There was a small piece in The Echo about it the other week. I was asked to write a load of blurb about my involvement which I did which they didn't use. So not one to waste carrot tops and the inside of toilet rolls I thought I'd post it here:
"It’s such a treat to get a commission. I love being asked to write on a topic I never would have considered myself. I love the challenge of working out what is in the subject that I can engage with enough to write something worth reading or hearing.
I knew the songs of both Piaf and Dietrich before Gambolling Arena / Suzy Walker asked me to write the play, but not a lot about their lives. What sprang out at me after researching them and thinking about their friendship was the potential for a mutual mother/daughter relationship. So that's the nub of the play. I also wanted to convey how ambitious and hardworking they both were. Yes, they both had abilities and talents, but they wouldn’t have made it to where they did without the huge commitment to their work.
I hadn’t written a play before, so was a little anxious about structuring the story, sustaining the narrative was going to be a challenge. Although their lives were gifts in that regard, and once I’d read up about them how to sequence the story became quite obvious. What also gratified me was to find how easily their voices (or at least my interpretation of their voices) came to me. I’ve written many poetic monologues and enjoy that stepping into another skin, and Dietrich and Piaf were both so clear to me. I think this has meant the end result has an authenticity that holds the play together.
Being present at some of the rehearsals has been fascinating too. I tweaked parts of it as I heard Clare and Wendy respond to their parts as Dietrich and Piaf. I could instantly hear what needed to go. Although there wasn’t much. These two also seemed to slip into their new skins as simply I did. Maybe it’s something about the enduring characteristics of the two singers that we were able to relate to. While they were mega stars and to an extent ‘divas’, they experienced their lives as fully as anyone – perhaps with more than their fair share of pain. And, in the end, it is this suffering and inner conflict that makes for drama and for our empathy."
So come on down, Wednesday or Thursday...