Sunderland Stories

Sunderland Stories Monologue programme is an extension of the Sunderland Stages Writers Project which ran last year for emerging playwrights in the city.

Six emerging Sunderland writers have had their ‘Sunderland Stories’ selected to be recorded by professional actors and broadcast online in this new Sunderland Culture Project. Funny, sad, absorbing and thought provoking, these stories bring to life Sunderland characters.

We will be releasing each ‘Sunderland Story’ at 8pm on Tuesdays throughout June/ July 2020

Tuesday 9 June, 8pm: Parting Shot by Alan Parkinson.  Performed by Paul Dunn 
Tuesday 16 June, 8pm: Beer Goggles by Jo McCullock.  Performed by Christina Berriman Dawson
Tuesday 23 June, 8pm: Gaps by Julie Wilson.  Performed by Jackie Phillips 
Tuesday 30 June, 8pm: How to Bumble Like A Boss by James Whitman.  Performed by James Hedley.
Tuesday 7 July, 8pm: Keep Granny’s Clock by Catherine O’Neill.  Performed by Judi Earl
Tuesday 14 July, 8pm: Nasty Pasties by Thomas Kelly.  Performed by Corinne Kilvington

The project is part of Sunderland Culture’s Unlock The City programme, funded by Arts Council England and The National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of the Great Place Programme, and through the Coastal Communities Fund.

If you enjoyed watching Sunderland Stories, please donate £3 to help us support local writers in the future.

Text WRITEHOUSE to 70085 to donate £3
Texts cost £3 plus one standard rate message

Sunderland Culture is a Registered Charity (No: 1184073)

  • Parting Shot by Alan Parkinson

    Sunderland Stories: Parting Shot
    by Alan Parkinson.
    Performed by Paul Dunn

    One man, breaking up with the love of his life…

    Parting Shot Writer Alan Parkinson:

    “Given the limitation of having only one actor, I tried to explore why the character would choose to leave using a video message rather than doing it face to face.

    I wanted to show someone trying to convince themselves that they are doing the right thing despite them clearly being unhappy. I also touched on how people feel trapped due to their fear of the unknown, and how they can waste their life sticking with abusive relationships because they are scared that it would be worse if they left.

    I’m also interested in how the relationship is perceived when only hearing one side of the story. Is there something the protagonist is hiding? Something we don’t know?

    This is my first experiment with writing for the screen, I mainly write fiction. I’ve published four novels. Leg It, Idle Threats, Life in The Balance and Troll Life. They are all set in Sunderland and combine dark humour with crime and the everyday struggles of day to day life.

    I’ve also started writing plays and was part of the Sunderland Stages programme last year. 

    More information can be found on my website or by following me on Twitter @Leg_It

  • Beer Goggles by Jo McCullock

    Sunderland Stories: Beer Goggles by Jo McCullock
    Performed by Christina Berriman Dawson – YouTube Premier Tuesday 16 June, 8pm.

    Men, drink, dogs…Rosie has loved them all! One woman’s bawdy account of the passions in her life.

    *** WARNING – this story contains adult themes and some strong language ***

    Let us know what you think #SunderlandStories

    Beer Goggles writer Jo McCullock

    What inspired you to write Beer Goggles?
    I frequently write stories that have some basis in reality, and that largely deal with an issue that may affect the identity of the main character. I tend to research around the topic in question by looking at newspaper and magazine articles, visiting forums and talking to people with similar experiences.

    This monologue is about addiction. And if we don’t face up to our addictions it can put us in dangerous situations. Rosie, naively, believes she is in control of her compulsive behaviour. Although she is moving forward in managing her situation, this is really the beginning of her journey.

    What is your writing experience to date?
    I enjoy writing monologues. There is something satisfying about telling a story from the perspective of one person. I have had several plays performed in scratch nights and I was also involved with the writing theatre group Write on Tap, who wrote and produced plays in non-traditional spaces.

    What are your writing plans for the future?
    I have a few projects on the go which I will continue to work on. These include a play and a sitcom.

  • Gaps by Julie Wilson

    Sunderland Stories: Gaps
    by Julie Wilson.
    Performed by Jackie Phillips

    Lockdown for Janet is filled with anxiety as she waits for a life-changing diagnosis

    *** WARNING – this story contains adult themes and some strong language ***

    Let us know what you think #SunderlandStories

    Gaps writer Julie Wilson:

    What inspired you to write Gaps?
    Covid-19 has involved social isolation for many people.  The idea got me thinking about what it would be like if the isolation went deeper – to a point where we lose ourselves as individuals, separated from everyone not by an external set of circumstances, but by internal challenges.  And like lots of people, as I get older, I always worry that I’m losing my marbles and fear the worst…  This piece explores what it would be like to have to face those fears for real.

