Girls’ Night Out

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The inaugural Fizzy Sherbet evening of new writing by women, features my 12 minute play “Lakukuku”. The seven rehearsed readings will be presented at the Hackney Attic on January 24th – if you’re up that way, do come along!


London (and Mayo) Calling

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Exited to learn that the inaugural Fizzy Sherbet evening of new writing by women, features my 12 minute play “Lakukuku”. The seven rehearsed readings will be presented at the Hackney Attic on January 24th – if you’re up that way, do come along!

And, and, and…  A 30 minute play of mine, “The Dog in the Tree House” is a finalist for and will be presented at the Claremorris Festival, Co. Mayo this March (date TBA). By happy chance, I have a two week residency at the Heinrich Boll cottage in Co. Mayo at precisely that time (sweet serendipity) so will definitely be in Claremorris to see the performance.

If any of you are in London, or Mayo, I hope you can make it along!


New Beginnings

2016-12-28-13-27-30Winter sojourn at Tyn-ny-Pant, Builth Wells, Wales thanks to veteran playwright Donald Howarth.

Socially, politically that was a stinker of a year. Selfishly, I have to say that professionally, for me, it was kind of groovy. I had an arts council funded without decor production of my stage play, “Brazen Strap” at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington. A play of mine was workshopped at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin. I was a finalist for the Nick Darke Award, the Eamon Keane Award and the Old Vic 12 and was granted a Peggy Ramsay bursary to fund my writing. I had my bi-lingual radio play “Blue King” produced and broadcast in Ireland. I was awarded a two week stay at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for artists in Co. Monaghan, Ireland. I upgraded on my PhD and I got to spend time in the Loire Valley and Paris. I was promoted to Deputy Literary Manager at the Finborough, and attended a Criterion Theatre course in comedy writing. All of the above brought me into closer and new contact with interesting, talented and inspirational people.

Of course, every year brings its challenges and meeting them with grace is sometimes a challenge in itself! However, I think I’m doing alright – I’ve nurtured my friendships and I think I was there for friends and family when they needed me. So, I leave 2016 feeling good personally, if rather worried about the shape of things to come internationally.

I wouldn’t have achieved anything last year if I had not applied to all sorts of schemes and programmes, competitions and awards, theatres and theatre companies, media houses and arts bodies. It’s important to keep on keeping on. Put your work out there. Be tenacious. Make a plan and if it fails, make another.

Here’s hoping that 2017 will bring many good things, and the strength to deal with what look like bad things, with grace and optimism.


Wrapping the Year

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I’m tying up loose ends, writing missives and emails to friends and organising for the year to come. I’m making plans and carrying over and tallying up – not least my hits and misses on the writing front.

The best piece of advice I can give to a writer is don’t give up. Keep on writing and keep on sending out. The importance of this rule is never more apparent than when I’m looking over my yearly send outs, my applications, my pitches – of which I keep a log. Each story or play or idea or application I send out, I refer to as a ‘ship’ and if I am accepted or shortlisted or granted a bursary etc.. I deem it ‘home to port’, and if rejected, I log it in the ‘sunk’ column. This year 64 ships sunk and 22 came home to port laden with some sort of reward. And, I”m doing well…

Rejections are water off a duck’s back to me. It seems for every four opportunities I approach, one will welcome me, so to hell with the other three and I think it is really the only way a writer can survive.

Keep at it! Don’t let the bastards grind you down. Happy Christmas and wishing you all wonder and health in 2017.

Sue x


The Day Job…

The day job…

A wise writer once said to me that it’s not so much the pram in the hall that’s the impediment to a writing career, but the bills on the door-mat. Money worries are the bane of creativity. And unless independently wealthy, the emerging writer will have to make a living while waiting for that book/film deal (and probably for a while after that fact too). Writers need to work; the question is what kind of jobs are out there?

Many will consider other (more lucrative) forms of writing to bring home the bucks. Journalism is an obvious  choice and is still, probably, the most common second career for many creative writers. Moreover, a journalistic background provides marvelous training re editing and brevity of approach. Copy-writing, particularly website copy, is also a popular income booster for writer but both copy-writing and journalism are less satisfying forms of writing for the creative writer and spending all day writing on the day job can make it difficult to come home and do the same at night.

Teaching English and/or creative writing is another common earner for writers. My TEFL training and experience has given me a sound grip of grammar and the intricacies of the English language – all of which is of great practical use to a writer. A TEFL teacher also (usually) travels and such experiences can feed into your work. Teaching creative writing allows you to deconstruct the tools of creative writing, which may benefit your own writing. However, you usually need a track record of publication before you begin to look for work in this area.

It is not uncommon for writers to work a mundane job such as on a factory line or as a manual laborer. Such tasks sit quite well with a writing career as they give the writer time to think, to let ideas bubble and boil ready to write down after the shift has finished. Also, with a job so utterly removed from writing, you will be fresh and eager to sit at your laptop of an evening. The downside of any brain numbing, repetitive work is that it has no status. This fact should not be important but it is because writers are human, so for a writer to stay in a lowly job, s/he needs determination, focus and confidence in their reason for doing this type of work.

