The Widening Pool


The Widening Pool
by Jonathan Brown

Welcome to our development page.

The Widening Pool …. formerly “How to Start a Knife Gang”  is the new Bruntwood-longlisted  play we began creating before the pandemic, about knife gangs, love and family.

In the top 20% of plays submitted, Verity Bargate Award 2022
“…championed by a number of readers on the reading team, and reached the later stages of the competition, incredibly impressed” Gillian Greer, Literary Manager

The Widening Pool combines the high intensity interspersed multilayered verbal dialogue of SU’s  The Last Lunch, (Best New Play, New Writing South 2012), the pacey energy reminiscent of Trainspotting mingled with the vibrancy of hip hop beats, touching on the issues surrounding diverse communities, battling with expectations, ambition, poverty, identity, issues of masculinity, and self betterment.

We have now secured ACE funding and aiming to bring performances and workshops to our planned London venue (The Cockpit) for a run in October 2024. Watch this space.

Longlisted: The Bruntwood Prize 2019




: for the “Pitch Up” Event  @ The Place, London, hosted by Farnham Maltings & House Theatre Org.

Rehearsed Reading: Lewes, Sept 2019.


Rehearsed Reading, Fitzroy House, Lewes.

“…powerful, gripping, touching… “ Giulia Menichelli, writer/performer

“…a powerful performance, with wonderful acting.”  Maya Cockburn, artist

“…an outstanding piece of work about gang culture, knife crime, racial divides and moments of childhood shame that you never truly shake off” Brad Glen, actor

Awarded Arts Council funding November 2023.

About the play….
(Below are the actors who leapt into our first rehearsed reading (2019). The play will be re-cast in 2024)

Meet Flint, an excluded teen, starting to deal on the streets, elevate his status with weapon upgrades, and get back into the good books of old childhood sweetheart, Book. Flint = Ben Cawley (in our rehearsed reading)

Meet Book, a studious teen, babysitter for Flint’s younger sister, keen to exit the deprivation of her road, study her way to become a surgeon, move to the suburbs, and keep clear of the skanky Flint, who’s def gonna bring her chances… down. Book = Nicole Acquah

Meet Bragg, street dealer, a boy beyond redemption, egging on young crew member Flint to ever deeper commitment to the fam, to higher value sales, and to proving his colours by not just carrying a shank, but using it… properly. Bragg, = William Neam

Meet Shania, pregnant teen, friend to Book, and member of Bragg’s crew. How Shania was initiated into the gang, holds the food, and meets the dealers is nothing to some of what she’s witnessed. Now, she doesn’t sleep. Shania = Laura Graham Clarke

Meet Chantal, mother to Flint, and decoupage expert. She worries about Flint, never sees him, but isn’t about to easily let Flint’s dad back into his life. Chantal = Vanessa Cruikshank


Meet Danny, Childline listener, outreach worker, gardener in the suburbs, former dealer, gang member, convict and estranged father to Flint. Danny’s on a journey back to his son. Will he find Flint before Flint loses himself? Danny = Brad Glen

Meet Carol,  outreach & youth worker and girlfriend to Danny. Carol hears the worst of people’s stories and maybe about to experience the worst excesses of Shania’s baby’s father. Carol = Claire Johnson

Meet Angel, gangland chief, and psycho anti-mentor. He’ll initiate all his boys and girls into the tribe and hold them close with disturbing gratification. Angel’s about to invite Flint round for darjeeling tea, to elevate his sales techniques, and help him with a monsta weapons upgrade. Angel = Jonathan Brown

The Widening Pool is about friendship, loyalty, gang culture, family & knife crime..
Although the project revolves around text, we again wish to include visceral dance, music & physicality.

The Project will have two strands:

(i) Performance: Something Underground will.. Rehearse & perform The Widening Pool , at a venue in the  UK. (Likely The Cockpit in Late 2024)

(ii) Community Engagement:

We will:…

Engage young people from the area, integrating & partnering local youth groups daily dealing with the issues.
Run a series of free day-long workshops for young people on issues of knife crime, gangs, youth culture.
Workshop those participants also in krump- and/or hip hop related dance.
Include support from youth mentoring projects, YOT’s, county lines professionals & youth groups.
Culminate by including joint public performances by the participants and the professional performers.
Create a legacy of ongoing connection between local dance teachers & young people.

We’re particularly interested to work with Krump dance teachers / choreographers , and with the possibility of working with live musicians and Beatboxing on stage and with assistant directors, with youth advocacy groups, and with youth offending teams.

