Meet the Writer: Anthony Jenkins

To celebrate the upcoming Write On Festival for new play writing in Herefordshire – we will be featuring each of the writers that are submitting pieces into this year’s festival. First to give us a snippet was Land of Mines director and writer, Anthony Jenkins.


Anthony Jenkins

Anthony Jenkins

Anthony Jenkins is not only a stage technician at The Courtyard, but is also a theatre graduate and enthusiast.  Having been affiliated with the organisation for 12 years and performing in past production titles such as ‘The Crucible’, ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, ‘Dracula’, ‘Fiddler On The Roof’ and ‘Guys and Dolls’, he has seen it all, from musical theatre to psychotic drama, from the lighting desk to the principal role.

After graduating from East 15 Acting School in 2008, Anthony eagerly came back to The Courtyard ready to perform, and took on the role as the giant in Jack and the Beanstalk and has been part of the crew ever since!  Hereford born and bred, Anthony recognises “the Courtyard is a small yet gargantuan step for young performers, who like me, wanted to pursue this amazing subject.”

“I joined the Youth theatre in 2000 and it was great meeting and performing with guys and girls who were on the same page as me, Anthony says.  Whilst being involved in Youth Theatre he claims his favourite performance as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, without a doubt!  The cast, set, the music, everything was so breathtaking.  I was immensely proud to play ‘Chief’ and to be a part of that show.”

Anthony has not only been a performer in Youth Theatre drama’s and stage adaptations, but has also had his share of tongue-in-cheek Panto performances, including the aforementioned Jack and The Beanstalk, The Emperor of China in Aladdin 2010/11, The Beasts’ double in Beauty and the Beast 2009/10 and The Dragon in Sleeping Beauty 2011/12.  He has also worked first hand on many performances at The Courtyard as part of the stage crew.   His favourite piece to work on , he says, was “the Tommy Cooper tribute show with Clive Mantel as not only was it a brilliant piece, but working alongside such an actor inspired me to pursue my dreams within this field.  It was so good, I almost missed a few cues along the way as I was that enthralled!”

In 2011, Anthony set up his own theatre company called Exit Fool Productions, a move which allowed him to explore his love of theatre and his idolisation of playwrights such as Shakespeare, Waterhouse, Steinbeck and Miller.”  When asked to elaborate on why these playwrights really strike a note, Anthony says it is because “they can switch from comedy to tragedy in the turn of page.  My favourite plays are Jeffrey Barnard is Unwell by Keith Waterhouse and The Crucible by Arthur Miller.”

 On opening in 2011, Exit Fool’s debut production was a UK premiere of Angel: A Nightmare in 2 Acts in The Courtyard’s Studio Theatre.  “I picked this play because it was a piece of writing that had never touched the English shore’s since it was written in 2004.  Even though the content was about the holocaust, which can be quite a heavy subject, I wanted to make the audience feel like they were part of the show by being the jury, and having the characters use direct address to make them feel like they were at the Belsen trials in 1945,” says Anthony.

Anthony is in fact one half of Exit Fool, the other co-founder being friend and schoolmate Pete Bird.  “Pete and I take it in turns to direct, and last year it was his turn for our 2012 production of Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, where I played the lead role of Lennie.  We chose this piece because it is a classic title, and a character driven plot that we felt could reach audiences of all levels and theatre experience, such as schools.  In the end the piece even brought in theatregoers from London!”

Now  Anthony puts all of his experience and inspiration on to paper, as he debut’s his first written piece at The Courtyard’s new theatre writing festival, Write-On.   “For the past two years I’ve been the general technician for The Courtyard’s Write On Festival but this year I’ve decided to write and direct as part of the festival.  Land Of Mines is on the 5th July and is based on true events during the Bosnian War of 1992.”

