Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sam Simkin: SGYT's award winning playwright

Sam with his award winning script

Stafford Gatehouse Youth Theatre member Sam Simkin may only be 14 years old but not only has he begun scriptwriting he has just been awarded Most Promising Young Playwright in the Trinity College International Playwriting Competition, which had hundreds of entries from 25 countries. We met with Sam to find out more. 

Stafford Gatehouse Theatre: Hi Sam, tell us a little about yourself and how long you have been with SGYT:

Sam: I joined SGYT in 2012 after taking part in Summer School for the first time that year. I also joined MYTS (Musical Youth Theatre Stafford) that year too and currently study at BOA (Birmingham Ormiston Academy) It all spiralled off the back of the summer school production of Peter Pan!

SGT: What made you start writing and enter the competition?

Sam: The year I joined Summer School was when I discovered I liked script writing. I wrote a few things, I think you have to keep writing to get up to a good standard and have written seven plays so far. The ideas are always in the back in my mind. I wrote a play for Gnosall Players for the Gnosall Festival called The Community Centre which was a comedy play, and after I wrote that I took a break to find my style. I like plays with comedy which also tackle an issue. My sister spotted the advert for the playwriting competition in Stafford Library, and when I started at BOA I had an hour to wait at the train station every morning so started working on it then. There was a very long, painful waiting period after submitting it, then I finally received an email from them when I wasn’t expecting it. I thought it was going to say “thanks for submitting but you weren’t successful” but it actually said “Dear Sam, well done you are a most promising playwright”, I felt numb for a while! 

SGT: What is your play about?

Sam: It’s for young performers; the category was specifically for 12-16 year olds. With that category it would seem like it would limit what you can write about, but actually that age group don’t need things dumbing down. I’m in the middle of that age category so I thought if I understood what I was writing about then others in my age group would too!

My play is called When Darkness Falls, it’s a comedy play but tackles a big issue of homelessness and murder, focusing on a 16 year old boy called Alex.

SGT: It’s very different to the usual thing written for or by teenagers.

Sam: I’m in the knowledge that we’re not thick, teenagers can handle difficult issues. Also we need to know about these things! If you write with an overlaying theme of comedy it’s easier to face the tough issues in the play.

SGT: What are your short and long term plans? 

Sam: I’m currently writing two scripts as I’m always writing and having new ideas! In the long term I want to be a primary school teacher but always have scriptwriting as a constant extra.

SGT: Are there any playwrights who have influenced you?

Sam: Believe it or not I don’t really read plays, I’m more of a musical person actually! I love the musical Parade and the book is so well conceived and put together, so that’s the one book of a musical that I’ve loved reading.

SGT: Thanks for speaking to us Sam and congratulations again!

You can find out more about Sam’s award winning play When Darkness Falls and his other work on his Twitter account @SamSimkinScript

Sam will also be performing in the SGYT production of Alice By Heart, in The MET Studio Wednesday 4th – Friday 7th June. You can book your tickets here

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