Tina Jay, who lives in West Hallam and teaches the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) syllabus at Trent College in Long Eaton, has had her new play ‘Back’, written for Vertical Line Theatre’s ‘Lineup’ evening, performed at the Greenwich Theatre.
Her critically acclaimed play ‘Walking’, winner of the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing three years ago, also ran for a week in early November, in a production by actress/director Sarah Berger who runs the So and So Arts Club.
Tina, who first started writing poems and short stories as a child, has penned no fewer than eight full-length plays and a large number of short plays and seen them performed regularly in London and around the rest of the UK. With two new productions looming she admits you can’t beat the opening night buzz.
“For a lot of writers the actual performance night is quite tense and often quite difficult to enjoy, wondering how an audience is going to react to the piece, so I probably feel the most relaxed on seeing a play developed in rehearsal,” she says. “However, there is nothing like the thrill of actually seeing your work performed, even with the tension!
“A lot of theatre companies are really keen for writers to be involved in the production process, which is great, and I find it really interesting and helpful to listen to feelings and input from actors, and to see the characters from their viewpoints. Likewise actors will often find it helpful to be able to ask the writer further questions about the piece in developing their character, and writers can equally learn from how an actor perceives the character and displays their characteristics.”
Tina wrote her first full-length play, ‘Rotten Apples’, in her final year at university and won the International Student Playscript Award judged by Sir Alan Ayckbourn. The play was then performed at The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.
The prolific writer is now working on a number of new works, including ‘Against the Law’ about the life of the journalist Peter Wildbloode, with Kibo Productions. She has also been shortlisted for the TS Eliot Commissions for a new play at London’s famous Old Vic theatre.
On top of her own writing, Tina teaches students in preparation for LAMDA examinations at Trent College, specialising in a variety of areas including acting, devised performance and speaking of verse and prose.
She believes both she and the students gain from her experience of having her plays performed in the heartland of British theatre. “I find writing plays very helpful in my LAMDA work,” she says. “Particularly in the way I look at helping a student in their approach to understanding the main objectives of the character, how the playwright has constructed the subtext, and each characters’ reactions to fit within the framework of the play.”