Talking Theatre: Writer Alan Harris Discusses "How My Light Is Spent"
How My Light Is Spent, a new play by Cardiff-based playwright Alan Harris runs at Cardiff’s Sherman Theatre until May 27, 2017.
Starring Welsh actors Rhodri Meilir and Alexandria Riley, the play is Harris’s follow up to 2016’s Love Lies and Taxidermy which proved to be a hit with audiences in Cardiff and at Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
Andy Howells recently put questions to writer Alan Harris about the play.
What is How My Light Is Spent about?
It's about a man called Jimmy who loses his job and then loses his job again. He then starts to turn invisible. Oh, and it's a story about Kitty - she's a phone sex worker who wants to become a psychologist. Their worlds collide.
What inspired you to write the play?
I'd been wanting to find a way of expressing how easy it is to lose your place in society for quite some time. Then I spoke to someone who had recently lost their job and, it seemed, they felt as if they were "turning invisible". But my plays tend to be an amalgamation of different ideas, formed into a single story over time.
How did you get into writing originally?
I worked as a journalist but always felt I wanted to write "fiction" - but had no outlet for it. When I began writing there was an organisation called Sgript Cymru and you could send in scripts to them and they'd give you feedback. Someone suggested I do that, so I did. They didn't like that particular play but were encouraging, so I continued to write.
Do you expect audiences for its Welsh debut at Sherman Theatre next week to react differently to Manchester ones?
Yes, I do. Maybe not to the bigger stuff like how we fit into society or about finding someone that understands you but the play is set in South Wales - Newport, in fact - and they will have a clearer mental image of the places mentioned in the script. It'll be interesting to see if people still laugh at the same bits.
Do you write with an audience in mind? Are you writing to reach a wider audience?
In a way you have to visualise being an audience member when you write the play. I hope that the play - my writing, how I write and what I write about - has a wide appeal. You tend to write what you would like to see on stage - then it's down to the audience to see if they like the same things as you!
What is your favourite play / writer, and why?
If I had to choose a writer that I love it's Ibsen, he could tell a great story and was the master at dramatic structure. All his plays are great.
What's next from you?
I'm currently in the middle of a new adaptation of Kafka's Metamorphosis for BBC Radio 4. It'll ar later this year.