Meet the Writer: Tom Wells Q&A

From the Bush in 2017, to Edinburgh in 2018 and back again this winter, we spoke to Tom Wells about the heart, love and soul that went into creating Drip.


Can you explain the story of Drip and the main themes of the musical?

Drip is about two best mates, Liam and Caz, who are both fifteen. They decide to spend their summer holidays setting up a synchronised swimming team in Hull, in the hope of doing a spectacular performance, impressing people, and winning their school’s annual Project Prize. There’s quite a few reasons this isn’t straightforward, but the main one is that Liam can’t swim.

We did some workshops with young people and something that came up a lot, as well as in chats with myself, Matthew (composer) and Jane (director), was the idea of pride. Pride in yourself, pride in where you’re from, and pride in what you stand for. There’s also a bit near the start where Liam and Caz go to Hull Pride, so that’s probably a clue too. I think that’s mostly what it’s about.

Andrew Finnigan in Drip by Tom Wells with music by Matthew Robins and designed by Russ Henry © Joss Moore

Andrew Finnigan in Drip. Music by Matthew Robins and designed by Russ Henry © Joss Moore

What was the inspiration behind writing Drip?

Jane’s company Script Club has quite a specific model for making shows: she and the writer do workshops in the writer’s hometown, which for me is Hull, to work with and listen to young people. They use the stuff they’re thinking about, chatting about, worrying about and joking about, as the seeds for growing a play. We spent most of our time with the Shout Group – an amazing and supportive social group run by The Warren Project which is for young people in Hull and East Yorkshire who identify as LGBTQ. It was quite an interesting time for Hull. Last year’s status as Capital of Culture was a bit transformative in the way people in Hull and -I suspect- people outside of Hull viewed the city. For these young people, it felt like they were starting to find an extra bit of value in themselves too, so that seemed like a good place to start from.

At the same time, Matthew and I were learning how to write songs together, first at the NT Studio’s Musical Theatre Group, and then in a play with songs we did with Paines Plough called Broken Biscuits. I mentioned to Jane that we’d really like a go at writing a musical, and she worked really hard to make it all happen.

“I hope a bit of the show’s DIY spirit rubs off, and people feel up for having a go at something new”

How does it feel to be bringing back this show as part of our 2018 season?

We originally made the show for a community tour round schools in Hull, so it was a bit unexpected we ended up here last year, and a proper treat to be back again. This time with extra wind chimes.

What do you hope for audiences to take away from your show?

I hope a bit of the show’s DIY spirit rubs off, and people feel up for having a go at something new, even if it doesn’t go to plan.

What is one thing about the show that is sometimes misunderstood?

Andrew Finnigan, our ace performer, isn’t really fifteen. He’s just small.

Drip runs from 3 – 22 Dec