Meet the shortlist- Lee Mattinson

By Lee Mattinson

‘Tape three’s when you really need the stomach for it. When they. When she’s begging them to. And they do by the end. Kill her.’

Shania, Whitney and Courtney are three fourteen-year-old fireworks of girls in a town where there’s as much chance of being lit as there is listened to. In a bedroom above the rugby club they imagine a world beyond their narrow Cumbrian streets where homophobia and racism are as commonplace as Matalan. But when a trio of VHS snuff tapes find their way into their lives it’s impossible to maintain their enforced invisibility and in order to escape the girls must commit their own acts of ultraviolence.


Lee Mattinson is an award-winning writer originally from Workington and graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Fine Art.
Theatre credits include: THE SEASON TICKET (Pilot Theatre/Northern Stage), I HEART CATHERINE PISTACHIO (Encounter, Soho Theatre, The Yard), CROCODILES(Royal Exchange, Winner of the inaugural Hodgkiss Award), SNAP (Young Vic), GARY LINEKER IS GAY (Paines Plough), CHALET LINES (Bush Theatre, Nominated for ‘Most Promising New Playwright’ at the Off West End Theatre Awards), ME AND CILLA (Live Theatre), DONNA DISCO (Chicken Pox Fox/Live Theatre), NO MIRACLES HERE (The Letter Room)

Radio credits include: 2 CLOWNS 1 TRUMPET (I Told You I Was Ill, BBC Radio 3), TONGUE (Sonnets in the City, BBC Radio 3), MAGPIE (Afternoon Drama, BBC Radio 4, Short-listed for ‘Best Radio Drama’ at The Writer’s Guild Awards)

He is one half of Encounter with choreographer/director Jen Malarkey and currently under commission from Northern Stage and Live Theatre

Lee was longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2009 with a play called $H!T DISCO


What inspired you to write this play?

I’m from a tiny town on the West coast of Cumbria where I lived until the day after my twentieth birthday when I moved to Newcastle to do a Fine Art degree. It’s a town I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with; a community of proud men and strong women that rarely spits out it’s young where coming out as gay was tricky at best.

It’s an environment and set of experiences I’d always avoided unpacking within my work and began to wonder what it would be to interrogate it dramatically. I started by making a list of all the weird and wonderful memories of my years spent there – from a neighbour’s son who was brutalized in a homophobic attack to how to kill a cat with grass – and quickly realized it was a scab worth picking.

Once I had the world of the play, I decided the best lens to view it through would be that of three fourteen-year-old girls – characters dancing on the dotted line between childhood and adulthood, young women who knew everything and nothing all at once and each with their own reasons to love and hate a forgotten town by the sea as much as me.


Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?

My playwrighting journey began at Live Theatre in Newcastle where I worked as an usher and having never seen a play before began to fall in love with them. It was there that I first saw ‘The Filleting Machine’ by Tom Hadaway, a working class gem which made me feel that any story I had to tell could be worth telling. In order to tell it well I enrolled on their Introduction to Playwrighting course and began scribbling.

Live Theatre produced my first play which was developed from a ten minute farce about Cilla Black and went on to be adapted for BBC Radio 3. I’ve since worked with Bush Theatre, Northern Stage and continued to write for radio.


How do you feel about being shortlisted?

The weirdest thing about hearing I’d been shortlisted was the realisation of how many people had not only read the play but given it a thumbs up. Two of my friends had read it before submission and both had wildly different reactions to it, leaving me none the wiser as to it’s validity as a piece of theatre.

I knew it was dark and sometimes sickeningly violent but hoped that the resilience of the young women in it could echo a fight in all of us to transcend everyday horror. To have risen to the top of the pile of scripts is an honour and significant for me that it’s with a working class story set in a world we don’t see on maps let alone stage.

What do you think about the anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

I think judging any play anonymously allows the reader to consider it solely on its merits. To have no preconceptions regarding it’s author creates a level playing field for all submissions devoid of experience. It also creates the added challenge of conjuring up a pseudonym, which went through ultimately more drafts than the play.

Published on:
27 Oct 2019 Watch video


Add comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *