Walking Plays 2021

Norwich Cathedral in a puddle, taken by Norfolk playwright Marie Cooper
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Walking Plays anthology available now

Check out the May/June 2021 Radical Hospitality edition of The Dramatist – Page 40 41 for a two-page feature written by Jo Brisbane about the Walking Plays. I am joyous to see our beautiful, small medieval city of Norwich get mentioned in a New York magazine.

During lockdown in three countries, twelve states, playwrights walked. Inspired by their wanderings, they wove stories and came together to share. Tales of social justice. Of magic and the tragic. The comical and the historical. Horror and fantasy. Where their minds wandered, their characters followed. Across time, across generations. Diverse and dispersed, they brought their plays together and walked the world. Well, some of it.

The International collection of Walking Plays, written by a talented bunch of twenty-eight playwrights from the US, Canada and the UK, curated by Claudia Inglis Haas. All of the plays were written for outside – so they can be performed over Zoom, as a podcast or radio play. If your theatre, podcast or radio station would like to perform our anthology our plays, visit the Walking Plays Facebook page for the performance rights.


Marie Cooper’s Walking Play, ‘Unlocked’

‘Unlocked’, inspired by my lockdown walks, by the riverside and Norwich Cathedral Quarter is part of the collection, and is also now up on the New Play Exchange.


Synopsis for Unlocked

Hannah discovered something about her partner, Ryan that unnerved her. She panicked and ran. Both Ryan and her friend Lauren are out looking for Hannah along the riverside.


Recommendation for Unlocked on the New Play Exchange

“…you start to feel breathless from the movement. It’s a fast-paced, action-packed audio play that tears your emotions a zillion ways before letting them go.” Lee R. Lawing

Recommendation for Norfolk playwright Marie Cooper's short Walking Play, 'Unlocked', originally posted to the New Play Exchange

My Walking Play Route – Norwich Riverside

Although I live in the city, I am fortunate that there are many green spaces dotted around the urban centre. The river walk nearest to our Cathedral is the section of the riverside I tend to favour – from the train station to Whitefriars – because it is mostly set aside from housing and industrial units.

You can walk right up to the water’s edge for most of the way. Unlike further upriver, where walkers are sandwiched between housing and the steep fenced-off, bricked-edges, or further downstream where the riverside is somewhat marred by blocks of apartment buildings, restaurants and concrete.

On the section in between, running from the entrance through the patio of the Angler Pub, you can feel the spongy grass beneath your feet. Allow the weeping willow leaves to run between your fingertips. If you are there at just the right time of year, you might find some areas of grass turned white by poplar tree fluff.

Historic Norwich Cathedral Quarter

Although the brief of my play was to write in the modern time, the area I walked is steeped in history. I tend to walk the greener sections of old Norwich, from the Cathedral Quarter and Pulls Ferry to Whitefriars bridge. So, it was at this point that my short play also begins.

Norwich Riverside Map for Marie Cooper's Walking Play.
The Riverside walk in Norwich where Marie Cooper’s Walking Play ‘Unlocked’ takes place. Google Maps, 2021, maps.google.com


As the Play begins

Lauren leaves the Cathedral coffee shop and spots Hannah walking by the old red post box. Lauren is dressed for the office, not snow, so it takes some time for her to almost catch up with Hannah. She reaches the picturesque Pulls Ferry before being close enough to shout…

Pulls Ferry sits at the end of Ferry Lane where a canal used to run from the river up to the Cathedral, It was used to ferry the Caen limestone up to the site where the cathedral construction began in 1096. The two main characters, of my play, Lauran and Hannah, come together near this point and walk along that stretch of river.

Further along, the Red Lion pub nestles at the side of Bishop’s Bridge. This was where Robert Kett fought for the rights of the poor in 1549, when his army of rebels attacked Norwich, crossing the river Wensum and forcing through the city defences.

Beyond the pub is another stretch of trees and grass with the path meandering through it. A side path leads closer to the river’s edge. There are benches dotted along the walk to rest or just stop, to breathe in the wonders of nature. To watch the swans glide by or the gulls dipping under the surface for fish. There is a small area on the turn of the river where local children tend to come to play during the summer. It is known locally as ‘the beach’.

Skywatch Seat

On the left of the path before the beach is the Skywatch seat, carved from redwood, a memorial to a local musician. The Japanese Cherry Blossom tree that partners the polished seat, stands adorned with colourful trinkets.

Cow Tower

Overlooking the beach stands the flint-built Cow Tower. Once part of the city walls and defences for the city of Norwich, now it stands alone and gated. It didn’t use to be so exclusive. I remember going inside as a youngster. My friends and I loved going inside. I don’t recall why to be honest, as there wasn’t much more to find inside, other than the pigeons and pigeon poop. Yet I feel sad now to find myself lockout out of somewhere there was part of my wanderings growing up.

Behind the Tower, away from the river is a pond. When the river rises, the area becomes flooded and the wooden-planked river walkway becomes a bridge. The pond freezes over in the winter. When I was writing my walking play, the pond was solid and there was snow crunching underneath my footsteps and so that was the environment into which I placed my characters into their story.

Crossing a short wooden bridge, there is a small inlet from the river that leads to what remains of the 18th-century swan pit. The tidal water would lead into the grounds of the Great Hospital where the swans would be fattened up and then consumed by the local gentry,

A little further along, across a car park, sits the Adam & Eve pub, the oldest pub in Norwich, dating back to 1249. It was used by the construction workmen whilst the Cathedral was being built and according to the website of the pub, still has a Saxon well underneath the lower bar floor.

