This is a picture of me when I was 19. My hair changed colour a lot more then so I thought an ‘in-between colours’ photo might be the most representative image to give you. The usual things have happened since then, I no longer have Rage Against the Machine and Animatrix posters on my wall, had my heart broken a few times, took my lip piercing out and forgot to put it back in so it healed over. Put weight on. Lost it again. Moved to Wolverhampton for a bit. And Birmingham. Actually you can’t really see the Rage poster because it’s covered in scraps of writing. That was a thing I did then, you see. Slightly compulsively and with middling to angsty results. I was at a uni that I’d just stuck on the bottom of my UCAS form to fill it up because all my other applications were to drama schools and of course I was going to get into one. I was actually right on that, I got a place a Mountview, but only half a Dance and Drama Award (the grant which is the only way I could have afforded it). So instead I rather bewilderingly found myself back from a year spent working in a kitchen and doing lots of canoeing in the south of France, and at Loughborough University studying English and Drama.
I dropped English pretty swiftly; it was only the poetry I felt breathed when you studied it; Great Expectations wasn’t really my thing. And then one day I saw a poster on the wall of the student foyer. Something called ‘Theatre Writing Partnership’ was looking for pitches for a play. Write a play? Fuck it, I’m 19, I can do anything! So I sent something in. And they accepted me to be mentored by a playwright as part of a group of 6-7 others. I went to Leicester for the first time, wandered around the big city like a proper Lincolnshire girl who thought Loughborough was already quite big, thank you. Got lost in the Shires (a shopping centre), and found my way to the Haymarket Theatre, where Amanda Whittington led the first of several sessions of writing exercises and I began writing my first original piece of theatre.
Theatre Writing Partnership were a new theatre writing initiative based in the East Midlands. They worked in schools, with 18-25 year olds and ‘grown ups’ and older people to develop theatre writing in the area. Though based at Nottingham Playhouse they weren’t connected to any main theatre as a subsidiary ‘literary department’ – rather an active and independent force seeking out and developing writing talent in a very large and very culturally empty region. And in their first year of being established, I wrote a play for them.
My first proper play took place in the final second before the end of the world. The final endless second where all time is stretched and everything falls apart and a girl in Lincolnshire has taken her dog for a walk. It contained presences in a tree that become a man called Olu, and that tune into that moment to plant a seed for the next world to begin. Here are some of the actual stage directions. Continue Reading →