How do you relate to your character?
D: When life gets hard, sometimes I feel like disappearing and hiding from the world! I also relate to Dawn being an introvert which I am too. The industry often requires us to be very chatty and sociable and whilst I do mostly love this, I do have to recharge after. Sometimes when I'm tired I feel like being anonymous! Which just isn't possible in Manchester! Dawn also has quite a self-deprecating sense of humour which used to be my 'go-to' way of operating when I was at secondary school to try and fit in and find my place in a group.
Under the direction of Paul Worrall what have you found challenging about bringing the script to life?
L: I think one of the early concerns was identifying who the protagonist is talking to. Paul and Diana have already worked hard on audience connection and thanks to the input from Dan Jarvis (Consultant Director), the play now sits between monologue and stand-up.
D: I think confidence has been my main challenge. Whilst I feel hugely honoured to have been asked and privileged to be able to work with Laura's writing, which I just love, I'm still terrified! As a one woman show, it's all on me and if it bombs I have no-one else to blame!!
Why should people come & watch 'A Quick Guide to Ruining Your Life' & why is the piece important?
Not Norman is a new theatre company and 'A Quick Guide to Ruining Your Life' is its first production. Its producer Diana Atkins, founded and co-produces Manchester ADP who won Best Comedy Play for their co-production 'The Loves of Others' at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival in 2017, as well as staging over 48 shows across Manchester. As an actor Diana's highlights include performing in 'Finding Alice' at the Lowry and Oldham Coliseum. She is passionate about new writing and has worked on the R&D of 'Glugged' as part of the Royal Exchange's REACT programme.
'A Quick Guide to Ruining your Life' is written by Laura Harper. Laura has had work performed at Southwark Playhouse, Bread & Roses Theatre, The Royal Exchange Studio, 53Two, Tristan Bates Theatre, Studio Salford, The Dukes Theatre, Oldham Coliseum, Hope Mill Theatre, and The Bunker Theatre, London. Her awards include Winner of Audience’s Favourite Award 24:7 Theatre Festival 2015, Nominated for Best Fringe Production at the 2015 Manchester Theatre Awards, Winner of The Madeline Boden Award for Best New Play at Woking Drama Festival 2017, Winner of the Iron & Fire Award for New Writing at Leatherhead Theatre Festival, and most recently, the North West Winner of the ITI Morecambe Fringe 10 Minute Play Competition.
'A Quick Guide to Ruining Your Life' is a production by Not Norman.
Monday 1 July, 7.30pm
Saturday 6 July, 4.00pm
Sunday 7 July, 2.00pm
Running time - 45mins
Full price £7
Directed by Paul Worrall
Written by Laura Harper
What made you write this piece?
L: I was inspired to write the play after a conversation with friends about the kinds of things they have done to avoid embarrassment. The resulting play is about the lengths we go to in order to save face and avoid embarrassment. It's a very British problem I feel.
Without any spoilers what is 'A Quick Guide to Ruining Your Life' about?
L: The play is about Dawn who from the outside, appears to have it all - a nice house, fast car, great friends and family, and a new job out in sunny Dubai. But she's actually been living in her own attic for the last 2 months (You find this out right at the start of the play so its not a spoiler!) She’s about to confess all to the world, but not before she confronts some painful home truths, uncovers a heart-breaking infidelity and learns to poop in a bucket!
How did the collaboration between the both of you begin?
L: I've known Diana for a few years, but I saw her perform for the first time earlier in the year and I thought we would be a good match. Plus with Diana, you get an actor and a producer, which means keeping our company small and effective.
What's the story behind theatre company Not Norman?
D: I wanted to do something in memory of my Dad who was called Norman. But I thought if I used that name, people would assume it was run by old white men so hence Not Norman!
What reaction do you expect from an audience?
L: I hope the audience will leave the play feeling uplifted and empowered by watching someone admit to and work through their biggest failings. I also hope they laugh.
D: Yeah, I really hope they laugh! I certainly laughed a lot when I was reading the script!
Describe the piece in 3 words.
D: Relateable, endearing, funny.
Paul Worrall is a North-West theatre maker. Trained with the National Youth Theatre and Manchester Actors’ Platform, Paul’s recent director credits include Gemma Langford’s 'Grow' for Offcut Festival 2019 which scooped both industry panel and audience awards.. Paul’s sound design credits include Hannah Ellis’ 'Purge' at Oldham Coliseum/Lowry Studio.
L: For anyone who ever felt the pressure of having it all, for those who have bent the truth to avoid embarrassment, for those who drink more than they plan to and then 'balance it out' with two hours at the gym, this is for you. It's a play about adulting, and how we're all somewhat blagging it.