I can’t quite remember how I came into contact with Sean Aita. But I think that it was all because of a script: before entering it in the Manchester Student Playwriting Competition, I sent a copy of A Night on the Tiles to the Leicester Haymarket theatre to see if they would produce it. They wouldn’t, but the person who had read it ended up mentioning it to Sean, who was an associate director at the Royal Theatre Northampton and looked after their Theatre in Education (TiE) shows. The reader thought the play might have a more comfortable home in a TiE house, and Sean agreed: he got in touch, told me he liked the play and asked if I would like to come to Northampton to talk to him.
By that point, A Night on the Tiles had won the competition and was off the table. We talked a little about the kinds of things I liked to write, and the kinds of things that a TiE department liked to produce. Sean asked if I had any other scripts that might be suitable, and I told him about my calling card script Wolfsong … which again I made the mistake of introducing as based on an Angela Carter story, and so immediately got him thinking about rights issues. But he read the script, enjoyed it and quite rightly pointed out that it wasn’t really TiE and wouldn’t comfortably fit in his schedule.
But if I came up with something else that would, he would be happy to read it.
At that point, my working relationship with IRDP (who produced my first two plays) had come – amicably – to an end. I was regularly sending plays to theatres from London to Edinburgh, and I got a lot of good feedback about my ability and several requests to send in the next thing that I wrote. But I didn’t get asked to meet anybody, and I didn’t get even the slightest hint that there might be a job just around the corner.
There was no way that the next thing I wrote wouldn’t be suitable for Sean.