Julie Balloo Interview
Posted on 21 April 2004. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Julie Balloo, theatre, radio, sketch, stand-up and novel writer, whose most recent plays will be on this year at the Edinburgh Festival.
Whatís your writing background? Give us a biog- please mention play titles and where they went on, books, radio, other writing, any awards etc
In 1986 I began my career as a stand up comic, worked in most pubs in London, both behind the microphone and the bar. I completed a play writing course with David Mowat, then wrote the following: Dinner and a Movie, One act Play, Produced for the London New Play festival, 1989, Dream Believer, Two act Play, Hen & Chickens Fringe Theatre, 1990; Dear Jenny, Dear Julie, R4 Comedy series, 1990, Co-written with Jenny …clair; Clay, Play, LNPF 1990. Man in the Moon Theatre, 1991; Edinburgh Festival 1992, Women's Workshop, New York 1992, Melbourne Arts Factory 1993; Thirtysomehow Stage Play, Co-written 1990 for Edinburgh Festival, Pick of the Perrier 1990, Lyric Hammersmith 1991, Ch4 Small stages season 1991; Pilot comedy for Ch4, Mummy's Little Girl, Co-written with and for Jenny …clair at the Donmar Warehouse, London; Sticks & Stones, drama script for BBC2, 1993; On Baby Street (Co-written with Jenny Eclair) Six part comedy series, R4 1995, programme. 95- 96. Girls behaving Badly or Worse, A comedy book , published by Orion, November 1996, Mrs Nosy Parker, A monologue co-written with and for Jenny Eclair, and nominated for the 1998 LWT Comedy Writing Award at this years Edinburgh Festival.Just Juliette, 1999, comedy series for Radio 4, written with Jenny …clair and much, much more. Most recently, The Right Time, Radio 4, sketch show, second series, 2003, Guest Editor for Borkowski Pr, on-line newsletter, Liquid Soap, regular features contributor to the Badmothersclub website, just completed novel, The Rose Lane Musical Society.
How did you start writing?
Iíve always written, as a small child I used to think in the third person, very odd I know but itís starting to make sense now. I only started getting serious after doing a two year play writing course at the Actors Centre in London taught by David Mowatt back in 1988.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
I do tend to favour female writers, Dorothy Parker, Fay Weldon, Barbara Vine, the Bronte sisters, Iíve just finished Zoe Hellerís latest and found it beautifully written, I adore Tim Winton for his imagery and the sheer magic of his words.
How did you get your first agent/commission?
My first commission was for a radio sitcom pilot which was offered after a BBC producer saw Jenny …clair and I doing stand up comedy in 1988. I got my first agent a few years later after a successful play presented at the Edinburgh Festival.
What was your breakthrough moment ?
There have been a couple, firstly co-writing and acting in the black comedy ĎThirtysomehowí in 1990 which after a sell out season at Edinburgh transferred to London and was later filmed for Channel Four and just recently when Iíve had to take stock and reinvent myself writing fiction rather than scripts.
What's the worst thing about writing?
Never really knowing if anything youíve written is any good, constantly wondering if youíve really got anything to say that anyone really wants to hear. Itís a bit like doing live comedy, 200 people could be laughing their heads off but if just one person tells you they didnít find you funny then thatís the only voice I hear.
And the best?
Losing yourself in your writing, not noticing the time flying by. If itís a comedy hearing an audience laughing at your lines, not having to wear tights and a suit.
What kind of response do you get from your audience?
Mixed, I like to make them laugh and make them cry and sometimes terrify the living daylights out of them. I wrote a play called Clay, where a clay model of a human head comes to life, we did this during a brief black out where the model was scooped up and hidden under a table and an actor squatting on his knees put his head up through he table and took up the same pose. It was a few minutes before he moved so no one noticed and boy did they yelp when they did.
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