Last week I met Chris Woodward of Likeminded Productions at the Everyman cafe for a coffee and a quick chat about his new play The Man With No Identity going to print. As soon as I met him he was raring to go, pumped up from a busy week, excited about the future and where things are going. This is what he had to say.
The Man With No Identity, is now available to purchase, so could you give us a bit of insight into what it’s about?
It’s all about one man’s perspective on things, what he thinks is right, what he thinks is necessary to get what he wants. The Man With No Identity, in a nutshell: it’s human nature without the mask. I believe that we all wear a mask in order to survive. Like William Shakespeare said: “Play many parts.” That’s what the main character, Edgar J Harris, does within the play and he does it very well. He’ll do anything to get what he wants.
Edgar is a ruthless businessman, very hungry to succeed. As the play progresses, he gains more power and learns how to play people by preying on their hopes and dreams; he’s ruthlessly efficient. However, he loses himself within his journey to success. That’s why it’s called The Man With No Identity. It’s a one-man play about the loneliness of greed. Very much like the high roller, Bernie Madoff, Wall Street types.
So would you say those kinds of people were your inspiration?
Funny you should ask, my inspiration came from a dream I had. I dreamt about this character, Edgar J Harris, woke up and the seed was there. First play I’ve ever written. So I started writing, but I eventually hit a brick wall and I needed more.
I was struggling a bit, but it was one specific day that changed everything. I went to the Walker Art Gallery when I walked into that room and seen a painting by George Bouverie Goddard called The Struggle For Existence and it just said it all. I even wrote an article about it a while back.
I believe on some level that we are all wolves trying to survive in this life. We’re all trying to exist peacefully, but at some point you’ll have to compete nomatter what. Just like going into a job interview, or even a night out on the town, you’ll be competing against everyone for that job or other men in the bar trying to pull. That’s what resonated with me with that painting, we’re all in competition with each other.
How did Likeminded Productions start?
I was writing The Man With No Identity and having lunch my friend Ashley Ali, the co-founder, and we decided to build a company because we knew we were both dedicated to making great theatre. We always found it really difficult to get spaces though, but luckily one day we were just walking round Hope Street and stumbled across The Casa – we went in and enquired and within a couple of days Julian Bond & Mikyla Jane Durkan (who have a residency in The Casa with Burjesta Theatre) got back to me and that was it – we had a space to perform in.
We also brought in Andrew Smith to do some of the photography. He did a such a seriously brilliant job with all our posters that we offered him a full role within the company so from then on he’s been our designer/editor. He also had a hand in designing the book with me.
From start to finish, how long did The Man With No Identity take you?
From start to finish, probably about a year and a half. Finding the venue, rehearsing, writing the book, trying to find printers, find a proofreader, but do you know what, I’ve had great fun doing it; it’s been amazing. Right through the journey I’ve met new people and everybody just wants to help. Everybody who I’ve come into contact with for this project wants to see it succeed so it’s a nice feeling to know you’ve got this support network of artists in a similar.
Beyond The Man With No Identity, where do you see Likeminded Productions going in the future?
We’ve got loads going on at the moment, I’m writing with a lot of urgency at the minute. I’ve wrote three plays over the last six weeks. I’ve co-written Ashley Ali’s one, which is coming early next year – Life After Life – that’s our next big production.
I’m also writing a screenplay, called Faith’s Monologue, which will be delivered as a web series. Once that’s finished it will be turned into a play that further colours the story. It’s going to be a very exciting year for us coming up.
Are there any local theatre companies that you like the look of right now?
Absolutely loads. I’m a big fan of Burjesta Theatre, obviously, for all the help they’ve given us, could have done a lot of what we have without the support from Julian or Mikyla. I’m also a big fan of No Place Productions, an up-and-coming theatre group rallying for social change. There are plenty Liverpool-based groups making exciting work.
Do you have any advice for theatre-makers?
I’d urge any wannabe writer to just write, write, write. Read everything you can, especially the classics: Beckett, Miller, Pinter. Know your craft. I urge people to be writing constantly, even if it’s just doodling, get something down on the paper. Don’t be scared of making a mistake, I’ve made loads of mistakes on this journey but I dust myself off and learn from them. Also: don’t let anybody tell you what you can and can’t do. Take criticism on board and also keep trying to improve your work, but don’t ever let it put you off.