AHRC Filming and Development Day

Picture shows a group photo of the Beat of Our Hearts team.
Left to right (back): Charlotte Jones, Richard Vytniorgu, Fred Cooper, Kieron Jecchinis, Naomi Turner, Scott Hurran, Zoe Fitzgibbon, Natalie McGrath. Left to right (front): Andy Hunt, Sophie Cottle, Frewyn Thursfield, Rebecca Todd, Elijah W. Harris

The new year brought with it the excitement of knowing that soon LGBT+ History Month would be upon us and the Northcott Theatre would be staging new histories of LGBTQIA+ loneliness. As I write, we have just over a week before Natalie McGrath’s The Beat of Our Hearts premieres.

Soon after rehearsals began, early in January, videographers Biggerhouse Film came down to the Barnfield Theatre in Exeter on behalf of the AHRC, where rehearsals were in full swing. The footage they captured will be used to make a short film about our project which will be launched in May, alongside films from the other EDI Engagement Fellows, who were funded by the same scheme.

Two people wearing blue standing next two each other, reading from scripts. On the left, Elijah wears a cap and his head is bowed. On the right, Rebecca wears a scarf and places a hand on Elijah's shoulder.

This was the first time Charlotte and I had met the actors and some of the creative team, and it was great to see a couple of the work-in-progress scenes from Natalie’s play performed. The acting team brings together a range of intergenerational talent and a keen sensitivity for the nuances of different queer identities. The four characters – Dove, Val, Luca, and Quill – became embodied before us as the performers sought to test out the characters’ personalities and relationships with each other.

One of the things that struck me most about the day was getting to see how the Barnfield Theatre room that the company was using had been transformed as their development deepened. Walls were decorated with evidence of their discussions. Key LGBTQIA+ events in history were outlined; there were mood boards for each character’s wardrobe and background; and there were photos printed from Pinterest which seemed to illustrate the team’s imagination and thinking around the environment brought forth in The Beat of Our Hearts.

Six people stand together around a table strewn with papers and pen. Some of them look at each other, some look down at the table.

As we’re learning, a lot goes into producing a play, especially one that is being produced and developed at a relatively rapid pace. But with a stellar creative team steering us, we have every confidence that the final thing is going to be every bit as thought-provoking and dynamic as we expect.

Tickets are still on sale, so if you haven’t bought one already, you can still do so via the Northcott’s website. The play will be staged from 3rd-5th Feb, including a matinee performance on Saturday 5th Feb, and a free post-show discussion on Friday 4th Feb.


Meet the Actors! — Being Human Festival 2021

For our LGBTQIA+ Loneliness and Belonging Online Performance on Thursday 11th November, as part of the 2021 Being Human Festival, we are delighted to be joined by four fantastic actors. They will be performing snippets of Natalie McGrath’s new play, The Beat of Our Hearts, which will be staged in full at Exeter’s Northcott Theatre from 3-5 February 2022, as part of LGBTQ History Month. They’ve also played a key role in the research and development phase of the script development, which is currently ongoing.

Here they are:

Zachary Hing

Black and white photo of Zachary Hing. He is looking directly at the camera with a neutral expression

Zachary (he/they) will be playing Quill in our Being Human preview of The Beat of Our Hearts on November 11, 2021.

Film: Hellraiser (Hulu, Phantom Four, Spyglass Entertainment)

Television: HALO (Showtime/Amblin)

Theatre: Living Newspaper (Royal Court); Them! (National Theatre Scotland); Pah-La (Royal Court); Forgotten 遗忘 (Arcola/ Theatre Royal, Plymouth); Why is the Sky Blue? (Southwark); Jubilee (Royal Exchange, Manchester/ Lyric, Hammersmith).

Workshops: Born Slippy (Almeida); Thatcher in China (National); Pericles (National); Timeless & Twelfth Night (National Youth Theatre); Spider Girls (Young Vic/Head For Heights).