Writers, of course, come from all walks of life and all career backgrounds. For those of you who may be considering giving up your job to write full time, you need to remember that you’ll (most likely) still need to make a living. Maybe the job you have is not glamorous or interesting, but these are often the best complementary jobs for writing. So, if you really want to be a writer, the greatest sacrifice you make may be NOT giving up the day job –  but staying with it.


Fighting Dark Ages

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I’m neither British nor American but two democratic results this year have soured my world. Brexit disappointed and upset me. Trump’s election, and his appointment of right-wing old-white-men (largely called Mike) as his closest counsel, downright scares me. Yes, we don’t yet know how it will all pan out – but that there’s pretty scary writing on “the wall”.

Like many, I’m looking for chinks of light. I’m taking comfort in that in challenging times artists often produce their finest work. Many of us have spent this week putting foot to floor, pen to paper, brush to canvas, all with renewed urgent vigour. We cannot let progress stop, or turn back the clock. Artists have a duty. Create, speak out, fight on and do not let us sleepwalk into another dark age. Artist be a soldier.


1916 Remembered

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Podcast available here

On this Armistice Day, I’m re-posting my KCLR 96fm BAI-funded play CAKE. This 45-minute play, set in Waterford 1915-1920, focuses on a local family challenged by opposing allegiances: Lance Corporal Joseph Bohan-O’Shea is fighting at the Somme whilst his Northern Protestant wife May raises their four children down south in Waterford City. However, Joseph’s staunchly Nationalist mother is angry with her son for taking the ‘Saxon shilling’ and betraying the family by joining the British Army. Her gender barring her from taking up arms herself, Mother persuades Joseph’s poet twin, Michael, to fight for Irish freedom, but Michael’s true passion is his unrequited love for his sister-in-law, May…. This story is a fictionalisation of my great-grandparents’ own story.

CAKE is directed by Jim Nolan, and stars Michael Power (winner of the Portsmouth International Film Festival’s 2014 Best Actor Award), Madeleine Brolly and Jenni Ledwell. CAKE also features a special recording of Waterford anthem In Happy Moments by William Vincent Wallace, performed here by Matthew Sprange, fresh from his Olivier Award winning performance in English Touring Opera’s Paul Bunyon.


BLUE KING PODCAST

The Blue King of Trafadden

 An Rí Gorm Oileán Trá Fada. 

PODCAST HERE]

Sue Healy’s ninth radio play, The Blue King of Trafadden, is a 45 minute, bi-lingual action-drama concerning a troubled Afro-Caribbean dentist, Henry Ryan, who believes he descends from the last king of a Co. Waterford island, a hero exiled during the Cromwellian invasions.

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Henry is intent on burying his grandmother’s ashes on this ancestral land, along with his secret drug addiction. Henry lodges with the ferryman Séamus, his partner Eimear and her son, Óg. However, it soon becomes clear that everyone on this island has a secret….

The Blue King of Trafadden was inspired by the little known Irish diaspora on the Caribbean island of Montserrat. Although bi-lingual, the play has been expressly written so as the plot can be easily followed even by those with little Irish.

Directed by Jim Nolan, The Blue King of Trafadden stars: Jenni Ledwell, Michael Power, Nicholas Kavanagh and Eoin O’Brien.

BIO:

Sue Healy’s drama credits in 2016 include a comedy at the King’s Head Theatre, funded by Arts Council England (May); and a play workshopped by Dublin’s Abbey Theatre (October). Sue was a finalist for the Eamonn Keane Full-Length Play Award (June), is currently a finalist for the Nick Darke Award and is shortlisted for the Old Vic 12 (both results TBA).

In previous years, Sue’s radio dramas have broadcast on BBC Radio 4, WLRfm, KCLR96fm; she has also won the Sussex Playwrights’ Award, and presented in the Festival of Contemporary European Drama. Sue has had staged readings of her work in theatres in London, Norwich, Brighton and Cornwall.

UEA Creative Writing MA alumna, Sue’s prose won seven national prizes including the Molly Keane, BBC Opening Lines, Escalator and HiSSAC awards. She spent eleven years in Budapest, editing Hungary A.M. Presently, she is London-based, researching a PhD on the Royal Court Theatre. Sue is the Finborough Theatre’s Literary Assistant. 


Tune in and Turn on…

I’ve discovered that this cool site has gathered together six of my radio dramas for you to access. I need to add a couple more, not least my latest ‘The Blue King of Trafadden’ which airs on WLRfm this coming Sunday at 8 p.m. GMT.

I notice that first on the list is ‘The Angel of Trafadden’, which I think is rather current, being that it warns of the dangers involved in electing a hubristic narcissist to a position of power….


Old Vic 12 Shortlist

As I touch down in Dublin, London sends some happy news – I’ve been shortlisted for the Old Vic 12 programme (see here). I recognise a lot of names on this list, so appreciate I’m in talented company. Best of luck to all!

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