James Whitman

Author, playwright and creative writing tutor, based in Sunderland.

Past Projects

Jay Sykes and me, collecting our Community Radio Award.

Collecting our Community Radio Award. (That's me on the right, in the dad shirt.)

Grafters Gables

Grafters Gables is a unique combination of street art and storytelling. Local street artist, Frank Styles, painted a series of eight hand-sprayed murals on gable-ends throughout Hendon, Sunderland. Each mural was inspired by a character or event from the area’s past, and I shared these stories in a novella and in a street play that was performed before each of the murals.

Rob Reed, Frank Styles, Corinne Kilvington, Jane Nesbitt, James Whitman, and George Cooperwaite, in front of a mural depicting ‘The Battle of Hendon’.
(left to right) Rob Reed, Frank Styles, Corinne Kilvington, Jane Nesbitt, James Whitman, and George Cooperwaite, in front of ‘The Battle of Hendon’.

In addition to Frank, I worked with promenade theatre specialist, Corinne Kilvington (director). For our street performance, we were joined by the wonderful Rob Reed, who played the Spirit of Hendon Library (opposite Corinne’s Nannie Scott).

Response from local residents was fantastic, and the novella — Heroes of Hendon — is available on Amazon (or you could borrow it from Back on the Map and Sunderland libraries). The project was a finalist in the Journal Culture Awards 2016 (Best Event – Sunderland) and Heroes of Hendon was long listed in that year’s Saboteur Awards (Best Novella).

Grafters Gables was supported by Arts Council England, Sunderland City Council, and the Community Trust Fund.

Mackem Craic

Mackem Craic is an audio comedy drama, staged to sound like a local radio phone-in, but with a supernatural twist — the former host is trolling the show from beyond the grave.

Having fun at Spark with Jay Sykes and students from Southmoor Academy.
Having fun at Spark with Jay Sykes and students from Southmoor Academy.

Joining me for this project were the ferociously talented Jay Sykes (producer) and Corinne Kilvington (director), as well as a terrific trio of local actors — Dale Jewitt (Craig), Sarah Boulter (Lauren) and Steven Stobbs (George). Additionally, we worked with 160 workshop participants from local schools and community groups.

The show won Community Development Project of the Year at the Community Radio Awards 2017. You can listen to the pilot episode on SoundCloud.

The Mackem Craic pilot was supported by Spark Sunderland, The Cultural Spring, and the #Fourteen fund.

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