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Screenwriter Abi Morgan talks working for stage and screen

Date posted: 21.03.2017

Stage & Screen is our new initiative in partnership with Directors UK and the Park Theatre, focussed on encouraging creative exchanges between the worlds of film, TV and theatre.

At our first event, producers, directors and writers attended a performance of Raising Martha at North London's Park Theatre, followed by a networking session to share their thoughts and experiences on working across the different mediums, as well as discussing new opportunities.

One of the writers in attendance was BAFTA and Emmy winning screenwriter and playwright Abi Morgan, known for her scriptwriting on films such as Suffragette, The Iron Lady and Shame and television series including The Hour and Birdsong, as well as plays 'The Mistress Contract' and 'Splendour'. Abi's new TV series The Split, a six-part drama for BBC One and Sundance TV, will begin production later this year.

Abi gave us her thoughts on how writers can work successfully across film, TV and theatre.

"I think the fact I started out in theatre was a huge advantage. I really believe the theatre is where you learn to think and it was a great way to find my voice. Theatre is a great place for a writer because there is a real respect for your voice and there's a reason why people often remember playwrights' names but don't remember screen playwriters' names. There is a purity within theatre and I have a huge love for and devotion to it.

I initially got into television because someone read one of my screenplays and introduced me to a TV company. It was a revelation for me because suddenly I didn't have to write the monologue, so I could suddenly convey this incredibly visual world.

I don't think there's a best platform to start out on. I think the bottom line with writing is you have to control your doubt and you just have to write in whatever medium you can do that in. I think you can be writing a screenplay and realise what you've actually got is a two act play on your hands. They can often lead into each other.

I sometimes go to stage plays and they really inform my film writing, and I think, wow, I'd forgotten about the magic. So many stage plays have gone on to be great movies; Fences and Manchester by the Sea are both really good transitions. I think what's great about events like this is different disciplines meeting. I think they really interconnect and they inform one another."

The second event of the Stage & Screen initiative took place in February. Writers, producers and directors watched a matinee performance of Killing Time by Zoe Mills. 


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