Getting to know Shallow Slumber writer Chris Lee

Fri 27 January 2012

What’s your background, how did you first start writing plays?
I was born and raised in Ireland then spent my last two years of school in Canada, but I went to university in Dublin and started writing plays there when I joined the drama society.

You’re a social worker as well as a professional playwright. How has this impacted on your playwriting?
They’re complimentary careers. As a social worker you get to see so much of life; although you encounter a lot of misery and deprivation there are lots of inspirational examples of recovery and struggle and survival. This informs my writing but not necessarily in a direct transfer. I think it is mostly that the encounter with a vast variety of human stories provides endless fuel for the imagination.

With two demanding careers on the go, how do you keep writing?
It’s a joy mostly, the writing part. The trouble is getting a play produced. I work for about half an hour every day in the evenings, quietly building up a play. As long as you have patience and that brief disciplined space then you can keep going for ever.

What would you say to writers struggling to get their momentum going in 2012?
If you don’t need to write a play, don’t. 2012 is already packed full of apocalyptic wonder. Can’t you just taste the magic of rage in the air?

Who are your playwriting idols?
Howard Barker for his absolute refusal of compromise and his acid demolitions of conventional wisdom. Edward Bond for his adherence to revolutionary ideals when all the light in the world has gone out. And Caryl Churchill for her restless investigation of the nature of a play, pushing back the limits, opening the spaces of narrative no one had noticed before.

Are there any upcoming shows or events that you’re excited about?
I can’t wait for the Tower of Babel Shakespeare at the Globe, with a hundred languages. I missed Phillip Ridley’s Tender Napalm first time round so I’m looking forward to catching that when it comes back. Also pretty excited about the Prokofiev festival in the Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank.

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