Playwright Rob’s career has turned full circle
I’m trying to enjoy it rather than be overwhelmed
It was only a few years ago that Rutherglen playwright Rob Drummond was being helped by the Playwright Studio in Scotland and their mentoring system.
Now the boot’s on the other foot, and it’s Rob who’s found himself helping along the next generation of Scottish writers.
He’s currently an Associate Playwright at the studio, after a successful few years that has seen his work like Quiz Show, Wrestling and Bullet Catch win over critics and audiences.
“The Playwright Studio is one of the institutions that I credit with the fact that I’m a working playwright,” he says.
“I went through their mentoring scheme with Douglas Maxwell about five years ago, and now I’m doing the mentoring, so it’s nice to come full circle. I’m working with three emerging playwrights, and just passing on any advice that I can, although with writing it’s about finding your own way of doing things.”
The experience is also helping Rob, too. He’s spending most of this year working on new material for 2016, and the mentoring is giving him a fresh perspective on some things.
“I’m actually learning stuff as well. Just by talking to them about their problems you engage parts of the brain you haven’t thought about, and solve problems of your own.
“The more you talk about writing plays the more you learn, because sometimes they’ll ask you a question you’ve never thought of before, and you evaluate your own process as a result. It really helps.”
Rob’s next batch of work will come on the heels of Bullet Catch, which proved a much bigger success than he was expecting. It proved so popular that he ended up performing the show, which saw the playwright copy the famed magic trick where you catch a bullet with your body, as far afield as Brazil and America.
“The real aim was just to get a good run at the Edinburgh Festival and not embarrass myself,” he adds.
“I didn’t expect anything, other than hoping it’d be a decent standard. There’s turned out to be a lot more, going all over the world. I recently did the last one in Vancouver, so for the time being it’s done.
“In Brazil there was the language barrier, in New York the gun itself was a bigger deal, because of the amount of gun crime there compared to Britain but it was more or less the same wherever it was performed.”
And now he’s concentrating on a host of commissions for next year.
“I’ve got one with the National Theatre of Scotland, one with the Traverse, one with the National Theatre in London, which is an amazing set of commissions to have. I’m trying to enjoy it rather than be overwhelmed by it, because these are the commissions I was after five or six years ago.
“The one for the National Theatre started out as a play at the Arches last year called Wallace, which was tied into the referendum.
“The new one is going to be called Plebiscite, and it’s looking at referendums in general, not just the Scottish one.
“I’m also interested in doing something on ventriloquism in the future, but that would take several months to prepare for and work on.”
Bullet time Rob Drummond (left), on stage in the hugely successful play Bullet Catch