Plays by Peter Mortimer

Publications: Rainbird    *   Death at Dawn   *   Playtime   *   RIOT   *   Croak, The King & a Change in the Weather

Death at Dawn (2014)

She's on Toast (2014) - Review

The Plughole (2013) - Review

Uninvited (2012)

Marmite (2012) - Review

Croak the King (2011)

Playtime (2010)

Kat Among the Pigeons (2007)

RIOT (2005)

Off the Wall (2004)

Lower the Lake! (2003)

Clockman (2002)

Making Plans for Winkle (2001)

His, His & His (2000)

The Nightwatchman (1999)

Arthur Raises the Roof (1998)

The Trip (1998)

A Change in the Weather (1997)

Whiter than Wight (1995)

Spirits of the Deep (1993)

The Enchanted Pudding (1991)

Dunce Crafty & The Great Monster Robbery (1989)

Doris Dumpling & The Magic Corner Shop (1987)

Elvis Lucy & Capt.Sensible (1986)

IT (1985)

Imagine (1985)

The Man Who Played With Mice (1984)

The Troutbeck Time Traveller (1984)

Snow White in the Black Lagoon (1983)

Rainbird - the published script


The Tragedy of an Artist

The text of a new Peter Mortimer play about the North Shields painter Victor Noble Rainbird, which was performed by Cloud Nine Theatre Company at The Exchange, North Shields, for a week in April 2018, is published by IRON Press to coincide with the production.

Rainbird led a tragic life. His highly promising career as an artist saw him accepted as the only northern painter in the Royal Academy 1911 influx where he won several awards. But Rainbird's experiences in the First World War (shell shock, gas poisoning) left their mark. He slid into alcoholism and poverty, reduced to selling his paintings for liquor in the Shields hostelries.

For 80 years he was buried in a pauper's grave in Preston Cemetery, North Shields, and only recently has his reputation been salvaged.

The book contains a foreword by the author, director's notes on the production, rehearsal photos and details on educational work around the production.

PRICE £8.00
ISBN 978 1 997639 1 9

Death at Dawn - the published script

Death at Dawn

Death at Dawn, was a major production commissioned by the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration Project, staged to mark the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war. The Cloud Nine premier production, in September 2014 was shortlisted for not one, not two, but three separate awards in The Journal Culture Awards. At the awards ceremony, actor Heather Carroll - who tackled three roles in the play - won the Newcomer of the Year award. Author Peter Mortimer was among a shortlist of three for Writer of the Year, and the play was also nominated in Performance of the Year category. Death at Dawn had already won British Theatre Guide's regional award for Best Direction.

Publicity for 'Death at Dawn'

Death at Dawn was produced by Cloud Nine Theatre Company, directed by Jackie Fielding and funded by Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery Fund and North Tyneside Council. It was performed from 1st - 6th September 2014 at the Linskill Centre, North Shields, less than half a mile from where Hunter lived. A professional cast of seven were joined by around ten young drama students aged around 18 - 20 drawn from local North Tyneside schools and colleges.

It was restaged in February / March 2016 in Wallsend and in the Great Hall of The Discovery Museum, Newcastle.

Death at Dawn is built round the real life story of the young North Shields soldier William Hunter who was court-martialled and executed in France in 1916 for desertion. More than 300 soldiers were shot at dawn by the British Army in the Great War but Hunter's case is unusual because sentence was carried out even though the authorities believed at the time that he had signed on under-age. In almost every other similar case, the death sentence was reprieved. For reasons unknown, the sentence on Hunter was carried out. The play examines possible reasons and also explores the realities behind a policy that saw the army shoot its own men.

Death at Dawn was published by Red Squirrel Press in September 2014; it is available for purchase through Inpress.



The plays in this book came about through the unique work done in schools by Peter Mortimer - creating pieces of drama through workshops in which the pupils themselves turned creators, producers, actors. The youngsters helped to create the plot, characters and style of each play, were often involved in costume/set design as well as producing programmes and posters, and acted out the finished roles. The plays' themes, all of which are run through with humour, include the pitfalls of winning the lottery, the trappings of power, and global pollution as seen through an alien invasion; and the settings are as diverse as a circus, a sealed palace where nothing has ever changed, and a beach in Brazil.

All these plays were given public performances, often in professional theatres. This approach gave the pupils an involvement in and commitment to the plays which no ordinary drama class could offer. In an age of increasingly narrow school curricula, Playtime is the proof of the rewards that such a risky, often terrifying approach can bring.

Plays published in Playtime - Eight Plays for and with Young People are:

Playtime - Eight Plays for and with Young People was published by Flambard Press in September 2011; it is available for purchase through Inpress. To celebrate publication, Star of the Sea Primary School Whitley Bay restaged the play titled Triple Act, which the author created with the school's children in 2009.

Riot: revived at the Customs House and touring the UK


South Shields, on the south bank of the mouth of the River Tyne, has what is probably the oldest established Arab population in England, descended from Yemeni seamen who settled there in the early twentieth century. If this is little known, it is because relations have been harmonious, and the town is well integrated. None the less, on 2nd August, 1930, there was a riot in the Mill Dam area (where the Customs House now stands) which involved Yemeni sailors, the men of the Seamen's Minority Movement and the Communist Party, ranged against the shipping employers, the police and a section of the National Union of Seamen who, in a desire to protect "white" jobs, were prepared to support a system of giving jobs which discriminated against the Yemeni sailors. This has been described as Britain's first race riot.

Peter Mortimer was commissioned by the Customs House to write a play on the subject, and the result was RIOT, first staged at the Customs House in 2005, and revived in summer 2008; first at the Customs House in June, then transferring to Liverpool's Unity Theatre July 18 - 19, as part of the Liverpool Arabic Arts Festival.

RIOT was reviewed in The British Theatre Guide; review of the original production and review of the 2008 revival.

As a result of this commission, Peter Mortimer travelled to the Yemen, and wrote about it in his book, Cool for Qat.

The text of RIOT is published by Five Leaves Press, accompanied by a translation into Arabic by Abdulalem Alshamary; it can be ordered from InPress.

Croak, The King & a Change in the Weather

In 2008, Peter Mortimer lived for two months in the Shatila refugee camp, in outer Beirut. During his time on camp he created a children's drama group at the Shatila school, and adapted his play Croak The King & a Change in the Weather into a 30-minute theatre piece, incorporating dance, music, and mime. The text of this revised version is published in Playtime.

The children perform 'Croak, the King & a Change in the Weather

Despite having only the basic grasp of the language, the children performed the play in English. It was performed twice to camp residents on the writer's final day - and in September 2009 the same production was brought to the North-East.

More than £22,000 was raised in the region to help bring about this unique international theatre event. Public funding came from North Tyneside Council, (£6,000) Arts Council England North-East, (£4,600); the Co-operative Membership has given £1,900, with £500 from the Arab-British Centre. More than £7,000 was raised in a fund-raising walk, The Shatila Ramble, Newcastle College Fine Art Dept raised £1,500 in a charity auction, and £500 came from a Words & Music night at The Cumberland Arms, Byker, organised by writer Jeff Price.

With the help of Cloud Nine Theatre Company members, Croak, The King & a Change in the Weather was performed eight times in four venues, often to sellout audiences, and there are now plans to build on the success to forge long-term cultural links with Shatila Camp.

Read the Journal's account of the story.

Read Peter's book Camp Shatila: A Writer's Chronicle for an account of the difficulties presented by the production - and what the children thought about the play!