Caravan of Love is the first play I wrote – if one conveniently forgets the real first play that I wrote. Which I do. Because it was awful. But I was young so it doesn’t count. Tom Daldrey writes.

Until last year I hadn’t considered pursuing creative writing on a personal level, let alone committing career suicide on a full-time basis. But a year-long series of Arts-graduate-unemployability knockbacks, a quarter-life crisis and a Self-Discovery workshop (culminating in a choreographed sequence of emotional breakdowns) encouraged me to write a play.

These happy incidents came to a head on a caravan holiday in Ireland. The piece was born mid-morning therapy session, with my friend and colleague. Neither of us are trained – or competent – therapists.  Yet they characterised the holiday, in one of the most surreal situations of my life.

Soul-deep heart-to-hearts highlighted the dramatic potential the caravan setting has. What better start than the Housemartins’ cover of Caravan of Love? (the original isn’t very good). And what better theme than a couple on a honeymoon in a caravan, in a relationship plagued by jealousy and emotional abuse? Write about what you know.  I was young, so it doesn’t count.

The piece’s first airing was last September, as part of First Heard (John Knowles’ project to support new writing). To hear one’s work read by professional actors is a rather powerful experience – almost enough to induce another emotional breakdown. I realised that I was baring my soul in public – and that the artistry is in disguising that for an audience.

Its positive reception encouraged me to send an application to Prague Fringe Festival, on a day-of-the deadline whim. It’s by invitation only – and not only did I expect a generic ‘no thank you’ email, but I didn’t tell anyone I’d applied: so I wouldn’t have to talk about the generic ‘no thank you’ email. But I was thrilled when they said yes, and equally thrilled to find that two other Hastings-based artists (Emily Carding and John Knowles) will grace Prague’s programme.

Rehearsals started in Late-April, and is produced by Theatre Nation – following on from our recent production of Hamlet. I’m working with three wonderful actors: Fiona Hardy, Gareth Wildig and Patrick Kealey (also the Director) and have managed to schedule a small festival tour. It’s meaningful to experience emotional trauma transforming into – what I hope – will be a great piece of theatre.

Caravan of Love will play at Printers Playhouse (Eastbourne) 25th May, Prague Fringe Festival 29th May-2nd June, Barnstaple Fringe Festival 28th-30th June and Hastings Fringe Festival 19th July.  For more visit
www.theatrenation.org

 

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