Interview: Lee Mattinson

by Aimee Vickers, photos by Saschk Drakos

Recently, we sat down with playwright Lee Mattinson to talk about his new play, Lashes and Tashes performed at Northern Stage’s First in 3 on May 23…IMGP3689

Alliterati: Where did your interest in writing come from?
Lee Mattinson: I have been writing for about ten years. I started writing when I began working at Live Theatre on the bar. I saw a play, I’d never seen one before, and I thought it was really good. So I said, I’m going to try do that, and I just did, and I just kept doing it…for ten years.

A: Have you had any formal training at all? How have you developed your work over the years?
LM: I did the Introduction to Playwright course here (at Live Theatre) and then it’s just been through… I haven’t had any training I don’t think. I can’t think of anything, it has just been through experience and I have been to meetings and done the BBC residences for new writers where they take you on for a week and you write stuff. So I picked up some tips there.

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A: So it has just been a process over the years?
LM: Yes, of course, well, the more you write the better you get at it, like anything. You just go write loads of shit plays, and then you write a better one. It’s just worked like that.

A: The blurb is very interesting, where did these themes come from? Is it something familiar to you or is it just from everything around you?
LM: Well, Meghan and Sam asked me to write something for them at the Northern Stage and they were going to use a few comedy sketches. I looked at the sketches and thought they were just a bit rubbish and I was like, if I am going to put my all into something then why don’t I write something new? So we just had a meeting and we were throwing around ideas of what it should be about. I suggested using drag queens, because that’s always quite entertaining, so we decided on that. Then, as we were chucking around ideas I thought what if they were conjoined? Wouldn’t that be quite interesting? And theatrical? As soon as we said that we could sort the characters and develop the story.

IMGP3675A: Just from picking out a few words from the blurb would you say this work is socially critical or satirical? Is it motivated by ideas within our society at the minute?
LM: Oh God (laughs)

A: I always look into things far too much…
L: Don’t you though! Not really, I didn’t write it with any kind of social conscience.

A: Did it all just come out naturally?
LM: Yes it was just kind of a ridiculous farce but then the more we directed it and talked through it, we peeled those layers away and found the level of subtext that I didn’t quite realise was there, or wasn’t there that we put in, so there was some depth to the characters.

A: And finally, what advice would you give to other writers that want to become, like you in many ways?
LM: When I first began writing I entered every kind of competition going, there are loads on the BBC website. And it was good to give myself a deadline, I still give myself deadlines. If I think I will just write something and it doesn’t matter when it is done, then you will just sit on youtube watching cats burping all day. So it is a good way to try and get yourself to write things and think about things in different ways through different mediums like radio IMGP3839and stuff like that. Also, just read loads and see loads, know what is out there and what people are doing.

A: Have you experimented with different forms yourself?
LM: I’ve done a bit for radio and I’ve done some TV and film as well.

A: Do you have any other shows coming up that you want to let everyone know about?
LM: Yes, in two weeks at live i’ve got a new show called Brown Bird which I have written through my production company called Pox Fox Productions, we had a show a few years ago called Donna Disco which did pretty well. So this is our new one woman show. So you should come and see it. It is pretty good. There is loads of one direction in it.

A: I’m there.

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