by Park Theatre

Yesterday I made an unscheduled trip back to the very source of Closer Than The Jugular, the play I have written for The Park.  The script emerged out of 'N4 Stories', a project that involved interviewing over a hundred local people in order to find stories and characters for a play set in the area. 

One of my early visits was to the Turkish, Kurdish and Cypriot Women's Welfare Group, which meets every Thursday on Durham Road.  I was received with such warmth and openness (despite the baffling nature of what I was after) that I went back many times - especially once I had decided that I was going to write about a family of Turkish women. 

Yesterday I had a meeting on site with Jez and with Wendy Aldiss, a photographer who is taking striking and eloquent portraits of some of the N4 people we talked to.  Wendy's next stop after the meeting was that very group, in order to take pictures of some of the fabulous women who had educated me in the ways of their culture, fed me fresh simit and even taught me how to prepare a pot of Turkish chai.

As Wendy hadn't been there before, it made sense for me to nip in and introduce her.  So I did - and although it's been about a year since I was there, I was instantly hailed by name and ushered into the office of Gulnar, the organiser of this formidable group.

And although this visit was unplanned, I was so glad to have the opportunity to revisit the place where Closer Than The Jugular was, in a sense, born; to be able to thank all the women there (with some translation help from Gul); and to let them know that I did take their advice to visit their home country - news that seemed to go down well.

It was a brief visit but I came away feeling that all writers should revisit a place or person that was an early inspiration for their work - especially if the text, like mine, is soon to be rewritten.  Seeing those women again has reinvigorated me in so many ways that I am sure that the next (perhaps final) draft will feel the benefit.

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