Writer and Performer Phoebe Frances Brown talks about her show ‘The Glad Game’ to show at Nottingham Playhouse and MAC Birmingham
The Central Nervous System – consisting of the brain and spinal cord, is responsible for the complex functions and various systems that power the human body. The brain, an organ of soft nervous tissue contained within the skull of vertebrates, functioning as the co-ordinating centre of sensation, intellectual and nervous activity. Diagnosed with incurable cancer around the time she’d been cast for a show at the National Theatre, in the part of the brain responsible for speech, language and memory, writer and director Phoebe Frances Brown, who is currently undergoing chemotherapy, explores her health journey so far – The Glad Game focused on Phoebe “finding herself in the hardest of times, finding gladness in the saddest moments and of continuing to do what she loves.” Due to show at the Nottingham Playhouse from late September, the MAC Birmingham in mid November and supported by charity Brain Tumour Research, Phoebe tells us more about her important show.
When did you decide to create The Glad Game and how did that come about?
The first night in hospital. I asked my brother to get me my laptop. Hospital WIFI is shocking, Netflix wasn’t even available so there was nothing to do but write. The play started to grow and grow and after not very long, I had my first draft of my first play. I sent it to a few close people, Pippa, the producer on the project being one, and she then passed it onto Tessa, the director and as they say the rest is history.
What was the driving force, and was it difficult to write?
The hope that I’ll eventually get to perform it and share my lived experiences with an audience and to other cancer sufferers. The first few pages basically wrote themselves. Everything made sense; the headaches, the fatigue, the depression but the next few weeks were harder because I was living it.
Did it end up how you expected it to, or did it change along the way?
I had no idea how it was going to end up when I first started writing. The pandemic caused a postponement to the show opening and life kept carrying on like life does, so I had to decide whether to keep updating the script to include other major life events. That’s the thing with autobiographical work isn’t it? What is the story, and when does it end? I think that was the biggest change: knowing where to stop.
What should audiences expect?
To laugh, to cry and if I’ve done my job right, they’ll hopefully feel uplifted afterwards.
As a performer, how different is filming the streamed version to performing live?
We filmed all the scenes out of order for starters, and I know that is literally what you do when you’re a screen actor but I’m still getting my head round it. I remember listening to Adrian Dunbar chat on a podcast about screen and stage acting and he said the difference is like a dial, you have to turn the dial up for stage and down for screen; truth should always be there so I think that’s what I tried to channel.
What is the one thing you’d like audiences to take away with them?
That there’s so many people living extraordinary lives, that you can be sick with cancer, and still do anything you want to. So, keep your chin up!
Questions by Mobius PR.