PlayBox: How to assemble a play 02/11/2017


Following a workshop day at HOME in September, PlayBox playwright Patrick Hughes reflects on the development of his new play Möbel…

Step One – Write.

After a few weeks of coffee and conversation with the Box of Tricks team I was set to begin writing my PlayBox 2017 script. What really excited me about this attachment was the opportunity to chat about ideas in a theatrical environment aka not the pub. Previously I have rushed into ideas only to find that my writing was under-thought and over-written or as we call it in the business a terrible play. This time it was going to be different and after mapping out my ideas with the BOT gang I began to write.

My play Möbel is essentially a story that has been bursting to get out of me for a long time. I am somebody who has suffered with anxiety and depression for a number of years and I have always wanted to explore the issue through my writing but never known how to do it justice. Then it came to me…. IKEA! Well more like a couple moving into a new house, building furniture on stage and exploring their relationship through a time of change. But essentially IKEA. So I began to write.

Step Two – Workshop.

After the first draft was completed I spent a day in HOME Manchester. All you need to know is that they put on loads of great stuff and their vegan pizza is brilliant! Inside the theatre space there was no furniture to assemble but there were two fantastic actors ready to take on the roles of my characters Moss and Olive. I feel that a play only becomes theatre when it is read out loud, so in the studio space of HOME my play became drama. The actors were astute and full of questions, pushing me to really think about exposition and character arcs. Adam (Box of Tricks) directed the read-through, testing out segments that we had talked about previously whilst blocking small sections of script.

I blinked and the day had nearly reached a conclusion, all that was left was a full read through in front of a small audience. Unlike any furniture I could have assembled, my play felt sturdy. The Q and A raised some important issues for me to consider and gave me a real feeling of progress.

Step 3 – Write a second draft.

Usually I am pretty intimidated when it comes to writing second drafts. I have often moved onto a new idea before even thinking about tweaking a finished play. However after the support from Box of Tricks and the day of rehearsal in HOME I am positive about my play and I am excited to screw in the bolts and tighten it all up over the coming months. Watch this space, I think we are on the road to building something really special.

~ Patrick Hughes

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: