Focus on friends

Teachers and friends for several years, Andy Durham and Sally Scurrell have found writing together plenty of fun.

James Marston

By JAMES MARSTON

james.marston@eveningstar.co.uk

BOTH teachers and friends for several years Andy Durham and Sally Scurrell have found writing together plenty of fun.

Their new play Life Begins is due to be performed for the first time at the Sir John Mills Theatre in Gatacre Lane, Ipswich, next week.

Sally, 39, said: “I am really excited to see it performed for the first time. We want to get as much feedback as possible from people who come to see it.”

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Produced by 4th Wall Productions - a new theatre company formed by the writing partnership - the play is the result of many months of work.

Sally said: “I came up with the idea to write the play. I did a degree in performing arts and writing made up quite a large part of it and I really enjoyed it.

“I heard a radio documentary about friendships which gave me the initial idea for Life Begins.”

Set in a country cottage hired by a group of friends celebrating landmark birthdays, Life Begins explores themes of friendship, loyalty and the links between relationships.

Sally added: “People's friendships intrigue me and I thought bringing together a group of friends in a situation would make an interesting idea for a new play.

“I have always found friendships interesting, the way we radiate around the different friendships we have. The subject matter is not only about friendships but it is also about right and wrong.

“I am sure there will be some that will have a cut and dried view of the characters and their actions. For others it may stir feelings of interest as they ask themselves - how trusting are their friendships and how far they would go for their friends?”

It was after she formed the kernel of her ideas that Sally turned to friend Andy Durham for help and advice.

He said: “I started writing plays ten years ago. Sally sent me a first draft and asked me what I thought.”

The play tells the story from two different viewpoints - the women's and the men's - in two acts.

Andy added: “I read the first draft and I was really taken with the energy and vitality of the story and the pull of the central dilemma.”

The pair decided to split the writing with Sally on the women's story and Andy concentrating on the men's story.

Andy said: “We realised that two visions for the two acts could actually fit together well and that gender issues in the play could be well dealt with by having two acts written separately from two different perspectives.

“For me this was a hugely exciting prospect, firstly to have the opportunity to do a highly detailed character piece and secondly to have access to the extremely talented and experienced range of actors and actresses Sally was able to draw into this project.”

Mum-of-two Sally added: “The play is set in real time and it is a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. We held several workshops before we cemented the script.”

Sally, who works as an actress, puppeteer, and drama teacher, is a well-known figure in Ipswich's theatrical circles appearing in many amateur productions with various theatre groups and she has pulled together a ten-strong cast of five women and five men. Rehearsals began in July.

Life Begins runs at the Sir John Mills Theatre from September 23 to 26. Tickets are �7.50 and are available from the box office on 01473 211498.

Have you seen a play you have enjoyed? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or send an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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