“I write plays because it makes me feel unalone.”
I think about the relationship between mothers and daughters a lot – especially as I moved back home with my mum again in September for the first time since I was (to be honest) an immensely tricky teen. In Madonna and Child I wanted to celebrate these deeply complex, loving, fraught and often painful relationships.
While researching stories about mothers and daughters I came across Anne Carson’s ‘The Glass Essay’. It was an exciting moment because it felt close to the kind of relationship I was hoping to write about and so gave me an initial structure and story to play with. It also allowed me to distance the play from myself, as I was pretty terrified that it would be accidentally autobiographical. I also saw Fleabag in November (the play and the TV show, twice) and it hasn’t left my head since, so I guess that has definitely inspired Madonna and Child at least a little.
I’ve been writing the play on and off since September and had a very early read-through in my kitchen with some crisps. I’ve also started making a podcast with a friend about mums and daughters. It takes the form of a list of ten pretty open and informal questions for mums and daughters to record themselves answering on their iPhones and send in to us. This has been really enlightening, and it was just really lovely being able to talk to my mum about a lot of the topics that come up in the play.
I write plays because it makes me feel unalone. It has been my escape for the last five years, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop – lines come into my head all day, every day, along with little smatterings of characters. The whole process is electrifying, from the first moment I realise what the main story is, to the first read-through, to seeing the first full run-through and opening night; it’s terrifying, but it’s also the thing that makes me feel most alive and keeps me away from the Masters work I should be doing. Also, it feels like a hugely exciting time to be getting into theatre – there is so much unbelievably good stuff being made right now, which manages to says so much in this honest and sensitive way… I am not sure many other mediums can do that.
I love the North Wall and have wonderful, happy memories of being there: watching pretty life-changing plays like Caroline Horton’s Mess (in which I cried throughout), doing the TheatreCraft workshop there, and having my own play Zennor produced here in 2015. Madonna and Child is cabaret and a comedy, and has what I hope is a really powerful friendship between a mother and daughter at its heart – I can’t wait to see it performed as part of Alchymy Festival.