As I consider myself a director rather than a writer it still surprises me that I have co-written two out of three of Stuff of Dreams original plays and am embarking on a third. The writing process is one that frustrates and inspires me in turn. My writing ‘career’ began by accident. I was directing some students in a feminist version of a melodrama about the Red Barn Murder and became fascinated by Mariah’s story. Oddly the fact that there had been over a 100 versions of this story did not put me off as I felt it still offered opportunity for exploration. The vast amount of research I undertook, trailing through the transcripts of the trial and reading every account of the murder I could find bore this out. After initial meetings when we plotted a structure and plotline Emma coined the title ‘Love Left Hanging’ we wrote separately, sending drafts and ideas back and forth between us. The editing process was lengthy and organic. Much of it happened in the rehearsal room with the actors. Whilst being happy with the final result it was not a process that worked for me. I found it rather lonely, difficult and sometimes tedious. Something I expect all writers experience at times, but as I said I do not think of myself as a writer.
Tim and I have adopted a completely different approach. Having decided to write ‘The Poisoners’ Pact’ we set up a schedule and wrote together. We spark off each other and argue happily. Sometimes we race through a scene and sometimes we labour every word but for some reason I prefer this method. Tim stops me getting bogged down in historical detail and encourages me to take more risks, what I bring to the partnership apart from sweets is for him to say! Some of my favourite moments are when we read the dialogue we have just written or at the start of a session, Tim makes a superb Fanny Billings (watch out Jo). We have just finished ‘tweaking’ Poisoners ready for its’ second tour. To have the opportunity to improve something in the light of audience feedback and then see it again is valuable and exciting.
The bottom line is that I love both finding stories and telling stories. As a writer I get to do that in a different way to directing. Stories are at the heart of everything Stuff of Dreams does. Whilst there are stories to explore we will do our best to discover them for you. We have some really exciting shows in the pipeline that once again use local history as inspiration. Stay tuned … #Forgotten #AnglianMist