Why do you write?
I began pursuing writing properly in 2018 but have loved words ever since I can remember. I read a lot as a kid and alongside my 3 siblings, constantly made up stories and imaginative games. I went to Stanwell School in Penarth which had an amazing drama department and it was there that I realised that you can make up stories and act them out for a living. When I graduated from studying drama at university, I found the realities of balancing pursuing acting and the need to work full time in a ‘normal’ job really difficult. I feel actors begin to create their own work for many different reasons but for me it was wanting to take back that control over my performances and to do my acting work justice again. Whilst pursuing writing for this reason, I realised that having to work full time was the best thing to have happened to me as I had unknowingly been building up a huge backlog of life experiences, which have laid the foundations for my characters and stories and worlds going forward. I surprised myself with just how much I loved writing. Now writing isn’t just a vehicle for my acting but a passion completely on its own. I am writing more and more for other performers and spend hours tucked away with my head buried in my laptop.
What was your first writing success?
I feel that my two hander ‘Detention’ was my first writing success in 2018. I hired out the downstairs space in Little Man Coffee Co in Cardiff and did two nights, mostly to friends and family. However, we had a 5* review from Cardiff Theatre Review which gave me the confidence to know my work might have potential.
How did you find out about the Wales Writer in Residence and what made you want to apply?
In 2019 Helen Perry suggested I apply for the residency after she saw me perform at a scratch night run by Chippy Lane Productions. At that time I didn’t have anything substantial and didn’t make the cut but instead Helen invited me into the Welsh Voices BBC Writersroom 2019. On the first day I was just chuffed with the free pen and notebook and a year later I cannot believe the toolkit of writing skills I have been equipped with. 2019’s winner Rhiannon Boyle attended all of our writersroom sessions and her enthusiasm for WRIR encouraged me to re-apply. This time I submitted a script that was written by me applying the skills I’d learnt that year and I made it all the way to the end. A testament I feel to the training and encouragement I have received in the writersroom.
How did you come up with the idea for your winning script and the characters in the story?
I came up with the idea of my script from when I was selling my things at bootsales with my sister to save to move to London. The bootsales were full of life and so many funny things happened to us. There’s an odd sense of community there and strange politics unique to the place. I also wanted to show a sisterhood on screen and it just be about friendship and how that kind of love can often eclipse romantic love. I’m friends with a lot of funny women and I wanted that to be a large part of the show.
How important do you think it is to tell authentic Welsh stories?
I am passionate about telling Welsh stories and putting Wales on the map. I believe we have a rich cultural history that is often not represented on stage or screen. I find Scottish and Irish cinema to be beautiful and want Wales to hold the same Celtic torch in the U.K. I aim with the work I create to do the beauty of Wales and our experiences justice, showing parts of our country that people may not always know about.
What’re the best things you’ve seen or heard this year?
During 2020, like many people, I was really devastated by the closure of our theatres and had moved to London partially to enjoy the west end and other spaces. I have watched a lot of amazing online theatre and NT and RSC re-runs of previous shows. The best thing I saw in 2019 was The Bridge’s version of A Midsummer Nights Dream. I went with my housemates who aren’t involved in the arts and they were blown away. I think that’s theatre at its best, especially Shakespeare, when it’s accessible and gets your adrenaline going. They even played Beyoncé at the end!
What else have you got coming up?
In the new year I have a few projects coming up. Most notably I have been shortlisted for Masterclass Pitch Your Play at Theatre Royal Haymarket and will be pitching my play ‘Two Flats on Clifton Street’ to a panel in the hopes I’ll get a week of R&D on the Haymarket stage ending in a rehearsed reading in front of invited industry professionals.
What does it mean to you to be the Wales Writer in Residence and what are you looking forward to about it?
I am both shocked and over the moon to have won The Wales Writer in Residence 2020 and really can’t thank the panel enough for giving me this opportunity. Writing can be solitary and at times you can be overcome with self-doubt, so to have your work read and enjoyed by a panel such as the WRIR judges is such a lovely feeling and I can’t wait to get started on all the amazing opportunities I know the placements will bring.