Interview: Anna-Lisa Maree

Anna-Lisa Maree’s play ‘Blast From the Past’ is on at The London Short Play Festival on the 16th-18th July (2015).  This week I asked her a few questions about her work.
Thanks for talking to us today Anna-Lisa.  Your play ‘Blast from the Past’, is based on the Soho nail bomb in 1999 – when did you first get the idea for the piece and what was the inspiration behind it?
In 2011 I  co-wrote ‘Booze, Birds & Blackpool Rock’  a rock and rollercoaster musical, set in 1997 which ran for the Summer season in the Paradise Room on Blackpool Pleasure Beach.
‘Blast From the Past’ is a mini sequel set 2 years on and highlighting how the Soho nail bomb explosion affected the fictitious Northern Tate family It also delves into the private life of a Drag Artiste, the misconceptions people have about ‘cross dressing’ and ultimately having the courage to lead the life you were born to live. The inspiration behind the play has come from the wonderfully colourful characters who have brightened my world, opened my eyes and educated me. A special mention must go to ‘Baga Chipz’ a current resident Drag Artiste at the Admiral Duncan who invited me to attend the Annual Nail Bomb Memorial ceremony at St. Anne’s Church Gardens in 2013.
How did you go about researching the piece?
When I attended the memorial ceremony in 2013 it was an extraordinarily moving experience to see people from all walks of life unifying to prove that ‘Goodness is stronger than Evil’. Subsequently I have talked to individuals who shared their own knowledge and memories of the attack, one of whom had a very lucky escape.  I have also done a lot of online research and watched the documentary ‘Crimes That Shook Britain – The London Nail Bomber’. Although the characters in my show may be fictitious I have remained faithful to the facts and honoured the actual number of lives lost.
What message do you hope ‘Blast from The Past’ will transmit to an audience?  What would you like them to take away from it?
I would like to think that my play will provide a multitude of messages and hopefully educate people about life in the LGBT community. Equally I hope it will make people assess how quick they are to judge others rather than stepping back and assessing the private battles and demons that they may well be fighting. At the end of the day we are all mere humans trying to live the life that we have been given as best we can and the only ‘given’ is that none of us are going to get out of it alive, so in that respect we are all equal.
Are you working on anything else at the moment?
I’m an all round Theatre Fairy, I’m currently touring the UK as a Company Stage Manager, but I have been known to tread the boards in my time and I’m no stranger to running Wardrobe Departments either! Last year I was fortunate enough to have my play ‘Casting The Villain Aside’ chosen for the very first ‘London Short Play Festival’ so I am now writing the sequel to that piece, entitled ‘Glittering Over The Cracks’.
What kind of work are you keen to write?  What topics / themes / ideas interest you?
I’m a ‘Benidorm’ Super Fan and Derren Litten is my writing Hero I aspire to achieve the same level of humour and empathy in my work as he does. Equally I ‘write what I know’ because that way I know my work is truthful. For years it has been common place for me to be surrounded by men who can walk in a pair of heels far better than I can or being immersed in the so-called  ‘wonderful world’ of theatre where all too often there is more drama off stage than on and invariably I do forget that this is not everyone’s  ‘norm’! So I guess I share parts of my own life in my writing, the good, the bad, the ugly and of course the incredibly glamorous!
Any other comments?
I wrote the part of Julie Tate in ‘Blast From the Past’ especially for Judy Buxton, she is an absolutely brilliant character actress and this Northern, gritty single mother is a million miles away from her usual casting stereotype. I am also delighted that Scott Wright who originally played Danny Tate in ‘Booze, Birds and Blackpool Rock’ will be donning his Firebird tracksuit once again and rather aptly the actor playing Danny’s  brother Nathan is Anthony Poore, who is more commonly known as ‘Tanya Hyde’ one of the current Drag Artiste’s at the Admiral Duncan.
And finally . . . .
Rather ironically I found out that ‘Blast From The Past’ had been selected for this years London Short Play Festival on 30th April 2015 – the day of the 16th Anniversary of the Nail Bomb explosion.
Follow Anna-Lisa on Twitter: twitter: @ WildcatQueenz
And find out more about the London Short Play Festival at: https://www.facebook.com/TheLondonShortPlayFestival
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