My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
In my 30s when I was working as a theatre director, I was writing a great deal of journalism and it hit me that I should transfer my skills to drama. My stage writing grew from my work as an actor, director and journalist. The deadlines around print journalism gave a sense of discipline. Becoming a writer suited my curious nature and my profound interest in human behaviour. I made a living out of journalism for some time but stage writing is a rocky road.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
Martha Gellhorn for her chutzpah, her irony, her bravado and Hannah Arendt. I am dramatising a forgotten moment in Arendt’s life at the moment and feel particularly close to her. As for Gellhorn, I knew her when she was at the end of her life. She was writing to the end.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
In 1984 I wrote a play called Far Above Rubies, which was produced at the Drill Hall. My first published play was Theresa in 2000. it appeared in a collection by Faber and in the volume The Holocaust Trilogy published by Oberon Books.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
Crossing Jerusalem set in the 2002 intifada. I forced myself to write a play set within 24 hours. This was a new journey for me. I was pleased to write a huge political play that reflected the voices of both sides and left the arguments open. The first production was a commission at the Tricycle Theatre directed by Jack Gold. I directed the second production in 2015 at the Park Theatre.
Who or what inspires you to write?
The people I hear in buses, in the street, the memories people tell me about a relative, the refugees I meet through those who help them.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I watch films and television series to explore other writers’ techniques. I can’t switch off.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write all the time and revise in 10 years.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
Networking, connections, stimulation.
I trained as an actor, worked in theatre, television and film before directing at the National Theatre on the South Bank where I was the first woman to do so. This was for Men Seldom Make Passes, my adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s writings which ran for two years as a Platform Performance. My plays are published by Oberon Books and they have been produced in the UK, Europe and the USA. I have written for radio. I studied film writing in order to expand my skills and am now writing screenplays as well as new stage texts.