When it comes to life on the stage, actor turned lecturer, Tom Guest, is definitely a triple threat.

After years of performing and teaching future stars of stage and screen, he has added scriptwriting to his list of talents.

Now students at Stockton Riverside College are about to bring his latest and first published play to audiences at The Fire Station at Middlesbrough Town Hall.

As course leader for higher education performing arts at the college, Tom said: “It was the students’ choice to perform my play.  It felt pretty good that they wanted to do that.”

No stranger to writing scripts, Tom who is also co-productions director for The Sedgefield Players, regularly pens some of the theatre company’s pantos and short productions.

He originally wrote The Twa Sisters, his new play, a dark comedy based on the Northumbrian folktale and song, for the group’s drama festival.

But, written and edited in about three weeks, he felt inspired to pitch the script to publisher and rights agency, Lazy Bee Scripts, who have chosen to publish his work.

“I was excited to even have my work considered,” said Tom. So, he was thrilled when it was ultimately given the green light.  Now other theatre companies can pay to license the production.

Based on the 17th century folktale, The Twa Sisters is a traditional murder ballad that follows the story of sisters who fall in love with the same man.

Tom said: “It is a dark comedy about relationships, sibling rivalry and jealousy.  I have always liked folk music and the way it tells a story.  Plus, I love the idea of taking something that already exists and turning it into something new, after all, as actors that is what we do.”

For up-and-coming performers studying the Foundation Degree in Acting and Musical Theatre at Stockton Riverside College, in partnership with Teesside University, the pressure will certainly be on as they prepare to perform the one-act play with the writer in the room.

Performing arts student Charlie said: “We decided that we wanted to do something both dark and comedic, and after reading Tom’s script, it felt like the perfect fit.

“It’s great to be rehearsing a play alongside the writer because you really get to know the characters and all their intentions from the person that created them.  It’s been helpful to have discussions on why the characters are the way they are, to help inform our acting and singing performances.”

At the same time, Charlie added: “I think we all feel the pressure to put on a good show for Tom, especially with it being his own work.  When you are performing a play or musical written by people you’ve never met there’s not that connection to push you.  It is only giving us more drive to really get it right.”

A show of two halves the students’ production of The Twa Sisters at Middlesbrough Town Hall will also include a vocal concert, Louder than Words, featuring songs from the musicals.

Performances take place at The Fire Station, Middlesbrough Town Hall, on Tues 30 and Wed 31 January at 7pm, with a matinee performance on Wednesday at 2pm.  With a PG rating of 13 years plus, entry to the pay-as-you-feel event is available at the door.

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