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Lizzy Plant discusses life as a student writer and her debut play Hormones

Being a writer of any description is difficult. It takes a lot of time to find your voice in the craft and it’s a real labour of love; so being a student writer means it’s hard to know what kind of writing to prioritise – essays or plays?

I’ve been a creative my entire life, and it was my childhood ambition to be an author, so I think I had a head-start in understanding the lifestyle of equilibrium that a writer requires. Over the years I’ve written novels, poetry, half a musical score, screenplays, and a radio drama series, but had never attempted to write a play before Hormones – much less one as long and ambitious as this. It’s 10,000 words longer than Shakespeare’s Macbeth, if that’s any indication. So, you can imagine how over the moon I am that my very first shot at writing for stage is being performed this summer in the Goose Nest.

I suppose I’m fortunate when it comes to Hormones, in that I was inspired to write it at the very end of first year, and thus wrote most of it during the summer holiday when I had nothing else going on to divide my creative attention. It allowed me time to run into inspiration blocks, and to workshop lines, characters, conventions, themes. Essentially, it allowed me full reign to explore what it was I wanted to write and why.

Being a student writer means it’s hard to know what kind of writing to prioritise – essays or plays?

When asked for advice on writing a play by my friends in the year below, I told them specifically to write in the holidays because of the sheer excess of time to make the much-valued mistakes that come with any creative pursuit. Also, to spam and to get something down on the page to clean up later – it’s a universal trait of students to write entire essays in one night directly before the deadline, my fresher-self included, because (as we know) diamonds are made under pressure.

I admit I’d given myself until 25th December to finish Act Two of Hormones, and I did not start writing it until the 22nd. Needless to say, that was an experience. Fortunately, I had Tom [Hammond], our dear director, to keep me grounded from thinking I’d made a proverbial diamond out of the senseless three-day script spamming. It was awful, and he very eloquently put that to me in a two-page Word document. The clean-up on Act Two took something like ten redrafts – which is arguably more attention to detail than all my essays combined have received.

The inspiration for Hormones comes from the admiration I have for young people, and what I believe makes our generation unique

The inspiration for Hormones comes from the admiration I have for young people, and what I believe makes our generation unique. We are so outspoken and diverse, and the tight-knit solidarity that I have seen exhibited at Warwick between race, gender, sexuality and belief is something I think is a defining factor of the millennial age.

Without sounding soppy, the relationships I have formed at university absolutely have changed me as a person. They have made me understand and appreciate the multi-faceted nature of friendship to such a heightened degree, and the love I have for these people – even after a lot of arguments and stupid decisions – is paramount.

The concept of love is also something I have literally always explored through my writing, and through Hormones I attempt to break down the archetype of love as solely romantic that seems to be so established in contemporary fiction. Hormones doesn’t shy away from romantic love (indeed, it could arguably be called a romantic comedy) but allows platonic, familial, and selfless love a platform for understanding and exploring the dangers of infatuation and dishonesty in relationships. Nothing is sugar-coated, and it does delve into very deep human emotion, but overall it is the intention of the piece to be funny and uplifting, and to leave you with a new-found appreciation for the love you have for friends.

Hormones doesn’t shy away from romantic love but allows platonic, familial, and selfless love a platform for understanding

I’m thrilled that Hormones will debut in a professional venue, particularly in a university setting, because it is a student-written play for students, about students. The comedy within it is very fresh and young and will shine when received by this audience, which I could not be more excited to see.

I won’t really see it in full until it is performed, as I fully trust my team. I want them to shine on their own merits, without me standing over them at every rehearsal and screeching if something isn’t going exactly as I envisioned when writing. The rehearsal process itself will focus heavily on building distinct characterisation and forming a strong bond of friendship within the ensemble cast, as this is integral to the concept of the piece. We have a truly wonderful cast, every bit as passionate and excited as our all-star crew to work with something never-before performed. I really couldn’t be leaving my script in better hands.

Hormones is at the Goose Nest, 31 May – 2 June.

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