Frankly My Dear chats with Lee Lomas of 1956 Theatre ahead of the opening night of his new original play Pudding Black.
Following the success of their first original production Juke Box Baby last year, 1956 Theatre are back with a brand new play called Pudding Black.
In true 1956 Theatre style, the team have taken the classic ‘whodunnit’ genre and given it a contemporary makeover.
Frankly, My Dear caught up with writer Lee Lomas (Managing Director of 1956 Theatre) to find out about the new play ahead of its opening night at Salford Arts Theatre this Thursday.
Frankly My Dear (FMD): Your new play Pudding Black makes its debut at Salford Arts Theatre on Thursday. Tell us about the play?
Lee Lomas: Pudding Black fuses the murder mystery/who-dunnit style storyline with modern day dialogue and black comedy. There is a murder and 4 suspects, the play takes the audience on a journey that will keep them guessing from scene to scene.
FMD: Pudding Black is your second piece of original writing following Juke Box Baby. Where do you get your ideas from and what inspires you to write a play?
Lee: Pudding Black was born from the idea that Policemen/Detectives are just ordinary people living ordinary lives and like any other job, it can become a bit tedious at times; and the officers will become numb to the horrific scenes they have to deal with. I began writing a couple of scenes around this concept and the play was born from that.
FMD: Pudding Black is described as an ‘uber dark comedy’. How much does comedy play a role in your thought processes when putting together a theatre production?
Lee: I never set out to solely create comedy and I wouldn’t describe myself as a comedy writer, however, I like to create natural and real dialogue, characters that the audience can relate to. I’m a northerner and a bit of cynic – whenever there has been a crisis in my life it has always been dealt with by use of comedy and trying to ‘lighten up the situation’ I guess that has had a heavy influence on my writing. I like to write ‘Black Comedy’ because I like to say things that everyone else is thinking but don’t dare to say, writing allows me to express the things that are too close to the bone in ‘real life’.
FMD: What kind of challenges do you encounter when writing an original play like Pudding Black?
Lee: Choosing an ending, the final third is always the toughest, developing characters and relationships is the really enjoyable part, deciding their fate is difficult. You become attached to your characters and unfortunately something ‘bad’ happening to them is often the best thing for the narrative. When writing a story the ending is always the hardest, you have so many ideas on how to tie it up and choosing the right option is crucial!
FMD: You usually play a character in production you’ve directed. How hard is it to direct and perform in the same production?
Lee: This production in particular hasn’t been too difficult as there is only one scene that Amy [Amy-Jane Ollies, Artistic Director at 1956 Theatre] and I are in together. Previous productions have been more of a challenge, especially in productions such as Juke Box Baby when me and Amy played the romantic leads. We look to cast people that have Directing experience to avoid these problems and to obviously contribute to directing scenes that Amy and I are in.
FMD: Who is your favourite character in Pudding Black and why?
Lee: I’d have to say ‘Carys’ – she’s the only female in the play but I purposely used a female as the central character, I’ve grown up amongst strong, fiesty women and I wanted to write a character that reflected this. Strong female characters are scarce, especially when they’re involved in a romantic storyline – I wouldn’t say the love story in ‘Pudding Black’ is the epitome of romance, however, I would argue that it is a tad more realistic.
Lee: Great Expectations; which we produced in March 2014, we developed a completely original script directly from the book. We had a large cast and a small space – it was only our second production – we sold out every night and received fantastic reviews. Great Expectations was always going to be a risk, such a classic piece of text with a vast amount of characters and there has obviously already been plenty of adaptations before ours; we had a lot to live up too but I feel we achieved it!
FMD: What kind of productions can we expect 1956 Theatre over the next few months?
Lee: We have already produced a variety of different theatre: Film Noir, Classic Texts, Original Writing, American Naturalism, Farcical Comedies as well doing a full Repertory season. We want to continue to create exciting and professional theatre whilst stretching ourselves as artists, we like to give opportunites to other creatives; Directors and Writers and continue to push the boundaries of theatre that can be created on a ‘shoe-string-budget’.
Pudding Black by 1956 Theatre runs from 30th Aug to 1st July at Salford Arts Theatre