Lisa Spirling will make her directing debut as artistic director of Theatre503 with In Event of Moone Disaster, winner of the theatre’s International Playwriting Award 2016. Andrew Thompson’s play was chosen from a shortlist of five, selected out of 1600 scripts from across 52 countries. In Event of Moone Disaster was announced as the winner after extensive debate by an expert panel.

We spoke to Andrew Thompson to find out more.

Your play, In Event of Moone Disaster is coming to Theatre 503, what can you tell us about it?

It starts on the night of the Moon landing and ends as the first woman steps on Mars, spanning three generations of the same family over an eighty-year period. It’s about memory, ambition, fertility, gender and how all these things can impact on your ability to strive for something. It’s a bit epic in parts but with a human story at the centre.

What does setting it in both the past and future allow you to do?

From a story-telling perspective it allows for interesting juxtaposition of ideas and helps create a sense of intrigue within the plot, but it also allows me to examine the ideas of gender equality through the ages. Have we progressed as far as we like to think and, if nothing in our attitude changes, what could that lead to for a woman in the future striving to be seen as equal to a man. There’s a strand of self-sacrifice within the play that comes across in different forms in different eras.

It’s being produced at the winner of the International Playwriting Award 2016, what made you submit your work in the first place?

The knowledge that it would be read, properly considered, by a professional theatre. The hope is always to have a play produced but the lovely thing about this award is the process. Everything is read at least twice, and reported on/discussed. There are so many people supporting and sharing the work throughout that it allows a great opportunity for many scripts to land in the hands of a director or producer for whom it excites them, and that’s incredibly rare.

And how does it feel to be the winner out of 1600 scripts?

It just shows the regard with which this theatre is held internationally that so many people applied and so to have them producing my work is a dream. It’s great to learn that that many people are out there and passionate about writing for theatre and it makes the fact I was lucky enough to win hugely humbling, exciting, obviously – I was a little overwhelmed when it all happened – but truly humbling.

Lisa Spirling is directing and it’s her first since becoming Artistic Director, what do you think she can bring to In Event of Moone Disaster?

Lisa is an excellent and very supportive director. She can bring an element of visual flair and has really embraced the challenges this play presents in staging. She also understands the importance of truth in any story and has done a lot of work to keep the play grounded despite its flights of fancy and this will be essential in bringing it to life.

How involved have you been in the casting and rehearsal process?

I was involved from the very beginning in casting conversations and was sent videos of auditions when I wasn’t able to attend. I’ve also been made very welcome in the rehearsal room and Lisa has always expressed how important it is to her that the writer be an active part of the process. I’m based in Edinburgh and work part-time to support myself so that has impacted on my ability to be in the room at all times but it’s been great when I have been and Theatre503 have worked really hard to help make that possible for me. It’s also nice in a way to be forced to step back from it sometimes and allow it to grow without me.

In Event of Moone Disaster is at Theatre 503 4th – 28th October 2017.


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