Continuing our series of blogs introducing our writers for this year’s festival, it is my great pleasure to introduce Laura Bacon to you. Laura came to writing from an actor’s perspective so talking to her about her writing was particularly interesting (not least because that’s how I came into writing – but enough about me…).
Laura, you have an interesting background, tell us a little bit about it?
Well, I am an actress who has enjoyed playing a variety of film and theatre roles over the years but around two years ago I started writing and a beautiful new creative adventure began. I currently split my time between acting and writing and have just finished filming the second series of the pre-school television show ‘Melody’ where I play the little girl’s Mum. I am also a qualified teacher and in my spare time I love to travel and am a keen yoga lover. I’ve also recently taken up playing the mandolin, as all the writing has now sparked lots of song writing ideas!
Wow, you really are busy! If you’re a fan of yoga, make sure you check out Up Your Prana. So tell me, how long you have been writing for and what started you off writing?
I’ve only been writing plays since early last year, so the play format is quite new to me. What kick-started my writing off initially though, was an idea for a TV series focusing on the seven deadly sins, which sprang from working with a really difficult person a few years back in a job I hated. I was all ready to pack it in but then started to think, why was this person being so difficult to work with? What prompted her to treat people in the way she did? Could she be truly happy and what was lying underneath all her negativity? Then I saw what was actually feeding her greed and control of situations and used this as the hook for the concept of the series. So I stayed a little while longer, began writing things down, watched and observed and gradually the other characters in the series started forming. It took me a year to write the series but once I’d written all seven episodes A Human Condition was born and there was no looking back! Finishing the series gave me the confidence to write more and try a different medium. So I wrote a couple of plays afterwards And They All Lived and The Day the Clowns Cried and a short film – Hesperides. These ideas had been cooking away whilst I was writing Domino, so I decided to take some trips away to get them out of my head and onto the page. It’s been a hard year of writing but absolutely worth it, as I’ve learnt (and am still learning) so much.
And what prompted you to write, Domino?
The idea for Domino came about last April when I got stuck on the last train home late one night. I was feeling shattered, as were many of the other passengers and everyone just wanted to get home. The information given to us from the driver was pretty vague and I watched the group of people in the carriage with me turn from mildly annoyed, to enemies, to confidantes in a short space of time. The train driver then eventually explained we were stuck due to a fatality on the track and someone piped up “Don’t these jumpers think of anyone but themselves? God they’re so selfish!” The concept for Domino then mushroomed from there. I was stuck for a total of three and a half hours on that train and saw human behaviour at its best and worst. But instead of getting annoyed, I listened, watched and wrote and by the time we exited the train I had the main shape of the play, a few of the main characters and some interesting concepts to think about. It also taught me a valuable lesson that even if situations in life are perceived as awful, there is always a golden nugget of opportunity to find a positive from inside them. Rather than wishing those hours away, I was being shown something I could write about, another reason I love writing so much – every day is new story waiting to be told. You’ve just got to open your eyes and your mind to find them.
Can you tell us a little bit about your process of writing?
Each piece of writing for me is a very unique process. I am writing my first feature film at the moment and my approach to this has surprised me. That’s a huge part of what is so brilliant about building a story, in that each one is completely different and I never know where my subconscious wants to take me and how we are going to get there. That said, I generally try and work out the concept/main arc of the story first and where the specific plot points I am looking to get to will be, but how I get there is the fun part! The talking fish moment in Domino took me completely by surprise and just started happening as I was typing. I couldn’t stop laughing at the randomness of it all on this packed train up to Scotland, it was quite surreal. Space and time to create is also of paramount importance to my process and finding a balance between writing and getting out there and enjoying life has been something I have had to work at. When an idea starts to consume you it can feel like the ‘Mind Olympics’ at times, so balance between rest and work has been key for me – otherwise the work just starts to poison itself. With this new film project I am building an entire world set in the future, so I usually carry around a big notebook with me to help build up the detail of the world, as ideas often come at the most awkward times (most of Domino was scrawled on the back of tickets, receipts, leaflets, my hand etc as I’d run out of paper… paper at all times is a must!) Coming into writing from an actor’s perspective I find characters are a really important starting point and I like to pore over every last detail about them before I can confidently start writing as them. If I don’t put this level of research into their back story, then their behaviours lack truth and the words don’t have as much meaning or punch and they just aren’t as enjoyable to write. Writing for me is about shining light on human behaviour, exploring, enjoying and learning from what we discover on stage or screen and although I originally found writing quite a messy process, I am now learning to enjoy the mess. I think writers are organisers of ideas, problem/puzzle solvers and once the thread of truth is located, it is about finding a way to arrange these events/puzzle pieces in such a way that the truth can still be honoured to the end of the story.
Thanks Laura – that was fantastic! So looking forward to seeing Domino up on its feet. Not long now… if you haven’t got your tickets yet, make sure you do. You can see Domino on Friday 13th March at The Place Theatre, Bedford. Tickets available online at www.theplacebedford.org.uk and at the Central Box Office by calling 01234 718112.