Jill O’Halloran

 “An exam we never knew we had and, never knew we had to prepare for. And the whole fucking world are marking the paper.”

Carol and John’s anniversary. A celebration of a marriage which has stood the test of time. But Carol hates time. Time has changed her into something she hates. Someone older. Someone who avoids her reflection. Someone who’s fiercely jealous of the younger woman her husband once loved. Her younger self.

Jill O’Halloran grew up in Leigh, now living in Liverpool. Prior to her writing career she was a practising barrister, the first in her family to attend university. She has an MA in Television and Film Scriptwriting from Salford University. Selected for the inaugural year of the Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse Playwright’s Programme.

Jill’s stories are generally female focused and often explore social issues, particularly those concerning women living in the North. Jill is a mother and has spent substantial periods of time as sole carer for a family member, both of which experiences influence and motivate her writing.

Credits: MOVING ON (LA Productions), (Executive Producer) Jimmy McGovern, MONIQUE & ME, Afternoon Drama R4, (producer Pauline Harris). Script placed in BBC Writersroom Script Library Awards include: BBC Writersroom, Rapid Response LA Independent Women’s Film Festival, Award of Merit, Gotham Film Festival Best War/History, Alfred Bradley Bursary Award, 2019 Runner-Up.

Three follows Carol on her wedding anniversary, looking back with fierce jealousy to the younger woman her husband once loved – her younger self.

Introducing playwright Jill O’Halloran

What inspired you to write this play? 

How often are we told that getting older is a problem? We see ‘anti-ageing’ and we’re buying it. We do whatever we can to outrun it. And, who can blame us? Nobody wants to feel irrelevant, invisible, unwanted. To grow older is deeply personal and yet profoundly universal. When the clocks strikes twelve on New Year’s Eve another year has passed for the whole world. For women in particular, to age is to fail which is so messed up when you consider the alternative. That’s something I thought was worth talking about.

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

I started to write for performance, tentatively, after I had children. I was drifting back to something I had a deep love of when I was younger. I realised early on how hard becoming a professional writer would be. I had no contacts or knowledge of the industry but managed to make some inroads into TV and radio, through the BBC Writersroom and the Alfred Bradley Bursary Award. I was accepted onto the Liverpool Playhouse and Everyman Playwrights’ Programme, which essentially taught me how to write for the stage. I wasn’t sure what to do with this however, which is pretty much where I am now and why I entered Bruntwood.

What or who inspires you as a writer and why do you want to write for the stage?  

Writing helps me make sense of all the stuff I feel about the world and the people around me. The things that happen, the injustice, the unfairness, the way the world should work compared to how it actually does. It makes me want to tell stories. I really love all the platforms I’ve worked in but stage plays give writers the time and space to explore things in a depth and breadth you don’t always have in other places. It’s really special.

What do you think about the Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting and, more specifically, the anonymity at the heart of the Prize?   

Anonymity overcomes that thing a lot of writers, writers who don’t fit the mould, have felt, when they’ve tried to engage the industry, the decision makers, the gatekeepers. The feeling that these people are gazing over their shoulder, looking out for people they know, people they think are more interesting, more relevant. Bruntwood looks writers straight in the eye and gives us their uninterrupted time and attention. We can’t really ask for more than that.

How do you feel about being shortlisted? 

Deeply and profoundly chuffed to bits.