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A Very Odd Birthday Party Program

Audio Description Production Notes

A Note From the Director

A bit more about Hawkseed Theatre...

Well this has been a long time in the making hasn't it! Hannah and I first decided to work together at the start of 2020 (yes, before the world went upside down. We know, not ideal timing!). Cramped waiting for the toilets in a pub in Manchester we decided ok, we'll try this! We had absolutely no idea what 'this' would entail. What we did know was that we loved theatre, wanted to make the work we couldn't see, and...well if I'm honest, that was about it at that stage. Fast forward 2 years and we're onto our second project generously funded by Arts Council England, among other fantastic organisations. We're proudly developing, supporting, and celebrating new writing for the stage. We aim to constantly raise the voices of those under or misrepresented on stage. And we are working really hard to create theatre with creative access at its heart. We are young. (Well - Hawkseed is young. It depends who you ask whether we're young or not!). We are learning a lot as we go and of course we won't always get it right. But here we are, giving it a really bloody good try.

We're on an incredible and absolutely JOYFUL journey working with communities around England including artists at the beginning of their career, people aged 65 and over willing to share their wonderful brains and humour with us, and Irish community groups. Not only that, but we've been privileged to work with absolute gems at every step of this journey, from the first read, to the R&D, to this show. If you need any help finding lovely artists, we've got plenty of suggestions! Read on to find out more about the creative team on this production...

If you're reading this, I can only presume you bought a ticket to see A Very Odd Birthday Party by the very, very clever Hannah Donelon (she'll kill me when she reads that). So, if my Sherlock skills are correct - thank you!!!

This play is like a treasure chest of memories and lived experiences of what it means to be a 1st and 2nd generation immigrant in England; what it means to have a funny looking name, or a different upbringing; what it means to feel a little out of place in every place you visit. We'll also dance along that fine line between being cared for and becoming the carer as we witness all the characters balancing their needs, and the needs of those they love. 


Working on new writing is always an incredibly exciting challenge. Supporting a text come to life that has never been shared before is a process that takes time, and care, and asks a lot of vulnerability from a lot of people. I'm so grateful to our incredible creative team for supporting Hawkseed's first full scale production of new writing. New plays mean new voices, new stories, and new ways to see the world we live in. Here's to  future full of new ideas.


As part of this production, we have worked with the incredible Chloë Clarke to embed audio description into the script. This has been an incredible learning curve for us and a way of working that I can't wait to take into future script developments. This, alongside our workshops, and Pay What You Decide tickets reflects our real ambition to create work that breaks down the typical barriers that stop people accessing great theatre. I hope you enjoy your night at the theatre.

The Creative Team

Director Anna Berentzen

Writer Hannah Donelon

Audio Description Consultant Chloë Clarke

Set & Costume Designer Ellie Light

Sound Designer Charlotte Barber

Lighting Designer Charly Dunford

Stage Manager Sophie Rushworth

Assistant Producers Sara Abanur & Lauren Cresswell

Musical Supervisor Emma Sweeney

Photographer, Videographer, & Marketing Support Aaron Howell

Production Assistant Nick Barber

Our really wonderful partners

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With a huge and special thanks to:

Arts Council England; Tricia Coleman and David Agnew who basically taught us how to be a theatre company; The Met and EVERY single member of staff who has gone above and beyond helping get our work off the ground; Sarah Mangan and all who supported us through the Consulate General of Ireland, Manchester and the Irish Embassy; Emma Smith (and her incredible brain!) and our wonderful partner the Liverpool Irish Festival; The wonderful and generous Jacquie Davies at The Liverpool Everyman and all the staff there who have supported us; Rob and Mark at Liverpool Scenic; the Irish Traditional Music Archive for providing us with the recording of Donnacha Ó Dulaing. The recording is taken from The Brian Lawler Collection courtesy of the Irish Traditional Music Archive. Liv Dowd, Jay Mailer, Payal Mistry, Kieran Cunningham, Susan Twist, Keith Dunphy, Penny Layden, Daina Karai, Adam Woolley, and Christopher Brown for bringing this play to life and contributing to the development of the play through its R&Ds; Andy Smith, Paul Hine and all the gang at Made by Mortals; Andy Barry and The Royal Exchange Elders Company; Carys Williams; Nicola Schofield; Nick Barber; Tom Saunders; Kris Overand and Davinia Jokhi at HOMEmcr; Maria Maloney at Movema; Colin and Florrie Wilby at The Production Exchange - A Very Odd Birthday Party was initially developed thanks to funding and support from The Production Exchange; Arupa Lahiry and Dhruba Basu at FolkLog, Amardeep Singh Dhillon, and Jessica Kaur for all their help and advice on the music in the show; to all the community groups that participated in the ROOT R&D of the script: working class Irish & Indian diaspora communities, healthcare professionals, Dementia Friends, and Mothers (your input was invaluable in shaping the script and informing authenticity); to Suzanne Bell at The Royal Exchange for really detailed and helpful feedback on the first draft of the script; Matt Hassall for training us, empowering us, and telling us to work together (and for bobbitybobob); And, finally, a huge thank you to all our friends and family because we really wouldn't have been able to do this without your emotional and physical support (letting us raid your wardrobes for costumes, going to pick up stage weights, cooking us lunch when we were weary...We're incredibly lucky to have this network and we've often wondered how great art could be made without it).

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