“It’s quite personal in some ways, and I’m a bit (read: really, really, really) scared for people to see it”Louis Norris

STORMFACE is a play I wrote when I was trying to write another play. I was annoyed about the number of male ensemble plays with parts that are just fundamentally fun to play. Plays like Jerusalem, The History Boys and Posh. I wondered why there was no equivalent for women. “I’m going to write The History Girls,” I shouted, waving my pen around and wearing my ‘I’m a very important writer’ hat. “I’m going to write the female Johnny Rooster, and it’s going to the best thing anyone’s ever written, and I might make lots of money, but I’ll probably live in a reclusive house off the coast of Scotland and refuse interviews to maintain the mystery!”.

So, I started to write. I wrote 40 pages of a play called Sweeties. It opened with an argument over a sock puppet, wandered into discussions about the death of Amy Winehouse and featured a scene about synchronised wanking. It goes without saying that it was absolutely awful, and should never, never, ever see the light of day. I got 40 pages in, took off my ‘I’m a very important writer’ hat in shame, thought ‘this really isn’t working’, opened a fresh word document, and poured out whatever came to me. I had the itch to write something, I just didn’t know what that something should be, or what form it should take, or whose story it was going to tell. After a lot of rejigging, banging my head against a wall and mainlining Yorkshire Tea like there was no tomorrow, I had a thing, and it was called STORMFACE.

STORMFACE is quite different to a lot of things I’ve written. It’s a lot more episodic, a lot less linear, a bit more abstract and I’ve shown remarkable restraint when it comes to all my favourite four-letter words. It’s quite personal in some ways, and I’m a bit (read: really, really, really) scared for people to see it. It is a play about four people who are all struggling with femininity in one form or another. I’ve had a few people ask about the subtitle ‘This As Well’. It’s a phrase that pops up a few times in the play, and it’s one that, for me, quite succinctly sums up being a woman (if that is ever a thing that would ever be possible, or should be possible to do, in its many, many forms). You might go to school and you’re made to wear a ridiculous skirt, then maybe puberty happens which is frankly rude, then you’re met with institutional misogyny, and a pay gap, and a lack of people who you feel look like and represent you on TV and in plays and in the government, and it doesn’t stop there. I remember being around 15, severely fucked off that I was told to put up with bra fittings, gradually realising I was gay and thinking ‘this? Are you kidding me? This as well?

I’m afraid I haven’t written the female equivalent of Jerusalem. I am very much still learning, and STORMFACE isn’t perfect. I hope that people find something in the play that they respond to, even if they don’t like it, and I hope that we can all have a drink and a chat afterwards, laugh about how ridiculous the world is, how very unlikely it is that things will ever happen the way you’d really like them to, and all just shout, ‘This as well?’ at those things until we feel we’ve got a bit more power over them.

STORMFACE (This As Well) is on at the ADC Theatre 28 February - 2 March

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