Jenifer Toksvig

Writing

Moving Stories

As lyricist, I wrote the lyrics for several songs (with composer Alexander Rudd) and some spoken word poetry for Moving Stories, a fundraising concert of writing and poetry which has now been staged at the National Theatre in the Lyttelton, and at The Theatre Royal Haymarket in 2016, in aid of the United Nations' refugee charity UNHCR, produced by Emma Manton.

From that show, my poem What They Took With Them: A List was made into a short film featuring UNHCR Ambassador Cate Blanchett and friends, and distributed globally by Facebook to promote UNHCR’s WithRefugees.org campaign. The film was played at the United Nations when UNHCR delivered their With Refugees petition.

Copyright (c) Brian SokolThe poem was based on verbatim and historic reports of what refugees chose to take with them when they fled. Much of the inspiration for it came from photographer Brian Sokol's extraordinary photo series The Most Important Thing made in collaboration with UNHCR.

Emma Manton, performer Niall Ashdown and I have also led What They Took With Them workshops at the Good Chance Encampment on the Southbank, and at the LUSH 2016 Summit.

 

Atina, Evil Queen of the Galaxy

As bookwriter, I've been reshaping this show Alan Menken wrote long ago with bookwriter/lyricist Steve Brown, in development with Uterus, the Danish musical theatre development organisation. We workshopped the latest draft in New York at the end of 2016.

 

A Merry Little Christmas

A woman has to get through cooking Christmas lunch for the family. Or maybe because of the family. She has a silent piano player to help her, though. And an audience. This is a one-act catalogue musical of traditional Christmas songs, drawn around a narrative that is both heartfelt and hopeful.

 

Folk

I developed some very short choral musicals in collaboration with some magnificent creative women, which are designed to be audio-only: either for radio / podcast, or for live performance to a blindfolded audience.

- Cowboys & Mermaids with theatre-maker Stella Duffy and silent film accompanist / Dalcroze expert Mary Price O'Connor. Inspired by the folklore superstition that you can whistle up a storm at sea.

- The Wyld Hunt with novelist Manda Scott and sound designer Adrienne Quartly. Inspired by the folklore superstition that Herne The Hunter leads a wyld group of British heroes, chasing the souls of the dead across the sky in a display of ultimate power.

- Voices From The Beehive with novelist Joanne Harris and composer Rebecca Applin. Inspired by the folklore superstition that a hive of bees must be told if the Beekeeper dies, or they will swarm away.

 

Legacy

Nigel Richards & Matthew Woodyatt on HMS Victory

Composer Cathy Shostak and I were originally commissioned to write a musical about Horatio Nelson by David Quayle and Quill Productions. Working with director David Gilmore and Musical Supervisor Mark Warman, we initially developed this show for traditional proscenium arch presentation, but over the years we used the material with great success in immersive performance on HMS Victory, in aid of The Royal Navy & Royal Marines Children's Charity, of whom we are big supporters.

Throughout its many incarnations, we have been delighted to work with some incredible performers, including Nigel Richards as Nelson and Annalene Beechey as Emma Hamilton.

Here's the cast from the Soho Theatre singing a song from the show, and Bonnie Langford singing another.

 

Mort

from the novel by Sir Terry Pratchett

Composer Dominic Haslam and I adapted Terry Pratchett's Discworld novel into a stage musical, which we developed over several years in collaboration with YMT. Here's Dominic singing some demos from the show.

 

 

The Stones Are Hatching

from the novel by Geraldine McCaughrean

Composer Alexander Rudd and I first adapted Geraldine McCaughrean's novel into a stage musical, which we also developed over several years in collaboration with YMT. Here's Julie Atherton singing one song, and Alex singing another.

 

The Queen of Snow

Inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen folk tale The Snow Queen, composer Alexander Rudd and I reinvented this story for the youth theatre at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, working with my longterm director and dramaturg Julia Black.

Here's our demo of one of the songs.

 

The Savage

from the novel by David Almond

I adapted David Almond's novel The Savage into a stage musical, for The Arcola Theatre in Dalston, directed by Thomas Hescott.

 

Toksvig Perkins Shows

Snoodle Werps, as imagined by Simon PearsallComposer David Perkins and I have a catalogue of shows for young performers, published by Samuel French. They're all designed to accommodate large casts aged 8+, most of them are just one act long, and they all have a simple setting and plenty of detailed and helpful production notes in the libretto. These shows were all created for, and developed with, the youth theatre at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford, working with our longterm collaborator and friend Julia Black.

- The Curious Quest For The Sandman's Sand has a jazzy/bluesy score. When Harry The Sandman has his magic sand stolen by the Gump Grump, it's up to Jesse, Meggie and Teddy to get it back for him.

- Skool & Crossbones has a caribbean swing to the score. Some schoolkids have made their headmistress walk the plank, and taken over their school trip boat to be pirates. But when they come ashore on the island, they meet their match in the children who live there.

- Shake, Ripple &s Roll is a 1950s Rock & Roll musical set in New York: when Uncle Angelo's dies, his famous ice cream parlour is threatened with closure. When the manager took pity on Joey Nobody, a kid who showed up with amnesia, he had no idea that some day, Joey would save the whole store.

- Pandemonium! (a Greek Myth-adventure) is a two-act musical based on some famous Greek Myths. On Pandora's wedding day, she opens a present she shouldn't have opened. Can she get all the evils back into the box, or will Midas be greedy forever? Will Icarus be foolish and fly too close the sun? Will Narcissus ever stop staring at himself in the river?

- The Nutcracker takes the well-loved ballet story and reinvents it into a charming Christmas story about the power of Make Believe.

 

Songs

Composer Alexander Rudd and I also write standalone songs. Here are a few examples.

 

Birgitte Berteldatter's Brilliant Birds & Beasts

Published by Box Of Frogs Media, this iPad app book about strange creatures is for younger kids, and they can even use it to draw their own crazy animals.

Download it for iPad here.