Meet the Shortlist- Tori Sampson
This Land was Made By Tori Sampson ‘But you want to lay a truth on me and then ask me to shut up about it….
Glee & Me
By Stuart Slade
‘Over the next few days the NHS creaks into action, and suddenly I’ve got a bunch of stuff to keep me properly busy – not just beating the shit out of the Coco Monkey, you know?’
Lola is 16 and has her whole life ahead of her – until she’s diagnosed with a Grade 4 malignant brain tumour, that is.
What’s always made Lola unique, she reckons, is her brilliant brain – a brain that’s now rapidly turning into a short-circuiting, useless mush.
But, before she dies, she’s promised herself two things: 1. She’s going to finally get All The Sex and 2. She’s going to definitively discover the Actual Meaning of Life.
Glee & Me is a pitch-black, surprisingly optimistic comedy about dying too young, too hard.
Stuart was born in Bristol and now lives in London. His previous plays include BU21 (Trafalgar Studios, Longlisted for the Bruntwood Prize 2015) and CANS (Theatre503).
What inspired you to write this play?
Like most people, I guess, at times I struggle to see a purpose for a whole bunch of the stuff we endure as humans – death, disease, heartbreak, loss, pain, all that – and I suppose I wanted to explore if there was, in fact, A Reason For It All.
I’m far too stupid and ridiculous to work out the Meaning of Life for myself, so I came up with a character who’s far funnier and cleverer and braver than me (she’s called Lola) to see if she could work it out instead – before she dies, at the age of 17, of a brain tumour.
And, you know what? She has a damn good crack at it, I reckon.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey as a playwright?
I think we’re really lucky that in the UK there’s so much support for emerging playwrights. A few years back I (very speculatively) sent a short play into Theatre503’s amazing Rapid Write Response scheme – they put it on, and from then I was kinda hooked.
I’d never really thought about writing at all before then (I’d spent 10 years as a documentary film-maker prior to that), but after my Rapid Write Response piece did OK Theatre503 let me make my first play, Cans – and when that turned out not to be too much of a disaster they encouraged me to make my second play, called BU21, which ended up doing pretty well around the world.
After that I spent a couple of years writing mainly feature film scripts (mainly for the US) but theatre has always been my truest writing love – so it’s just brilliant that the Bruntwood shortlisted this play.
How do you feel about being shortlisted?
I was absolutely elated, astonished, and a little bit tearful to be shortlisted for the Bruntwood.
When the call came I was in the supermarket, and as soon as I put the phone down I danced around in a little circle like an utterly demented child – I’m talking about a child on a bunch of MDMA, not just, like, a sugar high – which, in retrospect, almost certainly scared the living shit out of the other shoppers in the cheese aisle.
Sorry, fellow cheese shoppers.
What do you think about anonymity of the Bruntwood Prize?
It’s just great that the work is judged in an egalitarian way like this – it’s not about what you’ve done before, what you’ve not done before – but about the text itself, which is always the most important thing by far, I reckon.