Fiona Whitelaw

Fiona’s driving force as a writer is to tell stories that have not been heard with the voices of those not usually listened to. Her work on stage and screen spans a variety of genres 

Film - Chosen for Home Theatre UK , Acceptable Damage feature film Hem Heath/Rebel Without Crew Films/This Is Insomnia, Tinned Goods feature film (treatment stage) 

Stage plays: Tinned Goods national tour published by Samuel French, 

 Martenitsa for Angelic Tales and  Theatre Royal Stratford East, 

Tiny Shows The Copenhagen Interpretation, Omnibus Clapham, GLYPT, Jackdaw, Teatro Vivo, Lumenis (London tour: Southwark Playhouse, Old Red Lion, Camden People’s Theatre)

Fiona has scripted devised work for a number of companies, written Theatre In Education plays, Forum Theatre for the elderly community in Care Homes and Sheltered Housing and other Site Specific projects. She is currently lead writer on a project with a prison for the charity It’s Not Your Birthday But and under commission with 1623 Theatre.

London (Greater London)

Produced Work - Stage

Fiona is currently under commission with 1623 Theatre for a one woman show with Deaf artist Caroline Parker MBE.

Fiona is currently lead writer on a project in Feltham Young Offenders Institution - It’s Not Your Birthday But. 2018/2019

Tinned Goods - National Tour -  Tea And Tenacity Theatre 2016

Martenitsa - Staged Reading -  Theatre Royal Stratford East 2016

Sisters Of The Street - Central And Cecil Housing - My Front Door (national events) 2016

Clearance - Brit Bits Theatre Festival - Mind The Gap New York 2015

Walker - Brit Bits Theatre Festival - Mind The Gap New York 2015

Separate Reality - Brockley More - Just Jones 2015

Tiny Shows - 24 Hour Musicals - The Copenhagen Interpretation 2015

Acceptable Damage - School Performances - Glenthorne School London 2014

Chosen - Home Theatre UK - Theatre Royal Stratford East 2013

Let Your Smile Be Your Umbrella - 8 Short Plays - Site Specific for Central And Cecil Housing 2011 - 2013

Clearance - London Tour - Chairs - Lumenis Theatre 2009

A Visit To The Laundry - Sydenham Arts Festival 2009

Think It True - Young People’s Theatre - Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre 2008 - 2009

If You Were Cyril - Young People’s Theatre - Greenwich & Lewisham Young People’s Theatre 2006

42 Days - Three For Tea - Site Specific - Teatro Vivo 2006

42 Days - Blue Elephant Theatre 2005

Produced Work - Film

Love Is Hard Won - Feature Film -Aurora Fearnley Films (script) 2019

Acceptable Damage - Feature Film -  Rebel Without Crew Films/ This Is Insomnia (Released) 2019 


Film, Television, Theatre

Scene 1

It is early evening Friday 3rd August 1984 in Sue’s house. She is sitting at the kitchen table piling cans of food into a pyramid; there is a cardboard box next to them and a packet of Smash. She is totally focused on the task. 

We can see Rachel outside the back door holding three Sainsbury's bags. She hesitates.

Sue rearranges the cans and then sweeps them off the table, she puts every last ounce of energy into the task.

Rachel hears the noise, concern overrides her hesitation and she tries the door. It is open, she puts the shopping bags down, enters.

They look at each other.

This is both a familiar and totally new situation.

Silence. Rachel looks around.

Sue They’ve taken the telly away, we couldn’t make the payments.

Rachel ….I know yer door always used to be open gone tea time, but I didn’t…not any more….wasn’t sure…

Sue Yesterday afternoon, in case yer curtains were twitching

Rachel They weren’t

Sue What do you want Rachel?

Rachel I wouldn’t, not at all, you know me?

Sue Do I? Now?

Rachel The noise, I heard a right noise, just checkin that yer alright?

Sue I’m alright

Rachel Don’t say that, don’t be like that.

Sue Like what?

Rachel Well…

Sue On strike?

Rachel You’re not on strike.

Sue Am I not? Tell that to the kids when I’ve to give them this muck for their tea.

Rachel I …..

Sue Don’t think me ungrateful, I am grateful for the parcels and all the nice bits they pop in, but what can I make with a tin of mince, some cherry pie filling and a 

packet of smash.

Rachel (picking up a can) There’s peas. 

Sue Oh well then, that sorts it then, the peas have saved the day.

Rachel I just meant…

Sue You’re livin off a food parcel and its Friday night so we’ll be havin our fish and chips and watching Blockbusters.

Rachel No

Sue BBC now is it?

Rachel I didn’t mean that, I wanted to (beat)  I've been trying to come round for weeks and ...

Sue Not trying very hard then.

Rachel How would you know?

Sue You'd've made it. Two doors down, its hardly an expedition. No need for your Datsun.

Rachel You're making this hard.

Sue I'm making this hard?  You made a choice and now you want me to make it easy for you.

Rachel You made the choice, you stopped speaking to me.

Sue One hundred and fifty three days it’s been since we came out.

Rachel Since you drew a line down the street, made the school gates a battle zone.

Sue It is a war.

