After selling out during its first run, Amy Trigg’s dramaturgic debut has returned on tour around the UK, currently being performed in London until the end of the month. Guillermo Názara chats with 2020 Women’s Prize for Playwriting-winning author and star of the show, to learn more about this personal piece encompassing her struggle but also a love for life.
What is Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me about?
Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me follows Juno, a woman who was born with spina bifida, as she navigates her young adulthood whilst reflecting on the joy and trauma of growing up as a disabled child. It’s a story about love in all its forms, with a focus on self love and platonic love. It’s a love letter to my younger self and hopefully it resonates with a lot of people!
This play offers a lot of things, including moments of sadness as well being incredibly uplifting. What do you hope that audiences take away from the play?
I want the audience to leave having learnt a little bit about Juno’s lived experience…but I also want them to have a load of questions – something to talk about in the bar afterwards! I hope they leave feeling like Juno is their best friend. The dream is for people to see themselves reflected in the play. My aim was to tell a universal story about a very specific character. I want it to show that we all have things in common. Fingers crossed that worked!
How did the idea for this piece come to you?
There was no lightning bolt moment to be honest…I was doing lots of improv and sketch courses, which led to stand up, which led to panel talks about diversity and inclusion. Those talks led to me writing an essay about improv and female role models. That essay spurred me on to write a series of essays around different topics – street healers, first kisses, operations etc. Over time, those essays became monologues until finally I decided to string them all together to make a play. That was when it got exciting – I realised I was going to write the play I wish I’d seen as a teenager. The play had been bubbling in my brain for years…in fact I wrote some of the material in the play back when I was a teenager. There’s even a poem in there that I wrote when I was six…so maybe I had the idea for the play when I was six and just didn’t know it!
A one-person show offers different challenges when it comes to pace and structure compared to an ensemble piece. Have you found any of these difficulties when writing it?
This was my first play, so I had nothing to base it on to be honest! Part of the joy of theatre is that rules are there to be broken, and form is what you say it is. The play isn’t plot driven – it’s an exploration of a character and their past. I suppose one challenge was working out how much to reveal of the character and when to reveal it. Our fabulous director, Charlotte, helped me with the structure before we went into rehearsals so that was super helpful. I learnt a lot from writing this play – it was like a playground for me!
How much do Amy and Juno share in common?
It’s difficult to say where Juno ends, and I begin. Juno is a fictional character with a fictional story line but of course there are similarities between us. I also made sure that there were differences between us. I wanted to protect myself as a writer and performer. If I’d written about me and my own life, then I would have censored a lot more! Having Juno as a form of armour has allowed me to be more honest – it’s enabled me to explore sensitive issues I might have avoided if the play was totally autobiographical. I actually have quite a lot in common with Mel (Juno’s best friend). I suppose there’s a bit of me in all the characters I write.
The show is touring again after its first run. Have you taken the opportunity to make any changes to the original material?
This was the first play I wrote, and I feel like I’ve grown as a writer since writing it. The temptation is to do a big old re write…but actually it’s important to honour when the play was written, and who I was when I wrote it. I love this play and it means a lot to me. So, yes, I made a few changes but not too many! I’ve also adjusted my performance a little because I feel like I have a deeper understanding of the play and the relationship between me and the audience.
What have been your inspirations in the making this piece?
I wanted to tell an authentic story about a young disabled woman, so I suppose my inspiration was seeing the lack of those stories ha! Other reference points for me during the creation of the play were… ‘Hedwig and the Angry Inch’, ‘Tick, Tick…Boom!’ and Amy Poehler’s book ‘Yes Please’.
Have you learned anything about yourself when making and performing this piece?
The piece sometimes acts as a form of therapy for me. Some days it doesn’t affect me too much. But then I might be having a bad day health wise, and certain lines affect me more than they normally do. I’ve learnt that I use writing as a way of de scrambling my thoughts. And I’ve learnt that it’s good to be honest and open with people. We’re so scared of being vulnerable but there’s a joy in being vulnerable and having a bunch of people say “oh my goodness, me too!!”
What are the reasons we should love this show?
The show is a universal story about the messiness of life. I hope people love its honesty. It’s also fun, so that’s always good!
Reasons You Should(n’t) Love Me is currently playing at London’s Kiln Theatre. Tickets are available on the following link.