The synopsis is as follows:  Set in Sarajevo 1992, four characters are trapped inside a derelict house awaiting rescue from NATO.  The U.N soldier is trying to uphold the peace agreement while the Serbian and Croatian refugees argue and taunt each other as shells constantly fall around them.  Among the refugees is severely wounded Muslim, whose secrets affect everyone around him.  Anthony says “the inspiration behind Land Of Mines came from an acting friend who lived through the war.  The idea of four characters trapped in a dilapidated house came from his personal experience.  The dialog and events that unfold is authentic as I enlisted a relative of mine who was in the British army and worked alongside the U.N at the time who has helped me develop the piece and keep the script as close to the real thing as possible.”

Land of Mines is on in The Courtyard’s Studio Theatre on Friday 5 July from 7.30pm.  It is the second part in a double bill.  To book tickets for this performance, or for more information, contact The Courtyard’s Box Office on 01432 340555.

Interview compiled by Jennifer Booton


Guest Blog: How to get your dreams on the stage!

Blog by local author Barbara Hockley about dreams generally and her play The Dream Makers originally performed at The Conquest Theatre in Bromyard, April 2008.
Find out more at The Offbeat Theatre Blog.

My favourite dream - flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

My favourite dream – flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

My favourite dream – flying! So beautiful to recreate on stage

You know when you wake up and you’ve just had the most amazing dream. You’ll never forget it! Until, of course, a few minutes later when it’s completely slipped away and no matter how hard you try you can’t get it back. So you try to keep a dream diary, but half the time you don’t write your dream down (the pen doesn’t work/isn’t there at the right time and/or a cup of tea/coffee/more sleep beckons….) When you do write your dream down you’re really not sure where to go with it next? One of those generic online/in-book interpretations maybe? Then what? Analyse it, understand the message (there’s a message?), use it as material for your next piece of creative writing (ummm, maybe). Dreams are strange and slippery things, maybe we should wake up and bask in them before they leave us, just absorb some of the dreamy fabric of the night and not try to hold on too tightly. And maybe, whilst basking, you could use this strange dreamworld to inspire a stage production? I did, it was fantastic fun – let me share a bit of the journey.

The Dream Makers is a play for large cast (24+) of 9 – 14 year old and it contains wonderful opportunities to recreate dreams. You can read the whole thing at the bottom of the post (should you wish!). I put 5 dream sequences into the play – all very reasonable considering the play is set in a dream palace (a magical place where you go when you dream – bit like a theatre). The first dream was an ANXIETY DREAM – we’ve all been there! I don’t advise the standard ‘no door on the toilet’ sort of anxiety dream, or the ‘I’m on stage in a play and I can’t remember my lines’ dream (don’t tempt fate), but anything else goes. We had a wonderful soundtrack of pneumatic drills and other ghastly noises that get on your nerves, lots of umbrellas (and why not?), a seriously odd ballet, running and getting nowhere – it’s a great opportunity to create a sequence that makes no sense, has no plot and you don’t need to worry about motivation. Best to have lines (if there are any) on a soundtrack as well – sounds much weirder.

Then we moved onto the ROMANTIC DREAM. Never had one? Not sure I have either … But a damn good excuse for a quick tango! Some of the characters in the play are somewhat inept, so I seem to remember my romantic dreamer was slightly put out when the leading man tangoed with a mop instead (these things happen with inexperienced dream actors). She wasn’t happy. Moving on we next had a NIGHTMARE (more fun than you should ever have on stage). Not just a nightmare in fact – but a NIGHT TERROR masquerading as a dreamer to infiltrate the dream palace. My nightmare sequence involved all sort of ghouls, ghosts, creepy soundtrack and some chickens…. See page 31 to find out how the dream actors and crew (of course they exist) all escape the clutches of the Night Terror.

Into Act II of this wonderful adventure in dreamland we start off with the SWIMMING UNDERWATER AND FLYING DREAM – your chance to get really relaxed and stage something beautiful. A soundtrack of gorgeously relaxing sounds including whalesong made the sequence my favourite moment of all. Lucky dreamer. We finish our dreams with a truly HEROIC DREAM where the dreamer in my version) has to survive all sorts of ‘weather’ (cue large fan), climb mountains, struggle through storms etc .. to get to the top (of the mountain … it’s symbolic).

