In 1999, I spent a year studying a post-graduate diploma in Writing for Theatre at Manchester University, and living with three friends I had made on my degree course. The writing course wasn’t very good – it consisted of a placement as a runner in the light entertainment team at the BBC and retaking the writing module I’d done in the third year of my degree. I didn’t particularly engage with the course either, though: it was bursary funded, so it gave me a year to learn whatever I wanted to about writing, but instead I spent the year writing some plays the same way I had always written them. I did, however, complain about the BBC placement: after pointing out that light entertainment didn’t do theatre and also didn’t use scripts, I made my tutor aware of the Royal Exchange Theatre’s First Eleven writers’ group and bullied him into making attending it my diploma’s placement segment.
What I did with the time I didn’t use finding out about structure and technique was to dream about setting up a theatre company with my flatmates. Our first step was to be a show at the Edinburgh Fringe, with me writing and performing a small, silent role, another flatmate directing and the last two performing.