Guildford School of Acting Q&A

I was asked to take part in a Q&A before Not a Game for Girls was produced at Guildford School of Acting.

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Jingle all the Way

Jingle

My short sketch ‘Wicked Cinderella’ featured at this event and received this feedback from the organiser.

‘Wicked Cinderella’ went down a storm. We opened with it because thematically I thought it was a nice fit, a pre-show scene before we got into the full swing. It was a really strong opener and the actors really got into it, all of our performers appreciated the sly digs about the theatre scene. The big reveal got a good laugh, as did the Stepmother’s final line and evil laugh at the end. Overall a great little scene and very well received.

E-Book Published

NAGFG Amazon
‘Not a Game for Girls’ has now also been released as an e-book and is available across a wide range of platforms worldwide including Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Kobo, the Microsoft Store, Barnes and Noble and Angus & Robertson as well of course as a physical book from the publisher’s website Oberon Books.

Telling Stories

NAGFG Amazon

The past week has been an immensely thrilling one as my debut play ‘Not a Game for Girls’ has been listed for pre-order on Amazon and Waterstone’s and will be very soon on the publisher’s website, Oberon, and I am extremely grateful for all the patient support they have shown to a new writer as it is greatly appreciated.

Not only that but a short film I wrote and was shot almost a year ago was selected for screening at this year’s Fear in the Fens Festival at Downham Market and thanks to Stacey Gough for organising this wonderful poster for it.

The Runner Official Poster

God’s Enemies

Harvington
Entrance to a priest hide at Harvington Hall

God’s Enemies

by

Benjamin Peel

It was after visiting Harvington Hall in Worcestershire, which has some of the finest surviving examples of priest hides constructed by Nicholas Owen (later beatified) that I became fascinated by why they were built and who for. I then discovered that Richard Topcliffe, one of the main priest chasers, hailed from Somerby in the north of the county I live in, Lincolnshire. This self-styled Queen’s Pursuivant soon attained a reputation for doggedness in pursuit of his quarry as well as for cruelty.

I next visited Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire which also has priest hides most likely built by Owen and which came into use in 1591 when a conference of Jesuit priests was raided by local authorities. However they served their purpose well as no one was caught.

I then read a whole plethora of books on the era including general histories, biographies and some on the Jesuit mission. Several figures stood out from my reading including the aforementioned Owen and Topcliffe but also Henry Garnet and John Gerard who were two leading Jesuit priests. Also I became very interested in the active role that two sisters Eleanor Brooksby and Anne Vaux played in sheltering priests and aiding the mission as well as having links to some of the Gunpowder Plotters.

I decided in order to try and give the play a feeling of oppressive claustrophobia to limit the settings and number of characters as much as possible. This was to attempt to make one household stand as a microcosm for the clash between the Protestant authorities and Catholic recusants. I have taken a number of dramatic liberties in blending fact with much fiction as well as concertinaing events that took place over many years into a much shorter timeframe.

In order to tell the story I wanted I created several fictional characters and invented a raid taking place in November 1604, one year before the failed Gunpowder Plot. This involved bringing Richard Topcliffe out of retirement to conduct one last secretive mission on Robert Cecil’s orders but with plausible deniability built into it. Topcliffe did in fact, after hunting down his last victim in 1598, retire to his country estates and died in December 1604 aged 73. John Gerard is one of the few people known to have escaped the Tower of London but I took an imaginative leap by suggesting that he was allowed to escape in the hope that he would lead Topcliffe to the Mission’s leadership.

Hopefully though the play gives a flavour of a turbulent past where people were prepared to die for their beliefs, which perhaps arguably and all too sadly still has contemporary resonances when minorities are subjected to persecution and treated by some as the enemy within.

Introductory blog

This website is to showcase my writing with past productions, script readings and also to offer my work up to be produced.

Ben 1

I have worked with Northern Broadsides, Tiebreak Theatre and on Emmerdale all as a stage manager.

My full length play Not a Game for Girls was performed at Friargate Theatre, York by Off the Rock Productions in June 2017. It was subsequently put on by second year students at Guildford School of Acting in March 2018. It was then published by Oberon Books in September 2018.

A short film that I wrote The Runner was shot in October 2017 and screened at the 2018 Fear in the Fens Festival.

As a keen runner I am an active member of the Skegness Coasters Running Club.