Singles Night, a new play by Oxfordshire writer Russell Highsmith, the UK’s only playwright with a learning disability.
Presented as part of Film Oxford’s Shadowlight Artists Project, Singles Night is the new Romantic Comedy play by Russell Highsmith, a hemiplegic writer with learning disabilities from Abingdon. Russell was one of the lightest babies ever to survive being born at the JR Hospital, weighing just 798g; lighter than a bag of sugar.
Although Singles Night is a work of comic fiction, Russell took some inspiration from a real-life specialist Dating Agency he attends called “Mates n Dates” which is for Adults with Learning Disabilities in Oxfordshire. (His characters in the play do not have learning disabilities but unspecified health and social problems instead.) Russell worked for over a year writing the full-length play with support and feedback from Film Oxford, particularly from Mark Ralph-Bowman who is a trustee at Film Oxford and a local playwright and theatre director. Before writing the plays Film Oxford supported Russell to write and produce a number of short comedy films.
Russell’s previous play The Big Shock was performed to a packed house at the Cornerstone in Didcot in 2016. Russell got his inspiration for both plays by watching classic sit-coms. He sort advice from another local writer Paul Mayhew-Archer (co-writer on Vicar of Dibley) who also gave him advice and encouragement. Singles Night will be performed by a professional cast. All proceeds from this performance will go to support the Project.
The Shadowlight Artists Project is a group of professional artists with learning disabilities, supported by Film Oxford. Their Arts Council of England funded exhibition called Shadowlight Artists: Rising runs at two galleries, Modern Art Oxford and Old Fire Station 19th October –10th November 2018.
“Russell is remarkable. He writes from the heart and that is why his work is so touching and true.” – Paul Mayhew-Archer (writer, comedian and former BBC editor)
“Russell’s particular situation gives him a wry, sideways perspective on life but it’s a view that is always extraordinarily upbeat and optimistic.” Mark Ralph–Bowman Playwright, Theatre Director and Film Oxford Trustee.
Film Oxford presents, as part of the Shadowlight Artists Project:
Wednesday 19 & Thursday 20 September @ 7.30pm
Life is happening. Love is all around. Emma and James are flatmates; they’ve been friends forever, and are looking for their fairy-tale endings. When Amber pops up with her dating agency, “Friends ‘n’ Lovers”, what could possibly go wrong?
Tickets: £8.50/£6 from www.oldfirestation.org.uk or 01865 263990.
The Old Fire Station, 40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ
More info on Russell: shadowlightartists.org.uk/portfolio/russell-highsmith