PICTURE PERFECT

Twenty years after Margaret Chute was first seduced by Hollywood in 1926, her conscience has stopped her sleeping. Another cocktail might help…

Can she muster the courage to finally expose the truth and admit her guilt – whatever the price?

PICTURE PERFECT - David Charles Manners

Beckman Unicorn presents the remarkable true story of Margaret Chute, a struggling actor on the London stage, who reinvented herself in the 1920s to become Hollywood's first female freelance film journalist.

Developing intimate friendships with Joan Crawford, Charlie Chaplin, Judy Garland, Bette Davies, Gloria Swanson, Mae West, Douglas Fairbanks Sr and Jr, Lilian Gish and Gary Cooper – whom she met when they both witnessed a murder – the ‘indefatigable’ Margaret soon gained an international reputation for both her trailblazing writing and stunning, candid photographs of the stars – only to be destroyed by the very industry to which she dedicated over 20 years of her short life.

A courageous, independent woman who travelled on her own across the Atlantic from England to the exciting new world of Hollywoodland, Margaret defied social norms, finally exposing the tragic cost of the pursuit of fame and choosing to pay the ultimate price.

Her history has been deleted from Hollywood history due to her outspoken position on the way young women were treated within the movie industry – perhaps the earliest exponent of the #MeToo movement with her explosive article published in 1935.

With unique access to the private family archive, Picture Perfect allows Margaret’s fascinating story to be told for the first time…

I hope Margaret is given her rightful place in the History of Hollywood.’ MARIA COOPER JANIS, daughter of Gary Cooper

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theatre2screen

Beckman Unicorn is passionate about ensuring that its audience reach is truly democratic.

Picture Perfect will be recorded live in a theatre and presented with screenings in digital cinemas and then distributed across the globe on digital platforms including AppleTV, iTunes, Amazon FireTV, StagePlayer+, BroadwayHD and Digital Theatre who are all partners on the streaming of the live broadcast of Beckman Unicorn's critically acclaimed West End première production of Great Expectations - click here to view.

This ensures regular income from various sources and allows international audiences to experience the very best of British Theatre.

With theatre attendances down from pre-pandemic levels, the cost-of-living crisis likely to impact further and touring becoming increasingly challenging, Beckman Unicorn is actively embracing the opportunities of theatre2screen which allows access to as large an international audience as possible.

Our Supporters

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STARLET
Tim Barrow, Gigi Burgdorf, Calum Byers, Ted Dove, Richard Farnsworth, Dominique Gerrard, Wyn Griffiths, Morgan Gosling & Lynne Jessop, Elisabeth Grindall, Pat Hayden, Kirstie Johnstone, Hazel & Ian Jow, Emma Laidlaw & Matt Lanigan, Tamara Leggett, Lynn Matthews, Toyah Morath, Rosa Myers, Ben Nathan, Giusi Pezzotta, Kenneth Price, Alison Purdie, Neil Sellman, Sally-Ann Soulsby, Pam Strachan, Matt Turpin, Sam Woodhams, James Wright


FAIRBANKS
Jimmy Beacham, Jeremy Carpenter, Faye Channon, Nicholas Dakin, Louise Day, Claire Deas, Sarah Gales, Dominique Glatt, Morgan Gosling, Marlo Haas, Julia Hardcastle, Juliet Heacock, Paul Houghton, Darren Howard, Glenn Hurst, Clive King, Sinead Kirwan & Mike Simons, Suzanne Locklin, James & Sarah Manners, Scott Maxwell & Chris Lynch, Toyah Morath, Peter Mould, Elaine Paget, Keith Paterson, Daniel Regelous, Joanne Roberts, Jenny Slater, Sarah Smith, Emmie Spencer, Louise Stewart, Poppy Sumrall, Matt Turpin, Philip Woodford


GARLAND
Morag Arbuthnott, Lorraine Brunning, Sue Buckle & Phil Huckin, Chris Burns, Jeremy Carpenter, Kim Criswell, Joanna Gardiner, Tony Hardcastle, Charlotte Harvey, Colin Faulkner & Kevin Lynch, Melvin James Haskins, Kimberley Johnston, Satish Pillai, Nigel Planer, Michael Punter, Graham Seggie, George Sim, Smith Family, Brian Strachan & Paul Douglas, David Weale, Mike Weale


