So Cameron, let’s start by you telling us a little bit about yourself…
I’ve lived in Tunbridge Wells all my life, minus a brief stint in Sheffield, where I did my law degree. I have since been a teacher and have been writing and creating plays on the side. Outside of writing, I have a strong connection with the Tunbridge Wells rugby club, who are always amazing with me when it comes to providing rehearsal space – they’re like a family to their players and ex-players. I also have a strong connection to Skinners’, my old school, and to this day lean on one of my former teachers, Craig Fleming, for help and guidance. He’s always there for his old students. I don’t feel any real need to leave Tunbridge Wells when it’s given me a lot.
Have you always wanted to be a writer and if so, why?
I’ve wanted to write since I was eighteen. I’ve always enjoyed films and I felt my imagination was creating good stories that could make a lot of money – they weren’t, but it definitely peaked my initial interest! I’m no good at film writing. At university I discovered plays and I saw it as a really interesting art-form to discuss issues and look at contemporary society – Harold Pinter was bold and Jez Butterworth was lyrical: I liked these qualities. I enjoy telling stories and I guess I’m quite an opinionated person, so I felt writing plays was the best medium for me.
You studied law – did this experience feed into your writing?
I definitely think my law degree made me aware of lots of issues and so I’ve always wanted to critique and promote a conversation when I write. I like to observe people and listen to their stories, and I think this has helped me generate dialogue and understand a character’s journey when I write.
How many plays have you written and had performed?
I think I’ve written ten plays in total and this is the fourth that’s being performed. Plays are an acquired taste and your writing should get better, so I won’t be letting my early work see the light of day! They have to be entertaining, provocative and engaging, and I would only want to put a play on if it can create a conversation, an argument or an experience that won’t be forgotten. Anything not reaching that threshold is not worth the effort putting on for people to see. So far my writing has been pretty well received in London, we routinely get four star reviews for our plays: Lone Star Diner at the Omnibus Theatre in Clapham, Stags at the Network Theatre in Waterloo and Fault Lines at the White Bear Theatre in Kennington all did really well and I was really pleased with the reception received.
How did the commission for putting Mosquito on at the Seven Dials come about?
Rather coincidentally. An actor I worked with on a previous play of mine mentioned the Seven Dials Playhouse, which is a studio theatre in the West End). He said they were looking for new writing to programme. I thought I’d send my script in due to its relevance: it looks at mental health, gaslighting and the issues of breaking up with someone. Happily the theatre liked it.
Can you briefly tell us about the plot line for Mosquito and what inspired it?
Sadly, the play was inspired by my cousin’s taking of her own life when she experienced these issues at the end of her breakup. I was angry and I felt a conversation needed to be had. So I wrote Mosquito. I think the story communicates these issues well. The theatre has been extremely supportive and so the play looks to be in amazing shape for the forthcoming performances in July.
What do you think audiences will enjoy most about seeing the play?
I like my plays being subtle, having a lot of subtext and of course some cutting lines that are often dry and laced in cruel humour. I like black comedies: I think they’re the closest genre to reality, often subtly showing an audience the issues in a play and how they are often overlooked in life. We ignore suffering in plain sight, don’t we? I like when someone leaves the theatre and they think about what they saw and interpret it in a certain way. Anything spelled out and thrown at the audience is no good – that’s not theatre. Fortunately, that’s not Mosquito, which will hopefully connect with the audience’s humour and emotion. It is at times a funny play but also a sad one that is painfully relevant in today’s society.
How have rehearsals gone so far for the cast?
The rehearsal process has gone pretty well. We have been lucky with the two actors cast in the play: Aoife Boyle and Matt Mella – both professionals with terrific experience and a confidence with the material that allows me to sleep at night. We’ve also got an immensely experienced director, Nicky Allpress, whose fidelity to the message of the play blends seamlessly with the requirement to entertain the audience. I know the story being told is the story I imagined. Things in the play can often change or develop in the rehearsal room, but it’s only ever for the good of the play. I’m excited to see their interpretation played out on the stage.
Has putting on Mosquito been a learning curve for you?
Something I learned early about writing a play is to not have an ego. No one wants it, no one needs it, and it only gets in the way of the story being told. Fortunately, I learnt the lesson the first time and so, if anything, I’ve further learned the brilliance of a play is entirely dependent on the collaboration of the people in the room. Things only get better when you lift the words off the page and discuss how best to move forward with the director and actors.
Will you be touring Mosquito anywhere else after the run at Seven Dials?
We have certainly invited a lot of theatres! We’d be very interested in moving the play to another location, whether it be in London or elsewhere. It’s quite difficult to bring a play to Tunbridge Wells though, so I would urge the Tunbridge Wells audience to venture to Charing Cross, if they want to come and see this play. They won’t be disappointed.
Is it your wish to go on and write more plays?
I can’t help but write plays. I enjoy writing them and ideas always come from the world we’re living in. As long as I’m present and things move with the times, my writing will find new muses.
What’s next for Cameron Corcoran?
We actually have another play of mine on in August. Wolf is on at the Cockpit, in Marylebone. This one considers domestic violence, but unlike Mosquito there isn’t too much humour; it’s a very serious play indeed.
You can follow Cameron’s Instagram
@Offmainstage, for more information on his writing, current and future projects.