INTERVIEW WITH JONATHAN MOORE – AUTHOR, ACTOR, DIRECTOR.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK?
It is a play about the life of Ignatius of Loyola (birth name Inigo), co – founder of the Jesuits. The Jesuits are a Catholic religious congregation founded in the 16th century, and the current Pope is a Jesuit.
HAVE YOU VISITED THE PLACES YOU WRITE ABOUT IN THE PLAY?
Yes, I walked from Loyola in the Basque country to Montserrat and Barcelona in Catalunya, retracing Inigoâ€™s steps.
HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA/COME TO WRITE THE PLAY?
I have always been interested in Ignatius and Billy Hewett SJ, encouraged me to write a play about him.I discovered that his spiritual exercises have influenced modern spiritual practices such as Mindfulness, Jungian psychotherapy and the 12 Step program.
IS THIS A DEPARTURE FROM YOUR OTHER WORK?
Superficially, it seems like a massive departure from my earlier work with its themes of violence and dark emotions expressed through demotic poetry and set in a very contemporary, urban culture. But the themes of redemption and a search for spiritual authenticity and the place of the outsider in the new play are all present in the earlier plays too.
HOW DID YOU GET INVOLVED IN THEATRE?
It was something I wanted to do from when I was a little boy, around five, when we were told in class to do an impression of our favourite animal. At last here was something I felt could do right and get praise rather than a telling off from the teacher! Then at around ten or eleven at primary school I was inspired by a genius drama teacher called Mary Ryan (who worked as Mary Dee) who really gave me a feeling I could do this. She coached me for my audition to get into stage school which I did. When I left there, I started my own theatre company and I used to collaborate with members of punk bands like Joe Strummer of The Clash and Youth from Killing Joke. I had written lots of poetry from my early teens and my first play at the age of eleven. I began writing about the violence, physical and spiritual poverty of life
in the inner cities, mainly south London, where I grew up. The class system has always been
something I wanted to write about too. I went on to write for tv and film, direct opera and act at the RSC, Royal Court, Shakespeare’s Globe and fringe theatres.
HOW DO YOU WRITE? DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE OR ROUTINE?
Yes I try to get to my desk early and have set times for lunch and I knock off at a reasonable time, like sixish. I had a carpenter mate build a lovely desk in my bedroom and I used it for a while, but actually prefer writing at the desk in my living room where I can overlook the street below. I used to write whenever the mood struck and often through the night. But I realised that a good night’s sleep and a bit more routine and
regularity actually helped the work. WHO READS YOUR WORK? GIVES YOU FEEDBACK? Usually whoever’s commissioned it but I will give it to certain trusted friends to look at too.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO TEACH WRITING?
Yes I think it’s certainly possible to teach technique and structure, but not the spark of talent (however big or small) without which one can never do it.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR PEOPLE TRYING TO GET PUBLISHED?
Hmmm. That’s a complicated question! I would just say hang on in there and remember that some of
the most famous writers were all rejected initially… But it certainly wonâ€™t happen if you give up.