Laura Harling co-artistic director of First Draft Theatre - guest feature

I combine my work as a producer, actor and artist. I set up First Draft Theatre (with co-founder and joint Artistic Director, Matthew Parker) not only as an actor who wanted to work, but also with the vision of creating an environment that might offer support to like-minded practitioners. The roles of company director and producer were both very new to me, but the enthusiasm and dynamic ideas of those who have been involved with First Draft has allowed it to expand and develop, offering more writers, directors and performers the opportunity to explore these ideas.

The normal procedure at First Draft is to rehearse for just three days and to perform over three nights – a schedule that we believe allows each piece the chance to develop whilst simultaneously remaining a ‘scratch’ performance. The process is fast and instinctive; a joyful leap into the possibilities of an idea. For the writer, deviser or adapter, First Draft offers a platform to embryonic works from which they can grow, and, using feedback from these performances, the opportunity to review the work for further development on the London fringe and beyond. For the audience, the result is an exciting, energetic and compelling piece of fresh work and a glimpse into the genesis of a theatrical idea.

First Draft has presented over 20 productions since 2010. Brainville at Night launched First Draft in 2010 as a fifteen-minute short story, which was performed by actress Eleanor Cope. After that, writer Alexander Moschos developed the story into a fifty-minute play, which was produced in 2011 as a ‘scratch’ performance. Following the success of that production, First Draft decided to take the play forward with full production values, asking Alexander to redraft the work (following feedback and discussion after the first performance), and in February 2013 we took the (now ninety-minute) Brainville at Night to the Jack Studio Theatre for a limited run.

We are delighted to be able to transfer the production to The Old Red Lion theatre for a three week run this April. The journey that Brainville at Night has taken is the perfect example of what I set out to do when creating the company. The only way it could get any better is to see it published – and that is the next step!

This beautiful piece, full of hope and vitality, is a love story told through the memories and relationships of a woman suffering with Fronto-Temporal Dementia. Despite the daunting subject matter, Alexander Moschos has created a story of joy and truth, full of insight and great tenderness.

(c) Laura Harling 2014

Brainville at Night opens on 15th April – 3rd May 2014 at the Old Red Lion Theatre, Islington, London. For more information visit and

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