Mark L. Burrow

Playwright

Mark Burrow is a writer from the fields and cobbles of Yorkshire, England, and prolifically writes poetry which has featured internationally in magazines in France, Ireland, and the USA. He entered his first play into a satirical competition in a festival in Ireland in 2012 which was shortlisted and performed to a welcoming audience. A year later the organisers invited him to write a play to close the festival. Entitled Transformation Perfection, this is the very play now translated into Russian. Last summer (2017) he wrote two one-hour-long plays and is looking forward to continue spreading his international wings. By day he teaches English.


Do you often go to the theater?

 

I can never visit a theatre enough to justify my love of it. I am aiming to visit more often in 2018.

 

What play would you never write?

 

Never is not a word in my vocabulary. I write what experience tells me to write and try to be versatile in my writing.

 

Tell us about your first play. What motivated you to write it?

 

I entered a competition to write satire for a Jonathan Swift festival, the Trim Swift Satire Fesitval in Ireland. This was 2012 and 100 years after the sinking of the Titanic. I scripted If Gulliver Was On The Titanic which was short-listed and subsequently I was to cast, rehearse, stage, direct, and organise the performance of this play in front of a paying audience. Seeing my words brought to life was amazing for me.

 

Did you learn to write plays?

 

I read English at university and explored Creative Writing as both an undergraduate and in postgraduate studies. However, none of this focused on writing plays: I never learnt to write plays, I just enjoyed the idea of character, dialogue, place, situation.

 

What are you working on now?

 

I have just begun a one-act play located in the arrivals hall of Los Angeles International Airport. It’s based on a tour guide and the coach driver waiting on their group of thirty-plus guests from the UK. The play is inspired by a personal experience in 1999 when I used to work in the travel industry.

 

Can you recall the brightest episode from your childhood?

 

I am lucky enough to recall every bright episodes from my childhood. My parents did the best for me and when I was 8, back in 1985, they took me on my first trip abroad to Frankfurt, Germany to visit my uncle Jim and aunty Sigi – these were very important relatives in my upbringing and this first experience sparked my love of travel.

 

Can you suggest interesting in your opinion plays and playwrights?

In 2015 I saw Fish In The Dark at the Cort Theatre on Broadway, New York. I mention this because plays are special – we should celebrate the ‘one-offs’. This was written and performed by Larry David, co-creator of the sitcom Seinfeld, and we should celebrate reforming the idea of the sitcom into the stage. It was hilarious and the writing was simply superb.

 

What do you think of Shakespeare?

 

Shakespeare is why we write: yes he borrowed, yes, he perhaps stole ideas, but that is writing. Tragedy, comedy, history, we can all relate to. My favourite are his tragedies, particularly Othello.

 

What problems do you face with the modern English playwright?

 

Like with any of the creative arts the problems we find are combatting the pretentious nature of it. Snobbery hinders the arts. Modernity loses direction and drifts off into a world of pretention; a play is basic life experience – let’s not exaggerate it.

 

Are there topics in the UK that are not taken up in drama?

 

Topics left uncovered are situation comedies. Even on TV the UK struggles to represent this genre when compared with the USA. An audience, a stage, this is perfect to host a sitcom which should be further explored.

 

What do you think about Russia?

 

I have never visited Russia. My initial reflex is to visit Moscow then take a train down to St.Petersburg. Living in the UK I feel I am media brainwashed and need to shake this off and visit the country for myself.

 

Are there any social lifts for playwrights in the UK?

 

Social lifts? I think any such lift spoils the arts.

 

Tell us about your creative plans.

 

It is impossible to predict/explain my creative plans. I create based on reactive experience, the situations I find myself in and the people I meet.

 

How do you process the writing of the play?

 

Writing a play is fast-paced: I am in the head of every character and as I write dialogue I speedily type to keep up and transcribe their voices. Sometimes I can’t type fast enough.

 

Have you ever written a play to order?

 

In 2012 I was busy rehearsing and preparing a play to take over to a satire festival in Ireland.One of the organisers had begun writing a play and wanted me to finish it, cast it, and have it performed alongside the competition entries to add to the afternoon’s extravaganza. This turned out to be the opening performance. I thank one of the festival organisers, Paddy Smith, for asking me to do this.

 

Have you ever worked on a play together with a director or a theater?

 

My wife, Aneeta, directed one of my plays – the venue left us to our own devices, we were still crafting the set within an hour of the performance! But in the future I would thoroughly enjoy working with a director and with a theatre.

 

Is the contemporary play in demand in the UK?

 

Contemporary theatre is in huge demand: unfortunately the audience do not know this. Theatre should be like going to the cinema, something affordable and like a habit.

 

Tell us about your daily life.

 

To earn a living I teach English. Afterwards I make time to meet people, this is what inspires me creatively. My wife, my friends, my relatives, all bring stories to life and provoke such laughter. We live in a wonderful small town (Otley, West Yorkshire) and I love spending time there and in our friendly home.

 

Tell a few words about your play, which will be seen in Russia.

 

Transformation Perfection is a satirical parody set in a cosmetic clinic. We live in a materialistic world and the idea of ‘perfection’ is challenged. Various professions go through vigorous inspections which cause nothing but stress. I considered the idea about a cosmetic clinic which specialises in ‘perfection’ and how this could be inspected. With a cast of three, I wanted to write quick and witty exchanges which steadily build up the humour of the situation.

 

How are you represented on the network? (links)

 

I am a private person and only use Facebook under a pseudonym to network with musicians. In 2016 I began writing feature articles for a new music magazine and label called Public Pressure, based in London. I have also recently joined a theatre writers group on Facebook which keeps me current in the wider world of scripting plays.