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It must have been a bit easier for you to find the story in the New York press, you're based here. Was it difficult for (the rest of) you?
Lucy: You can read the New York Times
Geraldine: I just saw on somebody's iPhone, the very first subhead I saw, I took that one.
What was it?
Geraldine: "Hard times loosen creativity." I thought that was interesting. I bent it into something I'd also had in mind for a very long time.
Rosalind: It's interesting to hear how other people responded to the prompts actually. At the time I was following twitter after the Iran election. Out of reading all of those tweets the ideas came to me. It was something that evolved that way. I mull things over for quite a long time. It was really good because it forced me to work faster. It's generated so much new material for me, I don't know about everyone else… I couldn't choose just one article, I was using lots of different bits and pieces, I've got loads of material.
[general murmurs of surprise from the others]
Lucy: I just got into the habit of reading the New York Times
over breakfast for a couple of weeks. I didn't know what I was going to write. I had absolutely no idea. And then one morning I read this article about a young apprentice luthier, a repairer of stringed instruments, on the west bank in Palestine… suddenly it just clicked into place and I thought gosh, all the metaphors are just there for the taking. My work is done.
Geraldine: When you think of all the hours that you sit around it would be great if there was like a prompt service you could subscribe to. I would write anything if I was asked to.
There are things like that for fiction writers but not so much for playwrights.
Geraldine: You need to know there's a theatre waiting for it.
That makes a difference doesn't it?
Rosalind: It's helpful to know that a theatre company is going to put it on, and I was just talking to George a moment ago about how fantastic it is that not only do you get a commission but it happens so quickly and then you see it, it's put on.
How long did you have to write this?
Belinda: Maybe two months. The deadline was July 1st… I was contacted mid-May. I remember I was talking on the phone to George, he'd emailed me with initial approach, we talked on the phone and I said when is the deadline and he said really apologetically, uh, July 1st?
Geraldine: It's better…
Belinda: It's better.
A short deadline is better?
Belinda: I think so.
Were you surprised when George contacted you?
Geraldine: I met George socially a few years ago when I was here for another play.
Lucy: It was one of those emails that on a bored day you're kind of checking your email hoping something interesting will come. It was literally an email that came into my inbox. I didn't know him.
Rosalind: I hadn't met him, but I think he had got my information from Jim Culleton
who's directing one of the other plays (Culleton runs Fishamble Theatre
), so I knew how he had got in contact with me but yes it was definitely a surprise. For me, it was pretty poor timing with a short deadline because my deadline for the Ph.D was exactly the same day.
Belinda: I'd known George from the theatre scene in New York but the email was also a complete surprise and very welcome. I had to resist the urge to run and brag on my Facebook status.