In Conversation with the Young Playwrights 

Jul 7, 2023

The Young Playwrights are currently at the mid way point of their 5-month long playwriting mentorship. So far they have attended 5 workshops facilitated by playwrights John McCarthy & Katie Holly in Graffiti Theatre, where they have been focusing on their creative practice, writing technique and how to road test their ideas.

They have also attended live theatre in The Everyman, seeing ‘Conversations After Sex’, a new by play Mark O’Halloran, produced by Thisispopbaby, as part of our programme partnership with The Everyman. 

We caught up with them about the experience so far and their hopes for the outcome of the programme, which will see them taking over the Everyman stage on Sunday 20th August.  

The Young Playwrights of 2023 are; Shiv McGrath, Anna Gaytan, Eimear Sheehan, Elsa Forrest, Anna Dunlea, Aobha Lynch, Kellie-Ann Holmes & Michael Corbett. 

Here are some of their thoughts.

Photo by Celeste Burdon

How are you finding the process?

Elsa: So far in this process working with other young writers has been an amazing experience, I have found hearing others work can inspire me.

Shiv: It’s very enjoyable and has helped me with expressing thoughts and ideas in my writing

Anna D: It is a very powerful experience, learning from the mentors and my peers on the programme. It has really changed how I think about my writing and I learn a lot in each session. In between the workshops, I have time to work on my pieces and edit/ improve sections. The feedback from the workshops is invaluable. It’s really fun and I look forward to each workshop. Attending the plays has also been a huge opportunity and we learn a lot from seeing different productions on stage and discussing them.

Why did you apply for the programme?

Anna G: I originally shared the application with a friend of mine, who is a talented young writer, and decided to try it too. I didn’t think I will actually succeed, because it was my first time writing in English, but I’m happy I did. 

Anna D: I love writing and I have a great interest in theatre. I thought it was a huge opportunity to work with and learn from John McCarthy and Katie Holly and I was very excited about the potential to meet other young writers.

Eimear: I wanted to work on my writing and learn not only how to write plays but the creative process that accompanies it.

What has been the most ‘interesting/fun/challenging’ aspect of the programme so far?

Aobha: When other people read out my script it is very scary but it is interesting to hear others actually say the words [I’ve written], it made me realise I’m writing an actual play . 

Elsa: Usually, I only write for myself so I can write about whatever I want to write about. I often wrote pieces inspired by real life events and people. During this programme I’ve had to keep in mind that my piece isn’t just for me. My piece has evolved into a piece of fiction, which (hopefully) does the events and people that inspired it justice. Constraints is too strong a word, but it’s been interesting to see how I adapt my characters and plot to be more suitable for an audience instead of just for myself.

Michael: Seeing shows! For me, the opportunity to see professional plays in the Everyman is so important and rewarding. Not a show went by that I wasn’t writing the whole night after, high on inspiration, desperate to follow!

Photo by Celeste Burdon

Is there anything that you have learned that you would like to share? 

Kellie-Anne: I’ve learned that, although everyone has their own unique writing style, writers all go through the same occasional struggles, such as “writer’s block” or struggling to fully realise an idea. Once I learned this, it made me feel comforted to know that it’s normal to feel completely stuck now and again!

Shiv: The little details are important, but too many can be a problem.

Elsa: Before I began this programme my writing was very descriptive and lots of it had no dialogue. These workshops have pushed me to convey what I want through words and how they are said, pauses and stage directions. 

What are you most looking forward to about the final sharing of work in The Everyman Theatre?

Anna G: I can’t wait for starting the work process with the actors and director, to see them add new dimensions to what I’ve written.

Kellie-Anne: I’m really looking forward to having my writing performed on stage for my family and friends!

Michael: Being in the Everyman working with actors and our director will be so surreal. I can’t wait.

Can you share with us what you’re currently writing or is it top secret? 

Aobha: It’s top secret. 

Shiv: It’s a small horror segment set in an abandoned building.

Anna D: I’m working on a couple of pieces at the moment, the one I’m enjoying the most is a dark comedy focused on Bridie, a sweet old lady and a parish priest. The setting is very Irish, a different generation, a meeting of minds and some sinister morals.

Photo by Celeste Burdon

Finally, what inspires you to write and would you recommend other young people to write?

Kellie-Anne: I am inspired by everything around me – people and their habits, nature, wildlife; I believe a story can be found in anything. I am also heavily inspired by what I watch on television and what I read. A wonderful quote on writing I once heard was “read from writers who are better than you. Read and observe.” And that’s what I do. I try to surround myself with as many different authors as I can and they make me believe that one day I could be as great as them! I would definitely recommend to other young people to write because it inspires creativity, it’s a wonderful pastime and it really frees the imagination.

Michael: When a piece of art stays with you, suspends you, resonates with you so deeply that you are irrevocably changed… I chase that feeling in my writing (just give me a few decades and then some). I love writing because it is an exercise in empathy, and it’s been integral to my teenage years. I think everyone should write, if even just a little bit. 

Eimear: Things that I see everyday inspire me to write, simple things. I would absolutely recommend other young people to write. It can be a vessel for creativity and self expression and you can create something amazing.

About the Young Playwrights Programme:

The Young Playwrights programme is currently in its 5th year of delivery. It’s run by Graffiti Theatre Company in partnership with The Everyman Cork and Fighting Words Ireland and is open to anyone aged 15 – 22 years old who is interested in writing for theatre. Participants receive mentorship in writing from playwrights Katie Holly and John McCarthy and work towards a staged reading of their work on The Everyman stage by professional actors & theatre directors. 

Join us for the Young Playwrights Programme sharing in The Everyman theatre, Sunday 20th August.