No, the first love I’m talking about is writing, and specifically writing plays. I was lucky enough to go to a primary school that encouraged us to use our imaginations, and as it was in Wales we had an eisteddfod every year where we were awarded prizes for writing stories and poems. But I do remember also being allowed to put on short plays that were written and directed by me, and usually also starred me in the leading role. They were probably excruciatingly awful, but the seeds were sewn at an early age for a career of writing for theatre.
My secondary school did all they could to crush the creativity out of their students, but I was lucky enough to discover a youth arts centre where I was able to rise through the ranks in the youth theatre, and eventually ended up running one of their groups. It also gave me the opportunity to put on a few of my own plays, but I still had no idea how to make a career from writing. So I went to drama school where I quickly realised I didn’t want to be an actor, but I was lucky enough to be given an altered course, which enabled me to write for my fellow students. The play I wrote for my final project was a piece of Theatre-in-education about pregnancy and sexual responsibility, which toured schools and youth clubs for several years and brought in a nice income for a while. But as the first half was based around a pregnancy test, which in the 1980s took half and hour, the introduction of the five minute test eventually made the play obsolete.
Then twenty years ago I started writing science theatre for schools, and it sort of stuck. And although the work I’ve produced has been extremely well received, I think that making a comfortable living meant the death of that little spark of creativity that made me so excited about the possibilities of each new day. So when earlier this year the government cut all the funding to the organisations that booked our work into schools I had a huge panic about money, but creatively I haven’t had such a good year for ages.
Now here’s the teaser. I have some really exciting things in the pipeline, and promise faithfully to blog regularly as each project unfolds. But for starters I can announce that I have two short plays going on at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham during November, and I’ll be teaching a course at the Guildhall Gloucester on play writing for beginners on 5th November.
Does this mean I’ve given up on the novels? Absolutely not! But I am thoroughly enjoying this torrid affair with my first love.