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February 2004
Robert Warrington talks about his play....
Richard Warrington, writer
FORWARD - inspired by the infamous statue
Robert Warrington has had his dream come true - his debut play 'Forward' is being performed on stage at the Rep Theatre.

But it's not all been plain sailing....

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The Rep Theatre
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Forward is showing at the Rep Theater 'The Door' from 5th to 28th February 2004.

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Robert 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.

Robert 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.

While on the course Robert wrote the stage play Forward and submitted the script to the Rep Theatre.

A writing attachment with the Rep

The Rep Theatre run attachments for new writers and Robert was fortunate enough to get a one year attachment with the theatre.

During this period Robert re-wrote and developed the play several times until he was finally happy with it.

The Forward Statue on fire
The Forward Statue was destroyed by fire

The play was inspired by The Forward Statue in Birmingham that was destroyed by fire.

The play was originally written before the famous Forward statue was burnt down last Easter - so he rewrote the play again to reflect this.

Although 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 by it.

"The timing has worked out right, but it's felt like a long haul getting to this stage."

From script to stage

's been involved in some of the casting of the characters for the show and has 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 that didn't.

He would then go home and 'tweak' the play before the following day's rehearsal.

The play

"The Forward statue I think was like a piece of Soviet Art - yet like a cartoon as the same time. I was fascinated by it.

"The statue represented the city going forward - the characters in my play try to go forward, but find it difficult.

Catherine Skinner as Susan
Catherine Skinner as Susan

"The central character in Forward is 15 year old Susan - she identifies the characters in the statue with the members of her family.

"The 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.

"I 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.

"Dave is the most fun character - I think the audience will really like him."

A 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.

"It's 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.

"When 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 other city.

"My 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!

"Anyone who doesn't mind the language should enjoy the play - they're strong characters, and you can also have a good laugh."

What's next for Robert

"I'm 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.

"Maybe 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'.

"I'm 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."

When and where

Forward is being performed at the Rep Theatre from 5th to 28th February 2004.

For more details about the play, click here.

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