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Interview with Drew Quayle 2009

Drew QuayleNo short cuts at The Salon: Drew Quayle tells Chris High how perseverance proved crucial in getting his play produced … but that it’s all been worthwhile in the end.

The Salon' took about two years to go from first draft to stage with the principal difficulty encountered by any new writer being to find a theatre company to champion their work. It was no different for me and it can be a frustrating time.’ So says Liverpool playwright and former sketch writer for Hale & Pace, Drew Quayle, who is about to have his second full play produced by The Theatre Royal, St. Helens, from June 25 – June 27. ‘New writers are viewed with skepticism in many quarters, which is ironic in the sense that everyone, Shakespeare included, was a new writer at one point. In the main, of course, it comes down to money and it’s easier for theatres to back an established playwright as there is obviously less risk, but that attitude is also self-defeating. That’s where Jane Joseph and everyone involved at The Theatre Royal have been so brave in recognizing that new writers are the future and always will be. After all, there would be no past without them.’

The play is about the behind the scenes shenanigans of the average salon, and one woman’s triumphant over a broken heart, her mad work colleagues, and a hostile takeover bid from the local gangster. ‘That’s what the blurb says, anyway,’ Drew laughed, ‘but in essence it’s an adult comedy about love and sex, betrayal and how we reconcile them. The idea started with the three female characters. Once they started to evolve in my head the setting suggested itself and it grew from there. An audience can expect a great, fun night out, with lots of laughs and maybe the odd tear.’

Like many writers, Drew likes to keep under wraps for awhile, until he’s happy with it. ‘I don’t like to show my work until I’ve done a few drafts. I believe it needs time to gestate before you show it to anyone. Once I’ve reached that stage, however, you need an objective eye, and in the case of The Salon, I’ve had several fellow writers give it a grilling. I think that’s a very important part of the process. My writing background is pretty varied, as it goes. In the 90s I wrote for Hale and Pace for a time and since then I’ve had a play, I’m Spartacus! produced at the Unity Theatre, as well as several radio productions and bits of poetry published. The most important thing for any writer to have is self belief. Keep at it. Believe in yourself. Keep the faith. Find your own voice, because you’re unique and you have a unique way of seeing the world. And don’t be put off by all the closed doors out there. The ones that make it are the ones that keep at it.  I’ve recently become a self-employed gardener. Initially I did it to keep me in ink cartridges but I’ve grown to love it. It’s now an integral part of my life and the contrast is great for my writing. For someone who’s been a lazy get all his life it’s done me a power of good. It’s given me a real work ethic, which has enhanced my writing no end.’

So what’s next? ‘More blisters, both from digging in the dirt and writing,’ ’ Drew smiled.  ‘My next play is called Last Train To Yuma and it’s about a bottom-of- the-bill comedy double-act. I’m also working on a play called The Diner in New Mexico, which is very different in tone than the other two.

So, does Drew go to the theatre and analyse plays for his own purposes and, if so, who are the writers which current crop does he draw inspiration from? ‘I don’t consciously analyse plays, but obviously I do naturally. This is not normally what will inspire me to see a play. Like everyone else, I like a good night out. But you can’t help but learn from every play you see, no matter how good or bad you think it is. Every play I’ve seen will have affected me or influenced me on some level. Of the current plays I’ve seen I like the work of Dave Kirby and Nicky Alt a lot and also Nick Leather and Lawrence Wilson. I love lot of new writers: far too many to name.’

The Salon: Promotional PosterThe play stars several Merseyside favourites including Brick Up The Mersey Tunnels actor, Roy Brandon, Juice FM’s Leanne Campbell and Council Depot Blues star, Shaun Mason. How involved has Drew been involved in the process of finding the right actors for his characters? ‘I’ve been involved in all stages of the production to varying degrees. Along with Jane Joseph the producer and Sylvie Gattril, the director, I sat in on the audition process. In terms of rehearsal, Sylvie is very much in the driving seat. We share the same vision for the play, which is great for me. She’s also very respectful of my role and is sensitive to that. The rehearsal process is the best part for me and this Company have a wonderful rapport. It’s been a lot of hard work to get it here, but well worth it.’

The Salon by Drew Quayle, starring Roy Brandon, Shaun Mason and Leanne Campbell is at The Theatre Royal, St. Helens, from June 25 – 27. For tickets contact the Box Office on 01774 756 000 OR Online at

Read Chris High's review of 'The Salon' June 2009

Parts of this interview have, or will, appear in other publications and in other formats.


If you would like to comment on this interview with Drew Quayle in June 2009, please feel free to contact me - GUESTBOOK

“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
© 2009 all rights reserved