Interview: Andrew Maddock and Niall Phillips, Olympilads

Lonesome Schoolboy Productions are director Niall Phillips and writer Andrew Maddock. Following their acclaimed collaborations on In/Out (A Feeling) and He(Art), in August they return with Olympilads, a new play inspired by the legacy of London 2012, which was selected to be part of Scott Ellis’ first season as Artistic Director of Theatre N16.

“At its most base level and without giving a hell of a lot away, Olympilads is about three siblings, trying to bring their family back together under the backdrop of the Olympic Games,” explains Andrew, one of The Independent‘s Playwrights to Dominate 2017. “It’s a piece about family loyalty and about making the right decisions.

“I originally wrote the play in 2012 as an almost cynical response to the mood in London. I’m a Londoner and while I enjoyed the spirit of the Games and what it represented, I really resented the message being delivered, which was that the Games were going to leave this lasting legacy on the normal working people of London, especially our most vulnerable. Five years removed, I see lots of new buildings, new housing that only the select few can participate in. I see lots of disparity, I actually see London 2012 being a catalyst to remove a lot of people from where they were born and bred.”

Andrew wants his audiences to question the motives of the characters and put themselves in their shoes: “There are decisions made that I think in a normal, loving, safe environment, someone would never have to make,” he says. “I always want an audience member to put themselves in the shoes of a person who might not have the life they’ve had and try and see it from their perspective.”

Niall founded Lonesome Schoolboy in 2010. “Lonesome was set up with a dream to create exciting work, meet new people and be in charge of what happens next,” he says. “This industry is very tough, it’s a waiting game. I’m the least patient person I know, I want it now – so the best way was to be the person to start the process.

“The aim has never changed, to make excellent work and also to give opportunities to people starting out, the people that really want it, the driven and the passionate. We always incorporate special needs within our projects and get issues on stage we really care about. That will never change.”

Andrew continues, “I met Niall when I performed my debut show The Me Plays at The Old Red Lion. We’ve been collaborating since 2015 and I’ve enjoyed every second, we have so much in common as friends and then theatrically can have so many disagreements, in the best possible way. He challenges the way I see theatre and vice versa. But we do agree on a common thing, which is making sure we’re putting on the best possible product we can with the tools we have available to us!”

Olympilads marks the start of Lonesome Schoolboy’s summer season of new writing, which also includes the premiere of Turkey by new associate writer Frankie Meredith. Niall explains: “So we have two brand new plays that we are delighted to be bringing to the stage. But alongside that we are offering the free workshops that get loads of people together and making work!”

“These are just something we wanted to do to meet new likeminded people,” adds Andrew. “We cast two parts in Olympilads straight out of the workshop. I’m not a massive fan of ‘auditioning’ as someone who entered the industry as an actor, I find it a crap process. I also see a lot of the same faces when we put something out for an audition, and I really want to be as diverse as I can in our choices. I always want to see the right person for the part, but from a broader spectrum.

“I want to see people work in the room with other people, I want to know who they are as a person. Especially as we make and produce our own work, we answer to nobody at the moment – which means I can meet an exciting actor, have an idea for their voice and get about writing it. Olympilads went through a complete rewrite, simply based on our casting. I’m really excited about it.

“So why should people take part? We’ll always have a free workshop in our line of activities, so it’s accessible and it’s a chance to meet other people, network and interact. It’s kind of the whole reason why I wanted to get into this profession.”

“We’ll also be doing Q&A sessions and new writing nights based on the pieces we will present,” concludes Niall. “We want to get out there and get to know loads of creatives, make new friends and spread the positive vibes that sometimes this industry drains out of you.”

Olympilads runs at Theatre N16 from 8th-26th August.

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