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Bryony Lavery on The Believers, Frantic Assembly and Treasure Island

The ''Frozen'' playwright discusses the inspiration behind her latest play that opens at the Tricycle Theatre this Friday

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Richard Mylan (Ollie) and Penny Layden (Maud)
© Helen Maybanks

What inspired The Believers?

Scott Graham, the director and choreographer asked me if I was interested in exploring belief systems. He had some newspaper cutttings of stories about children who died as a result of being demonised. I was then in North Queensland in a friend's house in the tail-end of a cyclone, we had a workshop with two dancers and two actors and explored the dynamic between two different couples with happy and sad memories, then we sort of mashed them together!

Could you give us an overview of the play?

The play is about doubt and belief. In terrible, destructive weather, a couple who believe in good and kindness invite their neighbours to shelter for the night. A terrible accident occurs which makes everybody question what they believe in, whether there are such things as miracles and pure evil.

What was the biggest challenge in its creation?

How to represent a wonderful miracle on stage.

How did Scott Graham and Frantic Assembly develop it in rehearsals?

With a great deal of patience, human strength, strained limbs and bruises! The play is set in the darkness of doubt, so the cast of four have to do some scary stuff in and out of harnesses in pitch darkness!

How would you describe Frantic Assembly's ethos?

A glorious fusion of text and movement!

Are you excited to be bringing the play to the Tricycle Theatre?

Of course I am! (I'm a) big fan of Indhu Rubasingham and her team. We did a week of development in their lovely rehearsal room, trying to work out how to make people fly!

You've enjoyed a long and varied writing career - what's your proudest achievement?

Surviving! I am very proud that I continue to get to work on fascinating projects with the best practitioners.

How did you get started as a writer?

I have been inspried and guided by a huge number of clever people who nudged me on to the right path, often without my noticing their guidance until later. Thus it is hard to say how I got started, just lucky I guess!

Any advice for budding playwrights out there?

Two pieces of advice I got from Doug Hughes, who has directed my plays in New York.

1. "Listen to everybody, note everything they say down, then choose exactly how you are going to continue."


2. [delivered when I was belly-aching about a possible text cut] "Bryony, what's cut is never booed...."

What's next?

I've just finished a workshop at The National Theatre studio for Treasure Island, which I am adapting for them for this Christmas. I am off to Canada to develop a piece about Sea Change and I am on draft two of Queen Coal for Sheffield Crucible, a play about the miner's strike.

The Believers plays at the Tricycle Theatre until 17 May 2014.