Callan McCarthy


Callan Rose McCarthy earned her Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Fordham University in NYC before moving to London to pursue dramatic writing, where she earned a Distinction in City, University of London’s MA programme for Plays and Screenplays. In January 2020 she participated in the ten-week Soho Theatre Comedy Lab for sketch comedy, and in March 2020 her ten-minute script SO I BLED was selected as one of seven for Theatre503’s Rapid Write Response night responding to Gill Greer’s play MEAT. Callan loves writing about dysfunction in families, horror, redemption, and LGBTQ+ narratives. In particular, she loves ‘epics in miniature’, where seemingly average characters face extraordinary decisions.

My cohort

Playwriting & Screenwriting 2020


Twenty-something seamstress Irene needs to grow up and be less self-centered. She feels stuck emotionally and physically, dwelling on her biological mother’s abandonment while her gender nonconforming ex-stepmother Robbie depends on her to work at their small clothing shop. In their homophobic small town, the community worship of ‘American ideals’ threatens their success, but Robbie refuses to give up, turning to the Internet to generate most of their sales. When a local bigshot named Louise enters looking to sabotage Robbie’s business for personal reasons, it is her fifteen-year-old daughter Celeste who draws Irene’s attention. They are connected through pain and empathy when Celeste reveals an earth-shattering family secret. Irene must choose either to priotise her own escape from the stagnant town, or to oppose the forces that hold Celeste captive, risking backlash from the community.

Circus Town

Playscript Extract

A colorful basement-level clothing shop. Pieces crowd every corner of the room in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. A distinctly handmade – though professional – quality to them. 
One cluttered worktable. A beaten-up sofa.
In the back, a separate room – The Room. Special and secluded. Inside it, a raised platform in front of a full-length mirror. Packed full of especially unique pieces. The rare finds.

IRENE sits by the only window on a tall chair or stool, peering outside. A sun-faded dress hands as a makeshift curtain, pushed to the side. Sounds of a parade. IRENE watches quietly, smoking a joint. 

She speaks in slow motion:

IRENE	I… know… you… and… your… games… the… sun… is… too… bright… today… nice… try… 

		She laughs.

	I will never. I will not. Good effort

		IRENE continues to mutter to herself. ROBBIE enters, dragging a suitcase and coughing. IRENE hides her joint. 

ROBBIE	Smells like oregano. Shit, it’s dark in here


ROBBIE	I’ll eat your breakfast, then

IRENE	The diner’s open? 

ROBBIE	Just for the morning

		ROBBIE shakes a Styrofoam container.

IRENE	You don’t eat bacon

ROBBIE	I would


ROBBIE	It’s getting cold

IRENE begins eating. ROBBIE turns the lights on and tidies the room.

ROBBIE	Can I ask you—

		A splash. ROBBIE has stepped in a plastic basin of water. ROBBIE sees a handful more strewn across the floor.

IRENE	I’m washing those

ROBBIE	There’s a machine upstairs. The laundromat is around the corner

IRENE	(muttering) Something in me thinks I’ll burn. I’ll burn. I’ll burn it all down


IRENE	The laundromat was closed. A man came in with a pack of gum and chewed it all, and jammed pieces into all the coin slots. The whole room smelled like mint 

		ROBBIE sits down to take off their wet shoes and socks.

ROBBIE	How can I help you? 


ROBBIE	How can I make your day easier? 

IRENE	No, there was no man with gum, of course, it was a complete power short. A bird trapped in the wires – the lines – whatever they are – an explosion

		ROBBIE picks up one plastic basin, attempting to empty it. 


ROBBIE	We have to move these

IRENE	I put bleach in there

		ROBBIE puts the basin back where it was and IRENE relaxes. She continues eating.

ROBBIE	There’s nothing in there

IRENE	I’m washing my clothes. Underwear. Socks. Bleaching out the stains

ROBBIE	Glad you’re hungry

IRENE	Yes, yes I am hungry, thank you 

		IRENE eats very slowly.

ROBBIE	You didn’t answer me this morning

		IRENE startles.

IRENE		What?

ROBBIE	I said… you didn’t answer me this morning

		IRENE relaxes a bit.

IRENE	I don’t like when you summon me

ROBBIE	Just let me know you’re okay

IRENE	Pisses me off

ROBBIE	You won’t get up otherwise

IRENE	I am up 

ROBBIE	You are

		ROBBIE moves closer to IRENE and holds her hand as if to say ‘great job.’ IRENE smiles faintly back: ‘thanks.’

		ROBBIE notices a PACKAGE on IRENE’s worktable. Unclear what’s inside.

ROBBIE	You didn’t hang it? 

		IRENE shrugs. Sounds of cheers and music from the parade.	

ROBBIE	They’re still out there

IRENE	It’s only two 

ROBBIE	How long have you been up? 

IRENE	A while

ROBBIE	I didn’t hear you

IRENE	I’m not loud

ROBBIE	You ok? 

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