18 November 2020
“Hi! My name is Martha and I’m from Pontyclun, a little village just north of Cardiff. I’m a writer for stage and screen.
I think what draws me to writing is the opportunity to take a question and really interrogate it; borrowing other people’s opinions and experiences and mixing them with your own to stop at every point on the spectrum and weigh up your response. Sometimes the goal is to figure out what you think, other times it’s just to make peace with the fact that you don’t know what you think. I love dialogue, the textures of people’s speech, the musicality of dialect, and the way the same words can mean something totally different depending on who’s saying them and why. I’m captivated by the question of whether things happen for a reason. Why do people do things? And does it even make a difference? Theatre feels like the natural place to tease out huge existential questions – it’s a safe space to take a step back and have a Really Good Think. I always feel like I leave the theatre better-equipped to deal with the world in all its terrifying, wonderful, exhilarating nonsense.
I joined the writing team at Electric Noir Studios about three weeks ago now, working on their BAFTA-nominated interactive crime drama game Dead Man’s Phone. It’s been amazing so far! Writing for interactive storytelling is really interesting because you have to craft a narrative that offers the player multiple routes through the story, often reaching different endings. It pushes you to think about a story from every possible angle, exploring a central theme as widely as you can to devise characters with varying perspectives, and storylines which offer surprising and often subversive narratives. It’s definitely broadened the way I think about story, giving me new techniques to really interrogate an idea. And I love being part of a writers’ room – it’s so exciting when you bring an idea to the team and bounce it around until it’s fully fleshed out! Five brains are definitely better than one.
I absolutely love being part of the Chippy Lane family. Working with Alan Harris on new musical Toy Mic Trev has taught me so much. The opportunity to see an idea through every stage of its development, working with Alan as he explores different ideas, scenes, characters and songs in each new draft, has been the most incredible learning experience. It’s common to see opportunities for Assistant Directors or Assistant Producers, where emerging creatives can learn their craft, but it’s really rare to find an equivalent position for a writer. I hope it’s something we see more of, as it’s an amazing insight into how a play is put together. And I have to thank Alan for being totally wonderful – he’s answered all my questions, taken the time to really talk through his choices when writing each draft, and spent time mentoring me as a writer. I’m super grateful!
The thing that empowers me most about being a creative Welsh woman is the community. Joining Chippy Lane’s Welsh Female Writers’ Group has unlocked the most amazing network. We have a WhatsApp group, where we celebrate amazing achievements, commiserate inevitable rejections, and cheer each other on. I’m not sure how other people do it without 30 bold, brilliant and endlessly supportive Welsh women in their pocket! I’ve never felt in competition with any other creative Welsh woman – I’m motivated and inspired by their success, and empowered and incredibly grateful for the constant encouragement they provide. It’s so exciting to see Bolshe bring together Welsh female creatives from across artistic disciplines. I’m honoured and proud to be part of this community, and I really hope that it will continue to grow.
I’ve found the biggest challenge of being a creative woman to be confidence. I sometimes feel like I’m typing with one hand and battling Imposter Syndrome with the other. Putting a play out into the world is terrifying, because it means you thought something – and more specifically, what you had to say about that something – was important enough that everyone should listen. It’s easy to feel like that’s too big an assumption to make, particularly when you see other people going about it with an assured confidence that they seem to have always had. It took me quite a while to realise that there’s room for my voice, and that even if you reach just one person with your play, that’s enough. Theatre is – or, at least, should be – for everyone. Your voice matters, too.
I’ve just finished writing a new play called The Ghost of You. It’s a comedy drama with a cast of 10, set in the South Wales Valleys. It’s a love letter to my home, and something I hope will speak to the community there. I’m also about to dive into writing my first TV pilot, which I’m super excited about. It’s a strange time to be writing, but I have to stay hopeful. I’ve been so moved by the resilience and tenacity shown by creatives in what in many ways has been a terrible year. I’m sending love, solidarity and support to you all.”