The Bill Cashmore Award and Lyric Hammersmith Theatre present
Written by Sam Purkis and co-created by Ryan Stevens and Wilf Walsworth.
Tickets £10 Running time 60 minutes Ages 16+ Venue
By Sasha Bates
|As has become customary, I am going to start with news of The Bill Cashmore Award, as it was Bill’s untimely and unjust death, and my desire to keep his memory and principles alive, that kicked off the idea for the Award, and subsequently this annual missive.
|I am proud to announce that this year’s Bill Cashmore Award winning play, Haemosporidian, will be performed at the Lyric Hammersmith from the 25th to the 28th March, so please do get your tickets here.
This year’s Bill Cashmore Award winning play, Haemosporidian, will be performed at the Lyric Hammersmith from the 25th to the 28th March.
Haemosporidian was a new word for me but the phenomenon it explores – a system being destroyed by parasites within – is sadly all too familiar. As communities around Britain struggle for survival in a world consumed by misguided notions of what progress should look like, this razor-sharp play tackles the issues head on. It is written by three young men, Sam Purkis, Wilf Walsworth, and Ryan Stevens, after another gruelling (for them, delightful for me) round of Scratch performance auditions. The subject matter really spoke to me, and the three men have worked together over the last year, to develop their idea into a fascinating play. Sam, as lead writer, puts pen to paper, or finger to keyboard, and Wilf and Ryan have contributed massively and crucially via their relentless and productive R and D and workshopping sessions.
The result is going to be electric. Sam’s script crackles with clever and witty wordplay. Like the electricians it depicts, it ignites sparks which fire up all sorts of philosophical conundrums. And no small amount of admiration. Yet Sam, Wilf and Ryan have also worked to make these electricians, and their dilemmas very human, understandable, and sympathetic.
The fight to highlight the problems of social injustice and the debilitating effects of greed and individualism were central to my decision to set up The Bill Cashmore Award. They are subjects that were very close to Bill’s heart, and I know that had he lived he would have continued to do what he could to challenge the systems that enabled them. I am therefore delighted that this year’s Award has gone to three young men of promise and talent who might otherwise not have had a chance to get their voices heard, and to a play which shines some much-needed light into the dark underbelly of gentrification. It encourages us all to reflect on our choices and the effect of our actions on those around us. I can’t end without adding that, of course, Bill would have also delighted in the humour and humanness of Haemosporidian, as these too are characteristics for which he was renowned. And he would have loved the chance to learn a new word. Particularly one as hard to say as Haemosporidian.
I have some other exciting news. In our desire to make the Bill Cashmore Award even more influential than it is already becoming, we are broadening our scope and our ambition.
Firstly, our next Award will now be open to applicants nationwide, not just those in West London, and we are also considering extending the upper age limit from 25 to 30. In this way we know we can encourage and support the very best young writers out there to realise their dreams of becoming playwrights, and we can provide a platform for stories that will resonate with the greatest number of people. As arts funding gets decimated, it becomes increasingly important that those without easy access to public capital have an equal chance to work in the Arts as those with private backing. Well, equal might be pushing it, but we are doing what we can to level a portion of a very lumpy playing field.
Secondly the run will be longer, increasing from just 4 performances to 6, which will give reviewers more of a chance to enjoy the play and spread the word, and agents and producers to see the talent that we are showcasing. And finally, we will be moving the performances from Spring to Autumn. Which means that, drum roll please, this year we will have not one but two Bill Cashmore Award winning plays – Haemosporidian in March and an as yet unchosen play in September this year. The official announcement and applications will open later in the year for our 2025 autumn play, so keep an eye on the Lyric website for how and when to apply. Henceforth we will be judging applications in written form, and not via the Scratch performance system we’ve used till now, so that’s another change.
So, as well as the March dates of 24th-28th, please also put the week commencing 23rd September into your diaries and expect more info on that nearer the time.
Headlining the 2024 Evolution Festival is Haemosporidian [He·mo·spo·rid·ian], the Bill Cashmore Award-winning play written by Sam Purkis and co-created by Ryan Stevens and Wilf Walsworth.
“Everything good’s disappearing, melting or dying.”
Thin walls, damp, poisonous mould; it isn’t perfect, but for best friends Callum and Henry its home. But their lives are changed forever with the arrival of a demolition notice and a well-dressed stranger.
A traditional play about untraditional people, Haemosporidian is a darkly comedic depiction of the realities of gentrification.
Brought to you by SPRINGBOARD alumni Sam Purkis, Ryan Stevens and Wilf Walsworth, Haemosporidian is has been developed with generous support from the Bill Cashmore Award