Build a Rocket

The Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award '18, Stephen Joseph Theatre, and Tara Finney Productions present

A young dark-haired woman is looking off into the distance. She is wearing a light pink jacket, a dark pink top, and navy blue Adidas trackpants. The camera looks up at her and she looks powerful. Above her are a set of warm yellow lights, some large and


"★★★★★ - Serena simply brings Yasmin to life...I can’t fault her performance in any way – she’s fabulous! I’ve been trying to think of ways I can reduce the star rating of this show – but no matter which way I look at it, it’s superb!" - The Clothesline

"★★★★★ - Build A Rocket is that worthy and important kind of theatre that reminds us of things we should never have forgotten." The Adelaide Show

"★★★★ 1/2 - Manteghi delivers what will surely be one of the best performances to be witnessed this Fringe" - Kryztoff RAW

"★★★★ 1/2 - Serena fills the sparse space with her ability, and her acting, including her physicality on stage, is memorising." - Sam About Town

"★★★★ 1/2 - Three words – see this show." - This is Radelaide

"★★★★ - Serena Manteghi is a talented actress and Christopher York has written a great script" - GLAM Adelaide

"★★★★ - Manteghi is the only person on stage but a whole world manifests out of her shifting impersonations." - FEST Mag

"★★★★ - Serena Manteghi is an absolute powerhouse" InDaily

"★★★★ - [Serena Manteghi] has a wonderfully elastic face which she contorts into the characters of Yasmin's world...her transformations are striking" - The Barefoot Review

"It’s powerful and touching and shouldn’t be missed." - Theatre Travels

"Build a Rocket is life-affirming theatre...with a lead character and performance that enthralls" - The Adelaide Review

"A triumphant, uplifting and endlessly energetic tale" "Manteghi catapults through an exhaustive succession of eccentric, comical caricatures, as her body also morphs from one exaggerated physical portrayal to the next..." - The Advertiser

"She justly received a rapturous response from the audience" - Global Media Post

"Manteghi locates her story-telling in a commanding, dynamic performance." - Great Scott

"Manteghi’s performance is strong and vivacious, the story told in writing which is unpretentiously poetic, with humour and pathos." - 5MBS

"Be swept along by Serena’s dazzling performance." - Eventalaide

"This is 60 minutes of brilliant story-telling, delivered fervently. You are invested in the outcome, making it a stirring piece of theatre." - Stage Whispers





WINNER: The Sunday Mail's Best Female Solo Show

Winner of the Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award 2018, Build a Rocket is a powerful and uplifting one-woman show about triumph over adversity.

Yasmin is a bright 16-year-old from a small seaside town. In an instant, her life is turned upside down when she becomes pregnant with her son, Jack. Suddenly her Scarborough isn't sandcastles, arcades, and donkey rides. Abandoned by both the father of her child and her alcoholic mother, Yasmin faces one of life's great challenges completely alone - it's just Yasmin and Jack against the world. But can the thing which threatens to ruin her life actually be the thing which saves her?

A tour-de-force from actress Serena Manteghi (Echoes by Henry Naylor (NYC), The Railway Children (UK), The Boy James (AUS)), this play challenges our perceptions about young motherhood in a passionate and touching way.

This brilliant, funny, and heart-warming play is the debut play by Christopher York.

"This isn't the story of Icarus and Daedalus.
It's Yasmin and Jack.
And we won't fly too close to the sun.
We'll fly through the f***er."

Learn More About Build a Rocket

"Rocket Girl Ready to Blast Off at Fringe" - The Advertiser

"Last year's Holden Street Theatres' Edinburgh Fringe Award: Build a Rocket" - Global Media Post

"The Stephen Joseph Theatre's BUILD A ROCKET Heads Down Under" - Broadway World

Q & A with Build a Rocket's Serena Manteghi, Christopher York, and Tara Finney

International Praise for Build a Rocket

★★★★ - The Telegraph

★★★★ - The Scotsman

★★★★ - FEST Mag

★★★★ - Edinburgh Guide

★★★★ - The Wee Review

★★★★ - Daily Business Magazine

★★★★ - Yorkshire Post

★★★★1/2 - The Theatre Twittic

"A breathless, swaggering hour of female endurance and defiance” - The Telegraph

"Delivered with pedal-to-the-metal conviction" - The Scotsman

"A proper tour-de-force from a leading actor" - FEST Mag

"An exciting modern take on the kitchen sink drama" - The Edinburgh Guide

"A high-voltage performance" - The Guardian

"Compelling performance" - The Reviews Hub

"Powerfully poetic, angry, energised, enthused, fresh, vibrant, lustful, lascivious, and lustrous" - The Scarborough News

