Last month my Liverpool Hope playwriting prize went into workshop. I didn’t really know what to expect. This is the first play I have ever written. A play that I’ve only ever read out loud to myself, often to the confusion of fellow coffee shop customers. It’s the only piece of writing I’ve ever ‘finished’. I say finished, winning the prize has begun another writing process. Except now I’m no longer alone in it. Since winning the prize I’ve been in constant communication with Kevin and Jess from the Royal Court and Matthew from the Unity theatre. Their enthusiasm and support for the play has been unfailing.
We all discussed that the play needed further development and re-writing. We all felt the next natural step in moving forward was to have a workshop week with a director and actors. So last month I found myself in a warehouse, in a part of Liverpool that at least two taxi drivers found difficult to find with a bunch of very talented collaborators.
Our chosen director was also a fellow writer, Bob Farquhar. What was brilliant about Bob was he could approach the week from both of those creative mindsets.
As a writer, he could spot where the strengths and weaknesses lay in the story arc and with the characters. The play is a farce so as a director he wanted to explore the pacing and at what points in the play could the comedy of the situation be really exploited?
Bob rounded up our quite frankly, brilliant actors.
We all collectively spent a lot of time working through each character. Asking questions relating to each of their actions. Why? What if? How? Is this true to their character? What do they need? How do they change?
We explored different outcomes to these decisions through improvising. Seriously, some of the actors improvisations were way funnier than the stuff I’ve spent years writing. Yeah, I really hated those guys!
What was fascinating to me was how one even small decision about a character could then affect the entire play.
We pretty much spent the week pulling the play to bits so I could then go away and put it back together a far stronger piece. I like to think we effectively ‘Robocoped’ the play!
Seeing the actors performing the words I had written just how I imagined that they should be said was such a thrilling experience for me as a new writer.
I came away from the week with my mind whirling and excited about re-writing the play.
Comedian, Playwright and Winner of the 2015 Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize
Lancashire comedian Katie Mulgrew won the first Liverpool Hope Playwriting Prize for her play Omnibus, which is due to be staged at Unity Theatre before a possible transfer to Liverpool’s Royal Court in 2017. Katie has taken two solo stand up shows to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. She has been the support act for The Boy With Tape On His Face and Vikki
Stone, written for the The News Quiz and featured on the BBC Radio 2 documentary series, The History of British comedy. She has also been in episodes of the CBBC show, The Dog Ate My Homework. Katie recently launched Mum’s The Word Comedy Club, which hosts monthly parent and baby afternoon comedy in Manchester. She hosts ‘The FunnyGirl Podcast’ and is one third of the ‘Animates’ podcast.