Playwright//Performance Poet//Storyworld Creator for Legal Education


Headshot June 2017

I'm a playwright, performance poet and legal storytelling consultant from London who grew up in Hong Kong and has lived and worked in three continents: Asia, America and Europe. 

While training to be a lawyer, I wrote articles for magazines on a freelance basis. After qualifying as a solicitor in 2000, I specialised in employment and discrimination law before leaving private practise to focus on writing, later gaining an MA in Playwriting and Screenwriting. I was a member of Soho Theatre's Writers Lab 2016-17and Criterion Theatre's New Writing Programme 2015. My plays and poetry have been performed at various London venues including the Royal Festival Hall, the Lyric Hammersmith, the Criterion Theatre in the West End and at various off-West End theatres including The Arcola and Theatre 503. 

My writing has a strong female-focus and explores social and legal issues.  My first short film, I Smile Politely, a spoken word poem about a young woman's experience of street harassment featuring actor April Hughes, was selected to be screened at the prestigious Encounters Short Film and Animation Festival in 2016.  The poem in the film was originally commissioned by and performed at the WOW Festival London, Southbank Centre, and I have since developed it into an autobiographical spoken word & storytelling solo show Sometimes I Smile Politely, which had a work-in-progress showing at The Old Fire Station theatre in Oxford as part of the OffBeat Festival 2017.

I do legal consultancy on a freelance basis (I'm on the roll of solicitors as Vanessa Lyons), mainly for legal education and continuing professional development. My consultancy combines my two spheres of expertise: performance work and the law. I'm is the creator, writer and director of the innovative ‘Lagton Legal’ transmedia storyworld for City Law School’s first online LLB in legal practice, and presented a talk about my work at the international Applied Legal Storytelling Conference in Washington in July 2017. 

I have done work for/with/at the following: 

"Her show is a mix of storytelling and spoken word poetry. Ness slips from one to the other easily, rhymes and rhythms shifting as we go ... Her command of language is lovely."  Daily Info, Oxford  on Sometimes I Smile Politely

“Great craftsmanship of language, wit and intelligent observations. Memorable.” Producer from Lyric Hammersmith on Ness’s performance at Words at the Lyric on National Poetry Day 2016

“Dropping Stitches [has] satiric edge. Set at a middle class parents’ knitting circle, Lyons’s delight at setting each of these oh-so-polite parents against each other is infectious. Their sing song repetition of knitting steps, interspersed with acidic comments masked beneath shrill declaration of each other’s brilliance is a delight.”  A Younger Theatre on Dropping Stitches.