Emma Quixley Sets the Scene
Twenty two-year-old Emma Quixley doesn’t just write plays – she directs them too! She’s already had one of her plays performed at The Troubador in Earl’s Court and is aiming even higher for the future ahead. I spoke to her about how she began writing, who she was influenced by and whether its possible she might prefer directing instead!
How did your passion for writing develop? Do you only write for theatre?
I attended a drama group from a young age and throughout GCSE and A Levels found myself naturally favouring writing and directing over being in the spotlight. At university I grabbed every opportunity I could to develop these skills. Because of this background, my first love has always been Theatre but I don’t intend to rule out Film, TV or Radio.
Do you have any major influences?
For GCSE I studied Abigail’s Party by Mike Leigh. It was the first play that had a real impact on me. I admired the way Leigh could take an everyday situation and create drama. I also loved his use of character; how every interaction says so much about each of them. I’m also very much a fan of “In-Yer-Face” theatre and writers such as Sarah Kane and Mark Ravenhill. I admire the way this style of writing can make an impact through being confrontational and experimental.
Would you say your work has any predominant themes?
Most of my work tends to be Drama rather than Comedy. I feel that many people tend to gravitate towards one or the other. I have always found writing/directing comedy a challenge, but this is something I wish to address and hopefully improve upon. The themes that tend to be adopted within my work are relationships, self esteem and prejudice.
What would you say your greatest accomplishment is so far?
I think my greatest accomplishment was having one of my short plays, Artificial Happiness (read a review), performed at The Troubador in Earl’s Court, London. To be able to experience my piece as an audience member was a privilege and an emotional experience, particularly as the subject of the piece was close to my heart. I felt proud of this piece as a script alone but it was great to see it in the flesh and be able to share it with others. I was also really happy with the way the Director interpreted my work and the sensitive performance given by the actors. It was the first piece I have written or directed that I was truly proud to watch.
What advice would you give to other young aspiring scriptwriters and directors?
Getting involved in local projects as much as you can is important. This allows you to network and therefore hopefully get involved in other projects. It also gets your name out there, so to speak, not to mention that of course it allows you to add experience to your CV/Portfolio.
There are also scriptwriting opportunities to be found online, particularly short play or screenplay competitions. I managed to get my short play, Artificial Happiness, performed by a company in London via a Twitter competition. I’d therefore advise people to investigate online competitions and theatre companies on Twitter.
You should also attend the Theatre/Cinema and read scripts as much as you can. This allows you to study the techniques used by others and can also give you inspiration for your own projects and well as giving you a insight into what sort of writer you want to be e.g. what style you want to adopt, what sort of themes you want to address.
Where do you hope to be in the future and how will you get there?
In the future I’d love to be able to work as a professional Director or Producer and at some point in my career; I would like to work on Theatre in Education (TIE) projects. I remember some of the touring TIE companies that came to my school and I was always interested in how they produced their pieces.
It is difficult to know how to “get there” within this industry as, unlike some other careers, there is no set path to follow. To be frank, I am still not sure how to go about turning my passion into a professional career. However, there a few theatres in the UK that offer Assistant Directorships and other similar opportunities. I intend to investigate these opportunities with the hope of being able to fill one of these positions and further develop my passion.