hearts in mouths

I found it very difficult to read about Ann Turner's final hours. Her family are quite remarkable and I felt humbled by their selflessness. I can't begin to imagine what courage it took to take that journey with their mother, to say their goodbyes, to have their last meal. I love my mum. As I read article after article, I got extremely heavy and found it hard to swallow. How to start writing about this? I spent a lot of time pacing, sitting at a blank screen, wandering around, unable to lose this strange weight I had acquired. The idea of writing about current news stories is brilliant, a great opportunity to provoke debate and to contemplate events. But nobody wants to exploit the suffering of Dr Turner and her family by turning it into entertainment. There was nothing clever I could say about Euthanasia, no big idea that was going to shed radical new light on this issue. Eventually, I wrote for about half an hour, not thinking about what I was writing or what it meant. I emailed it to George, apologetically, asking whether what I had written made any sense, and whether I should start on something new. A while later George rang me and was very encouraging, saying that I should definitely pursue it. He had even identified elements of a story in there, a pregnant woman, a flood, a man who leaves his elderly father in the desert… I didn’t want to analyse it too much, and just carried on writing. Strange things happen in this play. People dissolve, evaporate, solidify, turn to dust or burst into flames. Moments are replayed and repeated, jumbled together. People talk over each other, they talk in the past tense then start having several conversations at once. I emailed it to my agent who got back asking ‘how exactly do I read this?’ My flatmate saw a print-out of it and came for a closer look – ‘Oh, I thought it was a picture.’ It’s all scattered over the page. I’ve never written anything in this way before, I usually start by getting the story completely clear in my head. It’s all a mystery still and I’m fascinated as to what sense George, the actors and the audience will make of it. Looking at it again, there’s definitely a story in there. A man does something which he is haunted by and which causes him to lose his mind. As an old man, he looks back on the event as his child is about to repeat his actions. But that’s just my interpretation.


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