Wales Drama Award: Interview with Faith Penhale
Fiona BBC writersroom
Along with writers Russell T. Davies, Abi Morgan and National Theatre Wales' John McGrath, BBC Cymru Wales' Head of Drama, Faith Penhale will be helping to judge our brand new Wales Drama Award for writers (Deadline: July 16th 2012).
At BBC Cymru Wales, Faith works closely with major writing and directing talent, as well as nurturing emerging writers for the BBC. We caught up with her to talk about why this is a particularly exciting time for writers in Wales, how drama can help redefine 'Welshness', and why she couldn't be stranded on a desert island without a Sherlock DVD.
1. When you read a script, what are you looking for?
We look for ideas which are distinctive, bold and ambitious - a fresh
and original take on a familiar world which tells us something that we
don't know about something we thought we did. Above all else, at the
heart of a story should be compelling, dynamic characters, who an
audience are passionate about.
2. It's a very exciting time for drama in Wales - what role do you see
the Wales Drama Award playing in helping to find the next big writing
We are keen to broaden our talent pool of writers in Wales who can
work for us on the fantastic shows we are developing. We want to find
the next wave of writing talent in Wales, the hidden, undiscovered
voices who can bolster drama from Wales on a regional, national and
3. Which three dramas would you take with you to a desert island?
The Sopranos - a fantastic example of a bold and ambitious programme
which, when boiled down, is essentially a domestic drama about a family
man who's reaching middle age and dealing with the issues and conflict
surrounding that - but with a razor sharp edge. It is at once
identifiable yet utterly unique - the characters have many things about
them which mark them as different but at their heart they make up a
family, and deal with the issues all families do.
Mad Men - this is visually stunning, and a fascinating look at what the
world looked like just before everything changed: the clearly defined
roles and rules of a past which isn't quite as distant as we like to
think. It plays on the notion of a nostalgia for this world as well as
highlighting and examining how times have shifted.
Edge of Darkness - a complex political thriller, which
deals with big themes and ideas and has wonderfully complex characters
at its heart.
Can I have four please -- I couldn't go without SHERLOCK!!!
4. How do you define 'Welsh Drama'? Is there a distinctive perspective
or voice that comes through from Welsh writers?
Wales has traditionally being a culturally rich nation, a country
which is somewhat defined by the arts and reflects the nation through
different forms of artistic expression - including drama. What it means
to be Welsh is often depicted through drama: it examines old stereotypes
and offers refreshing new ways of thinking about Wales and the people
who live within the country - helping redefine 'Welshness' whilst
celebrating what has helped build a nation.
5. Who are the writers whose work most inspires you?
Russell T Davies has been a fundamental figure in helping shape drama
not only locally, here in Wales where his impact has been huge, but national and internationally. He's a driving force in drama and one of the most innovative writers to come
out of Wales and the UK. His work is driven by captivating characters
but also really says something about the world we live in today.
Steven Moffat has a unquenchable passion for compelling storytelling
which keeps you on edge of your seat. His stories always keep an
audience guessing and deliver on an epic scale, often packing a
surprising punch whilst at the same time being completely identifiable.
Abi Morgan has a great gift for crafting unique but relatable
characters, with whom an audience can really connect, but who inhabit
epic worlds and landscapes.
Tim Price is a relatively new writer to come out of Wales who delivers
thought provoking yet witty dramas. He has a strong talent for creating
discernable worlds whilst at the same time being able to dig deep into
the emotional landscape of the characters he creates and make them
completely engaging to an audience.
And George Kay, again, is a writer with an utterly distinctive voice and who can offer a fresh perspective on an established genre.
Find more information about the Wales Drama Award and how you can enter, on the Oppotunities page.