Q and A with Vickie Donoghue
Please tell us a little bit about Mudlarks and what it’s about
Mudlarks is about three teenage boys from Essex. It’s about friendship, a night of recklessness and the consequences of your actions.
What was your inspiration for the play? What prompted you to write it?
I started with an image. I had a picture of some boys doing a terrible thing (won’t say what don’t want to spoil it if you’re going to watch it!). I then had fun trying to figure out the story behind the picture. The kids I see in the town centre, on the train, in the park prompted me to write it. I wanted to explore why groups of teenage boys are so feared by society and why they do the things they do. How they act without thinking or considering the consequence.
Do you have a favourite character out of the boys in Mudlarks? Are they based at all on people you know?
They are composites of people I know and boys I went to school with. I love them equally for completely different reasons. I hope that I have written them in a way that you feel something for all of them.
How did the writing process work for Mudlarks? How long did it take you to write?
It’s taken me a long while because I’ve been working full time. I wrote a few drafts and shared it with a few trusted friends (Hannah Rodger a fellow writer looked at it loads for me) and then had a reading of it which was incredibly important in its journey. Jenny Worton from the Almeida generously offered to look at it for me, offering incredible dramaturgy and pushing the script structurally.
How did you get into writing?
I’ve always written. I used to write radio plays as a kid and record them on a little tape player. I wasn’t so concerned with the plot/character/structure but more concerned with making the sound effects! I studied drama at St Mary’s University and wanted to be an actress but didn’t feel I was good enough. I did a writing course at Painesplough and got some invaluable feedback on a script from Vicky Featherstone. This script was then one of the winners of the Windsor Fringe Award. It was life changing seeing my words come to life and performed by professional actors. I didn’t feel I had the tools to write a full length so did an MA in Script writing (plays and screenplays) at City University and I haven’t looked back.
What journey did the play take from your final draft to now being performed at the Bush? How did your relationship with HighTide Festival Theatre and Lucy Jackson Productions come about?
In October 2011 I attended Hightide Writers’ Group Roadshow as part of Escalator Plays (supported by Arts Council East). This was run by Rob Drummer, the Literary Manager of Hightide. I had to submit 10 pages of a full length script to take part. This excerpt was then read by Rob who requested to see the full script. He then informed me it was going to be one of the plays at this year’s Hightide Festival 2012 (May 3rd – 13th) in a co-production with Lucy Jackson Productions. It then transferred to Theatre 503 for a week which is where The Bush came to see it and then here we are! My relationship with Hightide Festival theatre and Lucy Jackson Productions has been brilliant. They gave me a development week in February with three excellent actors in which Will Wrightson (the Director) pushed the script even further and helped me to develop another draft. Lucy, Will and everyone at Hightide have been incredibly supportive throughout the whole process (especially Rob Drummer who would drop everything to meet me if I was having a panic or a wobble about something).
How involved do you get in the rehearsal process? or do you tend to let the director just get on with it? Is it hard to let go of the play?
I have worked really closely with Will and he has made me feel very welcome in rehearsals and part of decision making. I think it’s important that the director and actors have space to explore, discover and fail without the writer watching. I’m still discovering the balance of how much time to be in the rehearsal room and when it’s right to let the play go.
How do you see the play changing in the Bush space? Do you think it will change much?
I’m sure the play will change in the Bush space; it’s a different size with a different energy. I’m really excited about Amy’s Cook’s design because the audience are going to feel very much part of the action. She is an amazing designer!
What are you working on at the moment? Where can we catch you next?
I’ve written a short play for Nabokov for their night of new work The Best Years of Your Life at the Watford Palace Theatre on the 4th September, which should be fun!
I’m also developing a new full length play with Firehouse Productions.
What are your ambitions for the future? Is there a particular venue you’d like to see your work at? Or a company/director you’d like to work with?
I’d love to work with Will, Lucy and Hightide again – Obviously! I’ve just done a short piece with director Justin Audibert as part of the RADA Festival and I would love to work with him again.
What other writers do you like? What have you seen recently that you’ve thought was amazing?
I LOVE Enda Walsh, Beckett, Pinter, Caryl Churchill, Tim Price, Joel Horwood and Jack Thorne. At Latitude Festival I saw Kate Tempest and Scroobius Pip for the first time and was blown away. I’ve just been at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe so I’m full to the brim with work that has inspired me. I thought the season of work by Old Vic New Voices was excellent, especially Bitch Boxer written AND performed by the ridiculously talented Charlotte Josephine. My favourite play I saw in Edinburgh was Bottleneck by Luke Barnes. The last show I saw before leaving Edinburgh was an amazing Circus show called Knee Deep. Very inspiring!