Personally, I LOVE dreams. I love the idea of a world beyond the waking world where all these crazy things take place. I love the idea of the dream palace (where, incidentally, if you know the way in you could get a job). If I can’t be there the next best place is to be on stage creating magical, dreamlike shows.

Jen’s Lens ~ Taking the Rat on the Road!

Playing with the parachute in Kingsland

Playing with the parachute in Kingsland

This week, I and a team of circus skills experts took out in to the depths of Herefordshire, bringing The Tapscrew circus from Philip Pullman’s ‘I Was A Rat!’ out to the sticks.

Under the leadership of Pink Elephants circus group, members of The Courtyard visited the parish halls of Kingsland (April 9) and Moccas (April 10) to spread the word about this story, and get lots of people in Herefordshire exploring and practising some circus tricks.

On arrival, children were sent to the “rat stations” where they were face painted, given noses and thought about the physicality of being a rat.  Once successfully whiskered and clawed, the rats then made their way over to the sensory box station, where they felt around in dark spaces if they dared, and smelt various containers to see if they could use their animal instincts and guess what the naughty Courtyard crew had put in them!  Once taking the plunge and putting their paws in slime was too much, the children congregated and learnt to embrace their inner circus performers with a range of activities.rat2

Starting the circus show was playing cat and rat using a parachute.  Cats would carefully tread their way around a waving parachute in a desperate attempt to locate a naughty, wriggling rat which was underneath.  The rats then learnt to juggle with scarves and the rags which they had gnawed from Bob and Joan’s house, watching them float in the air.  The morning session was full of top class balancing acts, who managed to walk our tightrope with peacock feathers balanced on parts of their body, they showed their pace and ability to wriggle as they ran as fast as they could through the rat run of hula hoops and even managed to cut up the cheese they stole from the market with a string – using a Diablo!  Every child worked hard at becoming the perfect rat through using these skills, (and it wasn’t just the little ones either?!)

the diablo - or a cheese and its string!

the diablo – or a cheese and its string!

Thanks to everyone who came along and participated in the activities.  Now you will all be able to go home and say, “today, I was a rat!”

Also, for those who didn’t make it to our workshops, we also have an exciting competition to take part in for ‘I Was A Rat!’

‘I Was A Rat!’

Writing Competitionrat1

 This May, a stage adaptation of Philip Pullman’s classic children’s novel ‘I Was A Rat!’ will be performed at The Courtyard.  The story is about a young, scruffy boy who is dressed as a footman arrives at the house of Bob and Joan one night exclaiming “I Was A Rat!”  Bob and Joan are unsure of what to do with this boy, try taking him to City Hall, the Police Station, the doctor’s and to school to try and get him used to the human world and to also try and find his real parents.  But they can’t, because he is a rat that has been turned into a boy.

Bob and Joan name the boy Roger and try to help him, but Roger becomes confused by the human world and runs away, and is captured by a menacing circus ring leader who turns him into a freak show.  After escaping from the circus Roger is described to other humans as a monster who all want him to be gone forever.  But there is a Princess who is called Aurelia that wears glass slippers and remembers Roger from her old life (when she was an ordinary girl called Mary-Jane) and rescues him back into the arms of Bob and Joan.

Does this story sound familiar?  A mouse turned into a footman with a girl who is turned into a princess and wears glass slippers?

What we want you to do is write a story like Roger’s.  Think of all the main characters and their story, but also think about their friends, their enemies or their families and write a story about one of them.  For example, you could write a story about one of Sleeping Beauty’s fairy godmothers, or you can tell us about what the White Rabbit does when Alice is not in Wonderland.  The choice is up to you!  The competition is open for all school children from Year 3 to Year 11 in school and will be judged in two categories: Year 3 to 6 will be judged in the Primary category and Year 7 to 11 will be judged in the Secondary category.

Your story should be no longer than 2 sides of A4 double spaced, and we need to read it by Friday May 24th to be in with a chance of winning.  Please send your story to Jennifer Booton, Press and Marketing Officer to FREEPOST SWC5263, The Courtyard, Hereford, HR4 9ZZ.

