What inspires you about new writing?
I love it. We hunger for stories and voices that resonate with and validate our own inner lives. New writing does that. It’s an opportunity to see ourselves and our concerns reflected. The new writing scene is vibrant and continually growing and a fantastic opportunity for writers – new or established – to get their work seen and to engage with a community of like minded souls.
Why do you think theatre is important?
My god we need theatre! It gives space to the grey areas. It’s a container for the shitty, muddled up areas of our lives. It can ask all the questions and doesn’t need to give the answers.
What excites you about theatre as a medium?
The aliveness of it; its ability to transport you; the utter passion, dedication and commitment of those involved; the idea of an audience coming together to find something new. It can also be very frustrating. Lack of good roles for women, lack of female playwrights on the main stages, the ‘exclusivity’ in terms of lack of access to job opportunities and bloody West End ticket prices!
How did Little Pieces of Gold start?
LPOG started in 2010. As a writer myself I wanted to collaborate with other theatre makers and make theatre instead of waiting around for something to happen.
What is your aim with Little Pieces of Gold?
Our overall aim is to give a platform to as many new writers as possible and to act as a catalyst for their writing and theatre making careers. As we’ve grown LPOG has also become a launching pad for directors and another outlet for actors to do what they’re brilliant at. Through LPOG I’ve been able to meet and produce the work of some very brave and thought provoking playwrights. For example, last year we produced Sarah Hehir’s first full length play, Child Z about the Rochdale child grooming scandal. And for 2017 we are aiming to produce a new play by award winning Jaki McCarrick. It’s the true story of Eleanor Marx’s relationship with the trade unionist Will Thorne whom she taught to read. Jaki has called it a feminist ‘King’s Speech’ since Will Thorne had dyslexia and it was Eleanor who helped him to negotiate that in order to read and rise through the ranks of the trade unions. What’s so exciting is that this full-length production evolves out of the short that we commissioned Jaki to write for our recent ‘Class Ceiling’ production. Going forward LPOG aims to do more of the same but funding is always an issue and much good work just doesn’t get made.
Tell us how Little Pieces of Gold works?
We produce regular new writing nights throughout the year and we normally run an open submission which is advertised on BBC Writersroom and social media. Sometimes we run themed submissions or I might ‘commission’ a collection of plays from playwrights with whom I’ve worked with previously. We generally receive around 300-400 plays which are all read and then shortlisted. The shortlist is then read by our team of directors who decide which play they wish to take forward. Casting, rehearsals etc is then down to the individual director. Our shows have a great reputation for the high quality of the writing, directing and acting. Like all other new writing nights we all work for free. No-one makes any money from these productions. But it’s a much needed showcase for creatives to hone their skills, network and build up their CVs. We’ve worked at various venues including Park Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Theatre 503 and the Bread & Roses.
What advice do you give writers submitting to LPG?
Read as many plays and short plays as you can. Attend new writing nights. See for yourselves what makes a good short play.
What do you look for in writing, what makes you keep reading?
The twenty-four million dollar question! You know it when you see it. But … a strong writer’s voice that comes through on the very first page; un-cliched writing; a unique take on something;
How do directors get involved in LPG?
Check out our website and send in your CV. I will then arrange to meet with a new director to see if can go forward. The directing team for each showcase generally changes so we’re always looking to meet new directors.
Actor Awareness is a campaign fighting for diversity in actors from working class backgrounds or low income backgrounds, how do you feel the industry stands at present?
This industry is no different from any other. Access to opportunities is hugely unequal. It is not class envy to say that the dice is loaded. It’s never been any different and it’s getting worse. Getting into a London drama school and paying London rents is one thing. But then afterwards it comes down to having to juggle day-jobs to pay the bills with acting jobs and auditions. To do this requires an inordinate amount of energy, hope and faith. And a photographic memory when an audition comes through for the very next day with the expectation that the actor needs to memorise a whole chunk of text. There is no need for this when audition schedules and spaces are booked in advance. It’s disrespectful towards actors and it perpetuates a situation whereby only actors with the time and resources can give their best. I love what actors do. Working class or low income backgrounds or gender and ethnicity should not exclude actors – or writers and directors – from pursuing their chosen career paths.