Told by an Idiot

Sophie and Jean are in costume. Jean is faking a heart attack and Sophie is helping her.
Jean St Clair, Sophie Woolley, Photo by Laura Granelli

I learned loads whilst working with Told by an Idiot’s Paul Hunter and Stephen Harper. And from the other eleven actors in the ensemble too. There were extra sessions with Lisa Hammond, Wardrobe Ensemble, Little Soldier and Rachel Bagshaw. I discovered I like playing with half masks. A lot.

We did three improvised Let Me Play the Lion Too performances at The Barbican, along with a panel discussion, due to be broadcast by Sky Arts next March, in a short film presented by Sally Philips.

Every day was fun, exciting, risky and inspiring.


More photos and information about the project here. 

Let Me Play the Lion Too

This is happening! I’m going to be working with 11 other performers in a Told by an Idiot production in February 2018 at the Barbican Pit Theatre.

Here’s the information…

Let Me Play The Lion Too

19 Feb, 2018 – 03 Mar, 2018

“an improvisational experiment

Let Me Play the Lion Too sees Told by an Idiot use our trademark working practices to tackle the lack of diversity on stage as part of the Sky Arts Art 50 initiative.

In an intensive two week residency in The Pit, a group of 12 performers, six of whom have a disability, work with us to devise new improvised evenings of anarchic spontaneity. The process enables artists to develop their theatre making skills, and to push their imaginations and creativity in new ways, whilst looking to affect change in the wider arts infrastructure.

Let Me Play The Lion Too is part of Sky Arts Art 50, a landmark project to commission 50 artworks that will explore what it means to be British in a post-Brexit Britain.

Art 50 is a partnership between Sky Arts, the Barbican, Sage Gateshead, BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and Storyvault Films.

‘In a new partnership with the Barbican we announce our unique project entitled ‘Let Me Play The Lion Too’. This will bring together twelve performers of exceptional promise, with an equal mix of those with a disability and those without. An intensive two week period of improvisation will empower them to take responsibility for their own creativity, and will culminate in evenings of anarchic spontaneity.’ Paul Hunter, Artistic Director of Told by an Idiot

Public performance at the Pit, Barbican Centre on 3rd March 2018. Booking details released soon.”


Protest Banner Art


black banner on balcony with white text with word feminism
My balcony protest banner art. Photo by Kashif Haque

I recently put this banner on my balcony in London E14. Liz, a campaigner from the Burnhill House campaign helped make it. This blog explains how it came about.

Earlier this month, I went to visit the artist and writer, Stewart Home, on Golden Lane in London, to see the protest banners hanging from the balconies on his block.


Photo by Sophie Woolley
Photo by Sophie Woolley

He is protesting against plans to build a luxury apartment complex which will overshadow existing houses and a school. The banners are an exhibition, as well as protest.


I wanted to make my own banner, inspired by the global anti-harassment movement and asked for advice on how to make one.

Stewart said his banners were printed. He took me to see the original local protest banner exhibition, which is sited at Burnhill House round the corner, in St Luke’s EC1. These were made from sheets and shower curtains. The Burnhill House campaigners are also campaigning against a luxury block of flats.

block of flats with banners on balconies
Burnhill House. Photo by Sophie Woolley


As we stood looking up, one of the residents, Liz, waved from her balcony and said she was on her way out, so she spoke with us. I told her about my idea and she generously offered to help make my banner.

Liz advised me to pick a short sentence or even better, one word, something that would be easy to read from a distance. I decided FEMINISM was the best word. People would be able to read it as they passed my balcony on the DLR train. I hoped it would give people a boost.

I used a black shower curtain and mocked up my word using cut up paper. Then I outlined the letters in chalk. Liz put white gaffer tape on the letters, but the polyester material didn’t like the tape, so Liz said she would paint it. I left the curtain with her and she painted it with spray paint. She did a fantastic job.

By Kashif Haque
Photo by Kashif Haque

I put the banner up that night. It felt good. It felt brilliant, in fact. The next morning I went and photographed it and then posted it online, and the response surprised me – comments like ‘I LOVE YOU!’.

A few days later, Kashif Haque came to photograph it.

Photo by Kashif Haque
Photo by Kashif Haque.

Friends who live in different places told me they want a banner too. People can use a sheet, shower curtain, tape, paint, pen, anything! The more the merrier. Use cable ties to make sure the banner does’t lift up in the wind.

Another woman saw my banner and decided make her own, although she worried that people would throw eggs or tomatoes at it. It’s funny, I had that fear too, as I sketched out the letters. I decided that this self-editing fear, was all the more reason to go ahead.

I’m using my balcony to shout out to the neighbourhood and beyond, to see where that leads…

So far it has inspired someone else to make a banner, with a different slogan,  and it has connected me to other comrades. Let me know if you make one too!

Photo by Kashif Haque

You can also show your solidarity with the anti overdevelopment campaigns here:


A big thanks to the fabulous Kashif Haque who came to photograph my banner.

