14/48: #013: Jess Green – Writer

Jess Green is a writer and performance poet who is a veteran of 14/48. She has written for Leicester and Wolverhampton festivals. We catch up with her on the Saturday morning after she’s had about 6 hours sleep in the last 2 days.

“I had most of my sleep yesterday. I had an hour and a half last night.” It turns out she submitted at 5am. “Last night was really hard.” So was it the theme, lack of sleep or something else which caused the problems?

“I always have a duff day and that’s become a self-fulfilling prophecy. It happens because I say it will happen.”

People in the audience had spoken to Jess after last night’s show. “We really loved what you did and am coming back tomorrow. We can’t wait to see what you’ll produce.” And all night Jess sat there with these words ringing in her head thinking her writing was, “awful. It’s awful.”

Anyone who has seen Jess perform or seen any of her plays will know how exceptional her work is. It’s difficult to equate such self-doubt with someone who produces such strong work.

Today her script is about a writing retreat run by a poet who isn’t as good as they think they are. There are also a couple of other characters “who you often find on writing retreats.”

You can tell this script has come from personal experience.

Jess is very politically active and politics plays a big part in her work. For this reason she is the perfect writer to ask about the new thing in 14/48 Leicester. The gender neutrality. 14/48 has always meant you wrote without knowing the age, race or looks of your character. Which does make you wonder why we seperated genders. Asking Jess about this she becomes more animated. How did she find writing a gender neutral script.

“I love it. I love it for so many reasons. It gets rid of a lot of cliche. I’ve got a man and a woman so I’m going to write about them being a couple and having an argument. I’ve got 5 women so I’m going to write about a hen do.”

Does it make the writing job any harder?

“I think it makes the writing job easier because if I know the gender of my cast I tend to fight against writing gender stereotypes. And if you don’t know your cast you don’t have to put as much effort into that. Naturally, we all write in gender stereotypes because we are surrounded by gender stereotypes. I love it. I think it’s brilliant. And there were so many good plays yesterday which had developed the way they had because of gender neutrality.”

Gender neutrality also means the drawing of the performers has a different meaning. As Jess explains.

“When you see we’re just pulling out people rather than men or women… this now makes the male and female thing look really weird. Of course we should just be pulling out actors. It’s just bizarre we haven’t been doing this before.

Dave Pitt
6th May 2017. 10:48

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