Broadway World describes Siân Owen’s one-woman play How To Be Brave as “the greatest bedtime story a scared little girl could hear”. It follows Katie’s adventure around Newport with a stolen BMX. We spoke to Owen about her monologue, her inspirations and her relationship to Newport.
Can you tell us about How To Be Brave and where the idea came from?
I was going through some big LIFE things at the time and I was trying to find some much needed strength and courage. I started thinking about where I had come from and what had come before, who had come before to give me some strength. I started to dig and found treasure and wanted to tap into that to write my way through a hard time.
I was also talking to the brilliant Dirty Protest Theatre company at the time about writing a play….and when I started talking with them, we were all excited about a play about Newport and bravery and strong women. I needed to go “home” to find some brave and this is where it all started-in every sense.
What was the decision behind telling the story of How To Be Brave through the form of a monologue? What are the dramatic challenges of writing a one-person play?
It had to be the story of one woman, so it felt just right that we should just hear her voice and her story. The challenges came trying to give space to the place and life to the people she met. Katie has to grab whoever is listening, take their hand and drag them on a mad adventure. And to keep it dramatic, funny, sad and engaging was a real challenge!
The play feels strongly anchored in Newport. How did you go about creating such a strong sense of place and what does it bring to the play?
For me, Newport is another character in the play, so I wrote Newport that way – it is tenacious and resilient and sometimes broken but always loyal. It is full of heart and steel. And I think by thinking of the place in those terms the sense of place grew like a character would. I hope it brings a real sense of truth and honesty to the play.
Do you have any advice for theatremakers looking to stage the play in future?
Please HAVE FUN. This is a mad adventure and although at times it can be heartbreaking, it is joyful and full of hope and strength. Be free to explore with invention and creativity. BE BRAVE!
What do you want audiences to take away from the show?
I want them to laugh, to cry, but ultimately to remember what they are all made of.
Are there any particular female playwrights or theatremakers who have inspired your writing and the kind of work that you want to make?
Abi Morgan and Caryl Churchill (US / UK) are my powerhouses of inspiration! I have been mentored and helped by many brilliant female theatremakers too and I will forever be in debt to them for their belief.
For more information about performing How To Be Brave, visit Concord Theatricals UK.