An interview with the writer of...The Snow Angel of Antarctica
The Snow Angel of Antarctica is running from 4th - 6th November at KATZPACE as part of our upcoming New Voices season of new writing. Victoria Connerty has given us a deep dive into the inspirations and background behind her moving new play.
You have 30 seconds to describe the plot of your play…Go!
JIMMY and his sister ELLIE are twins born ten minutes apart but that's pretty much where the similarities end. When Jimmy announces he's quitting his job and using his inheritance from their late Nan to fulfil his lifelong dream of seeing real-life penguins in Antarctica, the ever-pragmatic Ellie thinks it's quite possibly the worst and most ludicrous idea her brother's ever had.
However, following a hefty dose of emotional blackmail, she agrees to go with him and together, they set sail for the South Pole. But the unbreakable bond between the siblings is shaken to the core when they eventually arrive in Antarctica and are finally forced to confront the shocking truth behind their trip.
THE SNOW ANGEL OF ANTARCTICA is a dark comedy about sibling rivalry, Scrabble and snow angels set to a cracking (largely 80's-influenced) soundtrack.
What inspired you to tell this story?
The Snow Angel of Antarctica was originally a short play that I wrote at the beginning of this year about a girl and her brother on their way to Antarctica to scatter a loved one's ashes. I thought that if someone was going to ask for their ashes to be scattered somewhere in the world, then "can you do it in Antarctica please?" would be a fairly unreasonable and eye-wateringly expensive request. But I really loved the idea that most of us would probably grumble about the inconvenience of it all but then break our backs to do it anyway. Thus, 'The Snow Angel' was born.
The UnDisposables were the first company to pick up Snow Angel and the first to stage it in March 2018 as part of their inaugural New Writing night. When they suggested I extend it into a the full-length for their 'New Voices' season, I hadn't actually considered that there might be a version beyond the original 15 minute scene.
But working alongside my director Maddy and original cast in Esther and Ben to try and find the bigger story bubbling under the surface has been an amazing experience. Their creativity, enthusiasm, terrifying deadlines and unwavering confidence that there was more to The Snow Angel that met the eye genuinely inspired me to keep writing on those days (and nights) when I just wanted to put my feet up, order a massive pizza and binge on all 8 episodes of 'Killing Eve'.
What was the biggest hurdle for you in writing this play?
The pressure to write a full-length play in just 4 weeks alongside a full-time job was fairly intense and it's fair to say that there were some fairly impressive Rumplestiltskin-style tantrums that those around me (including my poor dog) won't forget in a hurry. But having that painful deadline looming over me alongside the team's gentle but firm encouragement was instrumental in making me actually sit down, stop swearing and just finish it.
Another challenge was being forced to re-think the structure for the full-length play. The short play was pretty straightforward in terms of linear storytelling - it's essentially one scene in one place, easy! - but in order to make the full-length plot work, I spent days I'll never get back working out how to tell the story in a way that wouldn't make the audience furrow their collective brows in confusion. I just hope I succeeded!
Finally, the nostalgic power of music is really important to these characters and I spent an unbelievable amount of time sifting through Spotify in the name of research to create the perfect playlist when I should probably have been getting the actual words on the page! That said, every single featured track has been lovingly chosen (especially the 80's classics) and I simply can't imagine the play being quite the same without them.
Who would you say inspires you the most with your work? (in or out of the industry)
I did an M.A in Writing for the Stage & Broadcast Media at Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2017 that not only introduced me to the secret world of plays but also to several outrageously talented writers who inspire me to keep writing when it all seems a bit hard! I was also lucky enough to be mentored by the brilliant playwright Amy Rosenthal whilst writing my first full-length play at Central and her words of wisdom back then remain absolutely invaluable today.
I also have a couple of university friends who read everything I write before it goes out anywhere. One is a film director, screenwriter and dramaturg and the other, by his own admission, knows absolutely nothing about theatre. But they both willingly give up their precious spare time to plough through my plays and it's their unwavering encouragement and advice that inspires me to keep writing these strange little plays about Antarctica.
I love working with passionate theatre companies such as TheUndisposables who are brave and bold enough to plough their boundless energy (and limited funds) into promoting new writing and championing emerging playwrights. Without them and other inspirational companies like them, we fledgling writers would barely be heard and so, despite the overwhelming terror of being asked to write a full-length play in a month, I'm very aware of just how lucky I am to be given this opportunity.
The Snow Angel of Antarctica will be performed alongside Sugar Buddy at KATZPACE by London Bridge Station from 4th - 6th November at 7:30pm (2:30pm Sunday matinee)
Buy your tickets here