We interview new Downstairs writers Andrew Payne and William Boyd

Posted on 20 November 2015.

Posted in: Hampstead Downstairs

We interview new Downstairs writers Andrew Payne and William Boyd

We quiz the writers of the two new Downstairs shows, The Meeting and The Argument, about favourite films, ideal dinner party guests and invaluable life lessons.

Andrew Payne, writer of The Meeting

Can you describe your play in 3 words?
Beware the woman.

What inspired the play?
I had a crap job once, one of many, and the manager was suddenly sacked. The rumour went round that his replacement was going to be a woman. The all-male workforce went into a melt-down of alarm, gossip and feverish speculation – but a hint of excitement too. A weird and interesting mixture.

Do you have a favourite line in the play?
‘She does eye contact, smiles, uses your name, and the next thing, you’re bending over, arse in the air – ‘Do me now!’‘

What do you hope audiences will take away from the play?
I guess they’ll all take away something different – which is great.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
Calmer.

If you could live a day in the life of a character from any play, who would it be?
Cleopatra – as long as it wasn’t the last day.

Top 3 dinner party guests (past or present)?
Tilda Swinton, Sharon Horgan, Charlie Watts.

Best film?
The Big Lebowski

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
‘Surrender to win’ – wait, maybe that was the worst.

Which has been the hardest lesson to learn?
I don’t think I’ve learned any yet.

Favourite place in London?
The Holloway Road: North London’s Avenue of Broken Dreams.

William Boyd, writer of The Argument

Describe your play in 3 words
Argumentative, funny, searching.

What inspired you to write the play?
The fact that every human being on the planet instinctively knows how to argue and has argued and will continue to argue. Arguing is hard-wired into our being, it seems to me. It’s a universal state of mind.

Do you have a favourite line in the play? “They are rather dangerous, arguments: like a crack opening above hell-fire…”

What do you hope audiences will take away from the play?
A lot of laughter. And a lot of edgy laughter. And some new knowledge when they have their next argument!

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A spy-catcher.

Can you give 3 words that sum up Hampstead Theatre.
Vibrant. Compelling. Warm.

If you could have written any play, what would it have been?
The Cherry Orchard, I suppose

If you could live a day in the life of a character from any play, who would it be?
Faust

Top 3 dinner party guests (past or present)?
Louise Brookes, Pablo Picasso, Oscar Wilde

Best film?
Chinatown

What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in life?
“Seize the day”

Which has been the hardest lesson to learn?
Just say, “No, thanks”.

Favourite place in London?
Chelsea

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