Meet the writer: Will Jackson
Some pass first time, others need a few attempts but once writer Will Jackson, had been selected for the Bush’s Emerging Writers Group he was quick to ditch his L-plates and hit the playwriting fast lane.
His latest play, Clutch, which opens in the Bush Theatre Studio on 18 September follows hot on the heels of the critically acclaimed Confetti one of the stand-out hits of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. The cast will be Geoffrey Aymer and newcomer Charlie Kafflyn, making his professional debut.
‘Getting to put people in a better mood when they leave a theatre compared to when they set foot in it is a real privilege.’
Will says ‘I began writing when I started doing stand-up ages ago as a student, and then started writing plays as a means to act, direct or make my own work – and I fell in love with it. The aim for me is always to give people a good night out. I love telling stories, I love making people laugh and hopefully giving people a bit of hope as well. It’s tough out there right now. Getting to put people in a better mood when they leave a theatre compared to when they set foot in it is a real privilege.’
Clutch came into being whilst Will was a member of the Bush’s Emerging Writer’s Group and he credits the support received by the group with giving him the confidence to pursue writing as a career. ‘The mentorship from the literary department was invaluable. They championed our work and individual styles but also pushed us to really hone our craft and step outside of our comfort zones. It was an incredible cohort to be a part of (Ava Wong Davies, Benedict Lombe, Casey Bailey, Natasha Brown & Tife Kusoro). We would all give feedback on each other’s work too which was amazing. Everyone had such different approaches to writing it was really eye-opening.’
‘I wanted to write something that explored masculinity. Men are really bad at having deep talks with each other unless there’s something there to break the eye contact (be that a football match or staring ahead out of a windscreen). So, setting the play in the pressure cooker of a car was really exciting for me.’
Will’s latest play follows a series of driving lessons and the unlikely friendship that blossoms between a student and his instructor. ‘I wanted to write something that explored masculinity. Men are really bad at having deep talks with each other unless there’s something there to break the eye contact (be that a football match or staring ahead out of a windscreen). So, setting the play in the pressure cooker of a car was really exciting for me. It’s one of those quite intense but unlikely friendships that you have with someone over a short period of time. It has a big impact on your life, even though you are unlikely to ever meet again.’
With an admirable dedication to his craft, Will failed his driving test three times whilst writing the first draft of the play ‘purely for research purposes!’.
Will Jackson after (finally) passing their driving test.
Clutch as is set in the proud Midlander’s hometown of Birmingham, and he’s keen to give a shout-out to a fellow ‘emerging West Midlands playwright’ in the Bush’s season, Lenny Henry ‘he’s a real one to watch if you’ve not heard of him’. He also thinks ‘The P Word’ is going to be fantastic and I’m so excited it’s on at the same time as ‘Clutch’. Waleed Akhtar is just brilliant, and ‘Kabul Goes Pop’ has really stuck with me as one of the most exciting, harrowing, and interesting stories I’ve seen on stage this year’.
Will is the second of this season’s writers to mention a Spotify playlist as being essential to their writing process (we’re thinking of investing in shares). ‘Whenever I get an idea for a play, I make a Spotify playlist which creates the world of the show. Songs which I plan to use in the play or just reflect characters or set the tone for certain moments. I listen to the playlist on repeat when I work on the script or go on walks to think about the play.’
Now he can finally take to the road he’s a fan of listening to podcasts in the car, his top tips are Trusty Hogs, Birthday Girl’s House Party, Las Culturistas, Why Won’t You Date Me and Dead Eyes.
But we’re thinking Will should start his own podcast, interviewing guests as he drives them around town. ‘Jackson’s Journeys’ – downloadable soon (possibly).
Clutch opens 19 September. Find out more and book here.