Polly by Marie Hamilton and Sharp Teeth Theatre

are creating A radical adaptation of an 18th century rom-com.

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Last April we went to Berlin and made a radical new adaptation of Polly, John Gay’s banned sequel to The Beggar’s Opera.



Set in a tacky beach resort on a storm hit island, we made a show that told the story not just of Purest Polly Peachum, but of the other wives of Mac The Knife too. We explored 21st Century femininity, jealousy, rage, sexual politics, our troubled colonial past, and our uncertain future. It was dirty and messy and sexy.

What emerged was a frenetic, heart-breaking look at love, loss and revenge, with: jilted brides, pregnant murderers, power pop girl bands, haunting multi-textured vocal harmonies, dancing, shouting, laughing, crying, Berlin techno, glitter, tracksuits, palm trees, sequins and dirt.
We sold out our preview nights at The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, and got some great reviews: 

"Horror amid the hilarity: Marie Hamilton and Stephanie Kempson’s musical John Gay adaptation hits all the right notes... Overwhelming fun" Exuent

"Gritty, in-your-face, intelligent exploration of feminism, power and control, completely bang on for political timing and satirical commentary... performances that contain an authentic vulnerability to grotesque abuse and all the nuances in between" Weston-Super-Mum

“Terrific… Fierce and utterly irreverent.” Ali Robertson, Kneehigh




As a result of the previews we were chosen to be part of Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment program for new work, were shortlisted for the LET award and were taken on by the Lowry in Manchester, and The Greenwich Theatre in London.

Really sadly though, early last week we received the news that we no longer have the funding we thought we would have. With a professional cast of 5 a composer, director and designer the costs are high and we won’t be able to take these opportunities up unless we can come up with the money ourselves.

We think this show really deserves to be seen, and we have dreams of developing it into something extraordinary, which is why we are now turning to our friends and family.

                                                                                                                                                   Our initial Arts Council budget was £15,000, but we have drawn up a bare bones one which looks like this:
-Travel Berlin - Bristol for our composer Ben: £82.50
-Travel Bristol - London for previews x 5: £120
-Travel Bristol - Manchester for Lowry showings x 6: £252
-Accommodation in Manchester 2 nights x 6: £284
-2 weeks rehearsal for 3 actors: £2820
-2 weeks rehearsal for 2 musicians: £1880
-Composer’s Fee: £1300
-Director’s Fee: £1300
-Lighting Designer: £900
-Technician x 6 shows: £600
-Subsidised Rehearsal Space: £205
-Promotional Photography: £200
-Poster and Leaflet Design: £110
-Poster and Leaflet Printing: £50
Grand Total: £10,103.50

Even the smallest amount would mean a great deal to us. We know that most of our friends are in the arts and are in equally precarious financial situations. However, if you feel able to donate, or know anyone who might be able to, we would be so grateful.

Here is a bit about us:

The Team

Stephanie Kempson- Director/Writer/Producer

Steph is a Bristol-based director, dramaturg and writer, a graduate of National Theatre’s Director’s Scheme, Bristol Old Vic’s Made in Bristol Scheme, and winner of the 2014 JMK Regional Young Director's Bursary.
She was assistant director on Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre at Bristol Old Vic, which later transferred to the National.
She is the artistic director of Sharp Teeth Theatre, and her work has been performed at The Royal Festival Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, The Tobacco Factory, Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Bath.

Ben Osborn- Musical Director/Writer

Ben lives in Berlin and is a composer, sound designer and songwriter. He is the musical director of multi-award winning Fellswoop Theatre Company, and he has collaborated with many other companies internationally. Recently he has worked with the Young Vic, the Bristol Old Vic, and the Finbrough. His soundtracks and songs have won the Cameron Mackintosh Award for Musical Theatre and the Methuen Drama Emerging Artists Award, Ignite Critics’ Choice Award, the Peter Brooke Empty Space Award and a Manchester Theatre Award.

Marie Hamilton- Performer/Writer/Producer

Marie trained at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier and ArtsEd and is based between Bristol and London, working in theatre, film, radio and TV.
Marie has performed at the Almeida, the Soho Theatre, the Arcola, the Tobacco Factory and the Bristol Old Vic, and worked with companies including Talawa, ATC and Travelling Light. Over Christmas she was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Sally Cookson's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which smashed box office records, selling over 65,000 tickets.

