To get you ready for our February Shorts we’ve been talking to all the writers about their plays and working as a playwright.
Here Andrew Turner talks about his play Room for Improvement, a comedy in which an estranged couple arrive at a cheap hotel, hoping to get some rest. But the noises from next door keep them awake and force them to face what’s been left unsaid.
What prompted you to write Room for Improvement?
The idea for the play came to me whilst on holiday in a grotty hotel where I could hear every word, movement and bodily function of the guests next door. Myself and my friends started to create personas and back stories for these faceless noisy neighbours and the idea grew from there.
What do you think the audience will like about it?
If they like any of it, I’ll be happy. I just hope they’ll be able to relate to the characters and find some humour in the couple ‘projecting their problems’ onto the guests next door. I think everyone finds it easier to pick apart other peoples’ lives rather than address their own issues.
How do you hope the piece will develop through the rehearsal process and its performance in Descent?
For me, this will be the most educational aspect of Descent producing my play. I have never seen any of the rehearsals of my previous plays and those productions have tended not to have changed or developed during the process from page to stage. It will be good to find out what elements of the play work well, but probably more useful for me as a writer to find out which bits don’t work, why they don’t work, and most importantly, what I can do about it.
How did you get into writing?
I don’t think I ‘got’ into writing as I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing, even as a small child. However, I think I finally got up the nerve to show my work to other people when I had to write a short play as a college assignment. Not only did I love writing it, but when it was chosen to be performed in front of my classmates, I was secretly thrilled.
Which writers inspire you?
I’m a big fan of those writers who are not only able to create stories and situations that reflect real life, but also those who can write dialogue that mirrors how people really speak. My favourite writers are Victoria Wood, Willy Russell, Alan Bennett, Richard Bean, and a new young writer Sarah McDonald Hughes…and yes, I know that they’re all northern.
What’s your favourite play?
It’s a bit difficult to choose just one play, but I think those which take serious issues and find the comedy in them are the ones stick with me. Talent, Educating Rita, Shirley Valentine all fit the bill, and I don’t think it’s an accident that they are all still being performed today.
Room for Improvement will be performed as part of Descent Shorts on the 7th February at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone. More info
Look out on Friday for Andrew’s playella A Brief Bereavement.
Andrew began writing approximately seven years ago. In 2006 he won second prize in the BBC Alfred Bradley Bursary Award for his radio play The Votes are In which was subsequently broadcast live by Chorlton FM Radio. They also produced his radio play The Exploits of Grief in 2011. Andrew has had three plays produced by The Drip Action Theatre Company as part of the Arundel Festival – Always a You in Useless in 2006, A Short Demonstration in 2010 and The Doctor will See You Now in 2011.