The brief I got was to write something on the theme of ‘treaty’. When I thought of a treaty, it made me think of negotiations, and I thought – what if there was a debate within the play? What if the audience got a chance to be part of those negotiations, because often young people are cut out of conversations, I mean they don’t even get a vote. That made me think of what’s a live issue right now, and I think borders – how we draw lines between people, how we police those lines – that feels very relevant. So I started there, and then I worked back to come up with a story that allowed me to explore that, and to have my debate. I knew it had to be something simple, because the issues are so complex. And that’s when I decided that it was going to be about a girl who lives in a border town and loses her dog on the other side of the border.
It didn’t take a huge amount of research, but I just kept my ear to the ground in terms of what was going on in politics, and particularly the politics of borders. It’s a very shouty, polarized time we’re living in, and the play needed to reflect that in a way that was both accurate and absurd – I didn’t want to write something naturalistic. We’re not really living in that kind of world – maybe naturalism is absurd right now.
I hope that people leave with a sense of perspective. The main character – Julia – has to navigate a very confusing world, but ultimately she discovers that the only way to deal with it is to remain kind, gracious, and to listen empathetically. I do think we could all do with more of that right now. But she’s also not a pushover – she learns that if she believes something is right, you should fight for it. I hope that the audience goes on a similar journey. After all, it feels like there’s quite a lot of fighting that needs to be done at the moment – I just wish it was being done more peacefully! By which I think I mean, respectfully.
No one’s a genius, everyone has to work for it. You don’t start good, you start. At some point I realised that I was one of loads of people with talent who want to be writers – many of them with a lot more talent than me. But the writers who manage to find fulfilment (I’m not going to say ‘make it’ because that’s meaningless, there is no end point here, only a journey) are those who don’t give up. You get so many rejections as a writer. But nothing you do is wasted. Every single play, email, pitch – they all help you hone your craft and make connections, even if you think you’re screaming into the void. So yeah, start…and then keep going.
#TheBorder opens this Thursday at Redbridge Drama Centre. BOOK NOW.
If you would like to receive our regular newsletter, with information about Theatre Centre productions, tours, projects and opportunities, please fill in the form on the right.
We are committed to keeping your data safe and we will only ever email you information that you have agreed to receive and will never share your email with anyone else.