Cast & Crew

Serena Manteghi - Yasmin
Christopher York - Writer
Paul Robinson - Director
Stephen Joseph Theatre - Producer
Tara Finney Productions - Producer
Helen Coyston - Designer
Ben Cowens - Lighting Designer
Simon Slater - Composer


Serena Manteghi - "Yasmin"

Theatre Includes: Terrible Infants (Wilton’s Music Hall); LV in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Samira in Echoes (Brits Off Broadway); Rosie in My Mother Said I Never Should (St James Theatre); Bobbie in the Oliver Award-winning York Theatre Royal production of The Railway Children (King’s Cross Theatre); Fairy Portal (Slung Low and RSC); Leili in HEART (Traverse Theatre); Mucky Kid (Theatre 503); Clytemnestra in Agamemnon (Southwark Playhouse); Esmerelda in The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Selby Abbey); Ismene in Antigone (The Lowry); Belle in Beauty and the Beast (Hawthorn Theatre).

Musical Theatre Includes: Serena in Some Small Love Story (Arts Theatre) and Polly Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera (York Theatre Royal).

Television Includes: Mrs Wilson (Bronte Film/BBC)

Film includes: Miss Jihadi and Harvest

Serena is one-fifth of The Beulah Band and an original Ensemble Member of Belt Up theatre and of The Flanagan Collective.

Christopher York - Writer

Build A Rocket had rehearsed readings at RADA (as part of Women at RADA) in 2016, the Stephen Joseph Theatre and HighTide Festival in 2017. Christopher's play All Delighted People, which celebrated 40 years of youth theatre in Scarborough, premiered at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in June 2018.

His play 212 is currently in development after featuring at both The Bunker and Theatre Deli in 2017. His short plays Jimbob, Seven People, A Million Little Hands and Jesus is a Rochdale Girl have been performed at venues including The Arcola, Southwark Playhouse and The Arts Theatre.

In 2016 Christopher received the HighTide First Commissions Award and was shortlisted for the Old Vic 12. The Scarborough-born playwright and actor is a graduate of The University of York and Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts. He is an ensemble member of The Faction.

Paul Robinson - Director

Paul is Artistic Director of the SJT. He trained as a director at The Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, then received an Arts Council Directing Bursary at The Manchester Royal Exchange. He was selected to attend the National Theatre's Advanced Directors' Course and was then Staff Director at the NT for three years.

Paul was Joint Artistic Director of Theatre503 from 2007 to 2012, when the theatre was turned into a multi-award-winning new writing powerhouse. Credits for Theatre503 include: Salt Meets Wound, They Have Oak Trees in North Carolina (also Radio 4), The Lifesavers (TMA nominated), This Charming Man, Desolate Heaven and The Life of Stuff.

Paul took on sole leadership of Theatre503 from 2012, introducing the Trafalgar Transfer season and the Theatre503 International Playwriting Award. He has been twice nominated for Best Artistic Director at the Off West End Awards. His productions of And Then Come the Nightjars, A Handful of Stars and Land of Our Fathers all received huge critical acclaim and garnered a total of 12 Off West End Award nominations, including Best Director. The latter was made into a feature-length film.

Other credits include Breakfast with Mugabe (Bath Theatre Royal), The Swallowing Dark (Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse – TMA Award winner) and the much-lauded My Mother Said I Never Should starring Maureen Lipman (St James’ Theatre).

For the SJT he has directed The 39 Steps, Pinocchio, A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol, Alice in Wonderland, Goth Weekend and The Rise and Fall of Little Voice.

