There’s a shrine outside Anna’s door. Candles. Empty energy drinks. A photograph. As the crowds part, one woman remains. Anna has no choice but to listen to what she has to say.
Hi Mark thanks for talking to TNC, how's everything going?
Great! We’re into the second week of rehearsals for Delicacy. Very excited to be here talking to you about it and writing in general.
Do you have any nerves ahead of your plays run?
I’m surprisingly calm at the moment. I’m sure that’ll change come opening night. I think the thing I’m probably most nervous about is getting reviewed. I’ve been reading blogs on how best to deal with bag/good reviews. Either way, I’m very happy with how the play turned out, and I just hope audiences get a kick out of it.
What does it mean to be at Foreward Festival with Delicacy?
I’m massively grateful and honoured to have my first play put on as part of the festival, especially at such a special venue. The Space crew are a wonderful bunch. They’ve been very encouraging and supportive.
Can you tell me a little about Delicacy, how did the show come about?
Delicacy is a macabre comedy about a normal family who finds themselves in an extraordinary situation. It’s not for the faint-hearted, and will hopefully start some interesting conversations in the bar afterwards! I’ve been working on the play, on and off, for around a year and a half now. It got selected for The Space’s development scheme (ScriptSpace) last summer and had a prepared reading. Now, they’ve produced it as part of Foreword Festival.
What was the inspiration behind your play?
Very random, but the inspiration came from an interview given by an inmate, filmed as part of a documentary about Russia’s Toughest Prisons. I don’t want to give the game away, but before the guy was locked up, he duped his neighbours into doing something awful – something they’ll have to live with for the rest of their lives. It was just a throwaway moment in the documentary, but I was hooked: I wanted to know what happened to this family; how did they cope? So, I wrote a play to try to explore that.
What has the experience been for you working with your director Sammy Glover?
Sammy’s great and has thrown herself completely into the project. She has a strong vision for the characters and the journey they go on. Whether it’s making playlists, creating mood boards, or working together to cut 30 minutes from the run time (it needed it!), Sammy’s on it.
What have been the biggest challenges bringing this production to life?
One of the biggest challenges was cutting the play down to more manageable run time. The first read through was 1hr 40mins! By the end, we had it down to 1hr 10mins. Figuring out what to get rid of and what to keep was an agonizing task. There was a lot and back and forth between myself and Sammy the director, but we set a deadline and managed to get it done.
Once a play is running do you find it hard to not keep tweaking it?
This is my first full-length play, so I can’t really answer that yet! I think that’ll probably be the director’s job anyway, honing the performances each night. If we do manage to get the play put on elsewhere, I’m sure I won’t be able to resist giving it another polish.
Have you always been interested in theatre?
I’m a bit of a latecomer to theatre – we didn’t really have one where I grew up, so my background is mainly TV/Film. I’ve always been fascinated in the repeat performance aspect of plays, though (the words have to stand up, night after night) and the fact that you can be more experimental with storytelling in theatre (and, generally, a bit weirder!).
"Putting into words how another character sees them allows you to take yourself out of the equation. "
How much has your approach to your writing changed since your debut play?
I think I’ve become more rigorous in making sure every word justifies its existence – it has to move the story or characters forward. Also, thinking about how the play will be staged and dressing the stage – the effect it has on the actors/their characters, along with their ability to move around the stage.
What has been the best piece of advice you've been given?
I actually came across this one the other day. If you’re stuck bringing a character to life, write that character’s biography from the point of view of a fellow character. Putting into words how another character sees them allows you to take yourself out of the equation. Simple, but effective.
Do you have any advice you would offer a fellow playwright?
Write the plays you want to see in theatres. Write short pieces and get them performed at scratch nights – a great way to meet fellow creatives. Your first draft is almost always terrible (even when you think it’s not), so don’t be afraid to rewrite the whole thing from page one.
And finally, what do you hope people will take away from Delicacy?
I hope people will have a great night at the theatre: lots of laughter, several surprising (and shocking) moments and, most likely, a completely different opinion of cottage pie.