Let's Hope the Risks are Worth Taking by Poppy Burton-Morgan
30 July 2017
I'm not a writer. Or at least I wasn't. But here I am with my debut play about to premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe. How did I get here?
For the last 12 years I've scraped by as a theatre and opera director - founding and running my company Metta Theatre with my then boyfriend - now husband - the designer William Reynolds. But writing was never part of the plan - the company existed, continues to exist, as a platform for unheard stories and voices and I saw my role as the facilitator of that platform. That's what we do as directors - create and hold a space for a Writer's vision to flourish. But then I had my first child (and now, in the blink of an eye, five years have passed) and I began to write. Snatches of this, that and the other - handwritten scrawls, pencil on paper, often thrown down in between night feeds. Beginnings of scenes, playlets, plays scratched out in the witching hour before dawn. I remember the bewildered joy on my grandmother's face (staying with us to visit her two grandsons - now there are two) discovering these curls of paper - these 'autumn leaves' strewn about the house amidst ever growing piles of laundry and Lego.
Fast forward five years and this play of mine - Wondr - is ready to let rip her first cry in the world - sensitively but firmly birthed by my indomitable director, Amanda Huxtable. As so many - terrifyingly many - friends and colleagues have said it's a very 'brave' piece of work. Brave or foolish - possibly both. Digital identity, motherhood and most of all cultural appropriation are complex, thorny and problematic things to unpick and unpack through the medium of theatre. Oh and did I mention that I write in verse? So there's that too. A story about black identity, about cultural appropriation, written by a white woman - that is a pretty risky thing to put out in the world. Especially in the current climate.
Let's hope the risks are worth taking. As my protagonist Faith says 'Silence is not an option - things weren't being said, aren't being said' And if we're not here to make some waves then what are we doing with our lives. Go bold or go home is one of my mottos in life. I'm not going home any time soon.
Poppy Burton-Morgan joins Assembly Festival at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe with two pieces included in the FuturePlay Festival. Director of Pixel Dust, 3-27 August 2017 at 13:10 @ Assembly Roxy Upstairs, and writer of WONDR, 3-27 August 2017 at 13:10 @ Assembly Roxy Upstairs (each show operates on alternating days.