Flatmate Friday – Scott
It’s actually Friday.
Yes, I would like my medal to be gold.
London, Plays and Punchdrunk with Scott Roberts
Scott is my English Buddy and is also the main reason that I get to my Tuesday morning lectures on time (and if I am late at least I don’t have to walk all the way through the lecture hall being late by myself). We have many long conversations about literary criticism and how much we like Daniel Radcliffe’s face, but we had a slightly more interesting conversation this week for the benefit of you lovely people…
PV: Hey Scott! Would you like to repeat what you’ve just told me and explain it for the benefit of these good people?
S: Yesterday, because that’s how I spend my Sunday nights, I was listening to an old radio programme called ‘Round the Horne’ with Kenneth Williams. One of the sketches involved two characters called Julian and Sandy who speak in this ‘Polari’ slang, which is basically gay Cockney rhyming slang – how gay men would communicate without letting on what they were saying. One of the things which they always say is ‘bona to vada your dolly old eek’, and I asked if you knew what that meant. [Laughs] And you had no idea. It sounds funny and it sounds rude but it basically just means ‘nice to see your face again’.
So, tell us a bit about yourself.
S: I live in a town called Worthing, ten minutes away from the beach which is great, even though it’s a pebble beach, not a sandy beach! [Laughs] I live with my Mum, Dad and sister, and my sister’s trying to move out. We actually had a competition going, me and my sister, because she knew that I was moving to University and she was determined to move out before me – and she failed. [Laughs]
PV: How old is your sister?
S: She’s twenty seven now
PV: [Laughs] Okay, so what are you doing at Queen Mary?
S: I’m studying English, the same as you.
PV: I know that! But they don’t!
S: [Laughs] Okay, I’m studying English Literature – no idea what I’m going to do with it – but I’m loving it.
PV: You’re really into play writing as well aren’t you, what kind of things are you doing?
S: At the moment I am literally seeing every play I can because I’m still trying to figure out what my style is. It seems to be dark comedy that I usually go for, I like taking something fairly simple and then trying to find the comedy in it, because I think you can find the comedy in anything if you look hard enough, and talking about dark subjects is more interesting than something tedious or mundane.
PV: So, what plays have you seen since you’ve been in London and which was your favourite?
S: Well, we’ve seen A Midsummer Night’s Dream together, and we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night time – that was brilliant!
PV: It was so good!
S: I’ve also seen From Morning to Midnight at the National Theatre, One Man Two Guvnors, which was hilarious – brilliant physical comedy, and The Drowned Man performed by Punchdrunk [a theatre company]. I’d say that was my favourite, of the ones I’ve seen so far, because it was completely different from anything I’ve ever experienced.
PV: Do you want to tell us a bit about it?
S: It’s basically a promenade performance where you don’t sit in seats and just watch something in front of you, you move around and interact with it however you want to interact with it. You go into this building, and you’re asked to wear a mask, to separate you from the actors, and you go into this really elaborate decorative set, and you see an actor walk past and you follow them to follow that part of the narrative. You end up following different people and piecing together different snippets of the story to create the performance for yourself
PV: That sounds really cool. You’re writing your own plays at the moment and I’ve read some of your work. It’s really brilliant and it’s very funny. Do you find yourself writing comedy more than any other genre?
S: This always sounds stupid when I say it, but I never know what I’m writing when I begin writing it, because the story for me comes out of how the characters talk to one another and I don’t know that when I first start. What I’m writing at the moment is about a boy who runs away from home, and his family don’t hear from him until the day he dies. I started the scene at his funeral, and it just ended up being funny.
PV: When we saw The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time, it was fantastic but it’s about the most unlikely book-to-stage adaptation you could think of. Do you think that what is ‘popular’ is starting to change?
S: I always think with London, whatever London does, the rest of the world follows – London is the leading culture powerhouse of all that. If you look at the things that have been a success; Les Miserables, Cats, One man Two Guvnors… you could never predict that a show about cats would be a success…
PV: Or the French Revolution
S: [Laughs] Exactly, London is a platform where you can literally try anything and the things that do succeed will succeed in a big way. I like that. Freedom of experiment.
PV: and are you excited about the new opportunities for theatre now? For example Curious Incident, it is such a technical production, the stage was insane, it moved, there were trapdoors, the lighting and projection was amazing, everything was so technically brilliant, does that inspire you?
S: I like that the opportunities to create something of a spectacle is there, but if the writing isn’t good you don’t have anything. For Curious Incident the writing and the acting backs up what the set is doing, but if you start doing those kinds of things with Hamlet it wouldn’t work! [Laughs] I’m writing something else at the moment which is set on the Millennium Bridge, and there’s going to be a lot of tech going on around it. The tech woman at QM is great, she knows everything about everything!
PV: QM Theatre Company offers a lot of opportunities for aspiring talent doesn’t it?
S: The next festival is the new writer’s festival in January, so I’ll be pitching for that for sure, with one if not both of the ones I’m writing now.
PV: You’re such an interesting person, everyone I live with is so interesting it drives me crazy
PV: Okay let’s talk about, in your room you have a pinboard filled with pictures of all the people who inspire you. Who is your biggest inspiration and why?
S: I don’t think I could choose a single person, I go through phases. At the moment, Kenneth Williams, because of the way he speaks, his way with language is brilliant – he starts talking and you instantly start listening to him. A while ago it was Martin McDonagh, the guy who wrote In Bruges, Seven psychopaths and the Cripple of Inishmaan, he writes a lot of dark comedy. I have so many people on that pinboard, I have everyone from Tchaikovsky to Henry VIII to Sinead O’connor, Simon Amstell, there are loads of people from all over the place and I like taking little bits of inspiration from everyone.
PV: Awesome. Finally, seeing as this is going to be a part of my December blog series (which is totally going to be a thing), do you have any quirky Christmas traditions in your family?
S: I think we’re pretty traditional, but I suppose everyone thinks that! [Laughs] Usually I’m the first one to be awake and everybody waits for me to get out of bed and initiate everything. We all get into my parent’s bed and do stocking presents. My sister’s twenty seven and she still gets a stocking!
PV: That’s why she hasn’t moved out!
S: [Laughs] She still gets an advent calendar as well – I ate mine the other day… [Laughs guiltily]
PV: You ate it?
S: I had a major chocolate craving and I just ripped it open – I needed something! [Laughs]
S: Anyway! We always have a full English breakfast, which my sister and I cook, presents, a bit of TV, Christmas dinner around four o’clock and then later we have turkey sandwiches. If one of my Nan’s is there she’ll be nodding off in the corner, drinking Babycham probably. We’re pretty traditional I think.
PV: Awww. And what do you want for Christmas this year? It can be as outla-
S: Tom Daley!
PV: -ndish as you want. [Laughs]
S: [Laughs] No, I think it’s theatre related again. I asked my parents to get me a National Theatre pass which allows you access to all the stuff in the theatre. It doesn’t sound very exciting but it is for me! [Laughs]
Not as exciting as Tom Daley though! I hope you enjoyed hearing from Scott, my across-the-hall-flatmate, stay tuned for the rest of my December-blog-series (which is definitely a thing) 😉
Big Love, PV x