A Cup of Tea with... A Further Education writer Will Mortimer

Posted on 20 October 2015.

Posted in: Hampstead Downstairs

A Cup of Tea with... A Further Education writer Will Mortimer

We had a quick chat to writer Will Mortimer about his debut play A Further Education, the joys of a comic cast and life advice. A Further Education runs Downstairs 30 October – 28 November.

Can you describe A Further Education in a nutshell?
It’s about what happens when an older woman goes to university for the first time and how she learns to navigate this brand new world and the relationships she makes with the other students and professors. It looks at what it means to learn and how that shapes who you are as a person, and is hopefully a comic account of how these people’s ideas and personalities collide.

What inspired you to write A Further Education?
I had the idea about what it would mean for someone who you don’t traditionally see accessing a university years ago but didn’t really think much beyond the kernel of the idea. Then earlier this year I had a conversation about some brilliant actresses who were keen to do a play and it just fired me up to write a script with some meaty parts for women at the heart of this story that I had, without realising it, been sketching out in my head for some time.

How does it feel to make your professional debut at Hampstead Downstairs?
It’s a total joy. I’ve spent five years on the other side programming and developing scripts with writers [as Hampstead Theatre’s Literary Manager] and so I feel very aware of the mechanics of what it means to produce the work Downstairs, but it’s a totally different ballgame writing a play for that space. It’s got a wonderfully supportive following, so I feel like it is the perfect place to test the mettle of my writing and see what it is without any additional pressures.

Who are your playwriting heroes?
Playwrights who shine a light on the world we live, playwrights who love actors and write great parts for them, playwrights who invite collaboration and exploration with directors and creative teams.

What do you think the job of the playwright is?
I think it’s to set a bunch of characters off in to a world and let their actions illuminate some ideas a little more. It’s to leave an audience a little bit changed if you can and most importantly to let a director and actors take ownership of the writing and realise that the script doesn’t belong just to you, but rather it is an evolving thing for an audience to respond to.

If you could have written any play what would it have been?
Probably Angels in America – a gorgeous, ambitious play full of heart and ideas.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in life?
Sleep whenever you get the chance.

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