The Magical Bernadette Russell – writing for theatre.
Bernadette Russell is a writer, performer, comedian; she creates magic and naughtiness in equal measure. She is based in Deptford, London, so it’s cheating a bit to include her in my Bristol based research. However she does perform nationally and I am claiming Bernadette’s Bristol parts for this interview. Her most recent touring play was the internationally inspiring ‘366 days of Kindness’. Her company ‘White Rabbit’ is a creative powerhouse of performance, writing and innovative ideas. Bernadette inspires many people every day including myself.
As someone who spans mediums and is self directed I was keen to find out Bernadette’s opinion on script development. I sent her a series of questions, here are her answers:
What are the themes behind your writing? Are there common threads?
Yes, pretty much always a mix of comedy, social justice/change, usually. Some kind of show business or theatre thread!
What are your preferred mediums to write in?
Short stories, scripts, novels, poetry.
As a theatre maker and a writer, do you have a formula for your script development, or is each project different?
Each one is different; it usually depends on whether or not I am being commissioned by someone else (in which case the process is best described as a sort of writer/co creator and script editor, or for my own work I start rehearsing with a solid first draft and make changes as I go along. The changes never end. I am annoying like that.
Do you prefer to write alone or collaborate?
I like both. Historically I have collaborated so in a way have trained like that, but more recently I’m enjoying working alone too.
When you are developing an idea, do you research the current market, or are you struck by creative ideas randomly?
I never ever research the current market and I never would, for fear of distraction. I am rarely inspired by other artworks (even though I love lots) but more likely by a random conversation in the park, or a shopping list I find at the bus stop.
Where do you pitch your ideas?
I make it all happen myself mostly, occasionally I approach venues and companies I have worked with before and ask if they’re interested. But not often.
What is your first step when you have an idea? Do you apply for funding and then collaborate with artists?
Varies, sometimes I do a sort of seedling version (I am doing that at the moment with my new project BED) just a rough version I try out before seeing if I want to develop it. In fact I have done this with all of my projects, self funded and small at the beginning. I don’t collaborate with many other people with my own work, only because when I have received funding it hasn’t been very much. But I am hoping to work with more people in the future.
Brilliant, thank you Bernadette, I’m looking forward to seeing your new projects BED develop and take over the world.