CRAWFORD
Jaap Buitendijk & Jane Sandeman, Simon Callow, Tina & Stewart Cockett, Andrew Comrie & Ken Alexander, Simon Cooper, Neil Cunningham & Nick Gulliver, Simon Dawes, Louise Day, Diana Good, Michael Davison & Brendan McCormack, Michael D Dionissiou, Toby Hawks & Simon Munro, Sarah Hopkins-Edwards, Paul Jordan & David Blake, Lesley & Richard Kingsbury, Jo Landells, Alan Ewen MacKinnon, Paul Martin, Arabella Niekerk, Ginette Nye, Peter Manners, Caroline Sansome, Annie & Jim Scanlon, Austin Shaw, Emma & Irvine Welsh, Peter Williamson, Heather Wilson, Steven Wren


CHAPLIN
Michael & Shirley Freist, Annie Gosney & Tim McInnerny


SWANSON
Dave & Jo-Anne Mackie, Melanie McFadyean, Neil Pearce


COOPER
Bernard Davies, Margaret-Ann Splawn, Jonathon Wackett


STUDIOS
Jill & Bob Kempshall


The Creative Team

David Charles Manners - Author - Picture Perfect The Play
David Charles Manners
Author

David's writing has been published in English, French, Lithuanian and Turkish. His books In the Shadow of Crows and Limitless Sky received international acclaim.

He is co-founder of Sarva, a charity that works in India with communities ostracised by the stigma of leprosy. He is also a representative of Diversity Role Models, a charity that challenges homophobic, biphobic and transphobic bullying in schools.

David ran his own puppet theatre company before training on stage at the Old Rep’ Theatre School, Birmingham, and The English Theatre, Frankfurt. The final composition of his music degree was a commissioned string quartet for Matthew Bourne’s Deadly Serious.

As a set and costume designer, David created five productions for Matthew Bourne’s Adventures in Motion Pictures, and the first Italian translation of Bernstein’s Candide for Graham Vick at Batignano.

David worked for 14 years as massage therapist and yoga teacher at Glyndebourne, English National Opera and the Jerwood Young Artists’ Programme.

Other plays include Here At Last Is Love (nominated for the NODA Best Show Award 2023), The Queen of Madagascar and The Lessening of Difference.

David was awarded an British Empire Medal in the Platinum Jubilee Birthday Honours 2022.

Picture Perfect is the inaugural work for his company BallyBest Productions.

davidcharlesmanners.com

Ken Alexander - Director - Picture Perfect The Play
Ken Alexander
Director

Ken is an established Scottish theatre director, based in Perth, who has been working as a freelance artist since 2004. He was the recipient of a Scottish Arts Council Trainee Directors Bursary becoming Assistant Artistic Director at Perth Theatre to Joan Knight OBE prior to Associate Director at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton. He was appointed Artistic Director at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews at the age of 29 and guided the theatre through a major programme of artistic and building development. He returned to Perth Theatre at Artistic Director taking the theatre through one of its most prosperous periods with record box office results and widely recognised artistic success. He went on to have a similar success as Artistic Director at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Ken has embraced a huge range of work in funded and commercial theatre throughout the UK, Ireland and USA, directing thirteen productions at Pitlochry Festival Theatre notably The Grapes of Wrath, Bus Stop, Good Things, Outlying Islands, Passing Places, Dr Angelus and the première of Whisky Galore – a Musical (Best Director Nominee: Critics Awards for Theatre).

Ken’s notable productions include Cat On A Hot Tim Roof, The Glass Menagerie, the Scottish professional premières of A Passionate Woman, Into the Woods, Master Class, Oliver!, Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off, The Deep Blue Sea, The Slab Boys, the Scottish professional première of Little Shop of Horrors, the première of A Sense of Justice, Sabina!, Ladies Day, Lucky Numbers and the première of Laurel and Hardy’s Sons of the Desert which Ken also adapted. On tour Ken has directed Bondagers, Tally’s Blood, The Odd Couple, A Happy Medium, the sketch shows Hormonal Housewives and Sex in Suburbia and the première of Parking Lot In Pittsburgh. Ken regularly collaborates with developing new work with writers including David MacLennan, Susie Armitage, Morag Fullarton and April Chamberlain at A Play, A Pie and A Pint, for venues that have included Oran Mor (Glasgow), Traverse Theatre (Edinburgh) and Lemon Tree (Aberdeen). Amongst the most successful have been Ae Fond Kiss, Rachael’s Cousins, Death Story, Paring Off, the mini musicals Wee Free, Melania, and the box office hit Aye, Elvis - restaged for Traverse Theatre and Gilded Balloon for 2021 Edinburgh Fringe.