Spanning the river, leading away from the Adam and Eve toward Mousehold heath is the curving, modern Jarrold’s bridge. This was the point at which my story ended for my characters, as they go their separate ways.


Other Writing Projects

28 Plays 2021

Notebook that reads Marie Cooper Writes 28 Plays
Reading Time: 4 minutes

28 plays were written by Norfolk playwright Marie Cooper in February 2021. The plays were created whilst taking part in the 28 Plays Later playwriting challenge, along with other writers from all over the world.

What is 28 Plays Later?

28 Plays Later is an annual playwriting challenge, run by the Literal Challenge. The aim is to write 28 plays in 28 days.

That sounds crazy! Why write 28 Plays in 28 Days?

The challenge stretches you as a writer. It pushes you out of your comfort zone and gets you writing about things you might not have otherwise done. You don’t have time to plan or procrastinate as there is a new brief and new deadline daily.

I decided to take part in 28 Plays Later after the success of the Scriptly Writing screenwriting challenge in the previous year. It was a fantastic productive month for me.

I wrote my reflections on writing 28 plays in 28 days over on my blog. Below is the full list of plays, the day on which I wrote each one, along with a short synopsis.

Where can these plays been read?

The short play from Day 15, I integrated into another longer piece. I carried across the name ‘Unlocked’ to the longer play. It is due to be aired on AirPlay radio in 2022, as part of The Walking Plays collection. 

I have plans to continue working on a few of these pieces. I am currently editing and adapting the play I wrote on Day 9 into an audio play.

The plays I wrote on Day 7, The Elbow Grease Strategy and Day 12, The Jade Palace, have had development readings at Maddermarket Theatre. I have some further edits to do as a result of the feedback.

28 Short Plays by Marie Cooper

Sideways to Siberia – Day 1. Feb. 1st.

A message doesn’t make it in time to who, where and when it is supposed to be.

Dawn in Misty Cove – Day 2. Feb. 2nd.

A woman returns every day, to visit the same place that her daughter died.

Dover Sole – Day 3. Feb. 3rd.

A tea stop on the Dover coast.

The Facility – Day 4. Feb. 4th.

It’s simple enough to get into the facility. But is it possible to get out?

The Catalyst – Day 5. Feb. 5th.

A wealthy man chats to a salesperson about his funeral options brochure.

Old Shuck – Day 6. Feb. 6th.

Even the old black dog comes when he is called.

The Elbow Grease Strategy – Day 7. Feb. 7th.

Jessica just can’t seem to get a (Brechtian) break in life. This short play is up, on the New Play Exchange.

Two Lattes to go – Day 8. Feb. 8th.

Two people who care about each other, but who can’t tell each other.

No Man. No Queen. No England – Day 9. Feb. 9th.

Hatshepsut and Grace O’Malley bump into each other, on a hilltop in the midst of a tank battle. Yeah! This short play has been further researched, edited, revised, and renamed since the challenge.

Nusturi – Day 10. Feb. 10th.

Purposely not making any sense.

Blood on the Leaves – Day 11. Feb. 11th.

The day the hanging tree falls.

12th Floor Room 2 (Now renamed the Jade Palace)- Day 12. Feb. 12th.

A woman has outstayed her welcome in the hotel lobby.
The very first draft of this play was brought to life during its first reading at the 28 Plays Later reading over Zoom. My play begins at approximately 1 hr 47m 33s and runs for 10 mins, to 1 hr 57m 54s



This short play was edited and renamed, “The Jade Palace”. The Jade Palace is now up and available on the New Play Exchange.

The Leopard Sleeps – Day 13. Feb. 13th.

Petty Gods and the mortals unlucky enough to get in the way

Poppy Packer – Day 14. Feb. 14th.

A strange poetic monologue

Unlocked – Day 15. Feb. 15th

A woman finds her partner’s phone unlocked and doesn’t like what she finds.

This short was integrated into a larger piece that became one of the audio plays I was working on at the time. I liked the title of this too, so I also used this as the title of the audio play. the full audio play script for ‘Unlocked’ can be found over on the New Play Exchange and is part of the Walking Plays anthology. It is due to be performed on AirPlay radio in May 2022.

Unlocked – The Walking Play

Best Day Ever – Day 16. Feb. 16th.

A woman notices a ‘Sold’ sign has gone up in her neighbour’s garden.

All characters and events in this play, even those based on real people– are entirely fiction. Even the anti-social neighbours who kept me awake for four years who do not make an appearance. Imagined resemblances to anyone alive, dead or (at 2 am and sleep-deprived) wished to be dead, is entirely coincidental. Celebrations, alcohol, whooping and a happy dance did most definitely happen though.

Mosaic – Day 17. Feb. 17th.

A man searching for answers finds riddles

Do-Over – Day 18. Feb. 18th.

A woman talks to herself

The Sloth Appropriation – Day 19. Feb. 19th.

A trip to the zoo.

Stallion – Day 20. Feb. 20th.

A man becomes a horse.

Unidentified – Day 21. Feb. 21st.

Kings and Consequences – Day 22. Feb. 22nd.

Financial Services – Day 23. Feb. 23rd.

Stealth – Day 24. Feb. 24th.

The Cremation Perturbation – Day 25. Feb 25th.

A little girl has disturbing aspirations

Cocaine Cockup – Day 26. Feb. 26th.

The party doesn’t go quite as expected

Black Rye – Day 27. Feb 27th.

In the church ruins, a stranger comes to the fire.

Cockwomble Caffeination – Day 28. Feb. 28th.


Other Writing Projects