Stephen Joseph Theatre - Producer

The Stephen Joseph Theatre is a flagship theatre in the Yorkshire region, providing accessible, high-quality theatre for audiences worldwide since 1955. It was the first professional theatre-in-the round in the UK, founded by theatrical pioneer Stephen Joseph. Throughout its history the company has been based at three homes: originally the first floor of Scarborough’s Public Library, then the former Scarborough Boys’ High School at Westwood, and now the converted Odeon.

Today the SJT is widely known for its world premieres of almost all of Alan Ayckbourn’s 82 plays, its commitment to new writing and as home to a year-round programme of excellent drama, music, poetry, films, comedy and events.

During its 63-year history, the SJT has produced nearly 650 plays, over half of them new, continuing Stephen Joseph’s primary aim of encouraging new writing by new writers.

The SJT has also toured extensively over the years, in both the UK and abroad. In 2018 alone, its production of Alan Ayckbourn’s A Brief History of Women was seen in New York by over 6,000 people as part of the Brits Off Broadway festival. The 39 Steps toured to Theatr Clwyd, and the two Ayckbourns of the summer season – a revival of Joking Apart and a new play, Better Off Dead – visited the New Vic in Newcastle-under-Lyme and the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere.

For more information about Stephen Joseph Theatre, please visit their website, their Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter pages.

Tara Finney Productions - Producer

Tara Finney Productions is a multi-award nominated independent theatre company, producing theatre in London, on tour and internationally, across the commercial and subsidised sectors. In 2018, TFP’s 20th anniversary production of Enda Walsh’s Disco Pigs starring Evanna Lynch (Harry Potter) transferred to the Irish Repertory Theatre, New York, garnering a Critics’ Pick from the New York Times. TFP also produced sell-out Edinburgh Festival hit The Greatest Play in the History of the World… starring Julie Hesmondhalgh (Broadchurch, Coronation Street).

TFP specialises in new writing and has a number of scripts in development including an adaptation of Howl’s Moving Castle with Wales Millennium Centre & Theatr Clwyd and new musical The Canary Girls co-written by Ivor Novello Award winner Tim Kellett.

Highlighted credits: good dog (National Tour), Burkas and Bacon Butties (VAULT Festival), Ishq (Sadler’s Wells - as associate producer for the High Commission of Pakistan), All Our Children (Jermyn Street Theatre), And Then Come the Nightjars (National Tour - as associate for Bristol Old Vic), The Acedian Pirates, WINK (Theatre503), Land of Our Fathers (BBC Arts Online, National Tour, Trafalgar Studios and Theatre503).

TFP’s productions have been nominated for over 25 awards including Off West End Awards, UK Theatre Awards, the Susan Smith Blackburn Award and the Chita Rivera Awards, New York.

For more information about Tara Finney Productions, please visit their website, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page.

Helen Coyston - Designer

Helen trained at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama.

Design credits include: FEED (The Lowry/Pleasance); Everything I See I Swallow (The Lowry); Sex with Robots and Other Devices (King’s Head Theatre); A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol (Stephen Joseph Theatre); Goth Weekend (Stephen Joseph Theatre/Live Theatre, Newcastle); Our Mutual Friend (Hull Truck); Antigone (UK tour); Madame Bovary's Communist After Party (Vaults Festival); The Acedian Pirates (Theatre 503); Short Changed (Theatre Royal Plymouth); My Mother Said I Never Should (St James Theatre); The Musicians (Royal and Derngate); Land of our Fathers (Associate Designer, UK tour); Made up Stories From my Unmade Bed (Lyric Hammersmith/Latitude Festival); 1002 Nights (National Youth Theatre); Peter Pan, Watership Down, There is a War (Watford Palace Theatre); Bluebird (Edinburgh Fringe).

She also works as a costume supervisor, prop and costume maker and facilitator for various companies and education projects across the UK.

Ben Cowens - Lighting Designer

Ben trained at The Academy of Live and Recorded Arts in stage management and technical theatre, specialising in lighting design for theatre, events and dance.

Since graduating he has designed productions internationally and re-lit productions around the United Kingdom.

