Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Andrew Maddock: The Me Plays

By | Published on Tuesday 2 September 2014

Up and coming writer Andrew Maddock starts a run at the Old Red Lion this week, performing his own, semi-autobiographical stories in a duo of monologues entitled ‘The Me Plays’, which tackle the contemporary issue of social interaction and pressure in the digital era, but also engage with the age old themes of mortality and nostalgia.

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I spoke to Andrew to find out more about the plays, his career thus far, and what the future holds.

CM: The title gives us a clue to what ‘The Me Plays’ is about, but can you elaborate a little? What can audiences expect?
AM: ‘The Me Plays’ are two monologues designed to capture the character Me at two very different stages of his life.

‘Junkie’ focuses on Me as he comes to grip with the pressures of the digital age and our changing views on social interaction. It explores male body image and the effect of visual influences we are presented with on an almost constant, every day stream, and what we find appropriate and normal to look at on the internet.

‘Hi Life, I Win’ picks up with Me on the eve of a biopsy for what could potentially be a life threatening condition. This piece deals with a person engaging with his own mortality whilst taking us on a nostalgic journey into his school days, and what his life has stood for.

Audiences can expect an aptly, innovatively designed stage from Charlie Marie Austin featuring an impressive use of UV lighting. This pair of plays is fluidly directed by Ryan Bradley, and the texts are written and attacked in an engaging, eclectic manner. The overall selling point of ‘The Me Plays’ is how easy it is to relate to. The journey Me takes, we all have or will eventually embark on, or know some one who has.

CM: What made you decide to do these semi-autobiographical pieces?
AM: Psychologists are pricey…! Jokes aside, I was lucky enough to be mentored by some great minds in writing and their overall advice was to “write what you know”. So that’s what has happened, and The Old Red Lion Theatre have trusted me and the team to bring it to life in their space.

CM: Writing about what you know about is supposed to be easy. But presumably it can be quite difficult in some ways. Is it hard to open up about yourself?
AM: Extremely, which is why the plays are safely framed around this character of Me. It gives his identity over to the audience. The more I thought about what to call Me, the more appropriate it seemed. I think even though I’ve based his experiences on my own, I want these experiences to become the audience’s too.

CM: Do you enjoy performing the words you have written yourself? How does the fact that you are the writer affect your relationship with the director?
AM: Everything I’ve written up to this point was written with the idea that I would play this, but I’d love to watch another actor access and find their own Me. That being said, the whole process has been a wonderful experience and has definitely made me a better writer.

Working with our director Ryan Bradley has been a really open, successful collaborative process. I came into the rehearsal process knowing that I have two hats to wear whilst in the room: as a writer and performer. I have tried to separate and balance those as much as possible and give the creative team the space they need to be creative and fulfil their vision of Me – and it is looking great!

CM: You are also doing a night of response pieces on the 15th, aren’t you? Can you tell us what that’s all about?
AM: We are, Writer’s Night is the 2nd September and we invite established and budding playwrights to write a 10-15 minute response piece – whatever Me inspires! Producer Sarah Milton and Assistant Director Anoushka Bonwick will select the best six, and they will be rehearsed the week running up to the night on the 15th! You can book tickets for response night here.

I started writing by mistake, having gone to a similar night at Theatre 503, and was inspired enough to write a short ten minute play which then got selected. When I saw the actors on stage speaking my words I knew I wanted more. I would love to give someone that confidence and inspiration to find their feet, or hone their craft with play writing.

CM: You are a graduate of the National Youth Theatre‘s Playing Up programme. Can you tell us about that? How has it helped in your career?
AM: If it wasn’t for that course I wouldn’t be doing what I’m doing full stop. I owe them everything and sometimes I don’t know if NYT fully realise that.

Before I found the course, I was in another pointless job, feeling like an under achiever. I feel blessed I found them, and they agreed to invest so much time in me. I’ve been working as a facilitator in Drama for the last four years at Generation Arts and have had the privilege of witnessing first hand, how drama can change someone’s life. I recently performed ‘Hi Life, I Win’ for a group on a three week project and the comments and response to what I was talking about was amazing – their engagement was astounding. They are coming to see both shows during the run and I’m more nervous about them than anybody else seeing it.

CM: Which do you like best, writing or performing? Do you see yourself doing both throughout your career or do you think one of the two will take over?
AM: I thoroughly enjoy performing but I love imagining and creating stories more. My focus at the moment is on my writing, but if that overlaps with the opportunity to perform I would seize that with both hands.

CM: Will The Me Plays continue on elsewhere after the London run?
AM: I hope so! I do see potential in growth for the plays and feel like they have the ability to entertain as well as deliver a serious message about the rapidly changing and technology-dependent world we live in.

If they don’t, it was still great to have the feeling that someone liked my work enough to allow me to come into their theatre and perform it: The Old Red Lion Theatre have been nothing but supportive. The fact that I found a team of people excited enough to work on it and the fact that we did it all ourselves with no reliance on bugging close relations to help me fund-raise is very heart warming. I’m a believer that hard graft will pay off, and I have every faith that we will succeed.

CM: What’s next for you? Any new projects on the horizon?
AM: I am getting straight onto the next project. I work with a company called Vertical Line Theatre, an award winning company whose aim is to nurture and develop innovative new writing, and I will be working with them on a new play as well as another idea I’m currently at the research stage with.

I am going to be working again with Generation Arts on their Future Stage Project which will take a group of young people and work to get them a Level 3 Qualification in Arts & Drama. I will be supporting them with their drama school auditions and university applications too. Helping others achieve their goals is the most rewarding part of my role at Generation Arts and I’m truly looking forward to that. That part of my life will always take a priority.

You can see ‘The Me Plays’ at the Old Red Lion Theatre from 2-20 Sep. See the venue website here for more info and tickets.

LINKS: www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk | www.generationarts.org.uk | twitter.com/meplaysuk | twitter.com/andrewmaddock



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