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Trilogy of plays sintered by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

Final act of a trilogy inspired by Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night

For the past five years, award winning local writer, John Knowles, has been quietly obsessing about Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, a play which ends with ‘not one workable long term relationship’. Out of this have come two plays to date: Toby Belch (is unwell) and Fiction Romance, which explore the post play lives of Toby and Antonio. Now comes The Devil’s Doorbell. HOT’s Zelly Restorick asked John some questions about the final play in his trilogy.

‘It’s an hour of absolute magic, skirting the borders of one of the most loved of Shakespeare’s comedies’.  Mark Bunyan on Fiction Romance

‘Beautifully written — impeccably and intricately structured. Poignant and resonant.’  Emily Carding on Toby Belch is Unwell

What is the final play of your trilogy about, John?

The final part of the trilogy is The Devil’s Doorbell, which sees Viola exploring issues around coercion, sexual identity and female self empowerment. With this final act, I will have finally completed my trilogy and will be merging the three into one full evening, woven together with music — including an original sea shanty by local musician, Bob Tipler, which tells the tale of Twelfth Night.

Toby Belch (is unwell) with Sydney Kean

How has life been for you, as a writer, director, producer and actor and keen advocate of local independent theatre – including your own, ‘Fetch’ – when theatre has been hard hit by the pandemic?

Like a lot of theatre companies, Fetch has been hard hit by Covid and the closures of theatres. We essentially lost everything, all bookings, all momentum and any financial reserves that we had. We have always been a company which lived on the margins, who didn’t often fit the narrow Arts Council Funding tick-box mentality and our desire to create small moments of beauty were sometimes at odds with the financial reality we found ourselves in. We have in truth survived thanks to local support and the support of the creative community of Hastings.

After years of obscurity, Fetch are beginning to be taken note of on the national circuit and have been invited to be one of the first external companies to perform at the brand new build Shakespeare North Playhouse in Prescot in Liverpool, which will house a replica wooden Elizabethan Theatre space. Offers like this come but once a lifetime, a space designed and built to play homage to Shakespeare, from those who see us as part of that conversation.

Patrick Kealey in Fiction Romance

You’ve got a ‘gofundme’ campaign running at the moment. What’s that for?

This final play comes at a time when Fetch are strapped for financial resources to make the final act a reality and to then fund the journey north. So they are asking for support, not to pay wages, but to meet the essentials: props, costumes and rehearsal space for the final act and for travel and accommodation in Liverpool for the full ‘Twelfth Night Trilogy’. All in all, £3000 needs to be found to make this a reality. We thank you in advance for any support.

The Twelfth Night Trilogy

We realize these are cash-strapped times. and asking for any support when people are looking at rising bills is a huge ask. We are always stunned when local people support us with their hard earned cash, or creatives give over their time and energy, songs, advice and support to give us a push. This is a big opportunity for Fetch and John Knowles, and a big ask. Are we worth the risk? We’ll let others speak for us . . .

‘I love John’s quirky sense of humour — his scripts never fail to make me laugh’ David Morrissey, Actor

Winner of the Ironclad New Creative Writing Bursary 2021

⭐⭐⭐Fiction Romance — Brighton Fringe 2021 —

‘Hidden gem’ ⭐⭐⭐Fiction Romance — Brighton Fringe 2021

⭐⭐⭐Shadow of the Rose Edinburgh fringe 2019

⭐⭐⭐Edinburgh Fringe Festival Derek Award — Time Please

⭐⭐⭐Caliban’s Codex 2020 — Brighton Fringe —

 Fiction Romance at Brighton Fringe 2021 — Director /Writer

 ‘It’s wonderfully richly written, covering almost a lifetime’s experience of the outsider in the tale, but bursting with love and sex and anger and forgiveness.’  Mark Bunyan

‘Fiction Romance was not just a play, it’s an emotional rollercoaster’ Sacha Cooper —

Toby Belch (is unwell): Director /Writer

‘I love your script’ Tim McMullan, The National Theatre

John Knowles

Writer / Director / Producer
Fetch Theatre

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Posted 13:10 Tuesday, May 24, 2022 In: Performance

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