But For Us – Lockdown update

Our play But For Us is a celebration of our NHS and those who are willing to fight for it.

What better time to be planning a tour of the UK, with a show that recognises all the wonderful people who have been working tirelessly accross the health and social care sector, particularly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out our new trailer, recorded during the public sharing at the Bush Theatre Studio, following our R&D week at the Old Diorama Arts Centre, last September.

Since the public sharing, we’ve been busy making a few more script adjustments and storyboarding our digital content. Our plan now is to prepare to take it around the country, to regional theatres near you.

So, we’ve plenty to do while we stay home during lockdown…..

Stay safe, stay home.




But For Us R&D

Last week we held our research and development week for But For Us at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), culminating in a staged reading at the Bush Theatre for community and campaigners, and an Industry showing at ODAC.

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We had a phenomenal group of actors who worked their socks off to interrogate the script and develop the characters, under the watchful eye and skillful direction of Fiona MacPherson. We are extremely grateful to them for their willingness to hit the ground running, achieving a tremendous amount within the very limited time available to us.

We’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of the team at ODAC. Being Associate Performers has been an invaluable opportunity for us, and we thoroughly recommend other emerging artists explore this opportunity. Without ODAC, our R&D would not have been possible. And talking of which, another enormous thank you to our Kickstarter funders, without whom we would not have been able to pay anyone for all this hard work!

The showing at the Bush Theatre studio was sold out, with a fantastic atmosphere and a hugely appreciative audience. The feedback that we have collected from both readings will be invaluable as we take But For Us forward to the next stage.

So what is the next stage for But For Us?

Well, we did give ourselves the weekend off -but now we are back on it. We are digesting all the incredibly positive feedback we have received, as well as taking on board one or two constructively critical notes. We will then look towards fully integrating the video elements of the script, in collaboration with colleagues with projection design expertise. Ultimately, of course, our aim is to take But For Us to as wide an audience as possible with a fully staged production.

We will keep you posted!

Ali & Debs


L-R back: Deborah Klayman (Writer/Producer), Adil Akram (Naveen), Nicky Goldie (Brenda), Eva Fontaine (Mary), Andre Lecointe-Gayle (Martin), Harry Napier (Ricky), Ali Kemp (Writer/Producer). L-R front: Natascha Slasten (Gretel), Lesley Ewen (Dora), Roger Conneff (Ray), Fiona Macpherson (Director).

With thanks to Alex Harvey-Brown at Savannah Photographic for the fantastic rehearsal photography, and for filming the reading at the Bush Theatre studio.



Our R&D week is finally here!

After months of preparation, our R&D week is finally here!

We are delighted to welcome a wonderful group of actors to work on the But For Us script with playwrights Ali Kemp & Deborah Klayman and director Fiona McPherson at the Old Diorama Arts Centre (ODAC), where Whoop ‘n’ Wail are Associate Performers.

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Our sharing evening for campaigners and community at the Bush Theatre studio on Thursday 12th September is already sold out, ahead of our Industry Sharing on Friday 13th September at ODAC. We hope you will be joining us!

Follow us on Twitter for updates throughout the week, or join our mailing list here for all the Whoop ‘n’ Wail news!


Dates for your diary

It’s been action stations here at Whoop ‘n’ Wail HQ since our fabulous backers helped us to achieve our Kickstarter target and smash our stretch goal.

We are pleased to announce the dates of our rehearsed readings of But For Us, which will be the ‘pièce de résistance’ of our research and development week coming up in September.

The first will be on Thursday 12th September at 7pm at The Bush Theatre Studio, 7 Uxbridge Road, Shepherd’s Bush, London, W12 8LJ. This will be a free event and tickets can be ordered in advance via https://butforus.eventbrite.com.

There will also be an industry event on Friday 13th September at 2pm at the Old Diorama Arts Centre, our rehearsal home for the week and where we are Associate Performers. If you would like to come to that, please contact us directly on info@whoopnwail.com.

We’d love to see you but if you can’t make it to London in September, don’t worry, we will be keeping you up to date with all our work during the R&D.

With love and thanks

Ali & Debs


Call out for actors (paid)

Welfare’s in a state and the pensioners are revolting.

Whoop ‘n’ Wail Theatre Company are looking for three actors to complete casting for a research and development week on brand new play, But For Us, by award winning playwrights Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman. This is a paid opportunity for actors with a passion for new writing and an interest in the welfare state, social inclusion and politics. The plan for the week will be to interrogate the script and develop a read through followed by a discussion, then work on individual sections as decided by the director. This will culminate in an industry sharing of the piece.

Gloria 'NHS' Wildman

Gloria ‘NHS’ Wildman

Casting Breakdown

Dora Cockburn:          Female, Black, Caribbean, 70s. Arrived in the UK on the Windrush                                            in 1948. Mother to Mary and Martin, retired social worker,                                                        political agitator. Neighbour to Ray and Brenda.

