Stellar Quine of the Month: Clare Duffy

Clare Duffy

How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?
I don’t think I have ‘a job’ as it turns out. I have a number of contracts that I am going to do my best to fulfil (!) Mainly I’m a playwright and I’m developing as a director. I also teach.

At the moment I’m teaching ‘writing for performance’ at Glasgow University, I’m co-writing shows all the time with my company Unlimited Theatre (resident at the West Yorkshire Playhouse). I’m experimenting with light at Summerhall, where I am an artist in residence. I have a garret there, which I share with Xana Marwick and I love being there. I’m writing the Cbeebies Christmas show at the moment. I have also written about playwriting I did a PhD ( …it took me eight years, but I did it). I’m an ‘emerging’ director, (my first paid job as a director & writer was Money the game show which was produced at The Bush in London this year with Unlimited and is (fingers crossed) going to tour in Scotland next year, as well as more touring in England/Wales. It’s also being produced in Korea this Autumn and I’m really hoping that I can get to see it in another language and culture.

What do you consider your best work and why?
That’s difficult to say as everything is so different and for different kinds of audiences. I would say Money the game show because it was the most responsibility I have taken for a piece of work happening. I often work as a co-writer and collaborative partner in projects so it was a big test to take on the role of ‘director’ for me. But I’m really proud of The Noise, which opened at Northern Stage on the 4 October. I’m sitting in the dark of technical rehearsals as I write this. I’m really proud of how Chris, Jon and I have co-written this and that I’m part of such an amazing creative team. I’m also really proud to have written the last verse in the Bloody Great Border Ballard at Northern Stage at St Stephan’s in August this year because it was a beautiful evening and I was proud to be part of some thing so unique.

What was your first ever job?
Paper round I suppose age 13, maybe 14, worked in Milletts from 15 on Saturdays and in a watch and clock shop from 16 to 17. When I was 18, I worked in a very rough bar and I love that!

What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
I suppose it was being commissioned to finish Crossings, which was the first play I wrote on my own. It was published and toured the UK and won a Pearson award, which meant I could write another play on my own. So that was the first time that I felt that I could be a ‘real’ or perhaps I should say more traditional writer. That happened because of Sgript Cymru. Thank you Simon Harris! But I have to say Stellar Quines you have made an enormous difference too! Muriel was the first person to give me a job when I moved to Scotland ten years ago now.

What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?
I don’t think this has happened to me. Nothing springs to mind. But then how would I know?

What’s your favourite theatre production?
I saw Ian McKellan being Richard III when I was about 15 and it blew me away. There are so many extraordinary things. More recently I loved L’après midi d’un Foehn at Summerhall during the festival. Pure-magic-beauty!

What do you like the best about working in theatre?
The egos! —I’m joking. -Although it is very interesting seeing how different people deal with the intensity of making theatre. I like that there’s always another way to do something, that nothing is ever perfect, that it’s a way of making magic real and a way of making mundane reality not matter so much and that you can go to all sorts of dangerous and hilarious places with other people, often strangers and often in the dark!

What do you like the best about being a writer?
That I can make some sense of the things that upset or confuse me most.

What advice would you give emerging female practitioners in theatre today?
I have no advice. It’s a dangerous thing to give advice, isn’t it? Almost as dangerous as matchmaking. That would be my advice: ‘give no advice’ ‘ask lots of questions’ ‘seek no answers’ or at least ‘do not try to find the same answer twice’ and there’s loads of advice huh!

Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
My mum. That’s so soppy isn’t it! But well… I just got married and mum read a poem by Shakespeare and it was lovely.

SQ of the Month