Introducing: Joyce Branagh – writer (Distant Sounds)

Joyce is a Writer, Director, and Actress living and working in the North West.  She has directed 3 plays, and written 2 plays for 24:7 Theatre Festival – Sheepish (2010) and Peggy and the Spaceman (2011).  Her other work includes: For The Record (3 month rural tour with Forest Forge Theatre Co);  Dick Whittington and his Cat and Jack and the Beanstalk, (Watford Palace Theatre); a stage adaptation of The Vicar of Dibley  (Todmorden Hippodrome); Bridges (with the support of M6, Arts Council and Physics Society).  She is currently under commission to write Bleeding Hell… A Period Drama for Amy Bonsall Productions.

Having seen War Stories last year, she was delighted to be asked to write for Distant Sounds, and hopes that though this may be the last 24:7 Theatre Festival in its current form, that the essence of this brilliant festival will continue into the future.

What initially made you interested in writing a piece of theatre inspired by a piece of music?

Ian Townsend asked me!  As someone who works with other writers to  to create new ideas and get them writing, I often use music and songs to provoke a response, but weirdly have never tried it myself!

What were your first thoughts about the piece of music you are working with?

I thought it sounded very American and quite folky… a beautiful song with a sad refrain.  There was already a story within the song, which I wasn’t expecting.

What problems did you run into when writing your script?

At first I resisted writing about the obvious topic (I don’t want to spoil it so I won’t say exactly what it is), but I wanted to write something more lighthearted than the song’s story was suggesting… then I worked out a way that I could approach the story from a different angle – combining some humour into a dark subject.

Did you have any ideas before you listened to the music that you are still using?

I tried not to – the idea was to write in response to the music.  But I was already keen to try and write for two women if I could.  Try and do my bit to balance out the lack of decent roles for women in theatre.  Luckily Tasnim wanted to do that too – phew.

Have you ever been to Australia?- If so what did you think?

No.  I’d really like to.  I think we should organise a 247 trip to the You Are Here Festival…!