Interview with the writer: Richard Stockwell

We’re delighted to welcome back playwright Richard Stockwell with his work-in-development reading of his new play Continuum. The show, presented as part of our Live Lab programme of exciting new work, is on in our Studio Theatre on Thursday 1 May at 8pm. Here’s what Richard had to say about the show…

1. Without giving too much away what’s Continuum about?

Continuum is about a young man called Ben who wakes up in hospital after a car crash having damaged the right frontal lobe of his brain. Many key functions of his brain have been affected he talks too much, he has trouble deciding what is or isn’t appropriate in social situations and he has a fractured memory of his recent past. His personality is rather different and his memory seems unreliable and into this comes his girlfriend, Jenny.  It seems the accident was, in part, a result of an argument between them and so the unresolved issues of the past have to be negotiated by the couple in the light of the fact that Ben may no longer still be the Ben he was before.

2. What was the inspiration for the piece?

I read a book several years ago called Into The Silent Land  by Paul Broks a neuropsychologist. It is an extraordinary book, a combination of case studies and creative writing which introduced me to the extraordinary world of neuroscience.  It raises the fundamental question about what is it in the brain that makes us – us.  Where in the sludge of grey matter is the individual and that idea was something I wanted to explore in a play.

3. Continuum is being presented as a work-in-progress reading. Can you tell us a bit more about this and what you’re hoping to gain from the process?

The beauty of a work-in-progress reading is that you see for the first time an audience responding to the piece – a chance to hear what is working and what isn’t. Sitting alone in front of the laptop is fine and quite interesting but plays are a living interaction, a shared experience so you only really get a true sense of where the spark lies when you set it in front of an audience. We have a sense of what we think works in the piece and the reading may give us a chance to see if we are right or if there is more work to do.

4. How do you hope the audience will feel having seen Continuum?

I hope they will be moved. Ben is a difficult character, he was a rather difficult man before the accident and the changes that have happened to him make him unpredictable, rude and challenging in his behaviour, but we go on a journey with him to try and discover what he is now. How he should live now and what might the future be like for a man whose past has been so broken by such an accident. In spite of the changes that have happened to him there is (I hope) a kind of nobility in his acceptance of the frailty of his humanity. Hope that doesn’t sound too pretentious – I hope that they will be moved by the choices he has to make as he tries to rebuild his life and his relationship with his girlfriend.

Continuum is at Live Theatre on Thursday 1 May at 8pm. Tickets cost £5. Find out more and book tickets or call Live Theatre’s Box Office on (0191) 232 1232.

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