TIM FIRTH – A LIFE IN WRIT­ING

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - AGE -

songs. Then just be­fore go­ing away to Cam­bridge to read English, he en­rolled on an Ar­von course at Lumb Bank near Heb­den Bridge. The tu­tor was Willy Rus­sell and it changed his life – he de­cided to be­come a writer. “I think some­times you have to be shocked into mak­ing de­ci­sions,” he says. “If I had thought about be­ing a play­wright I would never have done it.”

He is happy that the col­lab­o­ra­tion with Sh­effield has al­lowed him to com­bine his two great pas­sions. “What’s been great is that the piece com­pletely dic­tated its own terms,” he says. “Be­cause it was all writ­ten as a com­edy, when­ever I strayed into it be­com­ing a more con­ven­tional mu­si­cal I stopped be­cause it was not right for the story – it felt arch and wrong.”

Firth says that his ap­proach to writ­ing has al­ways been to fol­low his instinct and to avoid plan­ning or strate­gis­ing. “The less you give your­self time to think and the more you write from the heart, the bet­ter,” he says. “I have never had a mis­sion. When I work the mis­sion emerges out of the com­edy.”

It cer­tainly paid div­i­dends with Cal­en­dar Girls when he was brought in to save a film script that wasn’t work­ing. “I wrote with great freedom; I just thought ‘I will base it on my mum and her friends’,” he says. “The area I was most in­ter­ested in was the group com­edy. When I de­vel­oped it for the stage, that was the most re­ward­ing – it was much eas­ier to achieve that on stage than on film. There is some­thing very spe­cial about com­edy in the theatre – when it’s good and peo­ple are laugh­ing, it’s the best it can be.”

This is My Fam­ily, Sh­effield Stu­dio, June 19-July 20. 0114 249 6000. www. sheffieldthe­atres.co.uk TIM Firth was born in 1964 and has lived all his life in the North West of Eng­land.

He stud­ied English at Cam­bridge where he met as­pir­ing young di­rec­tor Sam Men­des who di­rected all Firth’s plays at Cam­bridge. Firth also wrote for the Foot­lights re­vue team.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing, he was in­vited to meet Alan Ay­ck­bourn in Scarborough. Ay­ck­bourn com­mis­sioned a one-act play for the stu­dio at the Stephen Joseph Theatre. Firth’s first full-length play Neville’s Is­land was also staged in Scarborough. His new mu­si­cal This is My Fam­ily has been de­scribed by Daniel Evans as “a re­fresh­ingly hon­est and funny por­trayal of mod­ern fam­ily life”.

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