After an acclaimed try-out in September, the world premiere of Simon Perrott’s debut play In Conversation with Graham Norton returns for a full new year season at London’s Hope Theatre. Time to get booking!
The premiere production of Simon Perrott‘s one-man play In Conversation with Graham Norton runs at the Hope Theatre from 8 to 26 January 2019, with a press night on 10 January. Jay Parsons reprises his performance, once again directed by Joseph Winters.
“It’s a catch-22 situation. I’m never going to know for certain that I’m gay”.
What do you do when nothing in your life makes sense, when all your thoughts seem insane and you have nobody to talk to? Mark is finding life tough and isolating so the decision is easy. He’s going to chat to Graham Norton. He might even chat to Graham about the incident with the cat.
In conversation with… Simon Perrott
Simon Perrott‘s makes his playwriting debut with In Conversation with Graham Norton, which his company Jasper Plays co-produces with Batavia Productions and Jasper Plays.
My parents took me to the theatre at a young age, and although we didn’t go very often, it obviously stuck with me. I then became a very regular theatregoer when I met my partner Steve back in 1996. When Steve died of cancer in 2007, I stopped going but after about a year I started again.
I think theatre has great healing powers; it can make you laugh, cry and think and talk about subjects that maybe would never have appeared on your radar if it hadn’t been for a piece of theatre. The first play I wrote was called Kissed by a Flame and was about Steve’s illness and dealing with grief. It was extremely therapeutic for me; I’m still working on this project.
What was your inspiration for In Conversation With Graham Norton?
The inspiration seemed to come from nowhere. I was sitting one afternoon thinking about whether or not it’s easier for young people today to come out as gay. It naturally depends on a person’s circumstances and character, and I decided that maybe it would be interesting to focus on a young man who can’t accept his sexual orientation.
It was then how to start a monologue. Why does he start talking? The idea of him talking to Graham Norton came into my head and I started writing. Three days later, I had the first draft of the monologue; it seemed to write itself, and I had no idea where the story was heading as I wrote.
Why do you think Graham Norton is so easy to talk to?
I know some people will think it strange that a 17-year-old boy would start talking to Graham Norton. But I think that, whether on the radio or TV, Graham comes across very naturally and that a young man might just think, well, I can tell this man anything and he will understand.
My own path has crossed with Graham in a couple of very minor ways: holding the door open for him leaving the Royal Albert Hall at a Liza Minnelli concert, and I also appeared on his radio show a couple of years ago. Graham used to have a segment called “Tune With a Tale”, and I’d written in with a suggestion. He actually chatted to me about my new venture of writing for theatre and he was extremely encouraging and enthusiastic. It would be lovely if he were able to attend the show one night.
If you were on the Graham Norton Show, who would you want to share the sofa with?
Wouldn’t it be fabulous to appear on his chat show in order to promote our little play?! If we’re dreaming, I’d have to appear with Sir Ian McKellen and Dame Maggie Smith as they are acting royalty, Jake Gyllenhaal so that I could flirt with him, and the whole of ABBA announcing that they are reforming and giving me a VIP ticket to their first London show! If you’re going to dream, go big.
What did you learn from your tryout performances of the play?
We had had a two-night run at the Hope Theatre back in September, and as a complete novice, the whole process was a steep learning curve. It was incredible to work with Jay Parsons (our star) and Joseph Winters (our director) in the rehearsals; seeing their process, and how beautifully it evolved, was fascinating.
I gave the odd comment, but in the main, I just watched as Jay began to transform into the character of Mark and as Joe began to take parts of the script and turn them into something so moving. The two of them have taken my little script, and with Joe’s clever and intelligent direction and Jay’s wonderfully warm performance, they have transported us to the mind of a very confused and immature young man and made us care for him so much.
Why should audiences come see In Conversation With Graham Norton?
We were so lucky with the warm and positive reception the play received in September, and the new run is going to be even better. There are some very small amendments to the script and, obviously, we will be able to fully stage it this time.
I think the beautiful performance that Jay gave in September will become even better as he’s able to immerse himself in the character for 15 nights. Joe and Jay are two young guys at the early stages of their careers, and people should definitely come to see their work so that at some point in the future they can say, “I remember when”.
With In Conversation with Graham Norton, we are tackling a very serious mental health issue. I think that it’s important for people to see and talk about plays like this. The good news is that, although the play will hopefully move people and get them talking, there’s a lot of humour and warmth in it too so it’s also the perfect tonic for post-Christmas blues.
I’m not the kind of person to take anything for granted so I’m grateful to everyone who buys a ticket and I’d like to thank everyone who comes along now. Please feel free to come up and say hi after the show and let me know what you think.
I’d also recommend that, if people haven’t visited the Hope Theatre before, they check out their other productions. It’s a wonderful space and the artistic director Matthew Parker programmes such an incredible and diverse selection of work every season. I’m extremely grateful to Matthew for his belief in my play and giving an unknown playwright such a wonderful opportunity.
In Conversation with Graham Norton runs from 8 to 26 January 2019 at the Hope Theatre, 207 Upper Street, London N1 1RL, with performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7.45pm. Tickets are priced £15 (concessions £12). CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!