In 2015, I set up Amplified Theatre, a gig-theatre company to be used as a vehicle with which to create my own work.
I wrote, composed and directed our debut show Unsigned, a semi-autobiographical piece about the rise and fall of a South London indie-rock band, based on my own experiences of being in a rap-rock group in the 00s. The play with songs premiered at the Black Box Festival in the company’s spiritual home of Camden Town, to sell-out audiences and high acclaim, starring Natasha J Barnes (Funny Girl, West End), Craig Power (Eastenders, BBC), Jerome Ngonadi (Three Sisters, National Theatre) and Oscar Porter Brentford (Burr Island). Later that year, Unsigned transferred to the Tristan Bates Theatre in Covent Garden and was selected as one of the top 10 shows to see at the Camden Fringe. The piece was performed at 9pm each night over it’s week-long run, offering a free CD programme with every ticket, featuring all of the songs from the show on the disc. The project was now supported by New Theatre Royal, Guildhall Portsmouth, Kdb Limited and Ben Claybon Productions.
In 2016, I launched Six, an annual new writing festival showcasing 6 new plays by 6 emerging writers, inspired by 6 songs by 6 upcoming musicians. Each year the sold out events featured work by a range of artists including SuRie (Eurovision 2018), Tom Wentworth (CripTales, BAFTA Nominee), Stephen Collins (Dune, Warner Bros), Amrita Acharia (Good Karma Hospital, ITV), Charlotte Arrowsmith (RSC), John Kelly (Then Barbara Met Alan, BBC), Alim Jayda (Mamma Mia 2, Universal) and Hermon Berhane (Being Her, Vogue).
The company was invited by Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts to work with 16 of their Musical Theatre students on a workshop production of Tom Wentworth’s new play Heart of Hearts featuring the songs of SuRie. Further invitations were made to Amplified by Deaf & Hearing Ensemble for an R&D day of play and exploration around the song lyrics of Young Busker of the Year winner Jamie West and I was invited by Unlimited to be on a panel at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for a public discussion called Demystifying Access, talking about how I make all of my work accessible for our audiences.
Following the success of Six, Amplified presented a gig-theatre double bill at The Bunker Theatre in London Bridge in 2018. V.E. written by Felix O’Brien (Pains Plough) inspired by and featuring the songs of Nadine Wild-Palmer (BBC Introducing) and Louie Lee (Soundblocks), played alongside Street Magic by Amy Guyler (No.1 on The Brit-List 2021) inspired by and featuring songs by Jimmy & the Wolf (Indie-folk from a wolf and a bloke) for one night only to a sell-out crowd.
V.E. received further development through the support of Arts Council England, Croydon Council’s Culture Fund and Zoo Co, when Amplified Theatre was made resident company of Theatre On The High Street in 2019. Our wartime love story which starred Caoimhe Farren (Derry Girls, Channel 4) and Katie Allen (Breakfast at Tiffany’s, West End), transferred to the iconic King’s Head Theatre later that summer as part of their annual Queer Season.
Amplified Theatre was due to make it’s international stage debut at The Brick Theater in Brooklyn, New York City 2020, but has been postponed due to COVID-19.
In 2021, I adapted our gig-theatre play Street Magic into an indie musical-film, becoming the company’s debut screen project. The film which featured musicians Jimmy & The Wolf and 4 of their songs, went on to win the award for Best Romantic Film at the Indie X, Fest in LA and I was nominated for the Best First-Time Filmmaker award at the San Francisco Indie Movie Festival. Filmed entirely in London, Street Magic had its premiere in May 2022 at Poplar Union, East London, followed by a Q&A with myself as director and the film’s star Gemma Kenny (Doctors, BBC). Further screen projects have since been produced including When The Bell Rings written and starring Joshua King (A Star Called Jim, The Bunker) and Craig Power (Eastenders, BBC) and our most recent output Adam Hearts NYC, a short documentary following street photographer Adam Ellis as he captures the concrete jungle that is New York City, with an original soundtrack by musician Soundblocks.
Our most recent stage production Ghost Town was performed at The Cavendish Arms, Stockwell as a one off event, written and performed by Will Ashcroft (Drifters, Channel 4) with live, original music performed and composed by Ned Armstrong (Familiar Action).
The company is currently working on a new piece of site-specific theatre about a fading East End community in the 90s, written by myself and Richard Bates (Head of Musical Direction at Mountview). The project was workshopped earlier this year and will be staged in 2023.
Live performance of V.E. at The Bunker Theatre, November 2018.
Directed by Stephen Lloyd.
Written by Felix O’Brien.
Inspired by and featuring songs by Nadine Wild-Palmer and Louie Lee.
Caoimhe Farren as Ronnie
Katy Allen as Betty
Nadine Wild-Palmer as Maureen
Louie Lee on Keys
1944. Britain is at War. The men have gone to fight and the women at home have picked up the slack. And the slacks. Welcome to The Gateways, London’s most vibrant underground nightspot for women. And other women. Ronnie’s living her best life. Betty’s life’s on hold. They meet. They dance. They fall in love. But with an Allied victory on the horizon, can a love forged in conflict survive a world at peace?
'V.E.' is a funny, poignant and romantic insight into a rarely-explored period in British queer history.
Live performance of Street Magic at The Bunker Theatre, November 2018.
Directed by Stephen Lloyd.
Written by Amy Guyler.
Inspired by and featuring songs by Jimmy & The Wolf.
Alice Ivor as Lacey
James Bryant as Olly
Reuben Beau Davies as Pete
For an inner-city busker, London can be a pretty grim place. It’s all bankers, beatings and Brexit. But when he stumbles upon an unlikely love story, the fledgling couple inspire a ream of new songs - and he can’t believe his luck. In true Documentarian style, our busker watches from afar, trying not to intervene. But Mother Nature can be cruel and unforgiving; and doesn’t heartbreak make for much better music…?