Local playwright Ian Tucker-Bell speaks to theknow about Trans Pennine
6th April 2018
Local playwright Ian Tucker-Bell speaks to theknow about LGBT play Trans Pennine
Ian Tucker-Bell is a prominent figure in local theatre circles, known as a songwriter, playwright, actor and director. Along with friends, he has recently established 'The Orange Works', a theatre company in the process of developing and staging brand new works for both local performance and further afield.
Last year, following successful performances at The Oast Theatre, Tonbridge, the Sevenoaks Festival and the Southern Counties Drama Festival, The Orange Works took their first production to the Edinburgh Fringe. Another Life, a one act play written by Tucker-Bell, portrays a widowed man, Chris, in his mid-sixties, who begins to explore his sexuality for the first time - something he was unable to do in his younger days. With a taste for the Edinburgh experience, Tucker-Bell and the team will be returning to Edinburgh later this year to present Trans Pennine, their latest production.
We caught up with Ian prior to his 'Local Voices' appearance at the Tonbridge Fire station later this month (details can be found here), to find out about his love of theatre and what it is about Edinburgh that has enticed him back.
Tell us a little about yourself- tell the world who you are and what you do!
My name is Ian Tucker-Bell, I'm a forty-something year old playwright, actor and director based in the Tonbridge area. I have written and performed my own work at the Edinburgh Fringe, and am returning there this year with two plays, both with a strong LGBT theme. I have established a theatre company with a few theatre friends entitled 'The Orange Works' and we are enjoying creating and staging new work.
What is your history with Kent?
I'm a Yorkshireman by birth, but have lived in Kent for nearly twenty years. I moved here to be with my ex-partner, and settled very happily here. I love that it balances the rural with the city - I'm never too far from trees and fields and hills, and yet I can be in the West End in no time. Both are equally important to me.
Where can we find you when you're not performing?
I teach Drama, I write, I compose as well as write and record songs (find me on Soundcloud and Facebook!), I read, get to the theatre and cinema, play video games, go walking, explore different gins, share life with friends and especially my husband, Philip, and our bouncy Labrador, Baxter.
What is your play 'Trans Pennine' about?
I like to write plays from a starting position of truth, of reality, and Trans Pennine is no exception. It is based upon the journey of my friend Kat who is currently in the process of transitioning from Keith. Her journey has been so brave, so courageous, and so inspiring. She 'came out' to me last year as I was working on the premise for the play, and I knew I wanted to weave her story into it.
Trans Pennine is about a journey - physical and metaphorical. It follows a family of three taking their mothers ashes to be scattered, and ultimately coming to terms with the discovery that the son/brother of the piece is on the verge of transitioning. It's quite moving, but it's also a lot of fun and has a great joke featuring a margarine tub!
You'll be taking your play to Edinburgh Fringe - what draws you to Edinburgh to perform?
Last year I wanted to see how my work would stack up against the other things there - my first go at this. And it went incredibly well. I want to build on that this year. It's a great experience performing your own work at such an eclectic and diverse festival with such an incredible mix of audience. It's an adventure! So, yes, it's the taking part, it's getting the response of strangers to your work, it's the dream of where it may lead and what doors it might open. It's also a huge barrel of fun!
What have you got lined up next?
Following Edinburgh we may look at touring both pieces, but this is a plan very much in its infancy. More details will follow, I'm sure.
You can find out more about Ian's work on his website: www.iantuckerbell.co.uk
Ian will be talking about his play Trans Pennine at Mr Books' 'Local Voices' event, taking place at Old Fire Station in Tonbridge on Sunday 15 April 2018. To reserve your place, visit the event website.