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Young writers are told to tackle what they know.
Kate Tempest has done exactly that for her debut play, Wasted.
“It is inspired by where I am from, the people I love and where those people are at right now,” the new playwright says.
“For my first step, I wanted to do something that meant something, that was from the heart.”
Through office worker Ted, musician Danny and teacher Charlotte, a trio bumbling through their mid-20s experiencing a quarter-life crisis, she jumps head-first into exploring the gap between dreams and reality.
“It’s about coming to a realisation about the changes you want to make to be the person you dream of being, how difficult it can be because the world can seem a big place and a small place.
“It is also about escapism, escaping self-applied rules, and how difficult it is to talk to people who are close until you are wasted.”
The childhood friends still live in the same area. It is ten years to the day since a mutual friend died. They meet at a memorial tree in the park. The next 24 hours take in the pub, being out and about, a big party, then a café the following morning and back to the park.
“Those locations your life plays out in,” says Tempest, who says the actors found the play’s script liberating.
“You don’t get much of an opportunity to say those words as a jobbing actor so we worked on the chorus parts, the flow and rhythm.
“The main thing I wanted was them to be honest. They responded wonderfully to that.”
Tempest is a performance poet and rapper praised by Roots Manuva and Scroobius Pip.
She fronts three-piece band Sound Of Rum, who toured with Billy Bragg last November and are signed to Rob Da Bank’s Sunday Best label.
She has read her poetry on BBC Radio 6 and only last week in Brighton Festival’s Sky Arts Den in Pavilion Gardens.
It was Paines Plough artistic director James Grieve who, after seeing the promise in her work, asked her to write a play for his company which specialises in helping new playwrights develop their craft.
The two had met through The Nabokov Arts Club in London.
“He called me and said, ‘You could really do something, you could write a play’.
“I was like, ‘all right’.”
She admits it is one thing having the precociousness to say she is a rapper but to write plays and novels is another thing.
“I’d always secretly dreamed of writing plays, but it took me a long time to fall into it. I had to set myself up a few safety nets to say I could do this.”
Grieve directed Wasted, which premiered at last summer’s Latitude Festival.
“He was so encouraging that if I went back to him with a draft and it wasn’t quite singing right, all I wanted to do was to go back and make it better.
I was lucky to have him there.”
The idea that the dialogue might not be quite singing right reflects Tempest’s hope that music be integral to the production: she turned to friend Kwake Bass, a hip-hop producer who has worked with Speech Debelle, to compose a soundtrack.
With no background in the theatre, she also found she could be direct and walk the line between rap and drama.
“It’s for people like me, people who don’t go to the theatre much, who don’t have an affinity with the way stories are told in the theatre, that I turned to this project – to try to write something people like me could get something from.”
Pavilion Theatre, New Road, Brighton, May 21 Starts 8pm, sold out.
Call 01273 709709 for returns.