Laura through the look­ing glass

Laura Wade is one of the coun­try’s lead­ing young play­wrights. Arts re­porter Nick Ahad talked to her about her new play.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - STAGE -

LAURA Wade laughs at the sug­ges­tion that she’s the hottest new play­wright around.

“Isn’t that Polly Sten­ham?” says Wade, re­fer­ring to the writer of That Face, a new pro­duc­tion of which opens in Sh­effield next month.

True, Sten­ham is a rare wun­derkind who is praised as the sort of writer who comes around once in a gen­er­a­tion. Wade per­haps ranks be­hind her in the league ta­ble of bright young things in the­atre­land, but there are not many oth­ers ahead of her.

Still only 32, Wade has an Olivier Award nom­i­na­tion and a Crit­ics’ Cir­cle award for most promis­ing play­wright.

London and the the­atre elite be­came aware of Wade when her sec­ond and third plays ran si­mul­ta­ne­ously in the cap­i­tal. The na­tional cov­er­age re­ferred to Colder than Here and Breath­ing Corpses as her “first and sec­ond” plays, but here in Wade’s home county, we know bet­ter.

Wade’s first play was ac­tu­ally Limbo. Set in Sh­effield, it de­buted at the Stu­dio, the the­atre which sits next to the Cru­cible. Wade wrote it as a 17-year-old school­girl and she was just 18 when it was first per­formed.

Grow­ing up in Ec­cle­sall, in a “house full of books”, Wade de­scribes her­self as “mad about words”.

She at­tended Lady Man­ners School, in Bakewell, where Wade was aca­dem­i­cally strong, but also de­ter­mined – even if her teach­ers were de­ter­mined oth­er­wise – to fol­low a ca­reer in the the­atre.

Wade was clearly pre­co­cious. She first had the idea to be­come a play­wright when she was on work ex­pe­ri­ence at Sh­effield Cru­cible – she wrote to the the­atre ask­ing to shadow a di­rec­tor for a fort­night and asked her school for two weeks off.

“The school was re­ally good about en­cour­ag­ing me and al­low­ing me to take the time off to do my work ex­pe­ri­ence at the Cru­cible,” says Wade.

“I was in a re­hearsal one day, I had the idea that I wanted to be a di­rec­tor, and a play­wright asked me if I had ever thought about writ­ing my own work. I de­cided to give it a go.”

The de­ter­mined Wade set about writ­ing her first play and once it was fin­ished had no idea what to do.

“I wasn’t sure if I was sup­posed to, or even if I could, send it out. The only place I knew was the Cru­cible, so I sent it there,” she says.

Open­ing night held a shock for the young play­wright.

“It was re­ally quite ter­ri­fy­ing and I re­mem­ber be­ing a bit sur­prised when the au­di­ence turned up on the first night,” she says.

“That first ex­pe­ri­ence of peo­ple sit­ting in a room and lis­ten­ing to the words I had writ­ten was mag­i­cal. I was hooked from then.”

Af­ter that first play, Wade stud­ied drama at Bris­tol Uni­ver­sity and then went to London, work­ing temp jobs and de­ter­mined to make her name as a writer.

A writ­ers group at the Royal Court helped to kick-start her ca­reer and she hasn’t looked back.

Wade re­turns to her home city this month with a new in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Alice in Won­der­land.

“I can’t tell you how ex­cited I am to have a play on at the Cru­cible,” says Wade. “Apart from the fact that I think it’s one of the most ex­cit­ing the­atre spa­ces in the coun­try, it’s the first place I re­mem­ber see­ing any the­atre. My first clear me­mory is of see­ing The Rail­way Chil­dren there.

“It’s won­der­ful to think young peo­ple in Sh­effield might get their first ex­pe­ri­ence in the Cru­cible see­ing my play.”

Re­view, page 16.

LAURA WADE: Back in Sh­effield.

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