Interview: Alex May

Opening night of Picture This is here! Our marketing guru also caught up with Alex May, writer, about the experience.

Alex May is the writer behind Ferry Tales and Art for Our Sake – two of the three plays that will be performed as part of Pique Niche Productions’ debut show Picture This. Art for Our Sake made the top 20 out of over 1,400 entries in this year’s Papatango New Writing Prize. We sat down with Alex to find out more…

Why should people come and see Picture This?

Picture This has so many things within it that will entertain, provoke and interest those who come to see it that I have no hesitation in recommending it to anyone who likes to see live drama. Nothing compares with live theatre: the possibility that something could go wrong, but also that something unique and stunning will be created before your eyes (unlike even the best movies). When you get as broad a range of stories, emotions and points of view as you get in Picture This, you would be foolish not to come along and experience it for yourself. But bear in mind I am a bit biased here!

What would you say links your two plays – Ferry Tales and Art for Our Sake

There are a number of similarities between Ferry Tales and Art for Our Sake. My affection for Merseyside and its people – not just Liverpool and Liverpudlians – is clear. The stories all deal with big issues such as immigration and refugees, misogyny and other backward attitudes, man-made climate change and so on, but in a way that isn’t hectoring. I hope they are all entertaining and even funny, while also provoking audiences to question things.

What has it been like seeing your plays come to life over the rehearsal process?

I have thoroughly enjoyed the rehearsal process. I still feel humble and proud at the same time that, with so many other great plays out there, such a talented group of people have chosen to put in the effort of bringing my words to life.

I have the added bonus of having a part in Art for Our Sake (I should stress I auditioned for it!), and so I’m breathing life into the failed artist Robin Fanshaw as he sneers at poor Simon. I even get to finish a painting on stage! I enjoy painting and I’m surprised how few plays about art there are in comparison to other topics.

I like being able to put the case for really looking at non-realistic art and giving it a chance, rather than just dismissing it all as a con. At the same time, it’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy realistic pieces. Let’s hope we never get back to people like the Nazis or Stalin telling us what is “proper art” and what is “degenerate”.

How are you feeling about opening night?

I can’t wait for opening night. I want to see what audiences make of my plays and Donna M Day’s wonderful, moving piece Almost Always. I will no doubt be very nervous as 7:30 approaches on the 14th, and then again an hour or so later when I have to go on stage to do my part. But having done quite a bit of acting in recent years, I know there is no experience that matches the first positive reaction you get from an audience. It’s when all the weeks of rehearsing pays off and you remember these people are seeing the play for the first time and getting it.

Having made it to the top 20 for the Papatango New Writing Prize, what advice would you give to budding writers?

I don’t have any profound advice as I am still a new writer myself. But there are well known bits of advice I could give. If you have something you think is worth writing about, write something every day- even if it’s just one page. Even if what you’ve written has just one line or a phrase you think is good, you can improve the rest. Having a blank piece of paper gives you nothing to improve.

Join a writers group if you can find one made up of people you like and whose opinions you respect. I was given very useful advice on how to improve Art for Our Sake by my writers group friends.


You can find out more about Pique Niche Productions on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

You can buy tickets for Picture This here.

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