Friday, 25 June 2010

Looking for Love in Script Space: An Interview with Gareth Jandrell

If you haven’t been to ‘Script Space’ before, it’s a fantastic opportunity to watch a series of rehearsed readings of short plays selected by the Tobacco Factory as part of their development programme. It’s also an opportunity to get involved and give feedback in a Q&A session with the actors, directors and writers.

Working with new and emerging writers, the third and final ‘Script Space’ of the 2010 season is happening this Sunday (27th June) at the Tobacco Factory.

I caught up with one of the writers, Gareth Jandrell, author of ‘Ache’ and asked him a few questions…

Can you tell us a bit about ‘Ache’?

”It's about four people who attend a speed dating night at a less than salubrious pub. It's a grimy, dingy venue but they're still looking for love, they're still hoping for something to happen. They're all funny and charming and caring, it's just it hasn't quite happened for them yet, so they end up here, tonight.”

What inspired you to write it?

”I walked past a terrible pub that had a chalk board outside that said 'singles night: come and meet that special someone.' (Which actually appears in the play) and I thought 'imagine trying to find the love of your life there', then I thought 'why not? Why not there, it's as good a place as any' and then slowly these characters who find themselves in a completely unlikely setting suddenly having to get along with each other appeared, trying to make the evening bearable, trying to make conversation and maybe, just maybe, trying to find even more than that.”

How did you find out about ‘Script Space’?

”There was a posting on the BBC Writersroom website and I had the play finished and in a moment of madness I thought I'd apply, not thinking anything of it. Then I found I'd been shortlisted, then that my play was going to be performed. A totally unexpected treat. To be at a great venue like the Tobacco Factory is a huge opportunity, let alone with a play which I enjoyed writing so much. I can't wait to see how the audience respond to the piece.”

Which comes first, the play or the development opportunity? By this I mean, do you already have an idea for a production (or maybe even an initial script) when you apply for an opportunity like ‘Script Space’ or do you see an opportunity/competition and start thinking of a plot so that you can enter?

“The play comes first for me. I think if you write to the opportunity you loose the drive which is behind the piece. For me, you write the play then if the right opportunity comes along that's amazing, it was meant to be. If you do it the other way round you risk writing things you never set out to write, and then end up being judged by them later on. You don't want to end up having to justify writing something you never actually believed in yourself.”

Looking at your previous success, you’ve already had some of your short plays performed in places like the Soho Theatre and The White Bear and now you’re working on a full length play, which will be read at The Southwark Playhouse in July. Is this your first full length piece?

“It's the first one I've fully developed with a production company. Luckily Ugly Sister Productions took a chance on developing a short play I wrote last year and now it's in good shape thanks to their dedication to it. So much of writing is people believing in your work and Esther and Julia at Ugly Sisters took a huge chance on me and I hope it works out for them, I owe them a lot.”

Do you remember your first piece of ‘creative writing’?

”My God, yes. I wrote a lot of angsty 'woe is me' unrequited love poetry as a teen. I still have it. It's terrible. Terrible. They say you learn from your mistakes. I learnt this: never show a girl a poem you have written about them. It's not romantic. It's weird.”

Why do you want to be a writer? What drives you?

“I don't know. When it's going badly I think I'll give up, tell all my friends I'll give up, go into a Heathcliff-esque brood. Then I'll think of a bit of dialogue or an idea for a scene or get angry about the world and start writing again... Until I get a rejection letter then the cycle starts back up... That's what great about schemes like Script Space - it gives new writers a platform for their work and the confidence to press on with their writing, as I will. Until the next rejection letter...”

Name one play you think everyone should read in their lifetime…

”Love and Money by Dennis Kelly. Incredible. Dramaturgically immaculate. Not a wasted word, and each syllable relates to the theme completely. His only mistake was to write it 3 years too early. Read it now, you'll assume it was written yesterday. A masterpiece.”

If you want to see ‘Ache’, then head ‘Script Space III’ on Sunday 27th June at 1.30pm, entry is £3. For further information visit the Tobacco Factory Website