Meet the shortlist- Phoebe Eclair-Powell

By Phoebe Eclair-Powell

There was a fork in her face. An actual fork. He dug a fork into her face. A fork stood on end in her cheek. A fork. He stabbed the meat of her face with a fork and for a moment it stood there, stood out. It reverberated. A fork

SHED: EXPLODED VIEW is a play about domestic violence and the way violence permeates language itself. It asks questions about society’s repetition across generations and culpability – about what we choose to see and ignore. It’s about ripping the fabric of time to start again – it’s about burning this world to the ground so we can rebuild a better future for generations of women to come. It is about illness, grief and the way we love one another – and if that love can ever be devoid of violence in a society whose use of language is weighted against one half of the world. It asks – when is enough – when do we say stop?


Phoebe Eclair-Powell is a writer from South East London. Theatre credits include: WINK (Theatre 503), FURY (Soho Theatre) (runner up for the Verity Bargate Award 2015, winner of the Soho Young Writer’s Award), TORCH with Jess Edwards (Underbelly, New Diorama), EPIC LOVE AND POP SONGS (Pleasance Theatre) THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY (Watermill Theatre and school tour) THESE BRIDGES (National Theatre Connections Festival). For 2016-17 Phoebe was the resident playwright at Soho Theatre through the Channel 4 Playwright scheme. Prior to this Phoebe completed the Channel 4 Screenwriting course and the Soho Writers’ Lab for 2014/15. Phoebe was a previous member of the RCYW and the Royal Court invited group under Alice Birch. Phoebe has taught playwriting for Soho Theatre, Prime Time at the Royal Court Theatre and as part of Southwark Playhouse’s Future Voices programme. Phoebe recently completed the BBC Writersroom Drama programme with Sid Gentle Films. Phoebe writes for Channel 4 Continuing Drama Hollyoaks.


What inspired you to write this play?

A few years ago I was having a really bad writers block moment – or rather the opposite, I was writing a lot…but it was all really rubbish and in someone else’s voice. I felt like I had completely lost my way and didn’t know what I was doing, luckily I was invited onto a group at the Royal Court and very luckily Alice Birch was the leader. She inspired me to be bold, to look at form and structure in a completely different way and to push myself. The group of writers were so supportive they really kept me going. I decided to start with a piece of art work to try and rejig my brain a bit – and chose Cornelia Parker’s installation Cold Dark matter: An Exploded view (a shed blown up and the pieces re hung in a gallery lit with a single dangling lightbulb). Her work and her strength as an artist has been a huge inspiration. But most of all, the anger I felt when looking into cases of domestic violence, I knew I wanted to explode violence in a way I hadn’t looked at before. That and listening to a lot of Steve Reich.


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

Aha so I didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was younger, but I knew it was something in theatre/telly. So I wrote a play whilst I worked at a sweet shop and luckily got onto the Royal Court young writers where I realised you could be a playwright as a job – for some weird reason it’s like it had never quite crossed my mind. Then I became a TV runner, then I worked in theatre buildings for a long time (I have been a duty manager, an assistant producer, an usher, a box office assistant, a marketing assistant, an executive assistant and worked the bar) but all the while I was writing and doing short nights and finding my theatre feet. Doing the shorts I met my theatrical soul mate Jamie Jackson who helped me write my first full play WINK, and that got me my lovely agent thankfully and I have slowly but surely kept going thanks to the lovely gang at Soho theatre where I was resident playwright in 2016. I have to admit I now also work in telly, because theatre breaks your heart a lot. I like to think of myself as a writer not really a playwright.


How do you feel about being shortlisted?

Insane. It’s everything I’ve ever wanted since I found out about the Bruntwood about six years ago. I’ve applied every time, and dreamed and hoped and willed my pseudonym to be on that list, but never made it. I feel really grateful and honoured to be part of this award which has such gravitas and history. And especially with this play, it means a lot to me.


What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?

I think it allows you as a writer to feel really free of any personal judgment, like where you are in your ‘career’ – none of that suddenly matters, only the words on the page do. It’s incredibly freeing and refreshing. It’s so brilliant that it’s open to anyone at any stage, no matter their experience or age. It can be hard for mid level writers to know where they fit, and I know I’ve felt a bit trapped and confused, and by being anonymous and open to anyone this award has actually allowed me to find my feet again.

Published on:
19 Oct 2019


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