I met up with Lewis Cuthbert to discuss his new short play, which will be on at The Dog and Parrot pub in Newcastle this Monday (the 17th). The play will be performed as part of a scratch night that starts at 8PM.
Tell me a bit about your play.
“The play I’ve got on is called ‘The Waiting Game’. It’s the story of a family who gather at the hospital when their father is in a coma; possibly dying. It’s ended up being about how things that happen to you when you’re a child continue to affect you as an adult. Yet besides that it is a comedy, and focuses on character interaction.”
“I’m playing a part in it and I’ve accidentally given myself all the lines! Which I didn’t intend because I only stepped in at the last minute.”
So you didn’t write yourself in?
“No, it was an accident. It’s probably going to look bad though, because the character is very smug and vain, but it honestly wasn’t intended to happen like that.”
Did you study drama?
Yes I studied Drama and English Literature. That’s probably why I didn’t get a job!
Where did you get the idea?
“I’m worried that I’ve stolen the general premise from Arrested Development. “
“But really I think I must have just been a bit bored on Boxing Day and started writing. Although it isn’t very festive!”
Did you write it all in one go?
“The first draft, but that was only about ten pages, and then I expanded it later.”
Why should people come and see it?
“My play is funny and hopefully thought provoking. It’s also great to come and support a fringe venue, and the development of new writing.”
Is this the first play you’ve written?
“No I’ve written…”
(He counts them up on his fingers)
“…Six full length plays and a few shorts. I started writing in 2010, and I soon sent one of my plays off to a national competition called ‘The People’s Play Competition’ and I came second. I also had one play on last year at the Dog and Parrot which was well received, and it was a nice packed house. I’ve also written seven episodes of a sitcom. Most people say I’m mad for that because when you’re submitting your work they usually just ask for one episode.”
Have you ever tried writing in other styles, for example prose?
“Yeah I’ve tried, but I’m not as good at it. Dialogue comes instinctively, whilst with prose you have to think descriptively and I tend to lose interest. But it is something I would like to try and do.”
Does your play relate to your life in any way?
“I hope people don’t think so- in terms of what the characters get up to! However psychologically speaking you could probably unpick something, as is always the case.
What are your ambitions with playwriting?
“Obviously I would like something to be put on in a professional venue some day and that’ll be a start. I’ll think about the future when I get past that.”
What is more important for you- character or plot?
“Character. If you’ve got good characters you don’t actually need that much of a plot, you could get by fine without it. For example I’m writing a play with (a friend) Colin and it’s basically ended up with two characters trapped in a laundrette, debating psychology and philosophy. I mean there is a zombie apocalypse in there as well…”