You might as well live. A play with a jazz trio, about Dorothy Parker

You Might As Well Live

by David Frederickson


Dorothy Parker                         Susan Daniel

Saxophone                          Steve Salfield

Piano                                        Matt Ratcliffe

Double Bass                              Graham Jones

Director (and ASM)

David Frederickson

Musical Director

Steve Salfield

With immense thanks to Jackie Morgan and her staff at Thornbridge Hall for all their help and to Jim and Emma Harrison for allowing us to perform yet again at their lovely home.

Dorothy Parker

I think it was in 2010 when Steve Salfield came to a Cotton Grass show in Winster that he said to me: ‘David – it would be great to work together some time’.  I readily agreed but unfortunately couldn’t think what sort of subject might provide the focus for a collaboration with a jazz musician.  It must have taken me a year to come up with the idea of a show about Dorothy Parker – and then some more to settle on the monologue format.

Dorothy Parker’s reputation as a writer has rested uneasily in the hands of literary critics and biographers. She was one of the few female members of the Algonquin Round Table, a daily gathering of New York writers and performers who exchanged barbs over lunch and bootleg cocktails in the 1920s. Her poetry, fiction, and play reviews appeared in Vogue, Vanity Fair, Life, The Smart Set, and The New Yorker, as well as a number of women’s magazines. This popular appeal separated Parker from writers like Faulkner and Hemingway whose writings were to be found in small, literary magazines, and who would later comprise the modernist canon.

Parker’s accessible prose offers a witty and acerbic assessment of romantic love, the family, war, racism, self-deception and economic disparity. She has been called a period writer, a humorist, and (pejoratively) a sentimentalist. Yet her work remains in print, a testament to the relevance of her vision. She got political in the 1930s and visited Republican Spain. As the stock market crash of 1929 brought the Jazz Age to a close, she left New York for screenwriting work in Hollywood, where she wrote or contributed to scripts for 39 films, including A Star Is Born.

The Company


Susan Daniel (Dorothy Parker)  Susan has worked professionally in the theatre since 1984. She began her career in fringe and street theatre, juggling and fire-eating. She has worked in TV, radio, corporate video and was a puppeteer in the children’s TV show, Button Moon. She also toured nationally with the show. Susan is founder and artistic director of Cotton Grass Theatre and has produced and appeared in nearly all its productions. Susan both wrote and appeared in Cotton Grass’s most recent production for children, Corvus Corax: The Crow in the Know.  Last year she played Maria in Cotton Grass Theatre’s production of Twelfth Night.  On television, most recently Sue has been seen in Emmerdale.


Steve Salfield (Musical Director)  Steve Salfield is a busy saxophone player on tenor, alto and soprano saxes. He plays with various jazz groups and leads the Steve Salfield Quartet, Trio and Duo who play a repertoire of original compositions, jazz standards and arrangements of other music.  He is a member of the Jet Collective; an eclectic, leaderless (but not lost) band of musicians from the midlands who create new music with jazz, rock, and folk influences. Recently they toured with their “Derbyshire Suite.” He plays with Back Seat Jivers, a rock’n’roll band specialising in music from the fifties. He also loves the music of Bill Frisell, The Bad Plus, Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and he occasionally dabbles in classical music.

Matt Ratcliffe (Piano) Matt Ratcliffe is a Derby born jazz pianist. He performs regularly around the midlands in a host of different bands and projects. Matt studied jazz piano under Liam Noble at the Birmingham Conservatoire, since graduating with honours he has been fortunate to perform with, among others Henry Lowther, Mornington Lockett, Sheryl Bailey, Dick Pearce and Tony Kofi.

Graham Jones (Double Bass)  Graham took up bass guitar at 15 playing in various bands until, on a jazz course with Peter Ind, Graham discovered jazz improvisation.  He took up the double bass and has since been active in many styles of music as well as jazz, including country (not “& western”), folk, bluegrass, cajun and texmex. He has toured Europe, played at the top of Mont Blanc (!) at the Albert Hall and on TV, including Jools Holland’s early big-band extravaganzas.  Since moving to Sheffield he has worked with Nikki Iles, Pete King, Dave Cliff, Alan Barnes, John Barnes and Roy Williams and many local musicians in the area.  He has performed on CD recordings with flautist Henrik Linnemann, trumpeter Maurice Naylor, singer song-writer Larry Mindel and with Steve Salfield in the Back Seat Jivers.


David Frederickson (Director)  David trained at the Bristol Old Vic and has since appeared at the RSC, Birmingham Rep, West Yorkshire Playhouse, Manchester Royal Exchange and Southwold Summer Theatre. He made his West End debut in Nigel Planer’s On the Ceiling at the Garrick Theatre in 2005. Most recently, he played Leonato in Much Ado About Nothing for Demi-Paradise in Lancaster. TV includes: Dangerfield, The Braithwaites, Emmerdale, Heartbeat, The Cops and The Royal Today. His work for Cotton Grass includes: The Unreturning Army, The Compleat Angler, Haunted, Sherlock Holmes and the Final Problem, The Unknown Land  and Twelfth Night in which he played Malvolio.

About Cotton Grass Theatre Company


Cotton Grass Theatre has been producing professional theatre in the Peak District since 1995. Our first production was Dennis Potter’s Blue Remembered Hillsabout a tragic day in the life of country children (all played by adults) during the Second World War.

Bazaar and Rummage by Sue Townsend was staged in a converted barn near Bakewell. Then in 1998 The Hollow Country, a play for young people was set in the underworld of caverns and mines of the Peak District. This was followed by another children’s play: The Glorious Tale of the Golden Whale.  Then Into the Rose Garden, by Caroline Small, was set in an art gallery using the work of local painters and is the story of an estranged mother and daughter who re-enact the story of their loss. The play toured again in 2003.  Cotton Grass has produced two more pieces of new writing by Caroline Small – Black Bread and Tired Feet, a family show based on traditional Russian folk tales, and that summer Cotton Grass commissioned Caroline to write Gardens of Delight, an adaptation of Boccaccio’s Decameron. This was staged in a picturesque farmyard near Youlgrave.

In May 2001 we produced La Ronde by Arthur Schnitzler at the Buxton Opera House Studio and the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield.  In 2003 we toured locally with The Unreturning Army, a show about Derbyshire Dales and the Great War. Our autumn 2004 tour was a double bill of two plays by Derbyshire writers.  Louise Page, a writer of national reputation for plays at the RSC and the Royal Court, adapted Izaak Walton’s The Compleat Angler and Chris Hawes’ Haunted was an adaptation of the ghost stories of M R James.  The plays toured theatres, art centres and village halls.  In 2006 we toured again with Corvus Corax: The Crow in the Know, a new play about creation myths from around the world, written by Susan Daniel. Then Sherlock Holmes and The Final Problem written for us by Justin Webb toured nationally from Berwick-on-Tweed to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in Guildford.

In 2008 Cotton Grass received lottery funding to produce a new play, A Nest of Singing Birds by David Frederickson, about folksong collector Cecil Sharp’s 1908 visit to Winster.  We followed this with a new play by Caroline Small about the fatal attraction of the Arctic region – The Unknown Land – with music by folk maestro, Keith Kendrick. In 2011 we produced Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall and toured the country with Street Child and Thin Air,  both by well-known Derbyshire writer, Berlie Doherty.

Have a look at our website:




An Evening with Dorothy Parker


and the Steve Salfield Trio









“I don’t care what’s written about me – just so long as it isn’t true

Dorothy Parker



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