London: Nell Leyshon has become the first female playwright to get commissioned by Shakespeare`s Globe theatre to write a drama. The lady has created history and is ecstatic about the historic commission. "I come down for a week and write a play," she says brightly to a news daily.
"It is a bit terrifying, because I`ve sworn I`ll finish it soon. The kids don`t quite believe me. But I will – because there`s other things I have to do," Leyshon added.
"I thought I wasn`t ready to write a big story for a big space," Leyshon says. "Playwrights now often write very small, very intense plays. You don`t get the opportunity to really stretch yourself, to be really brave. The Globe is much more extravagant to write for, much more extrovert. You have to embrace the nature of the space, and the nature of the audience."
“When I started writing for theatre, people would say, `She`s a woman writer,` and I didn`t understand that. You`d never say, `She`s a woman novelist` or, `She`s a woman journalist.` But in theatre, you do," she said.
After almost 400 years, the theatre will have its first woman playwright. And theatre is still a tough place for women playwrights. Only 23% of directors are female, according to the campaigning theatre company Sphinx and fewer than a fifth of playwrights getting work staged are women. So, this comes as a huge chance for Nell Leyshon. "Writing a play, you have to retain it all in your head – you need more time. With prose, you can snatch an hour here, an hour there," Leyshon added further.
Her new play, entitled ‘Bedlam’, is reportedly an 18th-century costume drama set in a fictionalised version of the notorious lunatic asylum. It is based on direct research from Bethlem Royal Hospital.
Nell Leyshon is already a well known face in theatrical circles. She has won the Evening Standard Most Promising Playwright Award for her play ‘Comfort Me With Apples’.
First Published: Wednesday, February 17, 2010, 19:55