Brand new BBC Three drama Overshadowed lands on the channel this autumn
Eva O’Connor (creator, co-writer and Anna)
It was important for me to make it clear to the audience that Imogene was being followed around by a negative entity that was entirely separate from her.Eva O'Connor
How long have you been writing your own work? More specifically, how long have you been writing for theatre?
I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I first wrote my own play when I was 19 and I've written eight plays since. I went to university in Edinburgh in 2010 and have produced my own work at the Edinburgh Fringe every year since.
What led you to write and perform your own work?
I think I always had a keen sense of the stories I wanted to tell and it made sense for me to both write and act. I find it very easy to separate the two. Sometimes when I am on stage performing in something, I'll forget I've written it!
What was your inspiration for Overshadowed?
I had an eating disorder throughout my teenage years and into my 20s. I had always wanted to write about my experience but I didn't feel ready to do so until I was fully recovered. In 2014 when I was graduating from drama school there was a competition for graduate funding and I applied with Overshadowed (the theatre play). When I won the money I was terrified as I realised I'd actually have to make the show! However at that point I was fully recovered and I really wanted to give insight and hope to those who were living with eating disorders. Up until then I had been very private about my personal story and it took a lot of courage to speak openly about it.
I wanted to separate the condition from the sufferer in the play, so I came up with the idea that the eating disorder would be a character in and of itself. When I was sick my therapist constantly reminded me that although I was suffering from anorexia, I was not the condition. She used to say "imagine you're wearing a cloak and one day you'll take that cloak off". It was really important for me to make it clear to the audience that Imogene was being followed around by a negative entity that was entirely separate from her.
How did you and Kay meet?
I sent my plays to Kay to read. Then she flew to Dublin to see Overshadowed and my one-woman play My Name Is Saoirse in one evening. A jam-packed night of theatre! I was so thrilled that she saw my work on stage. She is such a powerhouse of talent and productivity and is so respected in the industry as well as being very down to earth. She has given Hildegard and me such an incredible opportunity by taking a chance on us and I have loved every minute of working with Rollem. We feel extremely lucky.
Had you experience of writing for television before this?
I wrote for Dixi a children’s series on CBBC last year – it was a brilliant experience.
Have you starred in a TV programme before?
Overshadowed is my first foray into screen acting. Over the past few years, theatre has been my entire life so I was really curious to see what the world of TV would be like. I have loved every minute of it.
How have you found the television production experience and process?
It's a totally different kettle of fish from theatre, obviously. The most incredible thing for me has been to see my words and my story come to life with such attention to detail. In theatre you're always dealing with space and budget constraints so it was a real treat to be working with Rollem - who are an incredible production company - and of course BBC Three, to give Overshadowed a whole new lease of life. I'm also thrilled Overshadowed will be reaching such a wide audience on BBC Three. I believe so strongly in the message that recovery is hard but entirely possible.
I think, having toured Overshadowed as a stage production for two years, both Hildegard and I had a really strong sense of the characters, the story and the message. For that reason I think it really helped that it was a stage play, before we adapted it for TV.
What is next for you?
We are touring a new interactive play called The Friday Night Effect. It's about three girls on a wild night out in Dublin. We tell the audience at the very beginning that the fate of one of the characters is in their hands. One of girls is going to die and they have to try and save her, by making a series of moral decisions. It's a real crowd pleaser.
We are hoping to develop it for TV but I can't say anything more at this point!
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