FEATURE: Becci Sharrock on Yes Chef! | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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The Writers’ ARCADE is a group of emerging playwrights who meet regularly to discuss their work, share experiences and develop their skills. They have recently been awarded a grant from Arts Council England to support a ten month professional development programme.  As part of this, each writer will create a brand new one hour script that will be given a rehearsed reading at ARC. 

Writers ARCADE Rehearsed Readings will take place every Wednesday from 6 May – 24 June 2015. In this new series, we’ve asked the members of the Writers’ ARCADE to tell us more about their experiences of being involved in the group, the works they’re presenting and their hopes for the future. This time, Becci Sharrock talks about her work Yes Chef! Words: Becci Sharrock.

I was always quite creative growing up; writing stories and poems, but never really thought of it as a career option. I had no real idea what I wanted to do, much like the protagonist in my play, and ended up at University studying Economics. My first real introduction to theatre and playwriting was working Front of House at the Live Theatre in Newcastle. It was a brilliant job and gave me the chance to sit in on lots of amazing plays for free. Watching Lee Hall’s The Pitmen Painters night after night and still finding something new in it each time I watched it was an early lesson in skilful playwriting.

From there I took the Live Theatre’s Introduction to Playwriting course and joined their writers’ group, both of which gave me the opportunity to see short pieces of my work performed by professional actors, which was such a huge buzz.

It was at this point that I knew my passion lay in theatre. For a couple of years I set up and ran INK New Writing Festival, to give writers a platform for their work but never had the nerve to programme my own writing. I worked at Théâtre San Frontières and ARC and now work as a freelance Creative Producer for super talented artists like Precious Cargo, Leo Burtin, Josh Coates and Matt Miller. Getting to work with such a range of brilliant theatre makers inspired me to go back to writing and explore my own voice and what it is I want to say.

“I couldn’t have met a friendlier, more inspiring group of people”

During my time at ARC, I joined the Writers ARCADE Group and I couldn’t have met a friendlier, more inspiring group of people. The difference for me was in the long term nature of the group. I was able to come back each month to share ideas, ask questions and crucially, follow the ups and downs of each others’ journeys and experiences. The development scheme that grew out of this has been amazing. We’ve had workshops from people I really admire and look up to like Fin Kennedy, Chris Goode and Inua Ellams. On top of that being paired with the fantastic playwright Ali Taylor (Fault Lines, Cotton Wool, Overspill) as a mentor has given me much needed guidance and a real confidence boost. He’s been great at dealing with my insecurities as a writer and has set me really useful exercises, offered advice and given me an insight on his own experience. Being able to speak to someone about your writing who really understands what you’re going through makes all the difference and his feedback has been spot on.

My play Yes Chef! combines two of my favourite things; food and theatre. If, like me, you’re glued to every series of Masterchef or Hell’s Kitchen, this one’s for you! The play explores the world of a professional kitchen and looks at what it’s like to be a woman working in an aggressive, male dominated work place. It also looks at how someone who is feeling quite lost in life can actually thrive in that kind of environment. I’ve tried to make it as authentic as possible and even got to speak to Andy Hook at Blackfriars and Kenny Atkinson of House of Tides as part of my research.

As the day of the reading gets closer, I alternate between feeling like an over excited kid at Christmas and like I’ve organised a party that I’m not sure anyone will come to. Mainly, I’m just thrilled to have the chance to share my work. It’s very much a piece in development and I’d love to find out what people think and get their feedback to help me develop it further. I’ll be very well supported on the night by director Ali Pritchard and cast members Shane Headlam, Lauren Pattison, Phil Corbitt and Chris Foley.

My ambition as a writer is to write plays that tell stories about real people. I want audiences to recognise the characters, be pulled into the world and to go home feeling like they’ve just had a good catch up or put the world to rights with their best friend. I’d love you all to come along on Wednesday and let me know how close I am!

Yes Chef! is at Stockton’s Arc on Wednesday 17th June.

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