As we continue to introduce the playwrights of ANOTHER DAY, we welcome AFOAF regular, James Robert-Moore.
James, did you always want to be a writer?
No! I’m relatively new. I’ve always wanted to be an actor. I went to a drama school (American Academy of Dramatic Arts) in New York for a year, and whilst I was out there I started blogging about my experiences. People seemed to really take to my ramblings about all things stateside, so when I returned home I decided to finally write the full-length play I’d had rattling around in my head for years. Now I’ve started writing, I just can’t stop! Acting is still my first love, although both creative outputs battle for top position quite frequently depending on my mood!
My training continues on every job I ever do.
You never stop learning. Ever.
Do you have any writing rituals? Or a favourite work space?
My bedroom. Lots and lots and lots of tea. And a really good book to read when my mind’s gone blank and it’s all getting a bit stressful. Resting, and taking yourself away from the piece is vital. A fresh set of eyes always brings a new twist or turn.
When you sit down to write, what is your process? Do you have a clear idea when you start off and simply fill in the blanks or do you simply start typing and see what comes out?
Oh my goodness, this is an impossible questions, and every single writer will tell you something different. I always have to have an idea, and usually an opening scene and an end. What happens in the middle is up to my fingers as I type. Sometimes though I have one strong idea, and by the time I’ve finished a piece has completely gone in a different direction. I love it when that happens.
So we first worked with you last year…
That’s right. I first worked with AFOAF back on The Installation. Patrick assitant-directed a show I was in up in Edinburgh last year, and one night over an over-priced beer I told him how I wanted to turn my hands to a bit of writing. He told me about your Art Gallery project and I got thinking of some ideas. A few months later, ‘What Would Andrew Lincoln Do?’ was born.
What Would Andrew Lincoln Do? actually opened THE INSTALLATION. What was your lasting impression of that experience?
It was so nice to have the support and encouragement of A Friend of A Friend, particularly as I was such a virgin in the writing stakes. Through a fun rehearsal period, the play really changed shape, and has fast become one of my most favourite shorts I’ve written.
What have you been up to since?
Since then, I’ve continued putting pen to paper, and have been working hard on my full length play ‘It’s Been Nice Knowing You’, which has received two workshops so far. I’m hoping to see it get a full scale production within the next year. I’ve also just started writing a very exciting new piece based on a best-selling book, which I can’t say too much about at the moment – yes, I hate it when people say that too!
You tease! We’ll just have to hold on and await the big reveal! What else have you got in the works?
My most recent project was taking all my clothes off in a production of Privates on Parade! I’m in a real writing frame of mind at the moment, and am currently working on three projects as well as Another Day. ‘It’s Been Nice Knowing You’, the new project I’m being coy about, and also a series of shorts all themed around dating – which I actually took inspiration from doing ‘What Would Andrew Lincoln Do?’ in The Installation project. I’ve had my fair share of terrible dates, and I know everybody else has too. So why not be entertained with some disastrous stories! Look out for the shorts around Valentine’s Day next year!
We’ve seen some sneak previews of your upcoming work – audiences are in for a treat! What is it that appeals to you about short plays?
I love writing plays the best. Usually full length, but it’s amazing what stories you can tell in short form too. Sometimes you don’t need to drag a tale out – short and punchy can get your message across even better.
So as you know, ANOTHER DAY is all about life in Blackfriars, do you have any SE1 anecdotes to share with us?
I bought my beloved bicycle ‘Ashley’ from a shop just between Elephant and Castle and Borough, so although I’m not a Southwark resident, the area does bring back fond memories!
More recently, I went to the Southwark Playhouse for the first time actually, to see Dogfight (by Danielle Tarento). I absolutely loved it, and the space was great. I love that you can turn anything into a theatrical space – there are no limits any more. We’re very lucky to live in such an exciting time, creatively.
Agreed. In fact, we feel that it’s a very exciting time for the Arts in Southwark in particular; it’s great that audiences are coming south of the river. So what other discoveres have you made?
Sometimes if I’m feeling adventurous then I walk all the way from Tooting to the River. It’s amazing the sights and sounds you come across on the way. It’s much better to see the beauty on top than be whizzed underneath it on the underground every day. It’s a little treat I highly recommend.
The little arches that run adjacent to The Cut are a gorgeous little find. Especially when all the flowers are out in bloom. It’s easy to forget you’re in London, and while away the afternoon with friends. Try the little sharing dishes in EV restaurant. They’re delicious.
You’ve admitted that you’re not a native to SE1, but you definitely seem to know your way around. What have you discovered about the area since starting work on ANOTHER DAY? Has your perception changed?
I didn’t really know anything about Blackfriars before I started working on the project but it’s amazing to discover how rich in detail one little area is. I love talking to and hearing about the people who have lived there all their lives. As a person who grew up elsewhere and then moved to London, I always forget that for some people London has always been home. The way the city has built up must be a very confusing, and exciting thing for the long-term residents to have witnessed. It’s easy to take London for granted, but for them it’s a way of life.
James Robert-Moore has written ‘Welcome to Blackfriars’ as part of ANOTHER DAY. He is also mentoring student playwright Claire Squire, and refining the story arc for ANOTHER DAY with dramaturg and director Patrick Maubert.