Simon Stephens explores pains of adolescence in Fringe show Morning
2012 Edinburgh Fringe Show explores those on the cusp of their lives
This article is from 2012.
‘I realised recently that I’ve written an unusual amount of characters who are 17,’ says playwright Simon Stephens, whose new play Morning follows his previous works Punk Rock, Sea Wall and Herons in visiting the lives of teenagers. ‘It’s an age where people have the vitality of being on the cusp of their lives,’ he continues, ‘and there’s something charged about that – charged with desire and uncertainty, and a need to investigate themselves. That’s real meat and drink for a dramatist.’
Morning, a Lyric Hammersmith production which premieres this August in Edinburgh, is a collaboration between Stephens, Lyric artistic director Sean Holmes and the Lyric Young Company, an uncompromising but darkly amusing reminder of the awfulness of growing up, inspired by the young actors’ discussions of their life and the 2010 murder of 15-year-old Welsh teenager Rebecca Aylward by her ex-boyfriend in a bet over a free breakfast. Stephens also cites his sometime collaborator, the German director Sebastian Nübling, whose ethos of working with a young amateur theatre company in Basel chimed with the writer.
‘I used to be a schoolteacher in a working class school in Dagenham,’ says Stephens, ‘and Herons and Punk Rock were informed by that experience. I think most 17-year-olds are incredibly moral, or at least they have a better idea of black and white moral certainty in an increasingly uncertain world. Morning is perhaps the most moral play I’ve written and also one of the darkest. It returns to the question of how young people find their sense of self, and their inability or their refusal or their horror in terms of understanding the world is really what sits up in the play.’