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Durham Drama Festival is a highlight of the year for the DST community. The annual event is jam packed with dramatic opportunities; up to nine student written plays perform in just one week of Epiphany term. This year there will also be a Small Show category, an open mic night, industry-led workshops and talks, judges’ feedback sessions, and a D’Olivier’s to celebrate at the end of it all!

This year’s festival will spread itself across more venues, encourage diversity of entries both in style and subject matter and offer writers’ development sessions before and after submissions. If you’re a writer who wants to build upon and/or showcase your work – get involved with DDF 2022!

With a plethora of roles on offer, prod teams in high demand, and plenty of technical support required – everyone is welcome!



Opening Night at the Assembly Rooms Theatre

Our opening night writing showcase includes: 

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Guest Performance from the Durham Revue 

The First Classical Monologue You’ll Perform at Drama School written and performed by Stephen Ledger 

Life Model by Sascha Lowdermilk-Oppenheim performed by Millie Adams 

Shakespeare’s Muse by Rory Mcalpine performed by Emily Browning 

Tight Squeeze written and performed by Millicent Stott Harness by Louise Coograve


General Programme Selections

Our stellar line up this year includes: 

At the Mark Hillery Arts Centre:

Buy tickets here: Durham Student Theatre (

You Will Hear Me by Yolan Noszkay:

With an emphasis on physical theatre and group devising, this play follows two sisters living in an oppressive state. They live in fear of being taken away in the night and of being too loud or too seen. Although based on the Hungarian revolution of 1956, there are many similarities to our present day, with people being forced to flee their homes to try and start a new life in a new country.

Beautiful Nothing by Em Oliver:

This one woman show explores a girl at the cusp of womanhood. A career that has flung her into the public eye. Naïve yet old past her years. Resisting a society that insists on seeing her as a sexual object. Coming to terms with her sexuality that resists this even further. Corinne is a bundle of beautiful contradictions, and yet she feels like nothing.

Marriage Proposal by Yibu Jin:

This is an adaption of Anton Chekhov’s phenomenal work The Marriage Proposal. The stage set in Shanghai, early 2000s. Whether it is relationship dynamics of family and neighbourhood, or humour mixed with hypocrisy, sarcasm and prejudices, they are all found universal, transcending cultural boundaries and time. Words are sharp, personalities are hard to change. The marriage proposal peels off everyone’s masks and reveals the nature underneath.

At the Assembly Rooms Theatre:

Buy tickets here: Durham Student Theatre (

Mrs Alexander: by Eloise Richmond:

The pernicious Mr Alexander, a young man of substance, opposes his father’s oppression by solely committing to a domestic life. Not without excess, Mr Alexander immerses the intelligent and vulnerable Mrs Alexander into his idyllic life, only to ignite both their ever-developing psychological traumas. They see each other with only rose-tinted glasses and, as a result, find the ordinary world dull and depressing by comparison.

Cottage by Ben Willows:

Some point in the last century. A public toilet. Grimy. Disused. Lonely.

One man enters. Another man follows.

In Cottage, we see two unnamed men negotiate the awkwardness, difficulties, and dangers of cottaging. Tense, darkly comic, and intensely intimate, Cottage delves into one of the most shameful yet thrilling parts of queer history, and presents the difficult dilemma between public sex and private connection.

Hotel Charmon by Millie Glennister:

A con artist, a lovestruck girl, a waitress and a millionaire. Sounds like the start of a bad joke.” The play centres around a £50,000 engagement ring that everyone seems to want – everyone but the woman it’s for. Set in a hotel, we follow the journey of multiple characters with contrasting agendas that could result in life or death. This farcical comedy explores class divisions: navigating the tensions between the superficial, frivolous upper class and the tactical, observant lower class.

In the Mount Oswald Hub:

Buy tickets here: Durham Student Theatre (

Children of Yesterday by Enzo Lebeau:

The Children of Yesterday is a historical play encompassing the tumultuous times in Europe between 1870 and 1952. The play makes a parallel between the lives of two very inspiring figures: Austrian writer Stefan Zweig (1881 – 1942) and revolutionary Italian pedagogue Maria Montessori (1870 – 1952). The play intertwines both their lives in a fast-paced patchwork to transmit their fights, to give to the audience an uplifting glimpse into the ideals that gave sense to both their lives.

 Stage’s Fool by James Murray:

A nebulous “event” has caused the end of the world. The only survivor appears to be a lone actor, talking to himself in an empty theatre, identified only as He. Left alone with his thoughts, He contemplates life leading up to the apocalypse, the nature of art, romantic relationships and more, until a noise knocks him out of his reverie. He realises that He might not be the last person alive after all… This changes everything.

