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Danusia Iwaszko on writing Between the Cracks

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Why did you write this play?
I wrote this play because of my interest and commitment to writing about mental health issues. I believe there is still an attitude of "them and us" around mental health unless you – or someone dear to you – has suffered a condition. I want to help to break down that attitude because I believe we are all on the spectrum to varying degrees.

What research was necessary?
For my research I was fortunate enough to attend workshops for people with Borderline Personality Disorder, run by the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds and West Suffolk Mind and I built up relationships with people who suffered from this condition. The challenge with bringing the play to the stage is again a need for the audience to empathise with the characters, not for people to think "Oh that's about other people."

What has influenced the choice of venues for this tour?
This is a project based in Suffolk so we wanted to go to as many and various venues in the county as possible. I don't know how the audiences will react, that's one of the joys of doing live theatre, I hope they will get involved with the story of the piece, the journey of the leading character Linda, which is funny, startling and touching.

What is your own performing and writing background?
I started my working life as an actor in rep and on television and wrote my first piece of theatre for a competition London's One Person Play Competition (which I won), so that gave me a bit of confidence that people wanted to see my writing. My first full length play One Glass Wall was staged at Studio 503 in London and was published. That led to my being given an attachment as a writer at the National Theatre Studio and I have considered myself a playwright ever since. Although I still love to act when I have a chance!

What next?
My next writing project is with Eastern Angles. I wrote a short piece for them in 2009 called Lincoln Road, about the mixed community that live on that road in Peterborough, and they now want a longer version for this autumn. After that I will be working with my own company – the Hal Company – on a piece about the workings of the mind called Headlands which (funding permitting) we will stage at the Mercury Theatre’s studio in Colchester and, in the spring of next year, I am going to write a piece for the Theatre Royal York youth company.


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