean? Why hadnít she worked? She was clearly brilliant.... so Sarah looked her up.

      What emerged was a fascinating story, and this play.

      Angela Morley was transgender in the days when such things were not talked about. She born in Leeds in 1924 as Wally Stott. Wally was a self-taught musician, joining the Oscar Rabin band in 1941 and then Geraldoís band in 1942 as a saxophone player. Stott studied Geraldoís orchestrations; he took harmony lessons and composition with Matyas Sieber, and studied conducting with Walter Goehr. He was soon able to give up playing to concentrate on composing and arranging. By 1953 he was appointed musical director for the British arm of Philips Records. He wrote music for the theme tune for Hancock's Half Hour, The Goon Show, and film scores.

      However he was plagued with a struggle of gender identity. After the death of his first wife and marrying again, he made the difficult decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Wally said of Christine, his second wife, that it was only because of her love and support that he was able to deal with the trauma. He had his surgery in Switzerland in 1970 and returned to England as Angela Morley.

      This is an interesting story where the principal character is transgender but the main story is focused elsewhere: itís about the pressures of composing and the pressures of film making; itís also a play about a midlife crisis - and it is a love story.

      After the film was made, Angela and Christine moved to Arizona; Christine still lives there but Angela died in 2009, aged 84.

      Sarah says that without Christine's help the play wouldn't exist; Angela's life was virtually undocumented. Perhaps the play, in a small way, will help change that.

      This summary published by permission of Sarah Wooley - ND.

18 Feb: Classic Serial slot: The Robber Bride, 1
By Margaret Attwood; dram. in 2 parts by Sarah Wooley (though Sarah not credited in RT). This is part of the 'Riot Girls' season.Jane Anderson, in RT, tells us that the story was inspired by the Grimms' fairy tale "The Robber Bridegroom". Zenia, a frightful woman, lures three men into her lair. Zenia: Tanya Moodie, Roz: Teresa gallagher, Tony: Barbara Barnes, Charis: Isabella Inchbald, West: David Reakes, Billy: Tayla Kovacevic-Ebong, Uncle Vern: Rupert Holliday-Evans. Producer: Marion Nancarrow.

24 Aug 15. Set in New York in the heady days of Studio 54, in the late 1970s and early 80s, "Fifteen Minutes" looks at the later period in Andy Warhol's life when he was painting portraits to commission and running 'Interview' magazine. Young editor Bob Colacello has the bright idea of hiring the ageing Truman Capote to do celebrity interviews. In exchange for his monthly column, Capote would be gifted a portrait. And so began one of the most complicated and explosive of collaborations. "Making money is art, and working is art and good business is the best art." - Andy Warhol. Producer: Gaynor Macfarlane; BBC Scotland.

13 Nov 14: Planning Permission
By Sarah Wooley. This is a comedy based on the true story of Erno Goldfinger, and his plans to buy a row of Victorian terraced cottages in Hampstead in 1939. Goldfinger wanted to knock them down and build a modernist dream home for himself and his family. Also - E.G. had a connection to Ian Fleming. Erno: Justin Salinger, Ursula Blackwell: Melody Grove, Cecil: Michael Maloney, Audrey: Sylvestra le Touzel, Charles: Karl Johnson, Roland Penrose: Simon Harrison, Henry Brooke: David Seddon, George: Shaun Mason, Evelyn Fleming: Elaine Claxton, Ian Fleming: Monty D'Inverno. Director: Gaynor MacFarlane.

8 Nov 13: Moving Music
By Sarah Wooley. When they were young, the lives of Philip Glass and Steve Reich overlapped for a while. This drama looks at the minimalist composers as they run a small furniture removal firm in New York, years before they became well-known in the music scene. Reich - Bryan Dick, Glass - Justin Salinger, with Iain Batchelor, David Seddon and Nancy Crane. Producer Gaynor McaFarlane.

Afternoon Drama. By Sarah Wooley. 1961. The South of France. On holiday with his mistress Jocelyn Rickards, John Osborne has embarked on a passionate affair with his future third wife while, in London, Osborne's current wife gives birth to a son. From the idyllic French farmhouse, Osborne sent a nasty letter back home which caused such a furore that they found themselves under siege and their holiday turned into a nightmare. Jocelyn Rickards ... Tracy Wiles, John Osborne ... Robin Laing, Tony Richardson ... Tobias Menzies, Christopher Isherwood .. Richard Greenwood, Don Bachardy ... James Anthony Pearson, Major ... Matthew Zajac. Produced by Gaynor Macfarlane.

6 Jan 2012. Thriller set in the world of coalition politics. A Lib Dem MP never expected to have a Cabinet post, but now she's in office, hoping that her past doesn't come back to haunt her. With Maureen Beattie, Nick le Prevost, Melody Grove, Robin Laing, Monica Gibb, Simon Donaldson. Producer Gaynor MacFarlane.

About playwright John Osborne. 30 Sep 2010, afternoon play. When Osborne was on holiday in France with his mistress Jocelyn Rickards in 1969, he wrote "Damn You, England", an infamous letter of hatred to the nation's people. It caused a bit of fuss, and he found himself under siege. This is all based on actual events. Cast: Tracey Wiles, Robin Laing, Tobias Menzies, Matthew Zajac, Richard Greenwood, James A Pearson. Producer Gaynor MacFarlane.

12 Dec 08; Friday play, commissioned, written and recorded in 6 weeks. It's a contemporary comedy drama about the pressures of middle age, the credit crunch and Christmas. Starring Stuart McQuarrie as the Glasgow shampoo king, Des Monroe. Producer Gaynor McFarlane.

Scheduled for Friday Play slot, 9pm 29 Aug 08. It's 1985 and Ray and Eileen's 5 year old son vanishes. 22 years later, a good-looking American arrives in their small English village claining to be their boy.

Cast: Ellie Haddington, Alexander Morton and Simon Harrison; producer Gaynor Mac Farlane.

Note ....Josephine Tey's play BRAT FARRAR (1959) also starts with the return of a disappeared twin.

Let them Call it Jazz .... 2006
By Jean Rhys, adapted by Sarah Wooley (Womenís Hour drama, 14 Nov 06). It tells the story of Selina, a black woman newly arrived in a slum in Notting Hill in the late 50ís, who finds herself caught up in a seedy world that she doesn't quite understand.

It stars Adjoa Andoh and is part of a week of adaptations called 'Guiding Lights' on Radio Four where short stories by leading women writers are adapted into 15-minute plays by contemporary dramatists.

Cast: Adjoa Andoh, James Bryce, Carol Ann Crawford, Mark McDonnell, Lucy Paterson, Nick Underwood.

Folie ŗ Trois .... 2005
Friday Play. This bleak but humorous tale of mental illness is named after a psychiatric condition shared by two or more people who are mutually dependent. This drama is inspired by the real case of three sisters and their elderly aunt who locked themselves in their home and deliberately starved themselves to death. Here, events are relocated to a Scottish suburb where Minnie (Molly Innes), a woman in her thirties, lives with her mother (Eileen McCallum, above) and aunt (Colette O'Neil). The two older women are agoraphobic, while Minnie believes that the television sends her messages and that the Apocalypse is approaching.

This play was shortlisted for the Imison Award (best script by a newcomer broadcast in 2005) and a Mental Health Media Award. It was reviewed favourably in the Radio Times and the Independent.

Copyright Sarah Wooley / Nigel Deacon / Diversity website.
The above radio plays have been archived by VRPCC

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