Rachel But not against me, not with me, you're me mate, 'Feathy Tech girls against the world'.

Sue The world has changed.

Rachel We're not 'the world', we're us aren't we, still us, we can still be.

Sue Tell your Bob to come out on strike then.

Rachel You know he’s not going to do that, he thinks there should have been a ballot.

Sue That’s old news, we are where we are.

Rachel He can’t afford to go on strike, it’s not just us he’s to support, there’s the maintenance and…

Sue And you think Don can, do you think he likes me queuing up at the welfare and trying to feed his family on tinned good, hand outs from strangers down south. 

Rachel No, I don’t, I don’t think he likes it, but I have to stand by Bob.

Sue You don’t have an opinion of yer own then, can’t think for yerself

Rachel I can, I do…I do think its wrong, what the Coal Board is doing. I do, I..

Sue Then why don’t you come with me on Saturday?

Rachel Can we just, can we just speak?

Sue We're speaking.

Rachel We're not, are we, you're still, you're making everything about the/

Sue The strike. Everything is about the strike, what the closures will do to us, to our families, our future, to the country, dividing us, splitting us, picking us apart.

Rachel We're doing that for them aren't we? Not speaking to each other, making it about sides.

Sue You have to pick a side, you have picked a side.

Rachel Sue, I haven't, you stopped speaking to me, remember, after they walked out, you, stopped, speaking, to, me.

Sue I didn't want to, it was necessary.

Rachel Necessary, this wasn't a union resolution, we didn't hold a meeting. My mate just stopped speaking to me. My mate who I smoked me first fag with and told me how to clear up a love bite with toothpaste, my mate who taped the top 20 every Sunday on her dads player and gave me the tape, my mate who held me hand when Roger didn't turn up for the birth and hid me for six weeks when I first left 'im. This mate, STOPPED SPEAKING TO ME.

 Sue You have to see the banner, I’m going to get it and show yer. 

Rachel I don't want to see the bloody banner.

Sue Yer Aunty Brenda’s worked up a whole section on it. Did you know? that?

Rachel I didn’t, no, we, I haven’t seen her in a while.

Sue She only lives in the next street, you not speaking to her either?

Rachel Bob says, with Uncle George being on strike and…

Sue So, you don’t know she’s been up the hospital for observations, she  had a turn on the picket line, last Wednesday, they kept her in over night..

Rachel jumps 

Its ok, she’s back home, nothing to worry about.

Rachel I didn't know, how would I.

Sue And I'm not speaking to you? You're not speaking to your Brenda.

Rachel She stopped speak/

Sue You can remember can you, who stopped first, did you take minutes?

Rachel I/

Sue So it is about the strike, how can it not be/

Rachel I don't want it to be.

Sue But it is.

Rachel I came round.

Sue Yes, why did you come round? 

Rachel Been trying to for weeks.

Sue You said.

Rachel I've stood at yer door and wanted to ….I couldn't face the, if you slammed it in my face and…

Sue You're inside now.

Rachel Yes.

Rachel get up and slowly walks to the door, opens it and brings in the three shopping bags, she puts them down beside the table. The two women hold each other's gaze.

Rachel speaking very quickly, pushing the bags towards her with her foot It’s just a bit of a shop, not much, I’ve been getting a bit extra for you, when I go, and, and, I’ve sat out in the car, outside a few times and I didn’t know how to say, how to give it to you, and I thought you’d take it the wrong way, I've brought it as far as the back door, but.. but its not meant to be, to be charity it’s/

Sue Scab food/

Rachel Take it for the kids …I miss seeing them …I see them across the street and..

Sue They look hungry?

Rachel Bloody hell Sue.

Sue I can’t, you know I can’t, what would I say to Don.

Rachel Say you just got lucky this week in the food bank, I won’t say anything.

Sue Someone might have seen you come in.

Rachel They didn't.

Sue You can't be sure.

Rachel It’s not the Falls Road….

Sue Don't patronise me.

Rachel You can tell them I was coming to say thanks for letting me know about Aunty Brenda. You mentioned it to me at the school gates and I came round to say thanks.

Sue Its not the best plan, it’s hardly Juliet Bravo is it?

Rachel It’ll have to do….so, you can keep it, or leave it, or shove it in the bin, its up to you, but I'm not taking it back…she moves towards the door, picks up the can of peas, puts it on the edge of the table I'll let meself out….she opens the door

Sue We're meeting at Gimhill car park at 5.30 next Saturday. Rachel leaves. Sue sits. (beat) She opens one of the bags, takes out a peach. She puts it up to her face, inhales, eyes closed. Gradually we hear the sound of ‘the strike’ begin to surround her, figures step out of the shadows, their shouts are insistent and urgent.

Picket 1 Here they come

Picket 2 Come on lads

Picket 3 Scab

Picket 2 Come out wi’ us

Picket 3 Turn Back.

Picket 1 Scab, scab, scab, scab (rising in volume)

Picket 2 Scaaaaaaab, scaaaaaab, scaaab (continuing)

Picket 3 Out, out, out (continuing)

The pickets circle Sue, not quite real, oppressive, she opens her eyes. Blackout.