Comedian, actor and author Katy Brand recently added playwright to her list of credentials with her debut play 3Women, starring Anita Dobson, Debbi Chazen and Maisie Richardson-Sellers at the Trafalgar Studios. Our editor Kate Stone caught up with Katy to talk about playwriting, all-female projects and the different generations of feminism…
Kate Stone: Tell us about your play 3Women.
Katy Brand: It’s a comedy about three women – I don’t do complicated titles – from the same family who meet for a bit of bonding the night before the wedding of Suzanne, who is 40. Also there is Suzanne’s daughter Laurie, who is 18, and her mother Eleanor, who is 65. The relationships between them are not straightforward, like most families, and so as the booze starts the flow, the gloves come off and old and new resentments come to the fore. They talk about each other, but also how they feel about issues many women grapple with such as having children, ambition, and how to be happy with what you’ve got.
KS: Why did you decide to portray three generations interacting?
KB: I think the last five or six decades have been an incredible time for feminism and therefore women. The post-war generation accelerated change but perhaps didn’t benefit directly from it as they were still expected to fulfil traditional domestic roles. Then the Generation X-ers came along, like me, and we made it less militant and more about personal journeys and healing. Now we are in the age of the millennials, many of whom who would like to tear up notions of gender roles and proceed as individuals on their own terms. I think it’s a fascinating interplay, with so much change and progress in a relatively short time, and I wanted to see how that would play out using comedy as the prism through which to view it all.
KS: What prompted you to move into playwriting?
KB: I love all writing, and I want to write long-form pieces in all genres, but there is nothing like seeing how something plays out in front of a live audience – where are the laughs? Where are the emotional moments? I have been doing that on my own for some time in terms of live comedy, but I really enjoy writing dialogue – that is a true pleasure for me – and so a play brings all those things together perfectly.
KS: It’s always refreshing to see an all women showcase or play, did you deliberately create all women characters or did it happen naturally?
KB: It was deliberate, although not forced – I didn’t make myself do it, I wanted to, so it was both deliberate and natural. My female friends are so important to me, and I love the conversations women have together in private. I also wanted to put what some might call ‘normal women’ front and centre and give them all the best and funniest lines. Characters in plays don’t have to be super-posh, or educated at the finest universities, or have high-powered jobs to have something true and interesting to say about themselves and the world. But neither do they have to have lived utterly grim and gritty lives, or suffered a trauma so huge they can never recover. The majority of women live somewhere in the middle – that is most of us, and there is room to represent that on stage, or at least there should be. Above all, I wanted them to funny, rather than the butt of the joke, which often middle-aged women are in comedy. These three are funny and in charge of the space they occupy for the duration of the play. That was really important to me – they generate the laughs on their own terms.
KS: Are we going to see you perform comedy again soon?
KB: Yes, I am performing at Cornbury Festival on 14th July, and I have several other ideas quietly baking, which will come out when they are nice and firm to the touch, with a little bit of spring in them…!
KS: And lastly, who are your favourite funny women?
KB: So many – Caroline Aherne, Victoria Wood, French and Saunders, Tina Fey, Joan Rivers, Kathy Burke, Melissa McCarthy, Katherine Parkinson, Katherine Ryan, Kiri Pritchard-Maclean, Sara Pascoe, Daisy May Cooper – I could go on and on, to be honest.
3Women is at the Trafalgar Studios until 9th June 2018.
Read our review of 3Women here!