Winning the Bruntwood Prize will change my life on all levels; from knowing that my play YEN will be developed right down to not having to pay RBS forty quid a month for the privilege of having their bloody overdraft.
I once read the advice, "Write what keeps you up at night". At the time I slept quite well, and wondered if I was too well adjusted to be a writer. But thankfully, no. What excites me as a writer on an epic scale is the human condition, that we are essentially death bound and have no idea when our time is up. Some have a zen-like acceptance of this, but I'm a control freak and I have wrestled with it daily - especially as a teenager. (What do you mean you don't know where I'm going? OR when???) I'm also interested the minutiae of everyday life - ticks, habits, fantasies, our favourite TV programmes; what make us individuals. I'm fascinated by how the phenomenon of the modern word affects our lives, things like the internet, mobile phones, sexualisation, the rise of celebrity worship and reality TV; particularly relating to young people.
YEN was inspired by a news report I heard years ago about two teenage brothers who committed a terrible crime. They had been living at home alone for months, doing nothing but watching hardcore pornography, graphic horror films and playing computer games. I developed a morbid fascination with how living like that might affect a person. To begin with it was tough, to write characters that lived such insular lives. Then I realised Bobbie and Hench were not a million miles away from people I knew growing up. YEN is a picture of what happens to a person when they are given no nourishment; physical, spiritual, emotional, educational. How are we to deal with the trials of life, like love and loss, if we have no tools to do that? What happens if we experience great pain and have no means of expressing it? That certainly keeps me awake at night. As the story developed, it became clear the results of this lack of nurturing would be catastrophic for all the characters.
This all sounds very dark. There are lots of laughs in YEN, and all my other plays too. I don't believe in writing plays without humour and hope. Winning this prize is going to allow me to write more of them. I plan to rent a desk because when I'm at home the lure of the fridge or watching Alan Partridge clips on YouTube interferes with my well intentioned writing plans. I'm a terrible procrastinator, but it's all part of the process. I'm looking forward to being able to confidently say "I'm a playwright and a director" when people ask me what I do for a living, rather than saying that then mumbling all the other things I do to pay the rent afterwards.
Anna is also Artistic Director of Without a Paddle Theatre.