Jane Pickthall and her play ‘An Illuminating Yarn’



Could you tell me a bit about your play?

It’s about a woman who has lost her job, so she’s pretty fed up with all the government cuts. She lives in a small seaside town, but it’s a bit grim. What she really wants is change- she wants the council to do the town up a bit, put lights on the pier, but they refuse.

To channel her frustration and energy she knits. She knits this series of dolls that represent what Britishness means to her. She has an idea- to put these dolls up along the pier. She ends up getting quite a lot of press coverage for this- based on the story of the Saltburn Yarn Bomber, who was in the news around the time of the Olympics.

So it’s based on a true story?

Well it’s based on two true stories. At around the same time as the Saltburn Yarn Bomber, there was somebody arrested for leaving a suspicious package in the same area. I ended up thinking ‘What if the two stories were about the same person?’

Why should people come and see it?

It has modern themes and strong female characters. It’s about friendship, it’s about mental health, it’s about what you do when your life falls apart- how do you channel your energies? And about how you cope.

Is it the first play you’ve written?

Yes. I’ve been doing a creative writing class for about five years and we do little bits of stories. So when I began another course at Live Theatre, I decided that I wanted to develop one of these short pieces into something longer. It’s been a journey for me as a new writer.

Does your play relate to your life in any way?

I work for a local authority, so yes, there are a lot of redundancies around me.

What is more important for you- character or plot?

I’m quite plot driven. I like the puzzle of working out a plot; but then I do enjoy working on characters and they are always behind the plot.


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