The winning storyteller will win a signed book from Philip Pullman, a family ticket to ‘I Was A Rat!’ and will also have their story printed in Herefordshire Society magazine and in every programme for ‘I Was A Rat!’ during its run at The Courtyard.

It’s your chance to give the smaller characters a bigger story of their own!

 ‘I Was A Rat’ runs at The Courtyard from Thursday 30 May until Saturday 1 June, with performances at 7pm, and a matinee on the Saturday of 2pm.  To book tickets or for more information call the Box Office on 01432 340555 or visit

Secret recipe revealed: Ed’s Jungle Garlic Chicken Curry

Written by Ed Pitts, Second Chef

This is a curry I’ve adapted from a traditional Bengali recipe. Bengalis are renowned for putting extra onion in their curries, creating curries such as the Dopiaza. As the capital of British-colonialised India, Bengali cuisine has for many years been adored by us Brits and Bengalis have clung to their traditional cooking practices and recipes. Good job too, means we get to enjoy these great, timeless recipes today!

Serves 4, approx 45 mins

Ed’s Jungle Garlic Chicken Curry

Ed Pitts cooking curry4 chicken breasts, diced
4 white onions, roughly chopped
2 red chillis, deseeded
12 cloves garlic, peeled
2cm cube of fresh ginger, peeled
3 tins of tomatoes
250g butter
2 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp coriander
2 tbsp turmeric
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tbsp garam masala
1 bunch fresh coriander, chopped
100ml water

1. Clarify butter by melting it on a low heat so the foam of the butter separates from the liquid below. Lift the foam off and discard.
2. Place your clarified butter in a pan, add the onion and cook on a medium heat until golden brown.
3. Drain the onions, retaining the butter mix.
4. Put your onions, garlic, chillis and ginger into the food processor – you may need to do this in stages if the quantities are too much! – and blend to a paste.
5. Add chopped tomatoes and blend these too.
6. Take a large pan, reheat your butter mixture and add the paste you’ve created. Cook for 3 mins on a high heat until the edges start to bubble.

Chilli by Graibeard via Flickr

Chilli by Graibeard via Flickr

7. Add all spices excluding the garam masala and cook for 2-3 mins more. If the curry starts to spit, just add a drop of water to calm it down.
8. Add the diced chicken, plenty of salt and pepper and 50ml water. Turn the heat down and simmer for 20-25mins, adding water if the curry reduces too quickly.
9. Add the garam masala and chopped coriander. Cook for a further 5 mins and then serve.

For a tasty vegetarian alternative why not substitute chicken for fresh veg? Root vegetables such as sweet potato, potato may benefit from a pre-roasting in spices.

This curry is medium to hot in spice but can be made hotter with more chilli, or made milder by stirring in some yoghurt when serving.

Serve with…..

Fragrant Rice

4 mugs rice
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
3 cloves
3 cardamom pods
125g butter
Salt and pepper

1. Wash rice.
2. Add ingredients to thick-based pan.
3. Cover with cold water to just above the surface.
4. Cook for 15 – 20 mins approx. or until rice is of a good texture.
5. Drain and serve.

A final thought from Ed….
Curry is one of my favourite dishes. Many a night of debauchery has been spent in the curry house, larking about and causing mischief with mates. It’s one of those dishes that works well, whatever the occasion.

To try a taste of Ed’s curry, come along to one of our comedy club curry nights or one of our big name comedy gigs (you can get discounts on your curry if you book in advance at the Box Office: 01432 340555). But if you can’t wait til then pop into The Courtyard Cafe Bar this weekend, as Ed puts his Jungle Curry on our specials board. Yum yum!

Dave’s Faves: Three directors’ visions in Cloud Atlas

Find out how star-studded film Cloud Atlas surprised our programmer’s preconceptions….

