(Peter Crawley’s interview appeared in the Irish Times, 11/14.)
A few years ago, at an early stage of her career, the Belfast writer Stacey Gregg took part in the Writers’ Academy, a rigorous course designed to serve as both boot camp and launch pad for the profession. It was fascinating and so specific with its instructions that it seemed to have rendered creative writing into an exact science, with strict formulae involving plot structures and character arcs, and a symmetry of details in which problems established early in act one are dutifully resolved in the third. For most of the participants on the programme it was revelatory. For Gregg, it was a dead end: “It was essentially a sausage machine. I didn’t write for about a year after that.”
In the years since, Gregg has been making up for lost time. In the four short years since her professional debut, with the Abbey’s production of Perve, she has had five more plays staged in Northern Ireland, Ireland and England. When we meet, her most recent play, Shibboleth, an anarchic piece about Belfast’s Peace Walls, is coming to an end in the Peacock, while her next play, Scorch, a monologue involving a transgender teenager at the centre of a court case, is about to be staged by Prime Cut in Belfast’s The Mac, as part of the Outburst Queer Arts Festival. Neither play is what you would call textbook theatre. Gregg, a bracingly unconventional dramatist, prefers forms and voices that correspond with our fractured times.
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