Official website for Mark C. Hewitt & Blank Productions

Zones of Avoidance
ZoA poetry productions

Written and performed by Maggie Sawkins
Directed by Mark C. Hewitt
Video sequences by Abigail Norris
with incidental music (slide guitar improvisations) by Nick Evans
and audio editing by Jack Kingslake

Zones of Avoidance project website »

Cockpit Theatre, London. Photos © Nivine Keating, 2015

Zones of Avoidance
is a multimedia live literature production that brings together spoken word, video sequences by artist Abigail Norris and the recorded voices of addicts in recovery. The production tells the story of a daughter’s descent into heroin addiction, as well as asking poignant questions about the nature of addiction and the allure of psychoactive substances. Written and performed by poet Maggie Sawkins and directed by Mark C. Hewitt, the work grew out of Sawkins' personal and professional involvement with Portsmouth’s recovery community, whose voices can be heard in the production. The work was first performed at the Menuhin Room (as was) in Portsmouth Central Library on 30 October 2013. In March 2014, Zones of Avoidance was announced as the 2013 winner of The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry.

“This is an ambitious multimedia presentation using film, voices and sound, which works exceptionally well. It is a challenging, painfully open account of a daughter’s addiction, yet it’s an account which also offers graceful good humour. Beautifully written and uncompromising, it’s a modern story that we felt the writer was compelled to tell; it acts as a vivid witness of harsh experiences which aren’t often described in poetry, and Maggie Sawkins’ illuminating descriptions will prove helpful for others to hear”
Denise Riley (on behalf of the judges of The Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry)

Maggie with the judges of Ted Hughes Award: Sean Borodale, Eileen Cooper, Denise Riley, Carol Ann Duffy, 2014.

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Performances to date:
4 September 2018: HMP Downview, Sutton (as part of Penned Up festival)
17 July 2018: All Saints Centre, Lewes
10 May 2018: Quay Arts, Newport Harbour Isle of Wight
2 October 2017: The Bristol Improv Theatre, Bristol
28 June 2016: The Birley Centre, Eastbourne
11 March 2016: Merlin Theatre, Frome
10 November 2015: HMP Lewes (as part of Penned Up festival)
29 September – 1 October 2015: The Cockpit, Marylebone, London
30 October 2014: The David Russell Theatre, Portsmouth (Hampshire Festival of the Mind)
29 October 2014: All Saints Centre, Lewes
13 July 2014: Ledbury Poetry Festival
22 January 2014: The Cellars at Eastney, Southsea
16 January 2014: The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre, Havant
27 November 2013: Winchester Discovery Centre
30 October 2013: Menuhin Room, Portsmouth Central Library (Portsmouth Bookfest)

ZOA vid1
Still from video by Abigail Norris