Interview: Bryony Lavery

‘Exciting, immediate and ephemeral…’

Bryony Lavery photo

Bryony Lavery

(* Bryony answered our Q+A in 2009.)

Bryony Lavery’s plays include the award winning  Frozen, Last Easter, A Wedding Story, More Light. She also adapts classic and modern novels for theatre and radio, including Wuthering Heights, Precious Bane, Behind The Scenes at The Museum and The Magic Toyshop. Stockholm (Wollf-Whiting award 2008) for Frantic Assembly, Kursk for Sound and Fury, The Wicked Lady for New Vic Theatre Stoke on Trent. A Christmas Carol at Birmingham Rep and The Snow Queen for Chichester Festival Theatre. Beautiful Burnout – was a highly physical piece of theatre about the explosively visceral world of boxing for Frantic Assembly and The National Theatre of Scotland.

17% > You have written for theatre, television and radio. Do you have a favourite medium and if so, why?

BL > I actually haven’t written much for television, which is my least favourite medium, because we make a very unhappy marriage. My favourite is theatre, then film, then radio. Why theatre? It is simply the most exciting, immediate and ephemeral. And theatre pays me.

17% > You’ve said that you started writing as you were frustrated by the lack of roles for women. Can you expand on that?

BL > There’s no need to expand upon it. Any female actor still has much less chance of great roles because the majority of plays are about men’s stories, chosen mostly by male runners of theatres etc etc etc ad nauseam…

17% > What projects are you working on right now?

BL > Beautiful Burnout …a piece about boxing for Frantic Assembly and The National Theatre of Scotland, Dirt for Manhattan Theatre Club, Kursk is returning, plus Stockholm in Australia. A Christmas Carol is on at Birmingham Rep, and The Snow Queen opens tomorrow at Chichester…

17% > What do you consider your greatest achievement in terms of writing?

BL > Getting better at it.

17% > What do you love most about being a writer?

BL > Constructing a complicated but robust structure of words/images/emotions that works on stage.

17% > And what do you hate?

BL > At this very moment, hearing that “women playwrights” are being discovered yet again…and listening to the resoundingly dull reasons why there are less women’s plays produced than men’s. There can only be two reasons…either we really are inferior writers, or the world is prejudiced against us.

17% > Where do you go for inspiration?

BL > Everywhere. Poetry, Novels, Newspapers, Friends, Eavesdropping.

17% > Are you a disciplined writer with a daily routine, or do you write when the muse takes you?

BL > I treat myself as a small business. I only make myself work when I have to…if I am writing inferior rubbish, I send the workforce off home. I mostly write in three hour bursts, in the morning…and I give myself very very good working conditions…nice workspace, handy kitchen, lots of diversions…and I work on plays… which are relatively short pieces of writing.

17% > Where do your characters come from and do they ever surprise you as you write?

BL > I make them. They aren’t, contrary to some opinions, real people, but constructions that work dramatically. Hence, sometimes I surprise myself with getting something strong and vigorous quite early on, but more often have to hurl ever wilder and more desperate thunderbolts at them to animate my torpid inventions!

17% > Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

BL > The two things that always make me write are 1. Artistic fun and 2. A real deadline. So, trying to set myself a sort of chess-like writing challenge, plus someone breathing down my neck usually works for me. Basically… Enjoy and have someone pay you to make something, then one’s puritan work ethic and sense of fairness gets you to finish something.

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