It's been a while since my last play, and I'm very excited to have gathered a fantastic team together to bring boyfriend stroke husband to life - on at The Kings Arms Theatre from Monday 16th - Thurs 19th March. Tickets available now.
I wrote boyfriend stroke husband during the Liverpool Everyman Playwrights Programme, which was a fantastic opportunity to develop a text with their brilliant literary department.
But it's been a while since one of my plays has been performed.
A Brief Hiatus
It's been nearly two years since one of my own pieces of work was produced. My last play was performed in London in 2018 but I've been concentrating on directing during my writing hiatus.
I directed A Fine Life, by Anne Wynne during Greater Manchester Fringe 2018, and The Script, by Robert Pegg in November 2018. Then in 2019, I directed and helped develop Blue Lines, by Stefanie Moore.
I love directing. It's such a creative process: building a performance with a team of actors and working alongside the writer. It's the next best thing to writing, I think.
But my writing hiatus wasn't entirely an intentional thing. It kind of happened as a matter of circumstance.
The Big Things
My last play was The Big Things.
And over that time, I'd spent a long time writing and rewriting.
The piece eventually got picked up by a London-based theatre production company, and they put together the debut run of the show; performed for a 3-week run at Barons Court Theatre, off West End.
After the show, I had a period of reflection; but I never stopped writing. I've actually got three other plays other than boyfriend stroke husband waiting for production. But, to cut a long story short, I found myself caught up in a loop of identity politics; the essential thrust being that, as a writer (if you follow one particular school of thought), it's no longer acceptable to write stories outside of your direct life experience.
It was a difficult experience and one that I'll write about in greater length eventually.
But - to cut a very long story short - it knocked my confidence.
For quite a while, I found myself unable to commit word to paper. I felt like the freedom to explore a story had been taken from me, and - as such - I didn't really know where to turn next.
Liverpool Everyman Playwright's Programme
I applied for the Liverpool Everyman Playwright's Programme because I felt that I needed something to help me get my head back into exploring story.
I got accepted onto the course, and I was relieved to enjoy regular meetings with other writers, exploring playwriting devices with other playwrights, and developing a script with mutual support. The course was really excellent and I'd recommend it to anyone - experienced or just starting out.
The course gave me the impetus to find a story to develop, and they helped me rebuild the kind of bombastic approach to developing character and plot that's needed to create a script that's both dramatic and surprising.
And - hopefully - that's what I found with boyfriend stroke husband. The whole identity politics thing is certainly a debate to be had - and one that's important to explore - but I still stand by the perspective that - as writers - you write what you know; and that often mean that you research it.
One of the best elements of the course was the dramaturgical support you get. If you're not sure what dramaturgy is (or how it might help you), check out this episode of The WriteForTheStage Podcast, where I interview Francesca Peschier - head of New Works in Liverpool Everyman's literary department.
As well as the Liverpool Everyman programme, I had additional support from a group we call Fambles. We emerged as a collective from Levenshulme Pride in 2018, and we've been meeting once a month ever since.
Writing is usually such as solitary pursuit. It's great if you can find a group of fellow writers who are willing to read your work and discuss it. It's a way for ideas to emerge and develop, and I'd definitely recommend that you start up a writers group if you haven't already got one.
Fambles is a collection of writers from different forms - amongst us we have novelists, poets, essayists, and playwrights. So, there's a really good spread of opinion that helps to develop the work.
I've been developing boyfriend stroke husband for well over a year now.
I've shared it as a rehearsed reading at Studio Salford Development Week (DevWk 14 coming up at the beginning of March), read various iterations of the text with Fambles, and got feedback from a wide range of audience and fellow writers.
Maureen O'Neill is one of our WriteForTheStage alumni, and runs Viaduct Theatre in Stockport. She attended the rehearsed reading of boyfriend stroke husband at Development Week, and she liked the script, offering to produce it.
Maureen produced another of my plays a couple of years ago - Playing God. I knew that she is super-organised and very professional, so - naturally - I was thrilled when she said that she wanted to produce the play.
boyfriend stroke husband:
Families are complicated, especially when there's an elephant in the room. And when your daughter is as bright and inquisitive as troubled teenager, Liv, the truth is never far from the surface.
Can Janis maintain the lie that Brendan is so determined to reveal?
Is it possible to keep secrets in a household where Instagram Live is only a click away?
Liv is a thirteen-year-old who definitely appears older than her years - both in looks and intellect.
She's obsessed with social media, and uses it to maintain her position as the brightest spark in the bunch.
She openly airs her family issues on Instagram Live which exacerbates the tensions in the household.
Seemingly street-wise, Liv is a wild juxtaposition between self-righteousness and vulnerability.
Totally in control in her professional life, Janis is quite the high-flyer. People like and respect her and want to support her in the workplace.
She gets things done and is never satisfied until she's succeeded; taking her team along with her.
But, at home, Janis has lost control over Liv. Permanently walking on eggshells, she's battling to maintain the status quo.
But for the first time in her life, she's failing.
Brendan hasn't been around for long - at least as far as Liv's concerned. He's her long-lost father and she's furious that he's been kept from her for all these years.
So, Brendan has found himself in the firing line of Liv's overwhelming affection and devotion. Which is kind of uncomfortable, because it's denying Janis a look-in.
Brendan's the type who wants to do the right thing. But doing the right thing, this time, is likely to tip the applecart a little too far.
When is it on?
The show is playing from:
Monday 16th March until Thursday 19th March.
It's a short run, but we're excited to be bringing the piece to The Kings Arms Theatre: it's the home of Studio Salford, and where the vast majority of my work has debuted. So, it seems only natural to be debuting boyfriend stroke husband there.
Tickets are going on sale soon, but presales are looking very healthy, so keep a look-out for further announcements.
We'll let you know when tickets sales are open.
For more information about the play, go to ViaductTheatreStockport.co.uk