Madeline Shann- Performer/Writer

Maddy is a dancer, choreographer and musician. She trained with Jasmin Vardimon and Hofesh Schechter, and has worked with Eclipse theatre company, Sheffield Theatres and the Bush, and performed in RashDash's large-scale outdoor work The Darkest Corners. Her own works include - one-woman show Little Terrors and dance theatre ensemble piece Sex In Real Life. She was assistant director On Black Men Walking, directed by Dawn Walton at The Royal Exchange, Manchester, which toured to The Royal Court, Bristol Old Vic and West Yorkshire Playhouse. She is currently performing in Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic's family Christmas show IGLOO.

Katy Sobey- Performer/Writer

Katy trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She works in theatre, radio, television and has recorded numerous audio books. Most recently on stage, Katy starred in Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas with the Lyric Hammersmith/Pins and Needles at Waterside Arts, Sale. For BBC Radio 4, Katy has regularly appeared on Poetry Please, as well as in numerous radio dramas including Tess in
Winter, The All-Clear and The Shining Heart. Katy played Esther Adams in BBC 1’s The Indian Doctor.

Ellie Showering- Musician/Musical Director on Tour

Ellie is a Bristol based singer, performer and composer. Since graduating from Dartington College of Arts with a degree in Contemporary Music Performance, her collaborative work has ranged from intimate shows designed for an audience of one to sold out theatre tours across the UK and Europe. Ellie works regularly with Verity Standen, performing in Undersong, Hug, MmmHmmm, Symphony and Airborne. Ellie has had her music played on BBC Radio 3 & BBC Radio Bristol and is also the Musical Director for Insane Root Theatre Company, composing the music for their acclaimed productions of Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, Orpheus & Eurydice and Macbeth. This Christmas she will be performing and playing music in The Borrowers at the Tobacco Factory.



This show is the fruit of 3 years of work and we are so proud of it. We would dearly love to finish it and put it on stage again and for you all to have the chance to see it.

With love and fingers tightly crossed,
Marie, Steph, Maddy, Katy, Ellie and Ben
Last April we went to Berlin and made a radical new adaptation of Polly, John Gay’s banned sequel to The Beggar’s Opera.



Set in a tacky beach resort on a storm hit island, we made a show that told the story not just of Purest Polly Peachum, but of the other wives of Mac The Knife too. We explored 21st Century femininity, jealousy, rage, sexual politics, our troubled colonial past, and our uncertain future. It was dirty and messy and sexy.

What emerged was a frenetic, heart-breaking look at love, loss and revenge, with: jilted brides, pregnant murderers, power pop girl bands, haunting multi-textured vocal harmonies, dancing, shouting, laughing, crying, Berlin techno, glitter, tracksuits, palm trees, sequins and dirt.
We sold out our preview nights at The Wardrobe Theatre in Bristol, and got some great reviews: 

"Horror amid the hilarity: Marie Hamilton and Stephanie Kempson’s musical John Gay adaptation hits all the right notes... Overwhelming fun" Exuent

"Gritty, in-your-face, intelligent exploration of feminism, power and control, completely bang on for political timing and satirical commentary... performances that contain an authentic vulnerability to grotesque abuse and all the nuances in between" Weston-Super-Mum

“Terrific… Fierce and utterly irreverent.” Ali Robertson, Kneehigh




As a result of the previews we were chosen to be part of Bristol Old Vic’s Ferment program for new work, were shortlisted for the LET award and were taken on by the Lowry in Manchester, and The Greenwich Theatre in London.

Really sadly though, early last week we received the news that we no longer have the funding we thought we would have. With a professional cast of 5 a composer, director and designer the costs are high and we won’t be able to take these opportunities up unless we can come up with the money ourselves.

We think this show really deserves to be seen, and we have dreams of developing it into something extraordinary, which is why we are now turning to our friends and family.

