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Crossovers Writer Cathy Grindrod in Conversation

Letter

In writing Always in the Afternoon, the biggest thing for me, and one of the main reasons for applying to be part of Crossovers, was it being a new challenge. I’ve been a poet for over 10 years now, concentrating both on publishing my own writing and my work in literature development and tutoring. Playwriting had never really occurred to me before but after meeting people at writing and networking events it dawned on me that this was a medium I wanted to explore. I had always wanted to write something about adoption, especially in the 1950s and 60s, as it is a subject close to my heart. I had tried to write poetry about the subject but it never felt quite right, I’ve since been waiting for the correct medium to come along which I think I’ve found in theatre. However, whilst I have a vested interest in the theme of adoption I wanted to make a play which was broad in its approach and spoke widely.
My journey to this point in terms of getting involved in playwriting started when I won second prize in the New Perspectives/East Midlands Airport Dream-Up Monologue Competition. This was my first theatre piece and in it I explored this adoption theme, the cuckoo metaphor and the character of Sally, who reappears in my Crossovers play. The monologue was performed and after this great experience I wanted to do more and applied for the Crossovers Project.
My Crossovers experience has been fantastic and it has been a reversal of roles for me; from mentor and workshop-leader in poetry to mentee in performance writing. It has also helped me to develop different skills as a writer overall which I can transfer to my other works. I wrote the Dream-Up monologue mainly on instinct but have since been on a two day course with Esther Richardson and Amanda Whittington which gave me a good grounding for Crossovers and some really useful pointers. Always in the Afternoon has therefore been more of a marriage of the two in which I have used my instinctive skills as a creative writer and the techniques learnt from the course and from all of the workshops and support offered by TWP.
The thing I have enjoyed most so far has been working closely with the actors, Kully Thiarai (my mentor) and Kate Chapman on the text in a rehearsal room. The workshopping day in Derby was great for this and I was both excited and nervous to see what the piece sounded like aloud. It was a very different situation from what I am used to, the editing, polishing and perfecting of a poem is done when the writing is finished, and often by the writer alone, whereas with theatre a work can be half complete and then taken to actors helping the playwright develop what is thrown up by this process. I loved watching the dynamics which the actors picked up on from my text and that has certainly given me lots to think about.
I have also enjoyed working on the interweaving of the play’s different narrative threads. The inter-generational characters I have tried to tie together in a similar way to which I approach poetry, using rhythm and structure to show their inner feelings whilst still making sense as a whole. I am still able to pull it apart and then bring it together again like I do with my poems. I have a strong visual sense of the play, there are images of trees and paper, an old typewriter, cuckoos, baby clothes and the sorts of things that I’d associate with the character Dorothy in the play – teacakes, daffodils. Overall though, the focus of the play is the relationships between mothers and daughters: there are three, and the play looks closely at what these relationships have in common and how they differ.
Always in the Afternoon is being presented as part of the Momentum festival at the Leicester Curve on Friday 29th October in the Extract II slot along with 3 other pieces.

For tickets and more information please see Curve’s website.

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