Our Playhouse Playmaker programme has just started up again and, once more, we have an exciting and diverse team of writers who will work with Oxford Playmaker over the next year to hone their playwriting skills. As they'll be with us for a while, we though it would be good to introduce them! Up first, Carolyn...
Hi, I’m Carolyn Lloyd-Davies, and so excited to be part of the Oxford Playhouse Playmakers programme. To think I’ve been coming to the Playhouse for at least 25 years and never dreamt of having the opportunity of actually working with such a professional and much loved theatre.
I applied because it’s a perfect opportunity to work with other writers of all ages and backgrounds – every one of us with a rich and varied experience of life. Playwriting can be a lonely activity and there’s always the danger you lose the edge off your own critical faculties. To meet every month with a group of supportive but objective ‘critical friends’ is an amazing opportunity to develop my writing and perhaps take risks, which I wouldn’t dare on my own.
I’ve had what is sometimes called a ‘portfolio career’. Three separate ‘lives’ which all feed into each other. I was a primary school teacher in London for 9 years during the late 60’s and 70’s, then had my two sons and went into training and project management, starting my own management consultancy with my husband in 1983. It was during this time I started writing and performing short one act plays for corporate theatre.
Having always wanted to go to Drama School (but the ‘sensible decision’ was to go to training college rather than LAMDA…hmmm, I think it was sensible) I suddenly knew I had to do it before it was too late. At the age of 54, I got a place at the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA) in London and did a postgraduate diploma in Acting. I set up a corporate theatre company, Acting for Change, and as I wrote more short plays and scripts I realised I loved playwriting even more than acting. I now run Living the Drama a not-for-profit theatre company and one of our most exciting and recent projects is working with older aspiring playwrights who have never written before. Our oldest members are in their mid 80’s and an inspiration to us all.
Talking of older writers, it’s obvious that age discrimination is not something the Oxford Playhouse even considers. Their system of a ‘blind’ assessment of all scripts meant I was encouraged to submit my play, knowing it would be judged equally with all other hopefuls.
My first full length play was produced at The Old Fire Station in May 2015, I’ve just finished my second play Birds of Prey written in collaboration with Stephanie Connell, on whose true story it was based. We hope it’s going to be performed in London in 2017.
What else? I live in central Oxford, which means I can cycle or walk everywhere - I luxuriate in a smug feeling of keeping fit without really trying and when not writing or thinking about plays (which I do almost all the time…), I enjoy choral music, raucous family meals with plenty of singing and poetry, and my pride and joy is my 1950’s jukebox. A rock ‘n roller to the end…