‘I guess having two plays on the same West End street was lots of fun’: 10 questions for 10 years – James Graham

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Playwright James Graham may have had two plays in the  West End at the same time but can he handle ten questions from me?!

Though he’s arguably now best known as a purveyor of politically heavyweight substance, I was lucky enough to catch a couple of James Graham’s earlier works, where I pretty much fell in love with him there and then. Most notably in The Man, where we had the privilege of him performing his own work – to this day, hearing both ‘Ben’ and the Black Beauty theme song bring this beautiful play to mind and an artful tear to the eye. Revival soon please.

It’s a time he remembers well too: “I have tons of fond memories! And stomach churning fears. Taking it on the road around the UK was a real privilege – to get to speak your own text while staring at the whites of the eyes of the audience. Horrifying and fun.”

Where were you 10 years ago?
Preparing for a play to take to Latitude with other writers like Zawe Ashton and Morgan Lloyd Malcolm – whatever happened to them? And getting excited at just having found out my play The Whisky Taster was to open 2010 at the Bush.

Best show you’ve seen in the last 10 years?
Don’t make me choose ONE! I’ll pick one of the most recent highlights – Downstate at the National. Mesmerisingly good writing and acting.

What has been your professional highlight of the last 10 years?
I guess having two plays on the same West End street was lots of fun. A coincidence that I can’t really take credit for, but a highlight nonetheless.

Top flavour of interval ice-cream?
Whisky.

What show do you wish theatres would give a rest for a few years?
I’m getting worried every single new musical will have to be based on a popular film. (He says, contemplating a job for a musical based on a film).

Name someone who you think is a really under-appreciated talent (in the world of theatre)
Movement directors, like Polly Bennett and Lynne Page.

Elphaba or Glinda?
Elphaba. The future is mean but green.

What is one thing that you think would help theatre survive and/or thrive the next ten years?
Touring becoming economically viable and something theatres and artists would relish rather than dread.

Which is your favourite theatre?

The one I’ll happen to be in at the time. I’m fickle.

Can you say anything about what’s to come for you, (in the next ten years or otherwise)?

I’m writing a musical with Elton John and a play about spying and a play about John Major – the last one I realise no one has ever asked for or wants but I’m doing anyway.

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Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."
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Ian Foster on FacebookIan Foster on RssIan Foster on Twitter
Ian Foster
Since 2003, Ian Foster has been writing reviews of plays, sometimes with a critical element, on his blog Ought to Be Clowns, which has been listed as one of the UK's Top Ten Theatre Blogs by Lastminute.com, Vuelio and Superbreak. He averages more than 350+ shows a year. He says: "Call me a reviewer, a critic or a blogger, and you will apparently put someone or other's nose out of joint! So take it or leave it, essentially this is my theatrical diary, recording everything I go to see at the theatre in London and beyond, and venturing a little into the worlds of music and film/TV where theatrical connections can be made."

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