Miriam Battye - The Open Sessions 5 member

Why theatre? Have you considered writing for other mediums?
I think theatre is my first and foremost. It's what fascinates me the most as a punter and so I think it makes sense that I want to write for it. I'd love to do new things, like write a pantomime and a musical. As big and glittering as they come. I also do love telly, and I would love to write for soaps and dramas. Doctor Who. I'd do that in a Heartbeat.

What has the biggest influence on your work as a writer?

Lots of things and people. My mum, my "real" job, my friends who write, my friends who act, my friends who go to the theatre, my friends who do none of those things, stuff on the internet, things on the telly, conversations. I'm not a massive researcher but when I get curious I tend to run with things. I am hugely inspired by other writers' work as well, particularly other plays that I see or read. I remember that the reason I started writing my first play was because I'd just got home from a production of a play by Phil Porter a few years ago and that changed the whole parameters of theatre for me, and I've often found inspiration has struck in this way right at the source.

When was the first time you heard your words spoken on stage? What was that like?

I think it was when I was 16 and I wrote a little something for the show the youth theatre back in Manchester that I was a part of. It was some god awful post-apocalytic story set in Blackpool which involved a character peeling potatoes with a shard of glass - something I thought was unassailably cool at the time. Content and quality aside, I remember that first rehearsal as though it was some sort of messianic experience! Okay maybe not that far, but it was very, very cool. I'm still not sure I'm over the magic of it.

How much do you plan your work?
I try to, but the words don't always flow that well if I've overthought. But I'm growing and getting better at living a bit with the play before I start writing it full pelt though. I've got many more cooking in my head than are anywhere near paper at the moment.

You can see the original production of any play in history - what would it be and why?

I think I'd probably like to see the first production of Port at the Royal Exchange, where apparently loads of people got up and left because of the swearing. I think that play had a big impact on that theatre, my hometown and theatre in general. Also the first performance of Blackbird by David Harrower. I can't even imagine what the feeling would've been like in that room when extraordinary play was received by its first audience, but I wish I could've been there. Or Saved by Edward Bond. Sorry, I'm indecisive.

If you could work with any actor, who would it be?

I couldn't choose between them, and I've often thought that I'd love to write a duologue for Matty Houghton and Harry McEntire. They are my favourite performers at the moment and working with those two together would be a dream. Or Billy Crystal. Sorry, indecisive again.

This is the big one... What font do you use?
Gill Sans MT all the way. It was the font that the scripts were formatted in that the Royal Exchange sent me when I did my first writers' course there when I was 17. I've always used it ever since because it seemed to make my stuff look like an actual proper script. Something about that makes it feel like a real play somehow.

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