5 FUN FACTS: Playwright Jessica Swale

jessica swale

Nell Gwynn’s Jessica Swale never set out to be a playwright.

British playwright Jessica Swale’s Nell Gwynn runs through Oct. 21 at Synchronicity Theatre (details, tickets HERE or at 404.484.8636). Her script won London theater’s 2015 Olivier Award for best new comedy and makes its American debut this month at Synchronicity and Chicago Shakespeare Theater.

The comedy with song and dance is set in 1660 London. It charts the rise of an unlikely heroine — a quick-witted orange hawker and bawdy girl — from her roots in poverty to her success as Britain’s most celebrated actress and her place in the heart of King Charles II.

Here are a few fun facts about Swale and her play, compiled by production dramaturg Kathy Janich.

1.  NOT A WRITER: “Even thinking of myself as a writer took a bit of getting used to.” Swale, 36, spent 10 years as a director before losing herself in a research for a different project and being unable to let go. Thus, her first play, Blue It details the fight British women undertook in the 1880s for the right to a university education.

2.  WOMEN RULE: Her first draft for Nell Gwynn had roles for five women and seven men. “I put in another couple of parts for women, because I didn’t want there to be a gender imbalance, and now those parts are completely integral to the story.”

3.  WHEN/WHERE SHE WRITES: “All the time! I often snatch bits of writing time in the cracks of the day — on train journeys, for half an hour in a cafe before going out somewhere. I focus well in small windows of time.”

4.  SHE PROCRASTINATES: “All the time! I used to get told off for daydreaming at primary school. I realize now that meandering thinking is often the way you solve problems. If I’m stuck on a character or an element of a plot, often leaving it, then sloshing it around my head on the bus, leads me to solve it.”

5.  WHAT SHE WISHES SHE’D BEEN TOLD WHEN STARTING OUT: “That the theater was worthwhile and rewarding as a career. All jobs are insecure now, so why not do the thing you love?”

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