How would you describe your current job and what do you like best about it?
Live theatre is a terrific vehicle for a playwright to tell a story in his or her own way. We unconsciously work every waking moment.
What do you consider your best work and why?
Dare to Care will shortly be going on its World Premiere Scottish Tour. It’s been through a rigorous workshop process with Stellar Quines Theatre Company. I am totally blown away with the commitment, inventiveness, verve, energy and ideas that the director, the cast, the musical director and crew bring to the table. Although it’s not a musical, it has musicality and rhythmic pieces running through it.
What was your first ever job?
I grew up in a close-knit small mining community in the country. My first paid job in my teens was bringing in the hay bales for Hamilton the farmer near Cobbinshaw loch. We all got the chance to drive the tractor (not allowed now) and our arms were scratched red raw and bleeding from moving and stacking the hay bales. My first proper paid job when I left school was in the Co-op Fleshing Department (Butchery) in West Calder.
What was the contact/opportunity/job offer that you feel has made the most difference to your career?
Getting a commission for Dare to Care after the play had its first airing in a Stellar Quines Rehearsal Room a few years ago.
What’s the biggest opportunity that you missed or wished you had taken up but didn’t?
Three of us teenagers formed a group in our little mining village. We made ourselves cardboard guitars and called ourselves ‘The Shunky Sisters’. Maybe that was my missed opportunity. We disbanded when we grew up but I went on to sing in local pubs. I did eventually learn to play the guitar. Life is full of opportunities every day. ‘What if’ has never been in my vocabulary.
What’s your favourite theatre production?
There are numerous but I always go back to my first experience of theatre that made the biggest impact on me. That is the wonderful earthy rich Scottish dialogue in The Slab Boys by John Byrne. I still rave on about that production to anyone that wants to listen. In 1981 I saw Vanessa Redgrave in the memorable Isadora at the Regent Theatre in Sydney, Australia.
What do you like the best about working in theatre?
To entertain and enthral the paying public. I love the whole inventive process of live theatre, the willingness and commitment of all to do their best.
What do you like the best about being a writer?
I have met all my characters throughout my life and know them, how they speak and how they behave. You can go anywhere in your head as a writer, but there is no substitute for life experience and what you have stored. Playwriting gives you the freedom to create any character then hand that character over to actors who amaze me with their ingenuity and talent to ‘get inside’ the person you have created.
What advice would you give emerging female practitioners in theatre today?
KBO – keep buggering on as Winston Churchill always said. You can go to a hundred playwright workshops but you need the drive of self-motivation to chain your arse to the chair, zone in and write.
Who would your Stellar Quine of the month be and why?
That’s an easy one. When I physically handed over my script Dare to Care to Muriel Romanes, I hung on to her coat tails. She has generously mentored me throughout the whole process of page to stage.