NOSTALGIA: Young playwrights visit theatre, ‘92

Iain and Thea with Youth Theatre director Anthea Dobry and Festival Theatre artistic director Patrick Garland
Iain and Thea with Youth Theatre director Anthea Dobry and Festival Theatre artistic director Patrick Garland

These bright young things are the winners of the prestigious Young Playwright of the Year Competition in 1992.

Iain Ross, here aged 17, of Willowhale Avenue, Bognor, and Thea Lacey, aged 11, of Bermondsey in London, visited the Chichester Festival Theatre to see preparations in progress for the productions of their plays.

They are shown here with Youth Theatre director Anthea Dobry and Festival Theatre artistic director Patrick Garland.

Iain won the under 20 section of the contest, which was run by the theatre and sponsored by the Chichester Observer.

Thea carried off the under 12 prize with an environmental piece, entitled What on Earth.

Both won £100 and had the thrill of seeing Chichester Festival Youth Theatre stage their plays in the Minerva Studio in March, 1992.

Iain’s play was titled Conventional People.

He said: “It’s about three groups of people who are all travelling to Brighton for the weekend.

“They all think they are getting on with each other well, but of course, they’re not.

“The play is a revelation of their relationships”.

It is set entirely in cars and motorway cafes.

He got the idea for it during the summer holidays when he seemed to spend most of his waking life in cars - much to his digust.

Drama was at this point the passion in Iain’s life.

He was then at the sixth form at Bishop Luffa School in Chichester, but hoped to study English at university and then go on to film school.

“I want to be another Kenneth Branagh,” he joked. “I want to write, act, direct, do the set designs - everything.”

He had been acting since he was in primary school, performing with Drama 80 and Jubilee Productions at Littlehampton, and Opera 70 at Chichester, among others.

He studied speech and drama with Michael Edgely at Littlehampton since 1988.

Anthea Dobry said: “Conventional People is a very stylish and mature work.

“It is about ordinary people, so everyone will recognise themselves in the character, but it makes the every day into something extraordinary.

“It looks below the surface of human relationships”.

Iain’s play was entered in the Lloyds Bank Theatre Challenge, and stood a chance of being presented on the Olivier Stage at the National Theatre in London.

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