Theo Scholefield - BBC Arts Fellow
Who is your favourite writer - playwright or otherwise?
I'm a huge fan of John Irving's novels. Every moment he puts into books like The World According to Garp feels like a little gift. He writes with such directness and clarity. His characters are unbelievably vivid - I still feel like I can hear Owen Meany's voice in my head sometimes. His sprawling fictions perfectly balance comedy and tragedy. Most importantly, he's a generous writer. He loves his reader; he invites you into his world and lets you stay there long after the end of the novel.
Have you ever collaborated with other writers? What's it like?
I wrote the book for a musical comedy with a group of friends. It's a very different experience to writing alone. Some parts of the process are much quicker. There are a lot more ideas, which is great. But you have to negotiate in very different ways. It can be hard to figure out which are the ideas worth following. What's really nice is that there's a greater sense of motivation - at those times when you just want to pack it in and be a dog walker for the rest of your life, there's someone there to tell you that you're not completely mad in wanting to be a writer.
You've just had a new idea - what do you do with it? How do you get started?
I tend to let things stew for a while. I'm not a huge planner, I like things to form a bit more organically. A new idea usually comes in the form of a few images, lines or feelings that I can't shake. I'll try and make sense of these in my mind - Why are these things happening? Who are they happening to? Eventually, I'll put pen to paper. By this point, I should have a firmer idea of what the play I want to write is. Things start to tie in with one another as I write - a plot emerges, characters become more defined, there is some sort of order to the action.
Do you write with an idea of how the stage should look, or is that up to the director?
I try and keep it at the forefront of my mind that I'm writing for the stage. It's not a film, so it will very rarely look like real life. It's not a novel, so it's not happening in someone's head. I don't usually write plays that are set in one room and in one time, so I think it's important that I write with a sense of the production's style. How can the stage become the various settings I might want? How might the scene changes look? How does this work within the text? Of course, the director might come along and rethink these ideas, but it's important to me that the play reads in such a way as it might be performed.
What is your drink/snack of choice for a day of writing?
Definitely a coffee. Unless I'm feeling very lucky, I need to leave the house and sit somewhere a little bit busy to get some writing done. I need something else to look at than my computer screen. And there's something that feels very productive about drinking a coffee. It's the kind of thing that proper people do.