Sitting here from my lovely little lodge at CenterParcs following a few days of absolutely lovely rest and relaxation, I am feeling very excited about the next few weeks. Projects galore on the horizon but most importantly we have StageWrite coming up in just over 10 days time!!!! Woohoo, I hear you cry and well you should because it’s just about the best week ever!!
Today, I am thrilled to introduce Bedford’s very own, Chris Loft. If you were knocking around last year’s festival, you will have seen his brilliant piece, The Interview Stage, which I had the privilege of directing for its run that culminated in a performance at London’s Etcetera Theatre.
So Chris, lets kick of with the usual. Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from London originally, but I have been based in Bedford for ten years now. I live with my wife and children and divide my time between family, writing and teaching. At the moment, I teach part-time in Cambridge, in a centre that works towards the recovery of bullied children, probably the most fulfilling job I’ve ever had. I’m also pretty active in local community theatre.
Wow, that sounds amazing! I didn’t even know those kinds of places existed! And of course, I gather you will be performing in Swan Theatre Company’s Epsom Downs shortly. So how long have you been writing plays for and what started you off writing?
I started writing plays for children to perform when I was a primary-school teacher, about fifteen years ago. I’ve always enjoyed the writing process, but never had the time or energy to devote to it until I stopped teaching full-time. I submitted my first play to Stagewrite last year and had some fantastic feedback, which far exceeded my expectations and really boosted my confidence. I’ve been lucky enough to have that piece, The Interview Stage, performed a few more times by different groups, so now I’m trying to develop and improve as a writer and see what happens.
And what was it that prompted you to write the play that you submitted this year?
I discovered the plays of Eugene Ionesco last year and loved the way he finds humour in the futility of existence and the failure of human beings to communicate with each other. I wanted to write in a consciously more absurd style and, as this was during the general election campaign, there was plenty of inspiration for absurdity! The general theme of the play is employment and what we mean today by having a job. We seem increasingly prepared to put up with longer hours, poorer conditions and less job security than was once the case, and these are some of the ideas I started playing around with, and ‘playing’ is the key word here. I don’t know that Responsible Product has much to say that is very profound or revealing, but it plays around with ideas as if it has something to say, and that in itself seems rather ‘absurdist’ to me.
Excellent! Well we loved reading it! So tell us a little bit about your process of writing?
I start off with a simple idea – in this case, two men talking in an unknown location – and let it develop from there. I like to let the characters talk to each other and that tells me what kind of people they are, then I throw in some challenges or problems for them to deal with, and how they react to these challenges sort of determines what is going to happen. Once I have a first draft, I start working on it until it feels more coherent. With this play, there are some points at which the characters kind of took the story away from me and I wasn’t really sure what was going on, and it was during those moments that I thought maybe this would be a suitable script for Stagewrite.
Is there anything else that you think reader’s of the blog will find interesting?
There’s a video of my play The Interview Stage on youtube now, if anyone wants to get a flavour of what my work is like. You can watch that here.
Fantastic, thanks Chris. And I would definitely recommend giving The Interview Stage a watch as it’s a cracking play and we are definitely looking forward to seeing Responsible Product up on its feet shortly. If you want to catch Chris’ play, then get yourself along to The Place Theatre on Friday 11th March 2016. You will not be disappointed. You can get your tickets online from The Place website by clicking here.