Q&A with playwright Evan Placey

With Keepy Uppy touring the UK, Evan Placey is yet again making a splash with great writing for both kids and adults to enjoy. Check out our catch-up…

What inspired you to write Keepy Uppy? What was your biggest challenge when writing it?
I really loved the provocation Wendy Harris gave me of writing something which was driven by movement and physicality. My 3 year-old son is obsessed with football – and really anything that involves playing with a ball. I was excited to write something that could speak to him. The biggest challenges were firstly, that I don’t know that much about football. So I had to get my head around the game since most kids know more than I do. The second was that the play is all written in rhyme. As soon as I’d change something in one draft a whole section would start to unravel. But it was a fun challenge!
It’s not your first time working with tutti frutti, do you have a great collaborative relationship?
We do. One thing I love about tutti frutti which is very unique is that all of the creative team are involved from the genesis of the piece. So we’re already talking about music, design, choreography, direction before there’s even a script or any characters – every aspect and art form are as important as the other. I often get inspired with ideas from what other artists are imagining in their head so the script is reflective of everyone’s ideas rather than the script dictating to everyone what the show needs to look like, sound like, etc. They’re also a bold company that are really excited by experimentation – it’s really freeing writing for them.
What was the first play you ever wrote about, and what did you learn from it?
The first play I literally ever wrote was in secondary school. It was called Caffeine, and my school put it on. It was about a student, a teacher, and a bus driver whose lives collide on one fateful day; it was all told through monologues. What I learned is there’s no greater feeling than hearing an audience laugh or cry. It’s addictive. There’s a rawness to those reactions which is about human connection and it’s what theatre does so well.
What is the biggest challenge when writing for children? How do you overcome it?
Getting them engaged; children have no filter – you’ll know if they’re bored or unengaged. The only way to overcome is to hang out with kids a lot! For this project luckily my son was in a kid’s football class while I was writing it which helped a lot.
It must be a great feeling watching the first performance of your play, do you prefer to watch from backstage or sit among the audience and soak up the atmosphere?
Always sitting amongst the audience (even if at times I’d like to hide under the seat.) I like to sit in a corner so I can watch the audience and also escape at the end.
Don’t miss Keepy Uppy – get your tickets here.

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