After a sold-out run of his debut play, 32 Peak Street during Camden Fringe in 2018, Corey Bovell now brings his edgy and moving one-man play Chicken Burger and Chips to the Brockley Jack Studio Theatre from Tuesday 10 until Saturday 14 March 2020
During the summer holidays of 2009 Corey dreams of nothing but to hang around with his friends while ordering as much Morley’s as possible. Until Jodie comes along and makes Corey realise the changes that are happening within his beloved Lewisham Borough. Making Corey, for the first time, think about what path his future takes.
In an exclusive interview with Corey Bovell he delves into the pros & cons of being an actor. He also has a few tips for some of you aspiring writers and actors out there.
1. Where did your passion as an actor/writer derive from?
My passion as an actor came from watching Adrian Lester in Othello at the National Theatre. Seeing such a powerful figure within a Shakespeare play being portrayed by a black actor at the time and who still is a trailblazer within the industry installed confidence and belief inside me. Being a writer never seemed possible as prior to Errol John and Michaela Coel all the plays I’d read and seen where written and performed in the ‘Queens English”. However, Moon On A Rainbow Shawl by John and Chewing Gum Dreams by Coel completely changed that narrative, especially as the latter was also performed by Coel, sparking a natural curiosity into what my one-man show would look and sound like.
2. What are the pros and cons of performing a one-man play that you’ve written yourself?
I’d say the pros are you already know half the script, so when it comes time to learn the lines for rehearsals you’re already halfway there. I haven’t come across any cons yet.
3. Tell us about where this story evolved from. How long were you working on this story before you decided you wanted to bring it to life?
The story is semi-biographical. “The most personal is the most creative”. This a quote which was mentioned during Bong’s acceptance speech at the Oscars in February 2020. It’s also a quote I came across at the beginning of 2018. I first started writing Chicken Burger and Chips 5 years ago, with the idea of telling a story. However, throughout the years the story kept on changing as I was struggling to connect with the world and characters I was writing about, which nearly led me to give up on the idea in late 2018. After a personal conversation with a friend, it sparked a new idea and I went back to writing and got more personal. The themes within Chicken Burger and Chips are relevant within today’s society and I feel like now is the right time.
4. We all hear so often about the lack of original stories in the world. That we’ve all “seen it before”. How do you stay fresh in the face of an idea like that?
It’s about being yourself. When I write a story I like to welcome the audience into my world, just like most playwrights do. The goal is to write an original piece, drawn from personal experience or through exploring issues within the world. I believe if you’re able to do that then you’ll continue to stay fresh. We see these new plays every year – Natasha Gordon Nine Night, Charlene James Cuttin’ It, Tarell Alvin McCraney Brother Size. All new plays that address themes we’ve seen before but told the story through a different lens.
5. When inspiration is waning, what do you do? How do you stay fresh?
I like to watch everything I can afford, read contemporary playwrights, attend scratch nights for new writers at theatres such as The Lyric, The Yard, Battersea Arts Centre, Ovalhouse etc and watch short films. Inspiration is all around you and my job as a creative is to extract the good parts and use them in my storytelling.
6. What tips would you give to beginner writers and actors?
To all writers, I’d say “Don’t think about being a great writer, just write” There’s a great website I use http://www.londonplaywrightsblog.com/ They have loads of scratch nights, writing workshops etc – all brilliant things for new writers. For actors, I’m a strong believer in stage training as it grounds you and pushes you harder to explore the text, characters and world. So I’d say start there, take classes in various places until you find what you like. Here are just a few places to try: Kingdom Drama School, Go-Hub Workshop and Maktub Theatre Company.