I arrived at Goldsmiths in 2012 to study for an MA in Writing for Performance. My tutor, John Ginman, asked me straight off whether I was a writer. I hesitated. He said that hesitation was something we could work on. I asked how. By getting you to write, he said. And that’s exactly what Goldsmiths did.
Three words: tell the truth. John gave them to us on day one. I wrote them down on an index card and pinned them up above my writing desk. We spent the next year investigating what that meant and how it might be achieved. And we did it through writing. Always through the writing. Wrestling it out there on the page, before watching actors wrestle it out there on the stage. The truth.
One of my assignments had me writing for some teenagers in North London. I had no idea what it was to be a teenager in North London. How could I write for them? Another of my tutors, Fin Kennedy, told me I should just listen to them. Really listen. Over a series of weeks I set about trying to do just that. Watching my young cast perform the result remains one of the highlights of my short career. You’ve nailed what it is to be me, one of them said. The play went on to be shortlisted for a national award.
Since graduating I’ve been fortunate enough to work alongside some exceptional artists. My play Powder was commissioned and produced by Theatre Absolute in 2013 whilst my play Clubmartyr won the Judge’s Award at the 2014 Coventry Shoot Festival. I am now attached to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre’s Foundry programme and writing for a festival taking place at the theatre this September. I have also co-founded And So Forth, a new London-based company dedicated to making opera and theatre through interdisciplinary collaboration. Had I not attended Goldsmiths I would have neither the confidence nor the aptitude to undertake such an ambitious project.
What I appreciate most about my experience at Goldsmiths is the time, the space and the support the college gave me in helping me find my voice. It was at Goldsmiths that I first learned to call myself a writer – in the truest sense – and I’ve felt comfortable with that identity ever since. The continuing support and friendship of my tutors – John Ginman, David Lane and Fin Kennedy – has proved invaluable in my continuing artistic journey and the bridges they helped me to build continue to bear fruit.
But more than anything they told me to tell the truth. And that’s exactly what I set out to do every time I write.
Guest post by Richard Walls (MA Writing for Performance, 2013). Richard is a playwright and theatre-maker. He is a co-founder of And So Forth Productions and is currently attached to the 2015 Birmingham Rep Foundry.