The Hall, a new observational comedy from the pen of emerging Welsh playwright and Rhiwbina resident, Claire Erasmus, is to make its debut in Cardiff this week.
Set in a Community Hall threatened with closure, the one-act play explores the relationship that develops between three mothers, Lisa, Shaza and Mel in the weekly hour that they spend together chatting and waiting for their children.
Andy Howells recently put questions to playwright, Claire Erasmus about her work and The Hall.
How did you get into writing?
I grew up with a love of language and literature thanks to my parents. My Father was an English lecturer and my mother an avid reader, so I was always read to – Roald Dahl, CS Lewis etc. Something that was invaluable.
I was also actively encouraged to read myself. anything and everything. Many blissful Saturday mornings were spent with the four of us (My older and adored, very witty sister Helen) sat in the kitchen, feasting on towers of buttered toast drinking huge mugs of coffee and pouring over different sections of The Guardian
Have you always had a passion for comedy?
I have always loved making people laugh and telling funny stories. I was notorious for it in school. I grew up in a witty family who would compete to outwit one another and tease each other mercilessly. Being the youngest … I also used humor to survive! Growing up in the valleys surrounded by people with natural comic timing and that quick self- depreciating humor also gave me an ear for it.
Dai walks into the works.
Nipper: How are you Dai?
Dai: Who are you? A bloody doctor?
I love it!
Who would you say are your comedy influences?
Growing up in the 1970’s my comic influences are mainly from the television and the comedians my parents exposed me to, such as Ryan Davies, Joyce Grenfell and Dave Allen.
I adored all the classics – Dads Army, Only Fools and Horses.. both superb writing and casting and moments poignancy amid the hilarity. Pure genius. The anarchic humor of Monty Python, paved the way for later groundbreaking shows such as The Young Ones and Blackadder and I feasted on these shows during my teenage years. They made me believe that in comedy anything is possible. And that excited me.
The Female comedians who have most inspired me would be Caroline Aherne, Victoria Wood and our own Ruth Jones. Each of these icons, wrote brilliantly and selflessly for other women and their humor also has great empathy – as equally moving as it is funny. I love that relatable, observational humor that reflects ordinary lives.
Caroline Aherne writes – “She’s a vegetarian, that’s a shame .. could she have some wafer-thin ham Barbara?” Priceless.
Can you tell us a bit about The Hall and your inspirations behind that?
The actors in The Hall are a talented, versatile bunch as well as being lovely human beings! They have been a joy to work with and I know they will all go on to do such great work.
Jennie Eggleton appeared in Wonder Woman for Warner Brothers plays Mel, the sleep deprived ex- medieval literature graduate and mother, who forms an unlikely friendship with Lisa and Shaza .
Jodie Hay playing Shaza is from Bristol and is a talented physical performer who can add so much to a line, simply with her hysterical facial expressions. Josie’s TV credits in Foyles War and Miss Marple and has worked extensively in London theatre.
Carrie Hill who has appeared in Dell at the RSC has found playing Lisa had a real challenge. Taking on the Welsh accent! Which she does brilliantly.
What else are you working on at the moment?
New writing projects to me feel like I have a whole trunk full of new toys I haven’t yet played with, so I am lucky to have lots of things in the pipeline.
My two hander Flotsam exploring historic abuse premieres at The Kings Head London this Autumn and I would love to bring this to Cardiff . Starring Ciara Pouncett , Jenni Airies and directed by Evy Barry.
I am also writing another comedy based in a valleys salon for the stage and as a screen play. I’m loving this new chapter in my life and follow the advice my Father always gave me before exams “ Cool Head .. flowing pen “
The Hall, plays for one night only at The Tramshed, Cardiff on Wednesday 6th June. From 7.30pm Tickets are available from tramshedcardiff.com