Back To All News

Northcott Associates Documental Launch Three New Radio Plays Interrogating Life in Devon

Three collages separated by a torn piece of paper. (Left to Right) Left image: A woman looks to the right at a range of flowers. In front of her, a music sheet stand with a piece of paper on it. Centre image: A woman looks to the left at a group of butterflies and dragonflies moving away from a typewriter. Background: woodland on a misty morning. Right image: A woman smiles. Background. A typewriter and some green leaves. Text reads: ‘And root-fingers curled around sapling-bodies.’

Following the success of Props, a series of radio plays inspired by people in support roles, Northcott Associates Documental have produced Ties That Bind, a collection of new audio plays interrogating our relationship to Devon.

Written from the perspective of three different writers, each of the plays in the Ties That Bind series used the Devon landscape as a starting point to explore what feels important to them today.

Producing Ties That Bind allowed Documental to expand their local and national network of creatives and also offer support to three writers with a lived experience of caring or disability.

Documental will premiere a piece of live work at our Barnfield Theatre in 2023.

Ties That Bind creative team:
Director & dramaturg – Micha Mirto
Sound design & composition – Ben Glass
Producer – Naomi Turner
Artistic Director & script oversight – Lucy Bell
Sound engineer – Duncan Chave

Devon can be seen from the outside as irrelevant: either as the heart of the Brexit Belt or a place to holiday or retire. But in reality there’s a hive of community action here; people doing radical things to tackle the problems around them, and these people are often grounded by the ancient landscape around them.

Artists here reach a point where they decide to stay or leave, and the ones who stay connect strongly with that sense of place. We wanted to create a series of plays sparked by that idea; that you don’t need to travel out of county to explore what makes society work, or not work. Sometimes the answers are right under your nose…

Lucy Bell, Artistic Director of Documental

The three plays are directed by South West-born Micha Mirto.

My aim was to work with Rosie Race, Saraswathi Sukumar and Ian Winterton to ensure we achieved the best expression of what they each wanted to say, whilst ensuring the series cohered as a whole. We’ve created three entirely fictional works but each is based in a truth… whether it is an individual memory or a fantastical dramatisation of something we’ve all lived as a society. There’s a Neil Gaiman quote I like:

‘What magic is this? It never happened and yet it is still true.’

Plays are exciting when they are entirely fictional, outlandish even, but still contain an honest emotional story. This felt particularly important for Ties that Bind, a project which has its roots in a very specific, often under-represented place.

Micha Mirto, Director

Listen to Ties that Bind


Written by Rosie Race

Cast: Jane Spurr, Rosie Race, Kevin Johnson and Conor Magee.

Though now unable to shuffle more than a few steps, Cathy, who is housebound and spends most her days in the easy chair, reigns in majesty over her little corner of Devon, issuing commands through an open window.

People come and go, parcels are delivered, cakes are baked, everything is the same on the estate until one day, she sees something shocking in the outhouse.

Bandages is a gentle observation of isolation and of those who are invisible to the powers that be. It is about those with the least, who often – through their small acts of kindness – make the most meaningful impact on the lives of those around them.


Slices of Soundless Scream

Written by Saraswathi Sukumar

Cast: Micha Columbo, Heidi Parsons, Jane Spurr, Rosie Race and Kevin Johnson.

Tāla embarks on a journey, to Shipley Bridge on Dartmoor, to research the origins of her ancestors.

But, one-by-one, the inhabitants of this land begin to lose their voices.

As the epidemic of silence unfolds, paranoia escalates, and neighbour turns on neighbour, Tāla forms an unlikely friendship with Josephine.

Together they feel safe. But who is making up the rules and why?

Listen Now


Written by Ian Winterton

Cast: Thea Mackney, Conor Magee, Rosie Race, Heidi Parsons and Naomi Turner.

In care since the death of her mother, timid 17-year old Shiona sets out to fulfil her childhood dream: to see Dartmoor’s wild ponies.

But, having gone to the wrong part of the moor, Shiona instead meets grumpy octogenarian Malcolm, a Royal Marine who has decided to see out the last of his days on his own terms – camping out in a bivouac.

Thrown together by chance and inclement weather, Shiona and Malcolm grudgingly form a friendship that will change both of their lives forever.


About Documental

Documental documents British life in all its colours through playful, thought-provoking audio, theatre and musical productions, often inspired by interviews and archives.

We want our shows to open up their arms and welcome the audience in. Increasingly we’re involved in community action; the company is working on a co-creation project for Villages in Action, a podcast about dating and disability, and a grown-up musical with Makaton signing.

Documental is led by writer Lucy Bell and producer Naomi Turner and our associates include award-winning neuro-diverse, carer and disabled creatives from the South West.

Learn more about Documental Northcott Associate Artists & Companies

a seat

Adopt your very own seat at the Exeter Northcott and help secure a bright future for the theatre.

Find out more