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No Short Cuts With…Drew Quayle

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Liverpool playwright Drew Quayle tells Whatsonstage.com how perseverance proved crucial in getting his play The Salon produced … but that it’s all been worthwhile in the end.

He is a former sketch writer for Hale & Pace and is about to have his second full play produced by the Theatre Royal in St Helens.

The Salon is about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans of the average salon, and one woman’s triumphant over a broken heart, her mad work colleagues, and a hostile takeover bid from the local gangster.

It stars several Merseyside favourites including Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels actor, Roy Brandon, Juice FM’s Leanne Campbell and Council Depot Blues star, Shaun Mason.

How long has it taken to get The Salon into production?
The Salon took about two years to go from first draft to stage with the principal difficulty encountered by any new writer being to find a theatre company to champion their work. It was no different for me and it can be a frustrating time.

What is The Salon about?
In essence it’s an adult comedy about love and sex, betrayal and how we reconcile them. The idea started with the three female characters. Once they started to evolve in my head the setting suggested itself and it grew from there. An audience can expect a great, fun night out, with lots of laughs and maybe the odd tear.

Do you, like many writers during the early stages of writing, like to keep your idea or story under wraps?
I don’t like to show my work until I’ve done a few drafts. I believe it needs time to gestate before you show it to anyone. Once I’ve reached that stage, however, you need an objective eye, and in the case of The Salon, I’ve had several fellow writers give it a grilling. I think that’s a very important part of the process. My writing background is pretty varied, as it goes.

How involved have you been in the process of finding the right actors for the characters?
I’ve been involved in all stages of the production to varying degrees. Along with Jane Joseph the producer and Sylvie Gattril, the director, I sat in on the audition process. In terms of rehearsal, Sylvie is very much in the driving seat. We share the same vision for the play, which is great for me. She’s also very respectful of my role and is sensitive to that. The rehearsal process is the best part for me and this company have a wonderful rapport. It’s been a lot of hard work to get it here, but well worth it.

Can you tell us a bit about your writing background?
In the 90s I wrote for Hale and Pace for a time and since then I’ve had a play, I’m Spartacus! produced at the Unity Theatre, as well as several radio productions and bits of poetry published. The most important thing for any writer to have is self belief. Keep at it. Believe in yourself. Keep the faith. Find your own voice, because you’re unique and you have a unique way of seeing the world. And don’t be put off by all the closed doors out there. The ones that make it are the ones that keep at it.

So what’s next after The Salon?
My next play is called Last Train To Yuma and it’s about a bottom-of-the-bill comedy double act. I’m also working on a play called The Diner in New Mexico, which is very different in tone than the other two.

Do you go to the theatre and analyse plays for your own purposes and, if so, which writers from the current crop do you draw inspiration from?
I don’t consciously analyse plays, but obviously I do naturally. This is not normally what will inspire me to see a play. Like everyone else, I like a good night out. But you can’t help but learn from every play you see, no matter how good or bad you think it is. Every play I’ve seen will have affected me or influenced me on some level. Of the current plays I’ve seen I like the work of Dave Kirby and Nicky Allt a lot and also Nick Leather and Lawrence Wilson. I love lot of new writers: far too many to name.’

Drew Quayle was speaking to Chris High

The Salon runs at the Theatre Royal in St Helens from Thursday 25 to Saturday 27 June 2009.


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