Molly Davies’ first play, A Miracle, debuted at the Royal Court in 2009 as part of their Young Writers’ Festival, and she’s also written for the Hampstead, Soho Theatre and the National. She talks to us about why she loves writing for the stage, what it’s like working with the Royal Court and why discipline matters…
Why did you choose to write for the theatre?
I think of theatre more naturally. I would like to write something original for TV as more people see it, but all my ideas tend to be for theatre. I find theatre much more exciting. You can do anything in the theatre – it’s like magic!
Your first play, A Miracle, debuted at the Royal Court. Have you felt under pressure after experiencing success at the start of your career?
A blank page is scary, so it’s important to just start writing. You have to try and banish all of the unhelpful “Will people like this?” thoughts from your head. But it helps that I know a lot of other writers now so I realise there are times for everyone when it’s difficult. And a lot more people are under a lot more pressure! It also helps to not think about the industry [and] how things are going to be received, but to concentrate on the play, making it good and enjoying it!
You’re reworking the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice for NYT this summer. What are the challenges of rewriting an existing story compared to creating your own?
In terms of this myth, I just tried to go with my instincts. The descent of Orpheus into the underworld is such a beautiful, simple story. I concentrated on what in it resonated with me, how it made sense to me – and went with that.
Several of your plays focus on rural communities. Do you feel that rural Britain is underrepresented on the London stage?
Maybe. But we live in an urban environment so maybe people don’t feel the need to see plays with rural settings. I’m really interested in the role of location in a play. It’s like another character, it effects the language and pace of the play. I’m working on a play set in Soho next.
You’re currently developing your second play for the Royal Court. What are the benefits for a writer of developing a relationship with a particular theatre?
Lots, if it’s the Royal Court, because they love writers! It doesn’t feel like you’re handing in work to be marked. It feels like an equal relationship. When you find out your first play is going on, before rehearsals start or anything, they kind of set you up with an established writer. I went to see a play and had a glass of wine with April de Angelis – it’s great because you can talk about any queries and get a writer’s perspective.
What’s the best piece of advice that anyone in theatre has ever given you?
Not to believe any reviews – if you believe the good, you must also believe the bad. Also, to turn up for work – discipline allows creative freedom (I actually read that in an interview with Jeanette Winterson).
Molly’s latest play, Shooting Truth, was performed this month as part of NT Connections, which commissions new work to inspire young theatre performers. Find out how you can get involved in NT Connections 2012.
Orpheus & Eurydice will open at The Old Vic Tunnels on 23 August. You can book tickets here.