With wide-ranging experience as an author, actor, comedian and playwright, Katy Brand discusses what inspired her debut play, 3Women.
Your play focusses on three generations of women from one family, who have been brought together before a wedding. What was it that inspired you to write their story?
I had the idea of writing a piece where three women, Grandmother, Mother, and Daughter, are just talking to each other about how they see life quite a few years ago. I wanted it to play out over a single night, with all of them in the room, unable to leave, and willing to share. I wanted them to laugh and joke, tease each other, have it out a bit – old tensions and new ones, and to leave the room slightly unresolved but perhaps in a better state than when they went in. I could hear their voices, talking to each other, and I thought, ‘I’d want to see that’. So, I wrote it essentially so I could bring the voices in my head to life. I like the way women in families talk to one another – the way it can blow up in an instant, then calm down, and then erupt into laughter the next. I wanted it to be a slice of that.
3Women balances comedy with heavier, deeply personal moments about your characters’ lives. How did you approach this balance?
In the first draft I just let the conversation meander and tried to listen to my feeling of how a night like this might go in real life. It wasn’t conscious, in the sense I that wrote a tight beat sheet – I just knew a couple of key moments would happen and what they were, and then it was trying to achieve those points without it feeling contrived. I wanted it to feel quite natural, with lulls and highs. And then, once I saw the actors rehearse it, weak spots or places where the pacing wasn’t right became obvious, so that was a huge help.
Is there one particular moment in the play that you feel really sets the tone of the wider story?
I like the scene where Suzanne describes her daughter Laurie’s birth to her. It’s quite quiet and personal, and I haven’t heard that many birth stories on stage before. The play is partly about motherhood, so to have a story of a birth, just straightforwardly told at the centre of it felt right.
What do you hope audiences will take away from this play?
I honestly don’t mind, I’m just glad they’re interested enough to want to see it! I would be thrilled if people laughed a lot, felt a little shiver of surprise once in a while, and perhaps were moved too. That’s the dream, as far as I’m concerned, for any story you want to tell.
Do you have any insights or advice for anyone wanting to stage 3Women?
Again, I am simply thrilled and excited by the prospect of anyone wanting to stage it. The only piece of advice I would offer, just for a sense of how it sounded in my head when I wrote it, is that it is designed to be taken at quite a clip.