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Playwright and actor Meghan Tyler: ‘My first job gave me the confidence I needed to keep writing’

Meghan Tyler. Photo: John Cooper Meghan Tyler. Photo: John Cooper
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Nothing to Be Done was my debut play as a writer. The beautiful wee absurdist tragicomedy played a number of international festivals in 2013 and 2014, including the Edinburgh Fringe and NEU NOW Festival.

The touring came about when the E:UTSA (Europe: Union of Theatre Schools and Academies) student representative at my drama school approached me with the brief. Luckily, we had already recorded our run at the fringe so we chucked together an application form, attached the script and applied. We dove in and it paid off.

The run that blew my socks off was the Setkani/Encounter Festival in the Czech Republic. I was new to writing and quite naive. When we went, I hadn’t a clue what to expect or if anyone would show up, but then audiences came. And they laughed. I gained such confidence from that run and, amazingly, the show even picked up the festival’s Marta Award for its writing, as it represented “artistic hope for the future”. That experience gave me the affirmation I needed to keep at it.

My residency as a new playwright at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast, as well as my new play Medicine at the Hope Theatre, would just not be happening without that run. There was a different trajectory set out for me before taking that first writing risk. I never expected my work to go anywhere besides my own documents folder, let alone win an award at an international festival.

Of course, I was terrified. I still am. I coped by chain-smoking while pacing around shops in Brno. I’m sure other writer-actor hybrids could offer healthier alternatives, but it taught me the value of diving in head-first with abandon, finding your artistic clan and trusting yourself. Most of all, I learned the power of rhythm. Rhythm is a universal language that makes a show resonate with an audience. It’s been a vital component of every play I’ve made since.

CV: Meghan Tyler

Age: undisclosed
Training: Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, National Youth Theatre
Theatre includes: Nothing to Be Done, The Persians, Look Back in Anger, Two Gentlemen of Verona, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Crucible, Hamlet, Lovers, The Merchant of Venice
TV includes: Shetland, Everything Will Be OK, Scot Squad
Agent: Brennan Artists (Writing)

Meghan Tyler’s play Medicine runs at the Hope Theatre, London, until September 1. She was talking to John Byrne

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