Ken also directs pantomime, recently Jack and the Beanstalk, the digital ‘lockdown’ series The Scunner That Stole Christmas - co-written with Fraser Boyle - and directs regularly for QDOS Pantomimes (Richmond Theatre, Nottingham Theatre Royal, Plymouth Theatre Royal, the Derngate, Royal in Northampton, New Theatre in Cardiff). Recent work includes the award winning première of Peter Arnott’s The Signalman - Best New Play, Best Actor, Best Production - Critics Awards for Theatre in Scotland 2021- (Traverse Theatre, Tour), Jamie and the Unicorn - co-written with Fraser Boyle and A Doll’s House, Part 2 for (Vienna’s English Theatre - the oldest English-language theatre in continental Europe).

Annie Gosney - Costume Designer - Picture Perfect The Play
Annie Gosney
Costume Designer

Annie has designed extensively both sets and costumes for the theatre in the UK and internationally.

Designs include: Jack Whitehall: Stood Up (UK Arena Tour and Australia) Clive Anderson: Me, Macbeth and I (Edinburgh Festival and UK Tour), Dazzling Divas (Jermyn Street Theatre and UK Tour), 100 Hearts (London Palladium), A Crag Path Christmas (Aldeburgh), the award-winning productions Darktales, EuroBeat-Moldova (both Edinburgh), EuroBoat (Finland + Stockholm), Great Expectations (Vaudeville Theatre, National Tour and Film), Noel Coward’s Christmas Spirits (St. James’ Theatre), The Billie Holliday Story (Charing Cross Theatre), The Critic (Blenheim Palace, dir. Adrian Noble), The Once and Future Plays by Mark Ravenhill, Philip Ridley, Nick Dear (Port Eliot Festival) and the world première of Never Such Innocence (Australia House).

For the National Theatre: Sparkleshark (Lyttelton and National Tour), The Olivier Awards, The NT’s 21st Birthday Party, The ABSA Awards, The Prudential Awards for the Arts, Tributes to Arthur Miller and Samuel Beckett, Lloyds Bank Young Theatre Challenge, Snakehips Johnson (all Olivier Theatre). Annie is a founder of, and the designer of 10 cycles of National Theatre Connections.
Other theatre includes: Hampstead Theatre Festival, Wilton’s Music Hall (The Taming of the Shrew, Wilton’s Vintage Christmas), Riverside Studios, Criterion and Kings Head (Invade My Privacy), Westminster Theatre (Little Shop of Horrors), Man in The Moon (Crimes of the Heart) and also at The Lyceum Edinburgh, Bristol Old Vic Theatre Royal and New Vic, Hampstead Theatre, Colchester Mercury, Derby Playhouse, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, Scottish Opera, Watford Palace, and overseas in Copenhagen, Epidaurus, Bari, Florence and Los Angeles.

Film includes: Spoofiquette (@spoofiquette), Trashcan Carmen Miranda, Great Expectations, Orange Juice, The Words on the Window Pane.

Charity events for The Rainbow Trust, Terrence Higgins Trust, The National Aids Trust, The Almeida Theatre, Amnesty International, Gala Evening for 100 Hearts (Adelphi Theatre and St Luke’s, Old Street) and A Source of Life: 25 Years of the Ian Charleson Day Centre (The Actor’s Church Covent Garden).

Winner of the prestigious Charles Landstone Award, and a BFI Award for Best Live Broadcast: Great Expectations.

Beckman Unicorn - Producer - Picture Perfect The Play
Beckman Unicorn
Producer

Beckman Unicorn is an independent commercial theatre producer. Our aim is to embrace the unique live experience of the modern stage, whether that be through the spoken work, dance, light, music, song or sound.

We believe that today's audiences demand not only a high level of production values, but also exciting, thrilling and dynamic story-telling. We revisit classics and also commission scripts that engage and utilise the magic of transporting audiences to new sights, sounds and story-telling.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and adapted by Jo Clifford, toured the UK opening at The Vaudeville, Strand, London as the culmination of the Dickens Bi-Centenary celebrations. For the first time in West End history, Great Expectations was broadcast live via satellite into digital cinemas across the world on the Gala Night. The HD recording is now available on VOD from iTunes, Apple TV, Broadway HD, Digital Theatre, VUDU and other platforms.

Eurobeat Moldova opened to critical acclaim at Pleasance Edinburgh with a release of Lee Latchford-Evans' club favourite My People Know How To Party.

DarkTales by Tim Arthur celebrated its 21st anniversary continuing to terrify audiences. The play was nominated for 4 awards and released the original single O Death

beckmanunicorn.com