In the second of our interviews with the Blue Goat team it's time to go behind the scenes of the script writing process. We're talking inspiration, hidden secrets and how many unfinished scripts get hidden in the dusty depths of a writer's hard drive...
What artistic pilgrimages have you gone on?
"I spent six weeks in Morocco on a writing residency with a wonderful institution called Green Olive Arts, in Tetouan. In addition to doing a lot of writing I got to visit Tangier (think - The Bourne Ultimatum, Only Lovers Left Alive, Inception etc etc), spent a wonderful couple of days staying in the desert (think The Alchemist...and every desert film you've ever seen) and drove two hours off course to see where they filmed Gladiator."
How long on average does it take you to write a play?
"That really depends. If I have an idea that I desperately need to get out of my head, sometimes I can have a first draft down in a couple of weeks. But that's just getting an initial draft onto the page. I work with a critique group who are fabulous and really make a huge difference to each new draft. The scripts also go through a lot of revisions once the actors get involved. I'm always open to people offering suggestions about how lines could be improved, so what seemed like a finished script will often look very different by the time it goes on stage. Because I'm working with actors for whom English can be a second language, I'll also often rework lines so that the words fit better in their mouths! "
Do you hide any secrets in your plays that only a few people will find?
"There are usually a lot of references to things that are significant to me but which won't really mean anything to anyone else. In J'n'R, Richard is running off to stay in the desert which alludes to my time in Morocco - including a reasonably accurate description of one place where I stayed. There's also a subtle reference to The Alchemist. Towards the end there's a line about people stealing Jules' shoes which is an in-joke between my daughter and I, from a time when we were living in Ghana and had to go down a very dodgy back alley in order to have a photo taken for my drivers' licence. It's safe to say I pull a lot of things out of my own life to use in my plays."
What were your goals and intentions in this play and how well do you feel you achieved them?
"I started writing J'n'R in the wake of the Trump election. I wanted to give voice to a woman who was really struggling to reconcile a world that was characterised by patriarchal crap, a mobilisation of passionate, protesting women and at the same time the mundane day-to-day challenges of finding meaningful work and companionship.
One of the things I've appreciated most about working with this cast and with Daniel, is their feedback on how to round out Jules. She started off a bit angry (I suspect there was some post Trump election angst hanging around in there!) and I really needed to develop her character so that she had a depth that conveyed her vulnerability and compassion as well as being pissed off at the world!"
How many unpublished and half-finished plays do you have?
"I'm three quarters of the way through a full length play called The Ticking Clock, which explores time travel and the prospect of going back in time to change the past. I'm also working on a short play for a theatre festival run by Accra Theatre Workshop which will take place in September. It's about a young man who is convinced that the severed hand he found on the side of the road is actually the Hand of God.
Errr...there are also four other plays in various stages of development on my hard drive...plus a couple that have been performed once and I would like to do again or rewrite...and...can we just round it up and say, 'lots'?"