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A Northern Girl is tough

Leading up to the Northern Girls performances, Aidan, from ARCADE, is sitting down with each of the writers to find out a bit more about them, their work and what they might do next. Claire Edwards is the second of the four writers from the Northern Girls project.

If you would prefer to listen to this interview, please click the video above.

Hi, Claire. Nice to meet you. How are you doing?

Doing well thank you. How are you?

Yeah, doing great. You know, everything's all good. No complaints here. So, you've been working on northern girls as one of the four writers. So, I mean, first of all, I guess sort of prior to Northern girls (and including it) how would you describe yourself as an artist? You know, how would, how would you define the sort of things that you do?

Yeah, good question. Well for me outside of Northern girls, I studied at university at York St John in a theatre degree, and I learnt writing in that atmosphere. And I guess as well from that point, writing wise, I've started doing the pantomimes at the YMCA, and which has been really good fun. And but it's completely different to Northern girls. It's been a brilliant experience. And because obviously with pantomimes, you've already got the plots, you just can have fun with it. But with northern girls, it's just you on your own and, and I guess kind of delving into my personal self, if you like. And with writing, it's been quite challenge. But it's been it's been an experience. So yeah, I think as an artist, it's been a bit of a roller coaster like sometimes comedic writing, sometimes quite poetic. So, it's been nice just to kind of go on with that journey

Well, yeah, that's the thing. It's always great to have an opportunity to explore yourself as an artist and actually, perhaps find out find out something new. And I mean, in terms of the actual piece that you're writing on right now. Could you tell us a little bit about it?

Well, it's an actual personal experience that happened to me when I was quite young. I was 13 when this particular event happened. And it's just been wonderful, kind of transporting back in time to that moment where it happened. It happened all on the north side of the beach on in Scarborough, our very own Scarborough. And, and having the well, I'll say, girls, the women, to help me along with it, and how to transcribe it into something dramatic, and something that can be turned into a monologue has been quite, quite exciting and just kind of rewriting it, and just getting to that point where it's just a dramatic piece that’s been really entertaining. But yeah. I don't really want to say too much. It's all to do with the North. And this particular event that happened.

Okay. I mean, it sounds it sounds really interesting. And like you say, I think it's always good to sort of use your own biography to, to create work. There's something very cathartic about, I feel. Sounds great. Sounds great. So then moving a little bit into your process. So, is this sort of your first, is this the first sort of written piece you've done? Or did you do some before?

Yeah, it's the first I've done in a long time. That's just for myself to do for other people. I mean, the last time I did something this creative was during my University years. And during that time, as well, I wasn't on my own, I was with a group of people and we wrote together. This has been something that's been completely all by myself. Which is a bit daunting. I've never been this vulnerable, if you like with writing, and but it has, again, is completely opened a new chapter, if you like, of new writing types. That's kind of badly worded!

No, we understand what you're trying to say we don't need to know anything else. So then, would you say I mean, I find this is always a difficult question to answer. Thankfully, I'm not the one answering it! How would you say you describe your writing process, either more generally, or what was the process for this piece?

Yeah, process wise. I mean, usually for me, if I ever write a pantomime, I'll do it as like a spider diagram, if you like. So, Act One is scene one, scene two etc. then Act Two is ... and so on. For this process, we had so many exercises the past three weeks, that have seriously helped my writing process. In the sense that, for this particular piece, it was about writing as if it was in the present. And writing as if it was actually happening to me again, the first time. And just kind of pinpointing, not a structure as, yeah, not as a structure, but as like the … more of a journey and how it can flow as fluid-ly. Flu-id-ly there you go...smoothly! So, the writing process has been quite a challenge. But it's been, it's been good to just start completely afresh with something, a completely different idea as well.

Yeah, no, it just sounds great. And then I guess, going forward from this piece, do you have any plans going forward to do with writing? Is this something that you want to expand and move on with or do you know?

It would be lovely to keep on writing, as we have done, I mean, it's a it's, again, like I said earlier, it's just opened a new chapter for me, writing wise, like, I've always been so used to having been told this is what we need, script wise, and so on. But it's just nice, just to know, have some fresh, new ideas. And I really hope that I would love I'd love to continue writing. I will always write to be honest, it's so absolutely enjoy[able]. And like I said earlier, it's very cathartic. It's very erm... the one thing that I actually really enjoy doing this one is like, I love acting, and so on. But sometimes I get a little bit stressed. But with the writing, it's just, it's good to create something new and fresh, that potentially hasn't happened before or even just basing it on something that has happened before and just doing your own spin on it. So hopefully, I'd like to keep writing and see what see what happens.

Definitely. I mean, think it'd be a waste not to continue, I suppose. You know?

I completely agree.

No, it sounds great. And then, as we're sort of talking more specifically about Northern Girls, what is it about this performance that you've that you've enjoyed? What in particular have you enjoyed about it?

Being with the girls to be fair, and hearing their pieces, they're all so incredibly talented, it's unreal, just sit like and how each week there's, there was always something different, there was never something similar to what we have done, there was always something different. And just hearing that, and their past experiences with writing, and I mean with some of them, they've not even done anything like this before. And just seeing how creative they are with their writing is just getting the privilege to genuinely, like, that sounds really pompous. But it genuinely was a privilege just to be in the same room as these wonderful women, and just hearing their stories and their new ideas and so on. And yeah, that's been the main highlight for me.

Great, great. I mean, what more could you ask for from a project, really than a supportive network of talented people like, you know, sounds great. I'm afraid I can't get involved. But yeah!

We'll have Northern Boys, it's fine!

And then finally, I’d just like to ask you … and you can have some time to think about this. What would you say a Northern Girl is?

Ah, very, very good question.

I would say a Northern Girl is tough, as in the sense of not tough exterior but tough interior. I feel like, again, with each girl that we've been working with, there has always been a side where they're they've had to overcome something, and they have been tough. And tackling whatever thing that, whatever obstacles they've had to attack, if you like and think that especially for the North, I don't particularly see it really with the South, if you like. We're always grafters that … we're always hard working in whatever we do and very passionate in what we do as well. And it's yeah, I think tough is a word that I would use like, like not hardcore tough. *laughs* As in yeah, as in strong, strong women. Feminism.

I mean, I completely agree. So that is great. And that wraps up all the questions I have for you today? So, thank you for coming on to my little Zoom Show.

I'm sorry that I waffled!

Oh no, no, honestly, you're talking about your work, take as much time as you want.

Thank you for joining today.

Thank you for having me.

Northern Girls, a collaboration between ARCADE and Pilot Theatre will take place at the YMCA Scarborough on the 27th and 28th October. Click here for tickets and more information.

Image credit: Matthew Cooper

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