Earlier this year we announced that Ella Dorman-Gajic (formerly our Young Writer in Residence) has become our first Writer in Residence. As Ella continues developing her latest play with us, we chat to her about her work with the company so far!
BST: How did you find the experience of being Broken Silence Theatre’s first Young Writer in Residence last year?
ELLA: I was absolutely thrilled to come on board as the first Young Writer in Residence of Broken Silence Theatre. Since then, I’ve developed a new idea into a full length play, which we workshopped with actors, which has meant I was able to dig deeper into the characters and story. I’ve done a couple more drafts since then. It’s been great to have the time to talk through these with Tim (Artistic Director), and applying his feedback in my editing process. Getting the chance to meet other like minded writers, actors and directors through Broken Silence has been invaluable, and I have seen so much great work come out of the theatre company.
You’ve now become our Writer in Residence for 2019 - what are your plans for the residency?
I know! Yay! Once I’ve received some feedback for the newest draft of my play, we are going to organise a rehearsed reading. This will probably happen early summer time. I am graduating this year, so I hope to be active in more upcoming projects, and would like to help set up a new writing night - but there is still a lot to discuss! I would like to start work on another play as well, in the second half of the year, and perhaps get the chance to do some research and development.
Do you feel your writing has changed over the past 12 months?
I have definitely become a more confident writer in the last year. Having someone help guide my work and give me feedback has helped me identify what works and what doesn’t. Mostly, I am now much more aware of all the many elements necessary when creating nuanced characters and stories for theatre. So, I suppose I have become more considered when writing. But yes, I think my writing has improved, although I still find starting a new piece of work equally scary!
You’ve been involved with various shows elsewhere in 2018, including going to Edinburgh Fringe as an actor - has that influenced your practice or views on the industry?
I love Edinburgh Fringe, but it never fails to overwhelm me. Acting in and marketing a new play this year (Grace by Bloody Livid Theatre) was a great experience. I haven’t acted in comedy in a long time so I had to re-adjust myself to the style - which was very heightened. I think we did well because it was a comedy, and it was so absurd and silly, so we got some good audiences. My experience with fringe has made me realise how interconnected the theatre community is, and how important it is to be active in supporting other theatre companies. I made an effort to see as much theatre I could, and mutually support emerging artists in this way. This meant we made some good connections, and saw some incredible theatre, which influenced both my performance and my general approach to theatre making. Packing this all in, and performing with barely 4 hours sleep each night, definitely tested my patience. But it thickens your skin - which is what you need when starting out.
You split your time between a few different places (Brighton, Norwich and London) - does that make it easier or harder to channel your creativity?
It means I’m constantly surrounding myself with different people, and going to different events. I think this influences my writing in different ways, which is good because it means the style and content of my writing is always changing. Also, being busy definitely pushes me to write when I know I have the time, so in that way it does push me to be creative. But sometimes it can have the opposite effect, because moving locations can take me out of a particular writing headspace. But generally, I find it pretty difficult to predict when I’m going to be creative. But there are always obstacles.
In your opinion, what needs to change in the theatre industry in 2019?
Wow. That’s a big question. I don’t know if I’m the best personal to judge, but from what I’ve seen, I think there needs to be more funding opportunities within theatre. Especially in relation to getting young people interested and engaged in it, perhaps by introducing more schemes to make it equally accessible up and down the country.
And finally - what was the best show you saw last year?
Electrolight in Edinburgh Fringe at The Pleasance Dome. New piece of gig theatre by Wild Card Theatre Company. Explosive. Dynamic. Enthralling. Just bloody brilliant, basically.