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Sol B River Interview

Posted on 13 January 2006. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Sol B River, radio, theatre and screen writer

Tell us something about your background.

My writing background is primarily theatre which began professionally following an MA in screen writing. I have also written plays for BBC Radio Four. But Iíve also been directing documentaries and a couple of short films. Oh and I recently popped up on the TV soap Emmerdale playing a reporter .. ha ha.
At the moment I am re-writing a film script which was originally written by another writer. My job is to basically edit the script as it stands by looking to see where the plot might be tighter. I am also writing a new play entitled 'Mingin TV', which has taken me a while to get to but I've been building up to it.
I will be keeping my eyes and ears open for directing work in both Theatre and television/film and continuing ongoing development. I'll also be continuing my Royal Literary Fund Fellowship work as a mentor.

How did you start writing?

I first started writing for my Youth Theater in the mid 80's while at school, The play was entitled 'Thomas' (loosely based on Steve Biko) and I also played the lead role. I began writing seriously (three plays in one year - non produced, but all sent to many, many theaters) in 1993. My first professionaly produced play was Moor Masterpieces in 1994 at The West Yorkshire Playhouse.

Who are your favourite writers and why?

Beckett: His mood as a writer means a lot to me, I admire his perception and execution. His profound but acute examination of society makes me wonder
Ibsen: For his timelessness and romantic knowlede of the dramatic world.
Mamet: For dialogue, for the repetitiveness he executes in some of his work, and how naturally that repetition represents real thought process, that then develops into dialogue we can believe in.

How did you get your first agent/ commission?

My first commission came after many cups of tea at my local theatre. I had sent them all of my first three scripts and as a result we had an open dialogue. An opportunity arose to write a play that would form part of a season of work. I wrote the play and fortunately it was performed. My first agent came after many years or trying, it involved many bits of work being sent here and there, many meetings and the inevitable rejections. My first publication came about via Oberon Books, I think that was just a case of sending the work and launching the book in London at the premier of 'Unbroken' which was a piece of dialogue written for Phoenix dance company. My second collection of plays was launched on the back of my last play 'Two Tracks & Text Me.'

What's the worst thing about writing?

Oh dear .... er ... many things, money has so far eluded me and that unfortunately has a bearing on when I can write. I'm only as good as my last play. It's quite painful for me (the actual writing) even in a pleasurable way. It's all engrossing, so time passes very quickly and very slowly or just stands still. I live on the edge of the city centre so many times in-between writing scenes I will walk into town wondering what I'm doing with my life..... that's probably the problem, I should be thinking what I going to do with the scene.

And the best?

It will be there when I'm gone. It is something that when fully realised (on, page, stage, or screen) is a great love for me, a very great love. I've worked with people of extraordinary talent and I've had the opportunity to travel and as always widen my knowledge. I'd like to believe that the best is yet to come.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

The response I get from audiences/readers has gotten grittier as time has gone on. I can't take for granted that even the closet people to me should enjoy everything I write. But I have a responsibility to an audience that is usually a cross section of society ... so sometimes it's more of a risk than at other times and that's when you will really see an audience react. If an audience member has managed to collar me and speak unfavourably about the work then there is usually a reason (good or bad), but it is their right. Fortunately I get a lot of compliments and I thank God for any support.

What was your breakthrough moment?

I don't know if I've had my breakthrough moment yet. I have a lot in my head that's yet to come out, there's a lot I'd appreciate the opportunity to do.

A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.

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