Maggie Bain

Colour of Maggie Bain. They are looking directly into the camera, with a neutral / slight smile expression.

Maggie (they/them) will be playing Val in our Being Human preview of The Beat of Our Hearts on November 11, 2021.


Maggie’s theatre credits include: We’ll Meet in Moscow (Traverse Theatre), Dream (RSC), Henry V & The Tempest (Shakespeare’s Rose) Cyrano de Bergerac (National Theatre of  Scotland, Citizens Theatre & Royal Lyceum) Macbeth (Tobacco Factory), Man To Man (Brooklyn Academy of Music, UK Tour, Edinburgh Fringe & Wales Millennium Centre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare’s Globe), Broken Meats (Southwark Playhouse), The Blood is Strong (Finborough Theatre), Beautiful Burnout (Frantic Assembly), Henry V & A Doll’s House (Theatre Delicatessen), 3 Stories – Memory, Love of the Nightingale (Rough Fiction), It’s A Girl (Edinburgh Fringe & International Theatre Festival Bucharest), Kid Simple (Edinburgh Fringe). Maggie is also a practitioner for internationally renowned theatre company Frantic Assembly.

Television credits include: I Hate Suzie, Intergalactic, Black Mirror, Trigonometry, The End of the F*****g World, Goldie’s Oldies, Happiness, Crisis Control, Churchill’s Mother.

Film credits include: The Lion Vs The Little People, Dark Sense,The Wider Sun (BFI Short), Cold Kill.

Radio Credits include: The Tempest (BBC), Peking Noir (BBC), Getting Better (Audible)


Andrew Macbean

Colour photo of Andew Macbean. He looks directly into the camera and has a neutral expression.

Andrew (he/him) will be playing Dove in our Being Human preview of The Beat of Our Hearts on November 11, 2021.

Andrew Macbean trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. His work in theatre includes Under Milkwood, Amadeus, Twelfth Night for the National Theatre; Titus Andronicus, Richard III and Measure for Measure at the RSC; She Stoops to Conquer at Theatre Royal Bath; Vanity Fair at Middle Temple Hall; Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic; Twelfth Night and Much Ado About Nothing with Rabble Theatre Co.; Much Ado About Nothing for Shakespeare in the Squares; Richard III for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, Bristol; Rough Crossing at Vienna’s English Theatre; The Trap for the Clapham Omnibus; The Little Prince at the Bike Shed, Exeter; Killer Joe at Bristol Old Vic; Mother Goose at the Northcott; Twelfth Night, King Lear and The Taming of the Shrew for Creation; The Picture of Dorian Gray (European tour); The Lady’s Not for Burning and Out of Bounds at the Finborough; 1:36:2600 at Regent’s Park; A Christmas Carol at Trafalgar Studios; and Macbeth (UK tour).

TV includes The Pembrokeshire Murders, Abba, Post Code, EastEnders, Keith Lemon’s Fit, Whistleblower, Torchwood, Mrs David, The Great Escape, The Wrong Sea, Double Top, Dead Cat and Poirot: Evil Under the Sun. Film includes The Keith Lemon Film. Radio includes Crossparty, Stagefright, We Are Not The BBC and Springheel’d Jack.


Tianna Arnold

Colour photo of Tianna Arnold. They are looking directly into the camera, with a neutral expression.

Tianna (they/them) will be playing Luca in our Being Human preview of The Beat of Our Hearts on November 11, 2021.

Theatre credits:

WHO CARES Guildford School of Acting Dom Rouse
RED VELVET Guildford School of Acting Nicholai La Barrie
IMAGE OF AN UNKNOWN YOUNG WOMAN Guildford School of Acting Heather Carroll
MACBETH Guildford School of Acting Jaq Bessell
OROONOKO Guildford School of Acting Dominic Burdess
ALL MY SONS Guildford School of Acting Richard Neal