Londoner Mark Norfolk was one of five playwrights on last years
Soho Theatre Writers Attachment Programme. His new play, Wrong
Place, was developed there and is now running off-West End.
call came through in 2002 when I was in the Scottish Highlands.
'Would you like to join us on the Soho Theatre Writers' Attachment
programme?' Of course. And so began the journey to completing
charged with delivering drafts to set deadlines, where they're discussed
by the literary manager and Jonathon Lloyd, associate director and
course manager, who has a keen eye for plays.
always been interested in history, but recognise the cost implications
with historical dramas. So I settle on recent history.
remember an incident I heard as a teenager from my stepfather who
worked for the then British Rail.
concerned a cleaner who had lobbied her bosses to get her shiftless
17-year-old son a job on the platform. The ungrateful teenager failed
to show up on the first day, and when she admonished him - he had
the temerity to call her a slave.
feel this has a lot of resonance with today's feckless, disinterested
youth and try to construct a narrative which will serve this theme.
forward to the second draft stage where writers on the programme
mount a reading of their new plays in front of an audience for the
here that Mark Theodore distinguishes himself in the role of Trevor.
first come across him while working as crew on a short by a BBC
Promos director. Mark has a subtle intelligence in performance that
few actors possess. I suggested him to read the part of Trevor and
had to put up a bit of a fight to get him, as he wasn't that well
known. I'm pleased to say I won out in the end!
the night, although it is only a rehearsed reading, he sets the
house alight along with respected actors Jeffrey Kissoon, Dona Croll
and Jason Rose.
the close of November a decision is made to write a third draft.
Success! But during the rewrites, the woman's part is omitted -
people feel that she tends to detract from the storyline.
third draft is completed and ready to be presented to artistic director
Abigail Morris and producer Mark Godfrey.
couple of weeks later a telephone call confirms a general feeling
that Soho Theatre are interested in producing my play.
begins, a difficult task when you have older actors to find. We
settle on two fine actors in Larrington Walker and Geoffrey Burton.
Coupled with Mark Theodore, we are on the road in earnest.
rehearsals to start. The early weeks are always a strange time for
writers with cutting, honing and fine-tuning the order of each day
until the script is deemed ready by director and actors alike.
new dramaturg from New York, Nina Steiger, is instrumental in pushing
the script onwards.
the rewrites, the woman's part was omitted, leaving just the
three male principals
an admirer of US writing, I listen intently to what she has to say.
A note of caution emerges: do NOT adhere too fully to the mechanical
development of plot. Which is just as well, as I have a tendency
to work with character.
couple of late nights follow as I work through till dawn to prepare
the rewrites for the following morning.
now, with the writer's job done at last, I sit back and bite my
knuckles...waiting for the run to get underway while I begin work
on my next project. It never stops..."
Place by Mark Norfolk is at the Soho Theatre until 25 October.
office: 020 7478 0100