An interview with Seeds writer Mel Pennant
Mel Pennant, Seeds writer
1. How would you describe the show to someone who hasn’t seen it?
Two mums, either side of a racist murder, come together and explore what happened to their sons fifteen years earlier. They go to places no one else would take them to and in doing so come to an agreed truth which is life changing for both of them.
2. How would you sum up the play in three words?
Rollercoaster, awkward, emotional.
3. What inspired you to write the play?
In writing the play I was conscious that we rarely hear, in any depth, the stories of the families of people involved in tragedies and yet as a society we often judge them. I wanted to explore those stories through two mothers on either side of such an event and in doing so interrogate the very essence of motherhood. Those two women have a conversation that couldn’t happen without the other: they can face the depth of their despair and longing, how they define themselves in a space that is becoming even more limiting.
4. Why do you think it’s important that we discuss knife crime from the perspective of mothers?
Because it’s families, parents, mothers who are left with the aftermath. When the headlines are over, they are the ones who deal with the reality. I wanted to explore that reality.
5. What do you want audiences to take away from the production? What discussions do you want
I hope audiences see my play as the beginning of a conversation. I hope that it enables audiences to see and engage with the complexities and layers of the issues discussed.
6. What’s next for you after the tour?
More plays about issues that I’m passionate about. A TV series I’ve been developing over the past few years, a novel and a film.
7. What advice would you offer someone looking to get into the industry?
• If you are juggling lots of commitments, be kind to yourself.
• Enter writing competitions, they are great for providing deadlines. The right one can also give your work validation - for me, this was the wonderful Alfred Fagon award.
• Find people who believe in you and are passionate about your work. Natalie Ibu from Tiata Fahodzi and Anastasia, the director of ‘seeds’, picked up my play and believed in it and in me. They have helped me take ‘seeds’ from strength to strength.
• No work is wasted. ‘seeds’ was a play I wrote six years ago and put in a drawer. I took it out years later and found that I was still in love with it. I now know the play needed that time to mature and become what it is today.
Seeds plays at Live Theatre on Tues 3 & Wed 4 March, 2020. Find out more and book tickets at https://www.live.org.uk/whats-on/seeds