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‘Romford’s people and places are perfect for drama’ – local-born writer behind new play

PUBLISHED: 16:00 27 December 2014

Local boy: Dan Murphy (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Local boy: Dan Murphy (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Archant

New York, Verona, St Petersburg... Romford: not a list you’ll regularly see, but thanks to the efforts of a young playwright an appropriate one.

Dan Murphy needs to raise £3,000 to take his play on tour (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) Dan Murphy needs to raise £3,000 to take his play on tour (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

Romford-born writer Dan Murphy has written a play with Havering’s best-known district at its heart – and he hopes it’ll be an opportunity to put the area on the dramatic map.

“Romford is the inspiration for all of my work,” he says.

“Apart from my personal connection with the town, I believe that the people and places are perfect for drama as it is a town full of interesting people and great characters.

“It is also important to me to represent people on the stage who you might not usually see. I’m proud of being from Romford and I want to share it with as many people as possible.”

'I would love for the play to come to Havering' (photo: Arnaud Stephenson) 'I would love for the play to come to Havering' (photo: Arnaud Stephenson)

The play is aptly titled A Local Boy and it follows five characters as they react to a violent crime on a night out in the town centre.

Dan describes it as a “dark funny and moving story about connections, community and our place within it”.

Romford, of course, is no stranger to violence – but that’s not the only source of local inspiration for the 28-year-old playwright.

“I hope that I’ve done Romford proud in the play. The town is as much a character as the people.

“I think I have given an honest and real representation of Romford.”

Dan goes on: “It’s a town that is ever growing and changing, but it’s community spirit and identity – that’s steadfast.

“What do I think of Romford? I am fiercely proud of the fact that it’s my hometown.”

The former pupil of Fairkytes Arts Centre, Hornchurch, also hopes part of the production’s draw will be the chance for the audience to spot familiar places and references.

But before that can happen, the theatre company behind needs to raise £3,000 to fund costs for a tour – and find a cast.

“We are currently casting for the production and if we could find actors from Havering that would be great,” says Dan. “The more authentic Essex accents on the stage the better.”

A Local Boy is the product of the Invertigo Theatre Company, where Dan is writer in residence and where identity is the topic of its most recent project. The play, Dan says, is a deliberate exploration of the theme.

“Through this I started thinking about community and the conflict between the identity of a community and the individuals within it,” he says.

“I was also inspired by how we react to violent or tragic crimes in the news, how a community can come together in adversity, but also fall apart.”

The show begins its run at the Pleasance Theatre in Islington in February before touring schools, colleges and youth theatres in the south east, funds permitting.

It’s a play clearly intent on raising Romford’s theatrical profile – but will it get an airing in Dan’s home borough?

“I would love for the play to come to Havering, it is very important for me that people from Havering see that there is a voice and place for them in theatre,” he says.

To pledge support for the project, visit ideastap.com/crowdfunding/project/alocalboy. In return, donors can get tickets to the play, a signed script and the chance to sit in on rehearsals.

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