By Cathy Forde, acclaimed playwright and novelist who led an 87 Miles session

I didn’t know quite what to expect when I arrived at Toonspeak HQ to meet some of the young drama-minded people in 87 Miles and talk about my own work in theatre. I can admit now that I was actually a bit nervous.

Cathy Forde

I don’t come from a conventional or formal background in theatre-making; I didn’t study drama, and until a few years ago was known as a novelist, so I still consider myself very much a rookie playwright, who is learning on the hoof and by my many and frequent mistakes.

In the couple of conversations I’d had with Sarah from Toonspeak she told me that the group I’d be meeting were keen writers. That actually made me even more nervous. Would they be experts at making pieces of theatre? Or – worse – would they be like all the ‘keen’ teenage writers I’ve been told I’m going to meet in Creative Writing workshops and be incredibly shy and silent?

Well, I don’t know what I was worried about. I met three confident, open and engaged young people in a session that was interactive, informal and great fun. I brought along a three minute play I’d written for professional performance the following week and used it as an exercise in dialogue. The highlight of the night for me was hearing Chantelle, Jamie and Matthew– and Lydia from Toonspeak – continue each scene themselves.

*After enthusiastic requests from 87 Miles participants, Cathy will be returning to work with the group to focus on developing their script and play-writing skills.