                                                                                                                                                   Our initial Arts Council budget was £15,000, but we have drawn up a bare bones one which looks like this:
-Travel Berlin - Bristol for our composer Ben: £82.50
-Travel Bristol - London for previews x 5: £120
-Travel Bristol - Manchester for Lowry showings x 6: £252
-Accommodation in Manchester 2 nights x 6: £284
-2 weeks rehearsal for 3 actors: £2820
-2 weeks rehearsal for 2 musicians: £1880
-Composer’s Fee: £1300
-Director’s Fee: £1300
-Lighting Designer: £900
-Technician x 6 shows: £600
-Subsidised Rehearsal Space: £205
-Promotional Photography: £200
-Poster and Leaflet Design: £110
-Poster and Leaflet Printing: £50
Grand Total: £10,103.50

Even the smallest amount would mean a great deal to us. We know that most of our friends are in the arts and are in equally precarious financial situations. However, if you feel able to donate, or know anyone who might be able to, we would be so grateful.

Here is a bit about us:

The Team

Stephanie Kempson- Director/Writer/Producer

Steph is a Bristol-based director, dramaturg and writer, a graduate of National Theatre’s Director’s Scheme, Bristol Old Vic’s Made in Bristol Scheme, and winner of the 2014 JMK Regional Young Director's Bursary.
She was assistant director on Sally Cookson’s Jane Eyre at Bristol Old Vic, which later transferred to the National.
She is the artistic director of Sharp Teeth Theatre, and her work has been performed at The Royal Festival Hall, Battersea Arts Centre, The Tobacco Factory, Bristol Old Vic and Theatre Royal Bath.

Ben Osborn- Musical Director/Writer

Ben lives in Berlin and is a composer, sound designer and songwriter. He is the musical director of multi-award winning Fellswoop Theatre Company, and he has collaborated with many other companies internationally. Recently he has worked with the Young Vic, the Bristol Old Vic, and the Finbrough. His soundtracks and songs have won the Cameron Mackintosh Award for Musical Theatre and the Methuen Drama Emerging Artists Award, Ignite Critics’ Choice Award, the Peter Brooke Empty Space Award and a Manchester Theatre Award.

Marie Hamilton- Performer/Writer/Producer

Marie trained at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier and ArtsEd and is based between Bristol and London, working in theatre, film, radio and TV.
Marie has performed at the Almeida, the Soho Theatre, the Arcola, the Tobacco Factory and the Bristol Old Vic, and worked with companies including Talawa, ATC and Travelling Light. Over Christmas she was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Sally Cookson's The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, which smashed box office records, selling over 65,000 tickets.

Madeline Shann- Performer/Writer

Maddy is a dancer, choreographer and musician. She trained with Jasmin Vardimon and Hofesh Schechter, and has worked with Eclipse theatre company, Sheffield Theatres and the Bush, and performed in RashDash's large-scale outdoor work The Darkest Corners. Her own works include - one-woman show Little Terrors and dance theatre ensemble piece Sex In Real Life. She was assistant director On Black Men Walking, directed by Dawn Walton at The Royal Exchange, Manchester, which toured to The Royal Court, Bristol Old Vic and West Yorkshire Playhouse. She is currently performing in Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic's family Christmas show IGLOO.

Katy Sobey- Performer/Writer

Katy trained at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. She works in theatre, radio, television and has recorded numerous audio books. Most recently on stage, Katy starred in Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas with the Lyric Hammersmith/Pins and Needles at Waterside Arts, Sale. For BBC Radio 4, Katy has regularly appeared on Poetry Please, as well as in numerous radio dramas including Tess in
Winter, The All-Clear and The Shining Heart. Katy played Esther Adams in BBC 1’s The Indian Doctor.

Ellie Showering- Musician/Musical Director on Tour

Ellie is a Bristol based singer, performer and composer. Since graduating from Dartington College of Arts with a degree in Contemporary Music Performance, her collaborative work has ranged from intimate shows designed for an audience of one to sold out theatre tours across the UK and Europe. Ellie works regularly with Verity Standen, performing in Undersong, Hug, MmmHmmm, Symphony and Airborne. Ellie has had her music played on BBC Radio 3 & BBC Radio Bristol and is also the Musical Director for Insane Root Theatre Company, composing the music for their acclaimed productions of Romeo & Juliet, The Tempest, Orpheus & Eurydice and Macbeth. This Christmas she will be performing and playing music in The Borrowers at the Tobacco Factory.



This show is the fruit of 3 years of work and we are so proud of it. We would dearly love to finish it and put it on stage again and for you all to have the chance to see it.

With love and fingers tightly crossed,
Marie, Steph, Maddy, Katy, Ellie and Ben

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