Well, everything kicks off tomorrow and we had great fun yesterday as we started to play around with the scripts. It’s always lovely to see them start to get up on their feet and to begin to explore them. If you want to pop along this week to The Place Theatre this week and see what all the fuss is about, you’d be more than welcome. So with everything kicking off and me due back at the theatre any minute it is my pleasure to introduce our final writer of the week to you, Adam Hughes. Adam’s play, Odds Against, is set in GoBetter, a betting shop in which Steve works. Steve’s shift is about to end but things take a darker turn in this great little play.
We loved reading your play, Adam, and I’m particularly excited, especially since I get to play Steve! As ever, let’s kick off with you telling us a little bit about yourself?
I am a young writer from Leeds, West Yorkshire, currently based in London. I am Writer on Attachment at the Finborough Theatre as well as a FUSE Playwright at Sheffield Theatres. Earlier this year I won the Off West End Adopt a Playwright Award and am a past winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Writing. I have written one full play, Marching On Together, which ran at the Old Red Lion Theatre last year and have had short plays performed at the Crucible Theatre, St James Theatre, Southwark Playhouse, Theatre503 and Wakefield Theatre Royal.
Wow. that’s quite a resume!! Good for you. How long have you been writing plays for and what started you off writing?
I started writing plays about four years ago now. It started whilst I was at university and I had seen a play that the Drama Society had staged. That was probably the first time I’d really seen a story staged in front of me and really come to life before my eyes and it was something that fascinated me and I wanted to try it out for myself. As with most writers, once I wrote that first play, I was bitten by the bug and haven’t stopped since!
It is rather addictive isn’t it? So what prompted you to write the play that you submitted?
The play I have written is about chance. It’s about taking an opportunity when driven to desperate measures. I think as people, we are all quite judgmental. We allow ourselves to be distanced from a situation, assuring ourselves that we would never do anything of the sort. Yet, until we are in a particular scenario we have no idea how we would act. This was something I wanted to explore here – if you were in a despairing situation then how far would you go to get yourself out of it? The play is also set in a betting shop, which is something I have a slight obsession with at the moment. Betting shops fascinate me as they are worlds of their own. People can spend all day there, watching race after race, hoping that just one moment will completely transform their lives. I think the fact that we have seen so many rise on our high streets recently is indicative of us as a society and how these shops almost become a place of refuge for some people who have nowhere else to turn.
Interesting – I hadn’t really thought about how many are popping up. I guess you’re right though. I remember as a kid being obsessed with one-arm-bandits and the machines that drop the 2p, and it was all about the chance of getting more than we put in! Tell us a little bit about your process of writing?
It really depends on the play (and I know that sounds like a politician’s answer!). There are some plays where you just feel that raw energy and need to get it down on the page as soon as possible in one large splurge. Then there are plays where you have an idea or a concept but you need to really think about the characters, the beats and the overall story you’re trying to tell. I always try to plan with my writing and think about the characters’ choices and what’s actually happening within the script. It can be quite arduous at times but worth it in the long run (I hope anyway!).
Is there anything else that you think reader’s of the blog will find interesting?
I think with writing it’s about finding what you want to say. I’ve written plays before where they have simply been me writing a play. That’s never a good idea and I always think you should only write something if you have a desire and passion to do so. I’m now much more of the mindset that it’s better to write a play that you really believe in and has real heart once every six months than simply bash out six plays which a mediocre and are written for the sake of it; something I have to remind myself on a regular basis!
Great advice, Adam. And thanks for taking the time to chat to us. If you want to catch Odds Against – and you do want to catch it, mark my words – then you can grab tickets here and it will be performed on Friday 11th March – kicking off at 7.30pm. Talking of which, I think I’m due in rehearsal for it any minute now…