Lighting design work includes: Even the Stones (Jacksons Lane); The Knight from Nowhere/The Bells (Park Theatre) for which he was nominated for an Off West End Award; Shadow of a Quiet Society (UK tour); iCoDaCo (Aberystwyth Arts Centre/Cardiff Dance House/Suzanne Dellal Centre); Catharses (tour of Sweden); An I for An I (tour of Sweden); Showtime (Bridlington Spa); The Domino Heart (Finborough Theatre); We Happy Few (New Diorama); Conversations with Dystonia (The Place); How to Find Us (Soho Theatre); Shakespeare's Sister (ALRA Theatre)

Relight work includes: Brighton Rock (UK tour); La Strada (UK tour and London transfer); Around the World in 80 Days (London transfer); Imbalance (UK tour); Stateless (UK and tour of France).

Simon Slater - Composer

Simon, who is originally from Scarborough, has composed original music for over 300 theatre, film, television and radio productions.For the Stephen Joseph Theare, he has composed the music for the Christmas shows, Pinocchio and A (Scarborough) Christmas Carol, and for The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, A Brief History of Women and The 39 Steps.

Recent creditsinclude music for the 2016 production of Amadeus at the National Theatre, which returned to the NT earlier this year; the Olivier Award-winning Killology (Sherman and Royal Court); the award-winning Constellations (Duke of York’s and Royal Court, New York) for which he was nominated for an Olivier; Mike Bartlett’s Not Talking (Arcola); Filthy Business (Hampstead Theatre);The Winter’s Tale (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse); Carmen Disruption (Almeida); A Doll’s House, Arabian Nights (Sherman, Cardiff); Talking Heads (Bath and national tour); The Broken Heart, ‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore (The Globe); Great Expectations (Vaudeville Theatre); Octagon (Arcola Theatre) for which he was nominated for an Off West End award; The BFG and the award-winning James and the Giant Peach (Octagon Theare, Bolton); Ghosts (New Vic, Stoke); Single Spies (The Rose, Kingston); Wonderland, Raving, No Naughty Bits, Enlightenment (Hampstead); Land of our Fathers, A Handful of Stars (Trafalgar Studios and Theatre 503), nominated for two Off West awards; Cannibals (Royal Exchange Manchester); The Lady and the Van (national tour); The Deep Blue Sea, Death of a Salesman, The Grouch, As You Like It, Wind in the Willows (West Yorkshire Playhouse); The Rivals, Alice in Wonderland, Pinnochio, Wind in the Willows, Treasure Island, James and the Giant Peach (Watermill Theatre, Newbury); Two Men of Florence (Huntington Theatre, Boston); Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Julius Caesar (Royal Shakespeare Company); Coyote On A Fence (Royal Exchange Manchester and the Duchess Theatre, West End); Macbeth (Albery, West End); Rose Rage (Chicago Shakespeare Theatre and Duke’s Theatre, New York).

Television includes: Inquisition (Channel 5), two series of Dalziel & Pascoe (BBC); Impact Earth (Channel 5).

Radio includes: the award-wining The Blood Libel, Eight Days In July, The Look Of Life, The Report (BBC Radio 4).

As an actor, Simon has recently been seen in Mamma Mia!, Chariots of Fire (West End) and his award-winning one-man show Bloodshot (St James, London, Calgary, Chicago, Vienna).

Media Release

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A small Italian woman with dark brown hair stands defiantly on a beach. She is wearing a light blue jacket and has her arms spread out to her sides. the camera looks up at her and she looks powerful.

Build a Rocket

Genre: Theatre

Origin: UK

Rating: PG

Duration: 60 mins

Season: 2019

Dates: 12 Feb - 17 Mar


12-17 Feb; 26 Feb - 3 Mar; 12 - 17 Mar: 6:00pm

19 - 24 Feb: 7:30pm

5 - 9 Mar: 9:00pm

13 Feb: 2pm - SOLD OUT

23 Feb; 2-3 & 16-17 Mar: 1:30pm

24 Feb & 9 Mar: 3:00pm

7 Mar: 11:30am


Adult: $28.00
Concession: $25.00
Group: $22.00
Cheap Tuesday: $20.00
Preview: $18.00

Companion Card holders welcome.

Venue: The Studio

HST are making every effort to make our performances accessible to all during the 2019 Adelaide Fringe. Accessible seating is available in The Studio.

Tickets on sale now!

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