“All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.”
— Richard Avedon
Prostitutes, razor gangs, drugs, illegal alcohol: step into the criminal underworld of Sydney in the 1920s.Mugs Like Us is a trilogy of one-woman plays inspired by three photographs of Dorothy Slatter, May Smith and Rae Bibby, taken just after they were arrested.In the 1920s Sydney police began photographing the criminals they arrested, creating the city’s first collection of ‘mug shots’. Lost for almost half a century, these extraordinary images resurfaced in the 1980s and were published by historian Peter Doyle in his book Crooks Like Us.Riff Raff have been working with three emerging female playwrights to develop a trilogy of plays inspired by three of the photographs in this collection. In September we will present the first-draft of these plays at the Space in London. We welcome audience feedback which will inform the next stage of these plays' development.
In November 1926, after a three month search, the Queensland police arrested a 16 year old girl called Dorothy Duval (real name Slatter). Dorothy had previously worked as a maid at Madame Hana Lingerie and Robe Specialist in Sydney, where £200 worth of clothing had gone 'walkabout'.
When Rae Bibby was arrested she took off her clothes and ran about the room naked, reading passages from the Bible. When we meet her the next day, in Central Police Station, she's calmed down and is waiting to have her photo taken, but that's not all she's waiting for... Is Joe coming to get her? Or will she be left to rot?
You know her! Of course you do, silly! She knows you. She’s sure she does. And she knows that you’ll be too flustered, too embarrassed, too shocked by her intimate greeting to realise that she’s taken payment for that intimacy. Your wallet. Your watch perhaps. Or the cash in your purse.
‘English May’ Smith was arrested in June 1921. She was a practitioner of the routine known as ‘old friend’. In broad daylight, she would fling her arms around a well-dressed gentleman and shower kisses upon him. Whilst he recovered from his embarrassment she would pick his pocket and quietly pass the contents to her partner.
Georgia Keighery’s affair with theatre has been long-running and saucy. She co-founded Prompt Theatre with Imara Savage in Sydney in 1998 and has been writing for the theatre ever since.
Her first full-length play The Flats won a commendation at the 2003 Philip Parsons Award and she was a writer for the B’Sharp 24 Hour Play Project in the same year. Her play FiREwas part of Darlinghurst Theatre’s In The Raw festival in November 2006, and her monologue Awkward Redemption was performed by Dominik Golding and directed by Emma Sampson as part of the Bits Of Obits Festival in London in 2012. In 2013 her monologue The Other Foot was performed at the London Design Festival as part of Lost Soles, and she is currently in workshops with Riff Raff Theatre for Mugs Like Us - a trilogy of one-woman plays inspired by images of women from the 1920s, taken just after they were arrested.
Georgia is also a freelance journalist. She’s been a columnist for ArtsHub Australia, a travel writer for SheGoes, the copy editor for Spacehacker, contributing editor on the newly-released book The Binge Code, and she hopes to grow up to be a valid human being one day. Sort of.
Michèle Winstanley is an actress and playwright. She started acting at age ten, and left school at sixteen to take a lead role in Phil Redmond's GOING OUT; the first television series aimed specifically at teenage viewers. In her acting career she has played numerous roles; in television, film, radio and theatre; including Karen the Barmaid in ONLY FOOLS AND HORSES, and Olive McBollock in Alex Cox's SID N NANCY. In the early 1990s Michèle featured in over fifty commercials for SAFEWAYS; as Harry the talking toddler's mum. Lately, Michèle has been enjoying using her improvisation skills to deliver forum theatre in situ.
In the late 1990s, Michèle branched into writing; and in 1999 her first play, KEEPERS, was selected by Hampstead Theatre for inclusion in their festival of play readings by new writers, called A Small Drop of Ink. The reading starred Ray Winstone in the role of Derek, and led to a full production at Hampstead in 2000, as well as a commission from Soho Theatre for her second play, EDGING GENTLY FORWARDS (via dramaturg and playwright Paul Sirett).
After a career-break to raise a daughter and learn sign Language, Michèle returned to writing, and finished her third play, BROKEN WATER, in 2013. It was subsequently shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award (placing it in the top 25 out of over 800 submissions) and selected for inclusion in Arcola Theatre's first Playwrought festival of new writing (with a rehearsed reading, directed by national treasure, Phil Davis).
Susan Kingman is a writer/performer currently based in Cardiff. Her writing career began in 2012 with a short monologue written for Riff Raff Theatre's Bits of Obits Festival. She went on to develop this into a full-length one-woman show and, in 2014, was awarded an Arts Council Wales grant to tour I'll Be there, Now around South Wales. In 2016 Susanwrote and directed the one-woman show Breaking Bud as part of Clocktower Theatre's Kiln Season. In 2017 Susan completed her first full-length play, A Wake, which was developed through Soho Theatre Writers' Lab programme. She currently has a number of exciting projects in development, including a short film with Corrwg Productions and Mugs Like Us with Riff Raff Theatre. Visit www.corrwg.co.uk for more information on Susan's other film and theatre projects with Corrwg Productions.
Emma is a producer and director. She is currently the General Manager for Lightbox Theatre Company, Producer for Upstart Theatre Company and for the past 5 years has been a director for the Handlebards. In 2012 she co-founded Riff Raff Productions and has produced their new writing festivals Bits of Obits, Lost Soles and Nick Myles’ Mistaken. She has held producing roles at the Space and the Tristan Bates Theatre where she supported emerging artists and their new writing projects. In 2016 she produced Phone Home an international collaboration between Upstart (London), Pathos (Munich) and Highway (Athens). Her directing credits include Richard III and Hamlet (the Handlebards UK and International tours), Tartuffe (the Space) and Small Lives, Global Ties Scratch Night (Tamasha Theatre Company, Unicorn Theatre). Her work as an Associate Director includes Macbeth, Twelfth Night, A Comedy of Errors and Romeo & Juliet (the Handlebards) and A Doll’s House (Space Productions, The Arcola).