Our Partners (who have confirmed their keen interest in involvement) to date:

The Ben Kinsella Trust who are going to provide an immersive site based Knife Crime workshop to our outreach participants at in-kind rates and offer consultancy.
Penificent who are going to provide a graphic novel/comic-based Knife Crime & Mental Health workshop to our outreach participants  at in-kind rates, and offer consultancy.
UpsideDown Dance Co and/or
Sunanda Biswas @ Grounded Movement: Youth Dance Partnership, who’ll co-facilitate our workshops.
Conrad Murray from BAC Beatbox Academy who’ll co-facilitate our workshops.
Nuno Oliveira and / or Migdalia Van Der Hovenpotentially our onstage live musician(s) (availability allowing)
And…  from these orgs that are daily dealing with Youth & Gang Culture, Knife Crime and related  issues….
(ReachOut2All, The Antoin Akpom Achievement Foundation, Academy Achievers,  Out of the Shadows, Music Relief Foundation, Regenerate)…. Consultation advice, workshop-population help, and potential workshop space provision
David Mowat: Music Consultant / liaison / Trumpet
Nick Cohen (BBC, RSC, NT): Associate Director / Script Consultant
Brighton Youth Offending Team: Consultants / County Lines issues
Paul Thomas Tech Operation (availability allowing)
Laura Graham Clarke (additional script consultancy)

A trailer from the wonderful film Rize that explores how the phenomena of
Krump have helped re-invigorate and support LA precincts
struggling with deprivation, gang culture and crime.

Watch this space for more info on The Widening Pool.
We have just completed our funding application
(Early Aug 2023)


For those venues feeling very ambitious!

Young, Gifted and Backstage

Young, Gifted and Backstage” is a second, parallel play, played simultaneously, with the same cast, in an adjacent auditorium, & that features the backstage machinations of the cast from “The Widening Pool “, touching upon the survival of creative arts in the pandemic, BLM issues, cancel culture, the 2020 US elections, creative competition, love & trauma, & an insight into the intense rapport an ensemble develops over time.

Written by Jonathan Brown during the pandemic, “Young, Gifted and Backstage” simultaneously reveals the backstage life of the cast of The Widening Pool , with forays into race identity during the BLM upsurge, middle-class creatives fuelling the drug crisis, tragic misuse of stage prop weapons, cancel culture, battles with our creativity, theatre during covid, alongside love and trauma.

Young, Gifted and Backstage features the same cast as in The Widening Pool but now we see them as the actors, backstage, between scenes of , and so with different characters.  They come back stage excited or annoyed after each scene from The Widening Pool they squabble, they celebrate, they bitch, they laugh, they worry, they talk about what’s happening on stage, or about the actors who are out there. Then they disappear again to their next scene in The Widening Pool, to be replaced by the actors who have just been on and a new round begins.

Young, Gifted and Backstage” has now also received a successful  online Zoom rehearsed reading in January 2021, and has now reached a 6th draft.

“…really excellent, gripped by the whole thing.  Well done all of you.” Penny Melville Brown, OBE.

“…I really enjoyed watching your play.  The cast are incredible, I didn’t disconnect a minute, very engaging. Thank you.” Nuria Calucho Junca, writer, actor.

“…Thanks for the invite Jonathan. Loved it, More power to you all!”  Bill Horrocks.

Meet Vinny, a gay young man (plays Flint in “The Widening Pool”), torn between impressing his impresario father and being taken seriously as “black enough” by his colleagues, especially those that have been getting themselves along to BLM rallies and events. Vinny joins others of his young cast in being terrified of risking being “cancelled”.

Meet Agatha, a young, gifted and black woman (plays Book in “The Widening Pool”), keen to be taken seriously as an actor and writer herself. She is completely self assured, knows her lines perfectly, but… might have a crush on an older member of the ensemble.

Meet Will a keen young actor, (plays Bragg in “The Widening Pool”) who likes a surreptitious smoke of da weed. He’s been getting over enthusiastic in the scenes where he plays violent, and the women have been noticing it. Will he hear their feedback? Can he kick old habits?

Meet Nat, (plays Shania in “The Widening Pool”) not fully out the closet yet, as far as one of the others in the cast is concerned, but she’s been putting more into the recent BLM movement than into finding work, having half given up on her career. Alongside Will, Book and Vinny, she’s terrified of not being fully PC on stage, facing cancel culture, and together they’ve tried to sanitise the script. Is Nat reliable? Will she bail?

Meet Ira, (plays Chantal in “The Widening Pool”) a bitter woman, she’s been in too many soaps to feel she needs to listen to any half-arsed and inexperienced stage directors. She dishes out the directorial and barbed comments left, right and centre, and enjoys what’s in her “water” bottle just that bit too much.

Meet Brad, (plays Danny in “The Widening Pool”) another TV soap regular who’s forgotten how to do stage work and is very nervous. He’s happy with the script, but not with how fast and furious the action comes, and with no second takes.

Meet Carol, (plays Carol in “The Widening Pool”), She’s fielding barbed comments from Ira, seeming sexual rivalry from a younger colleague, and deep insecurity that she only got the part cos she’s banging the boss.

Meet Tom, (plays Angel in “The Widening Pool”)  who’s wearing waaaay too many hats, including writer, director, actor, producer and lover. Everyone expects him to be perfect, except perhaps Ira, and mostly he stays calm, keeps all the plates up in the air, and even manages to remember his lines on cue. But when he’s pushed to the brink…. he snaps.

Schools Package