Siofra Dromgoole is taking two plays to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe; If It Didn’t Matter and Baby, What Blessings. She tells Giverny Masso about the experience of writing both plays and setting up a theatre company with her two younger sisters…
How did If It Didn’t Matter come about?
If It Didn’t Matter was a co-commission from St Edward’s School in Oxford and the North Wall arts centre. I’d developed and written my first show last year – Walk Swiftly and With Purpose – with North Wall, so they suggested me to St Edward’s as a playwright who was interested in themes around young people. The play evolved when I began to workshop If It Didn’t Matter with St Edward’s. The story is about how the main character is dealing with her mother’s death and how that grief ripples out across the friendship group. I’m interested in how we understand grief and move on, and how we accept responsibility for the people in our lives.
Tell me about the second show you are taking to the Fringe, which was developed through the Royal Court Introduction to Playwriting Group.
Baby, What Blessings has a very different subject matter. There’s a coming-of-age element, in that it’s about coming into new information. It’s a one-woman show following the trajectory of Billie’s relationship with Amal. It’s about falling in love for the first time and how much is at stake in that first relationship. It’s also about race, because it’s a relationship between a white woman and a black man, and it’s about Billie coming to terms with how her lived experience has led to huge limitations in how she perceives the world and how that has blinded her to some of the injustices around her.
Tell me about Three Sisters, the theatre company you set up.
It was a dream of mine and my two younger sisters Grainne and Cara for years and we would discuss it at the end of an evening on repeat. I never really thought it would happen as we are all very involved in theatre, but in our own spheres. I had a theatre company in Glasgow, and they both directed at school and at university. When I decided I wanted to take Walk Swiftly and With Purpose to the fringe, it all seemed possible. I don’t think we realised how much work it would be, but it’s been brilliant. The company is about championing female-led work and focusing on pieces that involve text, but that can be either new writing or classics.
What is it like working with your family members?
Because everyone in my family is involved with theatre, it’s a language we’ve grown up speaking with each other, so it feels like quite a natural extension of that. Three Sisters is very much about us working autonomously, but I would be happy and honoured to work with my dad (director Dominic Dromgoole) or my mum (screenwriter Sasha Hails) at some point in the future, and we all respect each other’s work hugely.
Will Walk Swiftly With Purpose have a future life?
It’s been optioned for TV and I’m currently working on a treatment. That was the first play I ever wrote and it was about four girls at school – another coming-of-age tale. It’s the only one of the three I’ve written that’s directly drawn from personal experience. It was my first time at the fringe and then we did a week at Theatre503. We had an amazing experience.
Agent: Jennie Miller at Independent Talent
Training: BA in English Literature at University of Glasgow (2014 to 2018) including a year abroad at University of Virginia, MA in Creative and Life Writing at University of Goldsmiths (2018-present)
First professional role: Grace in Cleansed at Edinburgh Festival Fringe (2015)
If It Didn’t Matter is running at the Space from August 5 to 9 and Baby, What Blessings is running at the Space from August 12 to 24, both as part of Edinburgh Festival Fringe