So the last time I wrote a play was in 1991. And it was technically a pantomime. A sixth-form pantomime based very loosely on Cinderella. I wrote it, less because I wanted to write a play and more because everyone else was busy doing other far more boring things, like studying for their A-levels.
Writing a panto with roles for 60 girls (it was an all-girls school before you assume I'd relegated all the lads to 'Boy Sweeping Up in Background #1') was no mean feat but we somehow managed it with some frankly sensational creative thinking on my part.
Narrative structure was cast aside for dance routines that the Backstreet Boys would be proud of and the writing process consisted mostly of people coming up to me at various points during lunch break , saying 'can you build in a scene where me and my mates can come on and dance to De La Soul / Happy Mondays / Kylie Minogue / Dee-lite etc etc?' and I'd go "Gaaaah! You are all killing my writer's soul. I bet Shakespeare never had to deal with this many requests!" and then I'd obligingly write the scene anyway. It remains one of the very worst and very best things I've ever written and I still can't watch the video of it without crying with laughter...
So that was then. And this is now. And a mere 26 years later, with a few more life experiences under my belt and 4 months after starting my M.A in Playwriting, I saw my first proper short play performed on stage last week. In public. With proper actors and an audience and applause and EVERYTHING. And it was kinda fun. Buttock-clenchingly terrifying and utterly exhausting but total fun. It's called 'Come Die With Me'. I do love a pun, me.
Despite the cheery title, it's not about cancer. I've been trying to half-heartedly write the cancer play but it isn't happening and to be honest, I've seen about three cancer plays in the last few months and one was a musical so as much as it's tempting to write a cancer panto, I figure the market for cancer plays is fairly saturated right now. My tutor is very fond of saying 'Why this play? why now?' and much as I'm always tempted to go 'huh? Because, like, deadlines?', she has a point.
So instead, I wrote a short play about my dad, hired a coffin from The National Theatre, accidentally cast an Aussie, a Swede (the country, not the vegetable) and a Londoner who couldn't have looked less like each other to play a mother, brother and sister, closed my eyes and hoped no one would walk out.
And it went ok, I think.
Thanks to the hapless pals and family who gave up their Tuesday and Wednesday night to trek over to North London and laugh / cry in all the right places. And thanks to my tight team of trusted readers who patiently read every tearstained draft (there were 12) I sent them over Christmas when they were trying to open their presents, entertain their kids and drink vats of festive sherry.
And sorry to those that I STILL haven't caught up with, despite being back for six months now. I am essentially a wild-haired recluse sitting in my pants, desperate for inspiration to strike until September 2017 so don't take it personally... :)