5 Minutes with Sam O’Rourke
Sam is a playwright and director based in the North West. Sam wrote and directed the 2015 Edinburgh Fringe play The Dolphin Hotel, which was long listed for the Amnesty International Freedom of Expression Award. She is currently on the second year of the YEP Writers Programme.
Why did you decide to apply for the YEP Writers Programme?
I'd just graduated from Loughborough University and was excited to further develop as a writer in a professional environment. I'd set up my own theatre company in university, but I was really keen to come back to the North West and make work here. It's great to be involved with the Everyman as it is known for new writing, and being a member of YEP Writers has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t anticipate the incredible opportunities we'd be involved in and how closely we'd work with the Literary Department.
How did YEP Writers help your development as a writer?
The first year focused on workshops, technical skills and structure. It helped to go back to basics and look at how you can explore ideas in the world of a play. We were involved in a few different projects in the first year such as rehearsed readings with YEP Actors. The second year prepares you to write in the professional world and you write to specific briefs. You work with other Writers, Actors and Directors and learn how to express your own voice whilst working to a project brief in a collaborative environment.
"I have become a better writer as a result of being involved in the YEP Writers Programme."
I have become braver in my work. It has been wonderful to watch lots of shows at the Everyman and Playhouse, and meet visiting artists and playwrights. We regularly have masterclasses with brilliant writers like Ella Carmen Greenhill, it’s really inspiring to hear about all the different pathways these writers have taken. Writing can be really lonely but the course offers you a sense of community and really prepares you for the reality of working professionally.
What YEP projects have you worked on in the past?
I worked with three other YEP Writers on Quantum: Gus Kearns, Olivia Stone and Paul Tallant and I also worked on Scene Change Presents: The Grand Liverpool Hotel. It was a site specific piece at the Adelphi Hotel, which was organised by first year YEP Producers. We had five days to write three short plays for three locations in the building and respond to the spaces. The most incredible thing about being a member of YEP is that it gives you the chance to make connections with fellow artists in the industry. As a result of working on the Scene Change show there have been lots conversations with other young creatives about possible future projects.
How important do you think YEP is for young artists?
YEP is incredibly important in terms of training and developing your skills. It also gives you the opportunity to move into writing professionally. I've also worked with the Engagement Department on ‘Coming Home’ a short play for Young DaDaFest - Perform which took place at the Everyman in July.
"YEP has given me so many opportunities to meet fellow artists and make connections for the future, learn about how a theatre runs and what a theatre expects from a writer."
I believe that the Everyman and Playhouse are important to the city, as they feel accessible to young people and encourage young people that might not get a chance to go to the theatre to get involved. YEP shows are very inclusive and YEP really welcomes young people to the theatres.
What has been your most favourite production or moment at the Everyman or Playhouse Theatres?
It was exciting to see Gemma Bodinetz’s production of Educating Rita, as I am a massive fan of Willy Russell and the production starred fantastic local actors like Leanne Best. I also loved Sherman Cymru’s recent production Iphigenia in Splott, I thought it was incredible, very funny, raw and I really liked the way in which the classical was story was updated to resonate so painfully with our current social climate.
I am directing a short film written by the wonderful Grace Blackman in the next few months. The film is called Intoxicated, it’s a farcical contemporary imagining of the lover’s scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We’re currently fundraising as we’re aiming to pay at equity rates which is really difficult but something we feel really strongly about. I'm also looking to continue making theatre locally with my fellow YEP Writer’s, so watch this space!