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OffWestEnd talks to David Coverdale about his new play, To Anyone Who Listens, at the Hen & Chickens

David Coverdale
After a short career as a performer, and a two year hiatus from all things creative, David started writing in February 2017. Eighteen months later, his first play To Anyone Who Listens is about to premiere at the Hen and Chickens Theatre as part of the 2018 Camden Fringe Festival.

Alongside writing, David works as Deputy Box Office Manager on a major West End musical, is an avid theatre goer (a firm fan of a matinee and an aisle seat...) and spends his evenings at home wishing it was winter so candles were socially acceptable.

What first attracted you to the theatre?
The honest answer to this question is that Iím a complete and utter escapist, and I always have been.

My parents took me to see a pantomime at the Bradford Alhambra the year I started Primary School. I canít remember which one it was, but I know Mina Anwar was in it – and there is a priceless picture somewhere of my face when I met her (despite having no idea who she was.) Fast-forward to my first parents evening, and my teachers telling my parents that Iíd tried to stage my own pantomime in the playground the next day before getting in a complete strop when people were not cooperating with me.

I think that moment sent the tone for what my life would be like – although I would definitely like to think Iíve become less stroppy when people havenít done as I wanted. Although Iíd rather you didnít ask anyone who knows me whether that is actually the case...

If you could pick any one person or theatre company to work with on your next project, who/which would it be?
Iím not sure if this counts, but a real dream of mine is to have a piece of my work appear at the West Yorkshire Playhouse (or the Leeds Playhouse as it is soon to be relaunched as). I am very proud of the fact I am Northern, and the voice that gives me. Alongside trips to the Bradford Alhambra, it was at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where I saw my first plays and realised the power they had.

Reading back on the things I have written, the main feature of the writing is by far my Northern voice and humour. I can think of no better place for that work to appear than at a theatre in the very heart of Yorkshire. Iíve always loved the idea of things coming full circle, and a play of mine appearing there would probably be the most perfect example of that.

If weíre talking commercial theatre, I donít think any producer has ever married true artistic integrity and commercial success in the way Sonia Friedman has. She is one of a very few people who truly understand theatre and the stories it can tell – even the opportunity to sit and talk about my work with her would be a dream come true.

What is your opinion of Off West End theatre, in general?
Off-West End is definitely the place to go to see something exciting or different. The production values attributed to commercial theatre do not stand – and there is something truly thrilling about that. Who needs a flashy set when you have great storytelling? Where is the fun in walking into a theatre knowing every time youíre going to see something perfectly polished? Why see something thatís had millions of pounds thrown at it when you can see a production put together on £20 and pure creativity?

Thereís no doubt you could see something completely terrible, but why not? Iím a big fan of going along for the ride – and a good discussion after.

What was the most inspiring performance you have ever seen? Why?
I had to think long and hard about this one. It came down to a short list, but Iíve settled on Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit at the Gielgud Theatre.

I saw her performance in this play on press night. Iíd just been to a funeral on my own – and it was the first funeral I had been to for someone who wasnít family or a family friend, and I donít think being a Ďgrown upí had ever fallen at my feet harder than it had done that day. I needed a pick-me-up more than ever.

There was no escaping the fact she was having her lines fed to her through an ear piece, but did anyone care? Not for a moment. She was well into her eighties and still held 800 people in the palm of her hand. We all knew we were seeing a legend do what she does, and always has done, better than most people could even dream of.

Modern culture seems fixated on age, and being too old or too young – but are you ever either of those things? If Angela Lansbury can do it in her eighties, so can we...and that should be printed on an inspirational t-shirt.

What piece of work are you the most proud of?
Now, this question is easy. Had you told me on February 1st 2017 that eighteen months down the line I would be producing my first play, Iíd have laughed and probably said something vaguely offensive / vulgar / ridiculously northern. I often catch myself shying away from what Iím doing when people ask me, but the truth is that deep down I am incredibly proud of myself and almost in slight disbelief.

That isnít to say Iíve made it this far on my own – that would be the biggest lie. Yes, I am proud of what is happening in my life right now, but more than that I am enormously lucky and grateful to have had the faith and support Iíve been given from others.

What makes a really good character?
For me, if I could sit and have a really good natter with a character over a coffee and a biscuit (or seven), you have my interest. My love of theatre began with escapism but as Iíve grown I long for theatre that gives perspective. There are few things as powerful as a character holding up a mirror to your face and forcing you to truly look at yourself.

