27 January 2021
CW – Some content about themes of abuse in Rhiannon’s play Safe From Harm.
“Hi, I’m Rhiannon Boyle originally from Holyhead, Anglesey but I’ve lived in Cardiff for
the last twenty-five years. I’m an award winning theatre, radio and TV writer who last year won the BBC/National Theatre Wales Writer in Residence prize.
It’s important to be a creative woman in Wales because it’s vital that we hear and see authentic stories written about women written by women. It’s imperative that women from all walks of life are represented in all their beautiful and complex forms. I have two young daughters and they love drawing, crafts and writing so I feel that by being a creative woman I’m being a great role model to them.
I was drawn to work in writing because I’ve always loved telling and listening to stories. I love how stories not only entertain us but also teach us who we are. Stories can offer comfort through humour and escapism but they also educate us. Stories connect us. I find all that pretty inspiring.
I guess honestly, the main thing that empowers me about being a creative woman is financial independence. When I left teaching seven years ago writing jobs were sparse, so I did have to lean on my husband at times. Whilst I’m not really ashamed of that – because we’re a team and I’d do the same for him – I didn’t really like how it felt. Now that my writing career has taken off and I have financial independence I do feel empowered by that. Secondly, I suppose I like being listened to. Growing up as a young woman in the 90s was sometimes hard. It was a very sexist world where often you were left feeling like a second class citizen. I feel nowadays I have a strong voice and a sturdy set of unshakable values and that I’d never put up with half the shit I did back then. That’s partly because I’m older and times have changed, but it’s also due to the fact that I have a platform now, which enables me to be heard.
I think for me as a mum, the biggest challenge as a creative woman is ‘mother’s guilt’. Juggling a career and family life can be challenging and I’m always beating myself up for not being an ‘all singing all dancing’ stay at home mum. I think society can sometimes judge mothers for wanting a busy, full-time career and I definitely feel the burden of that. I have to keep reminding myself that if I didn’t work, I wouldn’t be happy and a happy mum makes a happy home. I tell myself by working hard I’m being a good role model to my girls. When they ask me ‘Why do you have to work Mummy?’ I tell them it’s because I love it and it makes me who I am. And anyway, what would I do with my time when they leave home at eighteen if I didn’t have an established career?
Safe From Harm is the first play I wrote after leaving teaching and is the audio drama that won the Wales Writer in Residence award. It tells the frank and powerful story of Alys, a teacher and mother whose life unravels when a colleague is arrested for possessing indecent images of children. Unable to cope, Alys contacts a celibate paedophile in an attempt to better understand the danger they pose. Her primal urge to forever protect her children becomes so all consuming Alys slowly loses her grip on reality. The play is aired on BBC Radio 4 on the 20th of January and is available on BBC Sounds for 30 days after that.
The biggest thing that inspires me when it comes to my work is real life stories. I’m constantly consuming documentaries and reading articles to find fascinating stories. I’ve also had quite a colourful life myself and so I base a lot of my work on things that have happened to me, people I know or those I’ve met. I’m driven to write about things that make me angry, sad or that make me laugh. I’m inspired every day by the world around me and I constantly have stories and ideas popping into and buzzing around in my brain. Because of this, I’m forever jotting down new possible stories and ideas in the notes app on my phone.
I’ve got loads of exciting projects on the go to kick start my year – an online drama experience with Dirty Protest Theatre Company, which is a black comedy about a funeral director, which will be presented as a true to life webinar on Zoom. I’ve been commissioned to write a one woman show called Anfamol for Theatr Genedlaethol about a single woman who uses a sperm bank to become a mother. I have a play called Crisis in development with National Theatre Wales, which is about a young gay teenager seeking refuge in Cardiff. I also have a six-part docudrama podcast called Brain Box, about North Walian murdered MI6 spy Gareth Williams, in development with BBC Radio Wales. So watch this space, all my wonderful stories are coming to a stage, screen or speaker near you sometime very soon!”