20 Questions With...Zinnie HarrisDate: 21 May 2001
Further than the Furthest Thing author Zinnie Harris reveals the truth about writer in residence schemes.
Last year, at the age of 27, Zinnie Harris became the youngest ever playwright to have a full production staged at the Royal National Theatre. That award-winning piece, Further than the Furthest Thing, originally presented by Glasgow's Tron Theatre and seen last year at the Edinburgh Festival, returns to London this week for a limited five-week run at the Tricycle Theatre.
Further than... is inspired by the history of the tiny Atlantic Ocean outpost of the British Empire, Tristan da Cunha, where Harris' grandfather was an Anglican minister in the 1940s. The play draws on her family's stories about island life.
Harris' first play, By Many Wounds, was staged at the Hampstead Theatre in 1999. Her next play, Nightingale and Chase, will open at the Royal Court later this year, while a fourth will be premiered by the Royal Shakespeare Company, where she is currently writer in residence.
Date & place of birth
Lives now in...
First big break
What play would you most like to have written?
What's the best thing currently on stage?
What advice would you give the government to secure the future of British theatre?
If you could swap places with one person (living or dead), who would it be?
Favourite holiday destination
What made you want to write for the stage as opposed to writing films, television or novels?
What impact has becoming an RSC writer in residence had on your work and productivity?
I think it's important to belong to a theatre and write for particular spaces. As a writer, you can become very isolated. I like to have a place to go and bounce ideas off people. It's also nice to be around the building and feel you know it, to be able to look at the stage and think about what happens there.
Why do you think Further than the Furthest Thing has been so successful?
How did you feel having your second play mounted at the National Theatre?
What's your favourite line from Further than the Furthest Thing?
How have your personal and family experiences influenced your writing?
What can you tell us about your next play?
The one for the RSC, titled The Old Lie Still, is still being written. It's about a community coming out of civil war. It will be staged at The Other Place in Stratford.
- Zinnie Harris was speaking to Terri Paddock
Further than the Furthest Thing opens at the Tricycle Theatre on 24 May and continues to 23 June 2000 (previews from 22 May).