Pippa originally trained in playwriting in Cheltenham Writers' Lab, where she was a member for many years. She has written humorous sketches for university radio and for stage, and children's plays for schools and youth groups. She trained in writing for children's theatre at Theatre Centre, London, and for adult theatre as a member of Salisbury Emerging Writers group. She is fascinated by science and technological developments, and one play, Investigation: Haunted House (funded by StemHE and performed by Double Take) had real science experiments on stage. Pippa also writes short stories and poetry, published in this country and abroad, and writes a column in Writers' Forum magazine.
Edited all of Effie M. Roberts's poetry books - Winter Jasmine, The Golden Glory has Fled and A Wartime Poetry Journal.
Short stories in many magazines, including Quality Women's Fiction, Cadenza and Aquila Children's Magazine. Poems and stories in anthologies, such as Poems for my Best Friend, from Oxford University Press, A Pocketful of Moondust from Rebel Books, Seshmaleh, the Cave God from Bridge House, and many different poetry anthologies.
Books, Childrens writing, Comedy, Poetry, Short story, Theatre
EXTRACT FROM A PLAY FOR TWO ACTORS – WITH REAL SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS.
INVESTIGATION: HAUNTED HOUSE
The story so far: Jenny and Ben have gone into a house that is reputed to be haunted, to do some science experiments. One of the other children has locked them in. They have knocked the key onto the floor outside, but can’t reach it.
( For this scene an electromagnet can be made in advance, and then switched, if the actors prefer.)
GHOST:(Recorded -A distinct wail.)
BEN:(Jumps, drops the torch and it breaks. Everything goes dark.) Oh!
JENNY: Is it broken?
BEN:(Stands fiddling with it, trying to put it together again)I think so.
JENNY: I’ve got a wind up one, but we’ll have to keep turning it. (She brings it out and shoves it at Ben) Here! You hold it. (She goes and scrabbles furiously under the door with a piece of wire, trying to reach the key.) I’ll get the key. I’m sure I can do it.
BEN:(BEN puts it down, and comes across to her with the ruler)Let me try… No, get out of the way. Let me…
JENNY: No… get lost!You broke the torch!(Pushes him back and goes on reaching for it but eventually gives up and stands back, letting him in to have a go at reaching for it. Puts her hands through her hair and looks around her frantically. Goes towards her potions pouch but just stares at it helplessly).
BEN: What we need is a magnet.
JENNY: That might work if the key is made of steel… I don’t think there are any magnets in here… I should carry one in my kit but… Oh (jumps up and down) I know what to do!... Oh, Ben… I know what to do! I can get us out! As long as that key is made of steel…
GHOST:(Makes another faint sound from stairs.)
JENNY: I can make us an electro-magnet!
BEN: An electro-magnet?
JENNY: Yes, it should be easy! I need a battery though… (rummages through her potions pouch). I don’t have one. There must be one here somewhere… (looks round the room helplessly)
BEN: What?… you mean just an ordinary battery, like the torch one?
JENNY: Yes! That’s it. It might take several. Give me all of them. (BEN unscrews the torch and hands the batteries to her).Yes!... Brilliant! Now… I need a nail… or a spoon… that’ll do (takes the nail out of her bag)… yes… and some copper wire. Oh… I haven’t got very much. (Looks at the piece of wire she used to push the key out of the lock.)
BEN:(fishes some wire out of his bag). I’ve got some wire, if that’s all you need.
JENNY: Thanks.All I have to do is… oh blimmer!...It’d help if it wasn’t so dark!... Can you wind up my torch?... It’ll be better than nothing.
JENNY starts to strip the insulation from the ends of the wires and, leaving a few centimeters of wire free, winds the rest around the handle of the spoon (or nail). This needs to be done carefully so that there are no gaps between the wire and it isn't overlapping. When she has a few cm of wire left she stops winding. Now she connects the ends of the wires up to the battery and points it under the door at the key. It should shoot towards her!
GHOST:(As both children are focused on keeping the torch shining, and making the electro-magnet the ghost appears at the bottom of the stairs. Neither of them see her and she looks a bit fed up and flaps her arms a bit. They carry on, without noticing and she turns round huffily and goes back upstairs.)
BEN:(Stares at her in astonishment) You did it!
JENNY: (Very pleased with herself) Uh-huh! (Puts potions pouch in bag, picks it up and walks to the door, opens it then turns back. Ben has picked up his bag with his recorder in, but the Dictaphone is on the table.) Oh! My Dictaphone! Can you grab it? We might be able to hear those moans on it! (They both run off-stage.)