Speaking at London Review Bookshop (and other news).

I’m speaking at the launch of Magma 69 at London Review Bookshop on 17 November. You can book tickets online. I will be talking about The Fake Interpreter. 

I recently won the silver award for my short story, Angel Underground, at the Creative Future Literary Awards. The story is published in the anthology, Important Nothings.

sophie hugs author kit de wall and looks pleased
Brilliant My Name is Leon author, Kit De Waal, presented the award and I was extremely thrilled to meet her!

I’m developing a new one-person show (the title keeps changing, but at the moment it is AUGMENTED). Here I am performing at Battersea Arts Centre’s scratch night (thanks to DH Ensemble for programming me at this showcase).

Sophie performs on stage with interpreter and captions.
Performing at BAC. Photo by David Monteith Hodge. SLI Rob Troy.

I’m doing another scratch at ARC’s ARCADE this week.

I will also be reading at Priority Seat Cabaret at Gerry’s in Stratford on 14 November.



I’ve won a Creative Future Literary Award for a short story.

There will be an anthology and showcase. Here’s the info:

“This year, the top twelve finalists for the 2017 Creative Future Literary Awards will read their work alongside international best-selling author Kit de Waal, and poet & playwright, Sabrina Mahfouz.

This year’s Showcase will be held at the Studio Theatre at the iconic Library of Birmingham, as part of the Birmingham Literature Festival on 11th October 2017.

This is a FREE event open to the public from 7pm. The event is BSL interpreted and the venue is accessible to wheelchair users.

Tickets can be reserved via the form below, here, or by phone on 01273 234 780.”

Performance 19 June @ Poplar Union, London


I’m performing a monologue this Monday 19 June, at the Poplar Union.

Scratch, Crackle & POP! showcases the work of writers, performers and poets in the early stages of development, giving audiences a taste of upcoming and developing shows.

7pm- 10pm Ticket are FREE, just turn up.

Address: 2 Cotall St, Poplar, London, E14 6TL

Line Up:

Luke Hull: Circa ’94

Lust for love, lust for live, judge or be judged. As my tumultuous past slowly unravels before you, just think to yourself what are you hiding in plain sight? Lust for love, lust for live, judge or be judged.

Dale Pearson: Title TBC

An exploration of how the dry, barren California desert can embody abstract human emotions. This piece was developed during Poplar Union’s ‘Peeling Back Places’ writing workshop lead by Dale Pearson.

Annie Rockson: Say Our Names

This poetic conversation focuses on the importance of rehumanising people through their stories. It declares everyone’s right to be recognised and shows empowerment through self actualisation. Follow poets on a personal and powerful journey as they explore what really is in a name…?

Sangeeta Pillai Lander: Soul Sutras

A reading of the first chapter of Sangeeta’s debut novel ‘Soul Sutras’- a tantalising tale that will leave you wanting more…

Sophie Woolley: Clear

A monologue about the emotional duality of becoming a cyborg, based on Woolley’s personal experience of hearing and deafness.

Cameron Cook: It All

Cameron Cook performs an eclectic, high-energy, low-budget one-man performance, spawned out of uncertainty, anxiety, and residual optimism about it all.

Tim McNiven & Sam Rix: Miserable Les

A first taste of the hilariously tragic and tragically hilarious brand new musical- Miserable Les.

Theatre: Live radio interview about The Fake Interpreter.

Photo by Bubblegum Club.

I recently wrote, produced and performed in a new piece of theatre, directed by the multi-talented, Gemma Fairlie. The new piece starred the wonderful, much in demand Andile Vellem and Marsanne Neethling as onstage, integrated SASL Interpreter.
As a British Council Connect ZA piece, the performance at Artscape in Cape Town, South Africa caused a stir. I had a phone interview with a radio station in Johannesburg, which you can listen to below.

Here is a video of Andile at the R&D.

Andile Vellem in Fake Interpreter scratch performance. from CapeGosh on Vimeo.

More press below –

Blubblegum Club

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” – Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

This quote is at the top of every page of the blog that Sophie set up to document the process they are undertaking to put the production together. This quote ties together perfectly the core motivators behind their collaborative show. The first being the fake interpreter that was used at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service. The second being the necessity for a serious public conversation about the need for good, qualified interpreters. The third being a conversation around who controls language. And lastly, thinking about deaf power, deaf pain and deaf people being able to have these kinds of conversations on their own terms.”

The Times, 21 April 2017 (republished online in Sunday Times)

”I’m interested in integrating sign language artistically. We’re trying to create a cross artform piece that has dance, signing, video editing and storytelling intertwined. It’s a new genre,” she said. ”Hopefully it will help people see this invisible world.”

Review and interview in Weekend Special –

Interview with Azania Mosaka on Radio 702

We also had an interview on SAFM on the literature show with Nancy Richards.

And finally, read about the development of the piece on the blog.