I saw The Inheritance earlier this year at the Young Vic and I can honestly say I have never been more taken with a group of characters. They were real, they were deeply flawed but also undeniably beautiful. I went through every single motion with them, and felt genuinely changed having shared their story. I know its cliche to say, but I left that theatre a different person.

Are there any actors/actresses you would like to write a play for?
I mean, who wouldnít want to write a role for Olivia Colman? She just knows – and does – and tells stories like few people can.

If I was to give myself a top three, it would easily be Olivia Colman, Sarah Hadland and Stockard Channing.

What play do you wish youíd written?
Easy. The History Boys by Alan Bennett.

That play put people like me centre stage in a way I had never seen before – and donít think I have since. There are so many aspects of my personality that pop up in those characters. I know Iím really throwing the cliches around but it is a really powerful moment when you someone just like you on stage. It makes you believe you can be there too.

If my work ever managed to even make one person have that realisation, Iíd be very happy.

Can you tell our readers about what youíre doing now/next?
As I type, it is fifteen days from the opening night of To Anyone Who Listens at the Hen and Chickens. Iím in a mix of dizzy excitement, and complete and utter terror. I either must be brave or mad, or both in equal measure, to be self-funding a production of my own play but itís too late to run away now. People have bought tickets, actors have my script, a set has been designed – and Iíve mentioned it in this interview. Plus I got pretty drunk with my wonderful director and designer a few weeks ago and we had a blast. Even if it all goes totally belly up, weíve had a lovely time of it so far.

Performances are Friday 17th, Saturday 18th and Sunday 19th August 2018 as part of the Camden Fringe. All tickets are £10 and available via www.unrestrictedview.co.uk

After that? Who knows... Iíll probably be staring at my bank account wondering if I needed to spend quite as much as I have – but hey, if youíre going to do it, you may as well do it properly!






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OffWestEnd.com is the London UK theatre information and bookings site that makes it easy to find great plays and performances in some of London's innovative theatres outside the West End. Buy tickets directly from these Off West End London theatres - with no fees and no commission ever being charged by us! OffWestEnd.com - Browse our theatre list below for what's on:
Above the Stag Theatre | Albany | Almeida Theatre | Arcola Theatre | Arts Theatre | artsdepot | BAC | Barbican | Barons Court Theatre | Bloomsbury Theatre | Blue Elephant Theatre | Bridewell Theatre | The Bush Theatre | Camden People's Theatre | Canal Cafe Theatre | Chickenshed | Cochrane Theatre | Cock Tavern Theatre | Cockpit Theatre | Courtyard | Drill Hall | Donmar Warehouse | Drill Hall | Finborough Theatre | Etcetera Theatre | Gate Theatre | The Globe Theatre | Greenwich Playhouse | Greenwich Theatre | Hackney Empire | Half Moon | Hampstead Theatre | Jacksons Lane | Jermyn Street Theatre | Jerwood Vanburgh Theatre | King's Head Theatre | Landor Theatre | Leicester Square Theatre | Lion & Unicorn Theatre | Little Angel Theatre | Lyric Hammersmith | Menier Chocolate Factory | National Theatre | New End Theatre | New Players Theatre | Normansfield | Old Red Lion Theatre | The Old Vic | Orange Tree Theatre | Oval House Theatre | People Show | Pleasance Theatre | Polka Theatre | The Queen's Theatre | Rich Mix | Riverside Studios | Rose Theatre | Riverside Studios | Roundhouse | Rosemary Branch | Royal Court Theatre | Shaw Theatre | Soho Theatre | Southbank Centre | Southwark Playhouse | Tabard Theatre | Tara Studio | The Space | Theatre Royal Stratford East | THEATRE 503 | Toynbee Studios | Tricycle Theatre | Unicorn Theatre | Union Theatre | Upstairs at the Gatehouse | Warehouse Theatre | Watermans | Watford Palace Theatre | White Bear | Wilton's Music Hall | Young Vic
OffWestEnd.com is a United Kingdom (UK) based company serving the international, the UK and London based theatres and theatre goers.
Write to Us at: OffWestEnd.com, 19 Eugene Cotter House, Beckway Street, London SE17 1QS, United Kingdom
Registered office address: OffWestEnd.com Ltd., 19 Eugene Cotter House, Beckway Street, London SE17 1QS United Kingdom - Company Registration No. 5308910



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