Think you’re up to reviewing it too? Check out the blog post below to see how your review could win you three of David Mitchell’s novels. Perfect reading material…

James D'Arcy and Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas

James D’Arcy and Ben Whishaw in Cloud Atlas

Great film deals, whatever you fancy…

We love film here at The Courtyard, swashbuckling blockbuster film and alternative, striking foreign film, and family fun too.

Oz The Great and Powerful

Oz The Great and Powerful

We’re bringing you some of the best deals this month so you can see the best of the pictures for a reasonable price, and be in with a chance of winning some pretty tasty prizes…

Just call the Box Office on 01432 340555 to claim any of these offers. We’ll ask you for your contact information and enter you into any competitions automatically.


2 for 1 on tickets this Easter to OZ THE GREAT AND POWERFUL and THE CROODS
You can’t say fairer than that.




Buy two tickets to QUARTET and then two tickets to A LATE QUARTET and we’ll enter you into a competition to win afternoon tea for two at the Castle House Hotel in Hereford. Treat yourself and a loved one to a 4* experience… plus enjoy two brilliant films celebrating the power of classical music and some exceptional acting talent.

Plus all A LATE QUARTET pre-bookers will be entered into a competition to win a collection of Beethoven String Quartet CDs!



If you love having access to the best critical insight into current and upcoming film, then you need to be reading the BFI’s magazine Sight & Sound. Delivering sterling reviews and features every month, a year’s subscription could be yours when you enter our competition by purchasing a ticket for you and friend to both LORE and IN THE HOUSE

In The House

In The House

If you reckon your writing skills deserve a good read, then you can also book one of our half-price reviewer tickets to the first screenings of these films, but we need to see your review in our inbox at within 18 hours of the screening… If it’s a good read, we’ll post it online and get The Courtyard audience reading your opinion. Please note if you participate in both foreign film competitions your friend is not eligible for a reviewer half-price ticket.


Cloud Atlas

Cloud Atlas

Review CLOUD ATLAS on the first screening, submit it to us before the second screening (deadline 7 April), and be in with a chance of winning the original book, Cloud Atlas, and writer David Mitchell’s previous two novels, Ghostwritten and Number9dream. Send your review to with the subject ‘Cloud Atlas review’.

Plus bring a friend along and you’ll get ‘buy 1 get 1 free’ on a drink from the Café Bar. [applicable on house wine, draught beers and ciders and soft drinks]


And Courtyard Card holders can review selected screenings and get in free, plus enter a competition to win another seminal film criticism title, Little White Lies.


The House

The House

If you book tickets for you and a friend to see both Czech Film Tour specials, ALOIS NEBEL and THE HOUSE at The Courtyard this March, then we’ll enter you into a prize draw to win Peter Hames’ book, Czech and Slovak Cinema: Theme and Tradition, five-star rated by Sight & Sound’s reviewer Michael Brooke.

Don’t forget we’re also offering both films for only £8 a person, so if you bring a friend on the same deal you get double the chance of winning the competition! Make sure you book the tickets in your name.

Designing the Jungle: Carl Davies talks us through his costume concepts

I caught up with Carl Davies, Jungle Book costume designer, to find out what he has in store for our upcoming Courtyard production…

Carl Davies with one of his favourite costumes for Jungle Book, Chil the Kite.

Carl Davies with one of his favourite costumes for Jungle Book, Chil the Kite.

“It’s quite fun to do the Jungle Book because you can do anything with it…. you don’t necessarily just dress them up as an animal, they’ve got their own individual characters which is quite nice…. for instance, Baloo the Bear is going to be a geography teacher in tweed.

“Most challenging costume is probably Mowgli. Mowgli, you’d almost imagine a loin cloth and nothing else but because it’s for the stage you have to… we’ve made it quite ‘patchworky’ and given him a top.

“I think my style is very layered…. especially with the Jungle Book, there’s a lot of fur, a lot of leather, a lot of layers, but it works because everything has to move in the right way.

“The main characters will stand out, they’ve each got their individual colours…. Chil the Kite is going to be an air hostess!”

Written by: Toki Allison, Deputy Marketing Manager