PlayBox: Adventures in theatre 31/10/2017


Following a workshop day at HOME last month, PlayBox playwright Furquan Akhtar reflects on the development of his new play 30 Days…

I’m new to theatre. And yes “telling a story” is “telling a story”. Except theatre is different. It feels more tangible than any other medium and that’s one of the reasons that I wanted to try it.  I’ve worked in TV and radio and the shorter forms can be all encompassing so to write something longer was quite simply daunting. I’m still struggling with that if I’m honest but it’s also been an opportunity to write freely.

Getting to the workshop was nerve wracking and exciting. We spent the day with a wonderful cast; Darren Kuppan, Sakuntala Ramanee, Verity Henry and Ian Aspinall who brought the characters to life in the way I’d been hearing in my head for months but then added layers that I didn’t even see or dream of. I was looking for dialogue that clunked and story beats that didn’t land but the deadline was looming and there’s not much you can change on the day.

The actors and director (Hannah) posed questions and made me look at a subject that until now had been so insular. It felt scary to share it with an audience but ultimately I feel it was so beneficial to the piece.

Hearing your words performed is always a privilege. This time it was so visceral, clear and terrifying. The cast did a wonderful job in the smallest amount of time and presenting it to people I admire and work with was hard.

The feedback was tough and it became apparent there were issues that I didn’t see. Story problems that never registered that I was too caught up in minutiae. It means now the real work begins. It was also really positive. I know I have the foundation to write something I am really proud of.

I’ve always hated the expression “writing is rewriting”. It is. I know it is. I just don’t like being told that it is. I want to fix it. I want to get it right. I want to tell a great story. The workshop was an opportunity to help me do all of that.

I’m excited by what will happen next. I know the story I want to tell I just have to find the best way to tell it. Simple, right?…

~ Furquan Akhtar

PlayBox is a year-long writer-on-attachment programme with Box of Tricks offering bespoke residencies and support to three early career North West playwrights. 

On Saturday 20 January 2018, Box of Tricks launches a day-long takeover of HOME’s PUSH Festival 2018 to showcase new plays from our current PlayBox playwrights and connect with local writers and theatremakers. Come join us! Full details here: