Brenda Callis is a playwright/theatre-maker based in Bristol. Her writing is summarised as 'big ideas told through little moments' and while her writing is founded on conventions of strong character and dialogue, she also enjoys experimenting with structure.
She is a Bristol Old Vic Open Sessions Writer, and is currently developing her play Smalltown Boy with Ferment at Bristol Old Vic.
Brenda is also invested in getting others writing, having run writing workshops in association with Theatre West and the Bristol Old Vic in the past, as well as with students at Bristol University. She also offers dramaturgical support, most recently for 'The 97%' which had a rehearsed reading in London this August. She recently completed the Blueprint Producing Scheme with Tobacco Factory Theatre learning skills in producing and programming new work.
'[Callis] is a young writer to watch, so watch and listen' (Anna-Maria Murphy, 'Tristan & Yseult’, Kneehigh).
Until Tomorrow is a play written both with and about parent-carers. It has been created from research by Siobhan O'Dwyer and the University of Exeter, and has been a collaborative making process, with a cast and crew who all have lived experience of care.
Until Tomorrow had a rehearsed reading in January at Exeter Phoenix, and Brenda is now looking to develop and share it with more audiences.
Will be developed in 2023 with Ferment at Bristol Old Vic.
Smalltown Boy is a heart-warming play which explores grief, connection and queerness in a rural setting. We also want it to be an emotionally explosive drag show, and a great night out. This project will develop side-by-side with a drag artist to try to bring these art forms together, whilst using interviews and research time to strengthen the important themes of the play.
Also had a scripted Performance as part of the Island's Artists Residency, in The Island, May 2019.
Gluck’s Flowers tells the true story of Gluck - a provocative, genderless painter from 1930’s England - told through a tumultuous artistic and romantic relationship with the renowned florist Constance Spry. A bittersweet queer love story about adoration, neglect, privilege and paintings of lilies, Gluck’s Flowers questions how it would feel to be the one before the great love of someone’s life, while exploring this rebellious, influential figure.
Chosen as one of 4 scripts in Bristol Old Vic's Open Session, and shortlisted for Theatre West's Write on Women Competition.
Productions - Full Length
The Way Things Weren't
The Way Things Weren't, December 2016
When Laura's husband - and soulmate - dies tragically in a car crash, she finds no viable alternative but to clone him. It's "all to get their life back to normal", but is normality an option any more? Performed at The Room Above in December 2016, a production by Bristol Spotlights
Elise, August 2018
New York, 1962. Beat poet Elise Cowen commits suicide and her family incinerates all but eighty-three of her poems. Elise uncovers the story of this extraordinary poet, intertwining her surviving work with dramatised interviews. Performed in Bunker Two, Pleasance Courtyard at the Edinburgh Fringe with Dixie Fried Theatre
Losing It, September 2022
After downloading 'virgin matchmaker' app VCARD, Amy is finally losing it. He'll be here in less than 7 minutes. As Amy readies herself she reflects on the events that led her here, and finds herself questioning who she is doing this for?
Losing It is a short film by HERd Productions currently screening at Pinwood Lift Off Sessions + Made by Members NYT Film Festival, film to be released soon.
Productions - Short Plays
The Final Straw
February 2022 - The Inner Circle, Zed Alley
The Disappearing Act
May 2021 - Loud Voices Silent Streets, Online
December 2020 - Documental Theatre, Online
Quiet In The Library
April 2020 - Rapid Reel, Online
A Discontented Honk
January 2019 - Bee in My Beanie, Bread and Roses Theatre
May 2018 - Shite Bear, The Room Above
December 2017 - Write Bear, The Room Above
March 2018, Spotlights New Writing Festival, PRSC
October 2017 - CRAM, The Bierkeller
Hugo Hunter Hapsley
April 2017 - Shite Bear, The Bierkeller
Writing's On The Wall
November 2016 - Write Bear, The Room Above
June 2016 - DramSoc, Bristol Old Vic
A Secret Meeting
February 2016 - Bristol Spotlights, Wardrobe Theatre
Stay With Me
December 2015, Write Bear, The Room Above
Workshops, Producing and Dramaturgy
Brenda is passionate about getting people to put down a pen and write! Whilst at university, she ran fortnightly workshops around structure, characters, story and more.
In 2019, she organised and led 2 free writing days at the Bristol Old Vic, for people of any age with little or no experience with writing. These days were fully booked, and some great pieces were written. She is currently exploring ways to give free workshops more regularly.
Brenda is currently on BLUEPRINT: A Training Scheme for Emerging Producers with Tobacco Factory Theatres. Previously she has produced many events, such as speakeasies in Cornwall, POSH which toured at Pegg Theatre, Bristol Improv Theatre and Alma Tavern (due to a snowstorm!) and a 3 week New Writing Festival at the PRSC in 2018.
Brenda is always open to provide feedback on a script, and loves helping develop new work. In the past, she has helped many friends with development and feedback. Recently, her first dramaturgical credit has been for 'The 97%' by Oli Flyne, which had a rehearsed reading at The White Bear in London in August 2022.
If this is the standard of production from a young troupe of actors, writers and directors, the future of British theatre is in safe hands. ★★★★★