Five minutes with… playwright Janet Plater

Published: Monday 19th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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If you’re looking for a charming Christmas play to enjoy with the whole family this December, Hull’s Angel might be the answer.

A contemporary spin on the traditional Nativity story, this lighthearted show has been created by celebrated playwright Janet Plater. In this interview, she tells us what to expect and what inspired her to come up with the idea.

What is Hull’s Angel about?

Hull’s Angel is a present-day story exploring what would happen if a new Saviour was born in the world today.

It starts with Mary, a Geordie hairdresser, who is walking across Tyne Bridge one evening. She meets an angel, who tells her that she is going to give birth to a new Saviour. Of course, Mary’s very sceptical and tells the angel to “nick off”.

It turns out that she is pregnant and heads to Hull, where astronomers and scientists are predicting that a fantastic star is going to shine. The Royal Family becomes concerned, and they send Prince Harry up to see what’s going on. And that’s the nub of the play.

We’ve got songs, daftness and all sorts. It’s a Christmas comedy, a new spin on the Nativity story and an alternative to a pantomime.

It’s definitely a family show. The kids will really enjoy seeing the shepherds and other well-known Nativity characters. There’s plenty for the whole family to enjoy!

What inspired you to write the play?

I originally started developing the idea in 2003, when I wrote a short, scratch version. I thought: “Wouldn’t it be funny if the innkeeper actually lived down Park Avenue?”

I developed the story with Ensemble 52, and we had our first production of the play in 2013. I’m happy to say we’re now back at Kardomah94 for Christmas 2016.

A number of things inspired the idea. I thought that it would be quite a funny notion. What if there was a new Saviour of the world born today? And where in the world would it take place?

It needed to be a place where the baby would be born in an ordinary way, with lots of people around to love it – Hull was the answer.

From there, I explored ideas and imagined what it would really be like. For example, if there was this amazing star, scientists and astronomers would know about it and be studying it. It would be on the news and the Royal Family would be alerted.

Earlier this year, we saw the premiere of The Gaul, another of your Hull-based tales. Why do you choose to set your plays here?

I’m from Hull, a local girl. You can hardly tell from my accent anymore, but Hull is something that I like to write about. It’s a wonderful city.

I’ve written other plays that aren’t set here. I’ve lived in Tyneside for over twenty years and have a play that is set there. But I think I’ll always return to Hull.

When did you start writing plays?

I started when I was in my twenties and had my first play produced by the BBC back then. Afterwards, I had children and chose to put my writing aside, and laughably ‘get a sensible job’ in order to support them.

In 2009 I started to revisit it, and over the last five or six years I’ve been writing fairly consistently. I decided that I needed to come back to it.

What can audiences expect from Hull’s Angel?

You can expect a good night out; it’s funny and daft. We’ve got some really good actors, some of which are native Hull actors.

The play has a few surprises for audiences too, especially for Hull audiences. It’s a real Hull story, with quite a few references and jokes.

Audiences in Tyneside may be a little confused when “patty” is mentioned!

Hull’s Angel will be performed at Kardomah94 from 19 to 24 December 2016. Tickets are £15 and can be purchased by contacting the box office on 01482 317941.

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Published: Monday 19th December 2016 by Rich Sutherland

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