Interview With Award Winning Playwright

Tim Price: Forever On The Fringe

“The only thing I am aware of recurring each time I write is a sense of personal disappointment enveloped in terror.”

Tim Price, co-founder of fringe writing company, Dirty Protest, tonight opens his critically acclaimed debut play, For Once, in Cardiff’s Sherman Cymru theatre. The story of a family dealing with the after-effects of a fatal car accident, Tim felt compelled to write For Once after a week in the countryside opened his eyes to the number of teen deaths in road traffic accidents.

For Once premiered last July in London. It explores how the cracks of a family widen under extreme pressures, but also the way society treats teenagers these days.

“We create very little public and commercial space for teenagers,” says Tim. “I feel very passionately that this country does not provide enough engaging spaces for teenagers to just be themselves. Just because as a social group they lack economic agency and political representation doesn’t mean they deserve to be ignored. If we spent more money giving them the space to be themselves fewer of them would be climbing into the wrong car, bed or bottle.”

Told from three different perspectives, Tim and director Orla O’Louglin, now the artistic director of Edinburgh’s new writing theatre, Traverse, intertwine the accounts of a 17-year-old boy and his parents to deliver just over an hour of good old-fashioned kitchen sink drama.

“I used this form because I wrote one character’s story as a monologue and it seemed to work well for the tone,” says Tim. “So I had a go at writing the other two characters. Then with some fantastic dramaturgy from Orla, we figured out a way to make it come alive.

“I’ve been very lucky with the cast and creative involved. The Traverse theatre is probably the most important new writing theatre in the country. It’s a pretty A-list team. With me tagging along.”

For Once also benefits from the sound design from Chris Shutt, who won a Tony Award for his work on War House.

In addition to his two plays, Tim, originally from Aberdare and a philosophy and English literature graduate of Cardiff University, can also boast a number of television credits having written for Eastenders, Casualty and Holby City amongst others.

“Each medium has its own merits,” says Tim. “I would go mad just writing for theatre all the time, as it can be very safe, respectful and I would probably end up writing self-serving nonsense within a play or two. And just writing for TV would shatter my nerves and confidence to the point where I would probably give up.

“The two compliment each other. Theatre’s a writer’s medium, TV is a producer’s medium, and film is a director’s medium. Too much of any one of those is unhealthy for your craft and your sense of self-worth.”

The 31-year-old is now London-based: “I lived in Cardiff for about eight years. I love Cardiff, it’s where most of my best friends are and I had my wilderness years here too. I have fond memories of the place. It has the potential to kick-off, which is great for a visit but I can’t do it full time anymore.

“I’ve had readings at the Sherman before. I love Venue 2; I think it could become the most important space in Wales if the Sherman programmes it well. Venue 1 is beautiful, but slightly scary as a dramatist – how do you fill that space without dancing and singing? Beats me.”

Dirty Protest, Tim’s writing company, helped pioneer a fringe theatre scene in Cardiff that now includes companies such as Walking Exploits, Undeb, 3D and Velvet Ensemble: “Dirty Protest was set up out of frustration at the theatre community’s failure to produce new writing. There weren’t enough opportunities for writers to get together and share their work. We needed to absorb that energy.”

Tim is committed to the fringe theatre scene, but he has already made a name for himself with the mainstream and critics having been shortlisted for the Bargate Award and selected for the BBC Drama Writer’s Academy 2009.

Tim has penned a play for the National Theatre Wales to open in April called The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning, about the US soldier, who attended school in Wales as a teenager, accused of revealing US government secrets to WikiLeaks.

“I have no rituals or mind-set when I write,” says Tim. “I don’t work nine to five like some writers, I work moderately hard all day, all night and every weekend. If I want to stop writing and watch an episode of Homeland or Being Human I will. But then I’ll write until I fall asleep and I’ll reach for my laptop when I wake up. It’s not a chore. It’s exactly what I want to do.”