Brenda Fink:               Female, White, 60s, widow, Dora’s neighbour and frenemy. Daily                                             Mail reader and local trader of goods. Has an opinion about                                                       everything and everyone.

Ricky Pickles:              Male, White, 50s/60s, married with two children. Chastity                                                            Healthcare founder and business magnate.

What you need to know

Pay:                             £483 per week pro rata (ITC Rates)

Dates:                          Tuesday 10th September – Friday 13th September

Venue:                        Old Diorama Arts Centre, Regent’s Place, 201 Drummond Street,                                      London, NW1 3FE

Who are we?

Whoop ‘n’ Wail is a female-led theatre company, founded by Ali Kemp and Deborah Klayman. Our primary focus is new writing, and creating work with a sense of humour and a social conscience. You can find out more about us and our work here: www.whoopnwail.com.

How to apply

Applications are via email to info@whoopnwail.com. Please confirm your availability for all dates and include a link to your acting CV. Casting from showreels or links to your previous work. Please clearly state which character you would like to be considered for. If you have any accessibility requirements please include this information.


In 2022, the Uncoupled Kingdom is feeling the pinch and welfare’s in a state. Prescription charges are through the roof, hospitals are bursting at the seams, and camps have sprung up on the borders. Now Chastity Healthcare has the NHS in its sights and the pensioners are revolting.

75-year old Dora Cockburn came to the UK as a child on the Windrush, and ever since has lived on an estate in Shepherd’s Bush. A life-long socialist and campaigner, she is fighting to save the NHS from the politicians and privateers, with only a packet of questionable biscuits and partner-in-crime Ray to help her overcome. Now, her estranged son is on her doorstep – what’s a woman to do?

Martin Cockburn is Conservative Minister for Health and Social Care, and he’s standing for re-election. What’s in his way? Toeing the party line, rebellious constituents, and a wife that’s just kicked him out. When you’re forced to live with your Trotskyite mum, how can you become Britain’s top Tory?

From the halls of power to the high rise and the cabinet to the camps, Dora must battle power plays, family feuds and media muscle in her quest for victory. But when the biscuits are down, help may come from an unlikely source…



We did it, and some!


What an extraordinary experience this has been. Once again a huge thank you to all those who have pledged throughout July to help us fund the But For Us Research and Development project.

To think that we reached our Kickstarter fundraising goal with the best part of a day to spare is quite overwhelming and we didn’t really expect to then hit our stretch goal.

But, thanks to you we have, and it’s a grand total of £6020!

It is now all systems go in preparation for the project to take place in September at the Old Diorama Arts Centre, where we are Associate Performers. And we can’t wait! We are assembling our fantastic cast and are continuing to tweek the script with our director, Fiona.

Watch this space for further updates and we look forward to being able to share the fruits of all your support very soon.

Big love


Ali & Debs

#ButForUsThePlay #thefightgoeson


2 hours to go!!!

There are two hours left of our Kickstarter, and only £154 left to raise in order to hit our stretch goal.


We have already raised the money needed to pay our creative team for the planned R&D, but if we can raise the stretch total of £6000 by 6.40pm today we will also be able to pay a projection designer for their input!

So do you think we can do it? We are having one last push, so please let anyone who might want to support But For Us, and hasn’t yet, know that it isn’t too late!





Now we are being cheeky.

Seeing as we have reached our target and still have a whole twelve hours of Kickstarter fundraising time to spare, we’d really like to s t r e t c h ourselves.

Getting a new piece of theatre off the ground is a costly business, and so often the creative team are expected to work for free. Thanks to you, we will now be able to offer proper pay to all of the team working on this project.

The stretch: if we can raise a total of £6000 by 6.40pm tomorrow when the Kickstarter ends, we will also be able to pay a projection designer for their input (oh yes, But For Us is all hi-tech!).

So what do you think? One last push to anyone you know who might not have heard about But For Us The Play?

We think you are amazing and we reckon you can do it!

Countdown Clock


Whoop Whoop!

You’ve done it! Thank you so much we have now reached our goal and the But For Us Research and Development project is full steam ahead.

We are so grateful to all of you who have generously pledged; liked, shared and tweeted; and generally offered support and encouragement.

We look forward to sharing our work with you in the near future.

Big love from Ali & Debs

#ourNHS #thefightgoeson

Just 24 hours to go!


There are just under 24 hours before our Kickstarter closes, and we are 98% funded – we are so close!!!

Thank you to all those who have already pledged and shared the project. If you are still planning to, the clock is ticking! Please help us get this project to the target so that we will be funded (unless you get the whole amount in Kickstarter you lose it all!),