    What is your writing experience to date?
    I started writing creatively in 2018.  I’d been to Annapurna (Nepal) and wrote a blog for my husband, so he would know where I was and what was happening.  Then he shared it – in public – on facebook.  Initially I was horrified, but the comments that came back were so positive and encouraging that I started to develop more confidence and my own ‘voice’ in what I wrote.  I’ve done two travel blogs now ( and am finishing my second book.  This is the first time I’ve written a monologue, or any form of play.

    What are your writing plans for the future?
    Writing is like developing a taste for new foods or wines – addictive in its own right and then, you go exploring to find out more.  I love writing, it’s challenging, often nerve wracking when sharing it with others.  I have tons of ideas for books, short stories, plays, monologues including the sequel to my second novel.  I just need more time to write them all down and get them out there: I’m aiming to have at least one book in Kindle by October – look out for “The Dragen” in the Autumn!

  • How to Bumble Like A Boss by James Whitman

    Sunderland Stories: How to Bumble Like A Boss
    by James Whitman
    Performed by James Hedley.

    Online dating and how not to do it! Dating site gigolo Paul gives out his “expert” advice to fellow divorced Dads.

    *** WARNING – this story contains adult themes and some strong language ***

    How to Bumble Like A Boss writer James Whitman…

    What inspired you to write ‘How to Bumble Like a Boss’?
    For those who don’t know, Bumble is a dating app, like Tinder or Grindr. And wherever there’s a thing you can do, there are YouTube videos of dudes telling you exactly how to do it. Like a boss!
    Paul is one of those dudes, destroying the Internet on the daily with his dating app knowledge nukes. You might want to think twice about smashing that ‘like’ button, though.

    What is your writing experience to date?

I have written everything from modern spins on classic fairy tales to interactive theatre tours to monologues inspired by interviews with domestic abuse survivors. My most recent play, The Butcher’s Tale, was a ‘Choose Your Own Adventure’ style retelling of a historical murder at the Windy Nook Co-op. You can find some examples of my writing at my website:

  • Keep Granny’s Clock by Catherine O’Neill

    Sunderland Stories: Keep Granny’s Clock
    by Catherine O’Neill.
    Performed by Judi Earl

    YouTube Premier Tuesday 7 July, 8pm

    “I’m doing this now because I’d better had” …A sickening mother’s moving but very pragmatic message to her adult children”


    Writer Catherine O’Neill….
    “Her best nights were spent in The Palantine, The Rink and The Continental – a life full of humour and stories that would embarrass a docker. Now that the clock’s ticking and her body can sense what’s coming, it’s time to warn the kids about that clip of a loft, the money in her knicker drawer and to make sure they know what matters.

    ‘Keep Granny’s Clock’ is inspired by the women I loved and grew up around. My mam lived in Redhouse and as a girl I’d sit under the table listening wide-eyed to her, my Nana and my aunties laughing loud and long. They told tales about the glamour of a night out in Sunderland – the dances at The Bay, making their own clothes, my aunty worked at Jackson’s, and seeing amazing bands, like Free, at The Locarno.

    The monologue explores how we may accumulate memories and possessions, yet when our time comes life’s all about love, family and knowing how to smile – as well as a few home truths.”


    Catherine has always written, read and hoarded books. She has a degree in English Literature and an M.A. in Creative Writing. She taught English in Sunderland and Durham for eighteen years and ran creative writing groups.

    An ill-health battle meant she had to leave teaching, but the silver lining was that she’s since been able to throw herself into the one thing she always wanted to be – a writer.

    Catherine joined Holmeside Writers in 2019 and has since had a short story broadcast on BBC Radio Newcastle; took part in The Sunderland Stages Project; gained a place on The Live Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting course; dabbled in song writing; has written poetry, plays, several short stories and is about to complete her first novel ‘Silent Eden’.


    Catherine plans to edit ‘Silent Eden’, to set about getting it published and then to enjoy the riches that follow. In the meantime, she wants to continue to develop as a writer for stage and screen, hopes to help others with their own creative writing and to write her second novel.

    For more information please visit:

  • Nasty Pasties by Thomas Kelly

    Sunderland Stories: Nasty Pasties
    by Thomas Kelly.
    Performed by Corinne Kilvington

    YouTube Premier Tuesday 14 July, 8pm

    Victoria is a long standing employee in one of Sunderland’s very many well-known pasty proprietors. Her inside knowledge of what ingredients go into the pasties has remained a secret – until now!

    Writer Thomas Kelly…

    What inspired you to write this particular story?
    A combination of my love for baked goods and frustrated middle-aged women.
    What is your writing experience to date?
    Not extensive. I wrote a couple student films whilst at University, but I’d prefer most of those to remain undiscovered on some dark side of Youtube.
    What are your writing plans for the future?
    I mainly write for fun when I’m not busy at work, so just continuing to do that I guess!

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