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Nick Stafford Interview

Posted on 16 January 2006. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to dramatist Nick Stafford about how see the wood for the trees, artistic relationships and those dreaded barren times

Tell us something about your background.

Ive been writing plays professionally since 1987. The first was for the Half Moon Young Peoples Theatre. Id written a one-man show when I was at drama school that I developed into a play that they read, then they commissioned me, then I became writer-in-residence, and got other commissions, mostly from small-scale touring companies like Avon Touring and New Perspectives; also Birmingham Rep, with whom I still have a fertile relationship. An Artistic Director saw a play of mine there and asked me to go to The Young Vic as writer-in-residence. I adapted The Snow Queen which ran for two years there and has been done in other places. The National Theatre Studio took me up, as they have so many, which has led to all sorts of projects there and in the National Theatre, including a play in the Lyttleton. The RSC have also staged a play of mine, in The Pit. Im currently adapting a book for the National, for the Olivier, and a new play is opening at Birmingham Rep in May 06. Another medium Ive worked in is Radio Drama. I had several plays on R4 for a while, but this opportunity seems to have dried up for now. Over the years Ive also been commissioned to write movies and television drama, but nothings been filmed, apart from a short the BBC made.

When Ive been writer-in-residence Ive run workshops. Ive been an Royal Literary Fund Fellow for three years, at Roehampton. Ive also helped other writers with scripts, informally.

How did you start writing?

When I was very young I thought that Id be a writer. There werent any where I grew up, and none in my family, so I dont know where this came from. Novels were my first love, and Ive recently been writing one. I knew that if I didnt at least try to write a novel Id bitterly regret it on my deathbed. I never meant to be a playwright. I was studying English with Drama as my minor option years ago: English so I could read all the time and Drama so I didnt have to work. The drama tutor cast me as the lead in a play then suggested that I went to drama school. At drama school I wrote the one-man show that became the play

Who are your favourite writers and why?

I tend to like pieces of work rather than a writers body of work. The last piece I read that really was completely absorbing was HOW I LIVE NOW by Meg Rossoff. I like Jean Rhys, a lot, and H.G.Wells. I remember Pinter being out of fashion for a while. I cant think why. I tuned into the World service one night and caught a production of The Dumb Waiter I think Colin Blakely was in it and it was riveting. Another seminal experience occurred was when I was about thirteen. I lived in a little village. The nearest cinema was seven miles away. I caught the bus and took myself off to see Nick Roegs DONT LOOK NOW. Ive no idea why I did this. I remember feeling quite different after Id seen it. And it was a secret. I didnt know anyone to whom I could talk about it.

How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?

Somehow, I was writing a screenplay for the BBC, with a script editor, Hilary Salmon, whos now one of the heads of drama, before I had an agent, because I remember asking Hilary who a good agent for me would be? She mentioned Julia Kreitman, who was at Curtis Brown at the time.. The screenplay didnt get made, but I still have a creative relationship with Hilary, and Julias still my agent.


What's the worst thing about writing?

The fallow times when you feel youve no imagination left and the barren times when nobody wants you.

And the best?

The visceral feeling that youre on to something. Spending time with imaginary friends. Applause. Silence. I went to Paris this Xmas and my plays were stocked in Shakespeare and Co. My partner took a photo of me pointing to them. I told her about the myth(?) that writers move their books so that theyre displayed more prominently. Mine were at knee height, spine-on, so she pulled them out and placed them front-on, eye level.




A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.






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