has lived in the West Midlands for most of his life. He's always
been interested in writing and although he originally trained as
a librarian, he decided to persue a career as a writer.
felt he'd always had good ideas for plays, but didn't feel the structure
of his work was right - so he enrolled on a post grad playwrighting
studies course at Birmingham University in 1998/99 to develop this
side of his work.
on the course Robert wrote the stage play Forward and submitted
the script to the Rep Theatre.
writing attachment with the Rep
Rep Theatre run attachments for new writers and Robert was fortunate
enough to get a one year attachment with the theatre.
this period Robert re-wrote and developed the play several times
until he was finally happy with it.
Forward Statue was destroyed by fire
play was inspired by The Forward Statue in Birmingham that was destroyed
The play was originally written before the famous Forward statue
was burnt down last Easter - so he rewrote the play again to reflect
the play was accepted by the Rep, owing to other commitments, the
production of Forward wasn't immediately shown.
Now that Forward is scheduled to run at the Rep, Robert is relieved
that his play has finally got to this stage.
"It's never happened to me before and I don't know how to feel.
I'm very glad, but I'm pessimistic by nature and I'm a bit floored
timing has worked out right, but it's felt like a long haul getting
to this stage."
been involved in some of the casting of the characters for the show
watched the rehearsals.
He's learnt a lot from the actors - watching them perform he's seen
clearly which parts of the play transferred well onto stage and those
He would then go home and 'tweak' the play before the following day's
Forward statue I think was like a piece of Soviet Art - yet like
a cartoon as the same time. I was fascinated by it.
statue represented the city going forward - the characters in my
play try to go forward, but find it difficult.
Skinner as Susan
central character in Forward is 15 year old Susan - she identifies
the characters in the statue with the members of her family.
characters are recognisable Brummie types - but I wanted them to
be more than a stereotype. As the play unravels so do their characters
- they become more complicated characters as you get to know them.
identify with Mike a lot - he's most like me. He teaches at the
local comprehensive - he moved away from his roots and he's not
really respected by his family.
is the most fun character - I think the audience will really like
realistic view of Birmingham life
"The play isn't a nostalgic look at Birmingham through rose
tinted glasses. It's quite a hard play - as truthful as I see it.
a combination of affection and criticism - living in the Black Country
it's close enough to know how things are in Birmingham and to know
the people and the area, but it's also a very different place from
the Black Country.
I was growing up I only came into Birmingham once or twice - it
was 'the big city' - I tend to see it as a place that's glamorous
and slightly dangerous. It's just as fascinating as London or any
mother is coming to see the play. She's very pleased about it. It
does contain strong language though - it's the thing that worries
me about her coming to see it!
who doesn't mind the language should enjoy the play - they're strong
characters, and you can also have a good laugh."
not very good at planning things, but I think Forward would make
a good film - I'd also like to do a follow-up, but that all depends
if I could get a commission for it.
having Forward performed on stage might change things for me. I'm
in a better position than I've ever been in before. Because I've
been scratching away for so long I've got a pile of things that
could be re-worked.
"I wrote some plays about the Black Country, but they went
in my 'filing box'.
also involved in 'The Big Script' at the Mac. We're a group for
aspiring writers and meet every couple of weeks - it's where writers
can get support.
"We've written shorts which have been shown at the Mac, but
I've never sold a script before or had a professional production
on stage. I'll just have to wait and see what the future holds."
is being performed at the Rep Theatre from 5th to 28th February
For more details about the play, click