John Hickman and his play ‘Looked After’


John Hickman is the writer of Playing Up’s second play for their series of script-in-hand performances at The Bridge Hotel. Here is what John had to say about his play.

Looked After tells the story of fourteen-year-old Ellie. She finds herself in a children’s home, due to her mother’s severe alcohol misuse. During the play Ellie develops friendships with a couple of the other kids at the home: Karl and Jordan. However her relationship with Jordan becomes volatile and Ellie flees home to her mum.

In the end, she’s left with a choice. Does she keep on trying to help her mum? Or does she finally put herself first and return to the children’s home?

Where did you get the idea?
My idea draws on my personal life, as well as my experiences as a social worker. I’ve worked with some great kids over the years and there’s bit and pieces of them all in there, I guess. I’ve also recently started a PhD, with a focus on the media representation of looked after children. I wanted to write something that felt representative of the kids I’ve met along the way, something that explored their dilemmas, but also highlighted their humour and resilience.

Why should people come and see it?
It’s an interesting take on a setting we don’t see a huge amount of. I hope that the characters are likable and interesting; but the subject matter is heavy going in places. Yet there is a lot of humour, which reflects the young people I’ve worked with along my way.

Is it the first play you have written?
My first play was performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and transferred to a theatre in London. However I’m pretty new to playwrighting and still wrapping my head around the medium.

So do you tend to write more in other styles?
I’ve written prose predominantly. On the back of my creative writing MA dissertation piece, I got an agent who represents my children’s fiction. It’s been in the last eighteen months that I’ve really got into other forms of writing. I’m currently working on several film projects, which I’m really enjoying.

What are your future ambitions with playwriting?
Seeing my stuff come to life with actors, and working with directors is really exciting. I just want to get as much of my work on as possible and learn as much as I can. Ultimately, I’d like to make my living as a writer.

What is more important for you- character or plot?
For me, characters are what it’s all about. If the characters aren’t engaging, no one will care about the story.

If you’re interested in new playwrighting please come and support us. John’s play is on at the Bridge Hotel on the 16th, and there will be more plays following it over the next few months.

Playing Up is our writing company, it would be awesome if you could also like our facebook page. We were founded through Arts in Touch, they have a facebook page in need of some liking too.



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