Mark Wheeller has been writing plays since his schooldays at Marlwood Comprehensive School, Bristol. As a teenager his dream was to be the next David Bowie and so he spent much of his time writing songs and Rock Operas … aping his hero. No band would play his songs and no-one shared his belief in “Eed Sud and The Luminous Earwigs” although had they been formed, Mark is convinced they would have undoubtedly taken the world by storm! His 2005 play Sequinned Suits and Platform Boots draws on these experiences to create an upbeat nostalgic comedy.
“Quirkily, original funky, and funny. Mark Wheeller’s latest offering looks at teenage dreams with an excellent portrayal of the animated characters. Set to a soundtrack from the glam rock era the show is interesting for any music fan, glam rock or not… but be warned, it will have you coming away cringing at your own memories of singing into a hairbrush whilst staring at your reflection in the mirror.”
Craig Morrison Southampton Institute Newspaper 2005 Mark found that if he organised plays around the songs, he could get friends to perform them. His quest for super-stardom led him in a completely different direction – writing plays. The songs (with the exception of those in the World War II Musical Blackout and one in his recent allegorical musical, Wacky Soap – A Cautionary Tale) remain unknown, but his plays have gone on to achieve success. Too Much Punch For Judy, a “hard hitting” one act anti-drink driving play has been seen by nearly a million people across the world and has achieved considerable festival success for those amateur groups who have performed it.
“The play demands little in the way of settings and props. It provides 45 minutes of exceptional theatre and staging challenges for all groups. It is harrowing … heart rendering and poignant … there is no doubt that its theme is bound to take hold of audiences everywhere.”
Amateur Stage February 2000 (after it was re-published in a revised edition.)
Five of his plays (Punch, Gate Escape, Chicken, Legal Weapon and Arson) tour regularly into schools. Since 2003 his plays have been in the top 3 most popular texts for the Edexcel GCSE Drama examinations in Great Britain. Those of you over 35 may be interested to know that Mark, together with his wife Rachel, wrote many of the Tufty stories (Tufty’s Adventures and 12 issues of Tufty Tales comic) when RoSPA relaunched them in the mid-nineties. They live in Southampton, have three children (Ollie, Charlie and Daisy) and two dogs called Riff and Buzz. Rachel works as an inclusion support teacher for the Treatment Foster Care Project in Southampton. Mark works part-time as the Executive Director of Arts at the Oasis Academy Lord’s Hill in Southampton where he also runs the Oasis Youth Theatre (Lord’s Hill).
Mark, an original Glamrock fan, had an article published in the Mott The Hoople fanzine Two Miles from Heaven (Issue 2) and is an occasional contributor to the Bowienet message boards!!!
“It is important that we pay due cognisance of the invaluable role that Mark plays as a socially conscious dramatist, and for me it has been exhilarating to see his work extend beyond the early commissions to write for Theatre in Education companies and within the last decade to become one of the most performed playwrights in a wide range of professional and community venues as well as in educational establishments that face so many of the social problems that are addressed in his work.”
Charles Vance Editor of Amateur Stage. August 2005
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