This time of year always arrives somewhat suddenly. In our house there’s lots of conversations that go, “Oh, we need to sort X for StageWrite?” to which the reply comes, “Yeah, I’ll get round to it, it’s ages away yet”. Well on Sunday, I woke up with a “Oh Crap, StageWrite’s next week, why didn’t you remind me, we’ve got shedloads to do”; at which point I get a look, and I know I should stop there… But don’t panic lovely people, we are on track and everything is more or less in place for next week!! However, I still have a few writers to introduce you to so, without further ado… introducing the rather fabulous Barbara Bridger who submitted a Stranger to Myself for StageWrite 2015.
It’s great to meet you, Barbara. Why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself?
I was part of a women’s theatre company in Stoke on Trent in the 1970s. Between 1991 and 2010, I taught Theatre and Performance Writing at Dartington College of Arts. Since the College closed in 2010, I have been writing for live performance, page and screen.
That’s great. And how long have you been writing plays for and what started you off writing?
My first script ‘Witnessing’ was written in the 1980s and was based on taped interviews made whilst working on a research project at Keele University into violence against women. My second script ‘I Could Have Danced all Night’ was centred around the experiences of a disabled friend. It was performed and toured by the Women’s section of the Royal Court Young People’s Theatre. Much more recently, I have become interested in adaptating fiction. A script based on ‘The Body Artist’ by Don DeLillo was screened at Dartington and George Washington University and last year I adapted an Angela Carter short story ‘The Lady of the House of Love’ for Misk Theatre Productions.
I would have loved to have seen The Lady of the House of Love – I love Angela Carter’s stories. So what prompted you to write ‘A Stranger to Myself’?
I’ve always admired Conrad’s short story ‘The Secret Sharer’. I’m interested in the way he explores what it means to watch or be watched and his understanding of how close observation of another can bring about a ‘slippage’ in identity. These issues seem very relevant in the twenty first century, when various forms and levels of surveillance can effect how we construct our lives and our personalities.
‘A Stranger to Myself’ works off the Conrad story and attempts to ask questions about how we know ourselves and other people and how we deal with difficult life experiences, including rejection, jealousy and obsession.
Tell us a little bit about your process of writing?
I try to involve myself with performance in a range of ways: as a dramaturg, as a director and also performing. I do this to keep my writing as ‘live’ as possible. I’ve always written when and where I can. I like to write collaboratively and I’m an obsessive reviser and editor. I can work on a piece of writing for years before I feel satisfied.
It’s always interesting talking to writers. I wonder if we ever feel fully satisfied with a piece of writing. I go through phases where I think I am, I put it down and come back to it and find issues with it all over again! Well, you can see A Stranger to Myself by Barbara Bridger on Thursday 12th March, kicking off at 7.30 pm. Tickets are available online here or from the Central Box Office on 01234 718112. Make sure you book tickets early to avoid disappointment.