Durham Drama Festival Programme 2022: 

Sunday 30th January:

8pm, Assembly Rooms – Launch night followed by opening night social

Wednesday 2nd February:

7pm – Mark Hillery Programme, Mount Oswald Programme

Thursday 3rd February:

7pm – Mount Oswald Programme, Assembly Rooms Programme

Friday 4th February:

12pm, AR –Shakespearean Mock Audition Workshop with Alexandra Spencer-Jones

1-3pm, AR – Q&A with Phil Davis (Sherlock, Doctor Who, Silent Witness)

7pm – Mark Hillery Programme, Assembly Rooms Programme

Saturday 5th February:

10-11pm, ER157 – Q&A with Alexandra Spencer-Jones, Artistic Director

11.15-12.15, ER157 – Q& A with Micheal Jacob, BBC Executive Producer & Script editor

12.30-13.30, ER157 – Playwrighting: Tackling Redrafts, workshop with Christina Castling

12.30-13.30, ER 157 – John Schwab Acting Workshop

7pm – Mount Oswald Programme, Mark Hillery Programme, Assembly Rooms Programme

Sunday 6th February:

Hatfield Dining Hall, 8.30 pm – The D’Oliviers Awards Ceremony followed by a social in Fabs

 Durham Drama Festival Judges: 

Christina Castling:

Christina is the Director of Off The Page Drama CIC and a freelance drama
facilitator based in County Durham. Sheleads creative projects and workshops with schools, community groups, youth theatres and anyone else excited about using drama to explore their creativity. Christina is also a playwright. 

As a writer, Christina’s work has won Trinity College London’s International
Playwriting Competition, been performed as far afield as New Zealand
and been toured by Northumberland Theatre Company. Her writing has depth
and playful honesty, often asking questions about belonging, identity and home.

John Schwab:

John Schwab is an American actor, TV producer and musician. He produced The Hide with Christopher Granier-Deferre, which was nominated for a BIFA 2010.

He is best known for his film and television roles, such as lawyer Travis Tygart in the 2015 drama film The Program (2015), baseball player Lefty Grove in the 2018 biographical drama film The Catcher Was a Spy (2018) and television producer Jotham Starr in the television miniseries Dark Money (2019).

He has worked on British television series such as Doctor Who, Clone, My Dad’s the Prime Minister, Hotel Babylon and The Mallorca Files.

His voice work in animation and video games includes Dane in Crysis: Warhead, Zeck in Boo, Zino & the Snurks, and Vinnie in Thomas & Friends: The Great Race.

Alexandra Spencer-Jones:

Alexandra is Artistic Director of the theatre company ‘Action to the Word’ ( She won the Musical Theatre Matters:UK award for Best Emerging Artist for the writing and direction of the new musical CONSTANCE

Her projects include Legally Blonde, City of Angels, Batboy, A Generous Lover, Constance and Sinestra and A Clockwork Orange

Micheál Jacob:

Micheál Jacob Worked in television comedy for twenty years, and is now a
writing and production consultant. A former head of mainstream comedy at
BBC Television, he was script editor of Birds of a Feather and Goodnight
Sweetheart, and executive producer of Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps,
My Family, and The Smoking Room.

He has worked recently with MTV Networks, Lime Pictures and BBC Television. After managing the live sketch element of Cofilmic, he is now involved with a group of writer/performers who made their debut in June.

Durham Drama Festival 2021

2021’s General Programme (and festival!) was completely digital, and included: 

PLUMB by Owen Kennedy, The Republic of Eric by Ryan King, Death of a Disco Dancer by Eric Yu, The Lovers by Esalan Gates, Grace by Miriam Templeman, Degenerate by HMF Jenkins, Who Put Bella in the Wych Elm? by Farncesca Haydon-White Alone at the Edge of the Universe by Olivia Jones & Meeting Point by Imogen Usherwood.

Durham Drama Festival 2020

2020s General Programme included: 

Number Theory by Imogen Usherwood, Green Alert by Ryan King, Implosion by Isobel Flower, Laika by Aliya Gilmore, The Landlord’s Arms by Charles Edward Pipe, Lungbarrow’s Insomnia by Aidas Zvirblis, Tourists by Eliott Ancona, He Never Married by Kane Taylor & Fishbowl by Lowri Mathias 

Durham Drama Festival 2019

2019’s General Programme included: 

Save the Date by Ollie Kirkwood, Posideon’s Playhouse by Alex Julian-Ottie, Reckoning by Helena Snider-Martin, Kay & Rex by Madaline Horton, Fire on Beacon Hill by HMF Jenkins, Ophelia is also Dead by Aliya Gilmore, Tuesday by Andrew Cowburn, Whatever Happened to Christopher Robin? by Charlie Whitehead & Ladies Who Lunch by Niamh Collins.

Durham Drama Festival 2018

2018s General Programme included: 

Aqua Spectacular by Jasmine Price, The Adventures of Slick Tuffman by Mike Bedigan, Cloudburst by Zac Tiplady, Eve by Carrie Gaunt, The Empiricist by Caspar Bayliss, hypoclitical by Kitty Briggs and Andy Ball, Marsistan by Hamza Adam Rafique, Flowers ‘n’ That by Broccan Tyzack-Carlin & The House of Influenza by Andrew Shires.