Kat Rose-Martin on £1 Thursdays at Finborough Theatre, ‘A love letter to those incredible mates who really are your first loves’

Next week sees the world premiere of Kat Rose-Martin’s £1 Thursdays at Finborough Theatre. The play is a coming of age story set in 2012 and follows Stacey and Jen, two 17-year old with very different dreams for the future and captures and celebrates the trials and tribulations of what it means to be young, Northern and working class. Monique Ashe-Palmer, whose previous credits include Six and Waitress, plays Stacey opposite Yasmin Taheri’s Jen. They are joined by Joseph Ayer and Sian Breckin under the direction of Vicky Moran.

The play has been in development by Rose-Martin for over five years. The Bradford born and based writer, actor, and the inaugural winner of the Kay Mellor Fellowship, was recently nominated for the Royal Television Society Yorkshire One to Watch Award. In 2020, she was part of BBC WritersRoom Northern Voices. In 2021, she was selected for Sky Comedy Rep – a writer’s scheme with Birmingham Rep and Sky TV.

Her theatre work has included Aphra Behn at Shakespeare’s Globe, Shit but Mine for Paines Plough and Children of War for Sheffield Theatres. Her writing for television includes the 2021 Christmas episode of Holby City, as well as episodes of Waterloo Road, Beyond Paradise and Dinosour – all for the BBC.

Ahead of opening, we spoke with Rose-Martin about the play and how she approaches theatre versus television, and the importance of parts actors want to play.

Q&A with Kat Rose-Martin, writer of £1 Thursdays

What can you tell us about £1 Thursdays and the inspiration behind it?

£1 Thursdays is a coming-of-age story about fierce female friendship and messy nightclubs. It’s inspired by the lifelong mates I made on those many beautiful nights out in Bradford. You only have to play Miss Dynamite’s Wile Out and I’m right back there, living my best life.

What is it like to be taking the play to Finborough Theatre?

This play has been in development for over five years so I’m absolutely buzzing that it’s getting a proper outing at The Finborough which has such an incredible reputation for new writing. I’m hoping we bring a bit of northern humour and heart to the audience.

What do you think audiences will take away from the play?

It has always been my wish with this play that people have a cracking evening out, then go home and think about their first ride-or-die best friend. That’s what this show is – a love letter to those incredible mates who really are your first loves. If even one member of the audience calls up their bestie from years back and says ‘Hey, how are you?’ then it’ll be a job well done as far as I’m concerned.

How different is your approach when writing for theatre, compared to writing for television?

I tend to start all projects, regardless of medium, from the same place of character, concept, and core gesture to the audience. What do I want the people watching this to feel, and can I be vulnerable enough to make that feel like a shared experience – getting deep there! Then as the idea develops, I work out how it fits in each medium. TV is much faster. You have to fight for the audience’s attention. With theatre you have a little more time to dig deeper with the characters; to play with form and why this story exists for a live audience. I love telly so much – sharing stories with such a wide audience is a beautiful thing. And there’s something sexy about the ‘anything could happen at any moment’ nature of theatre. I just love it all. More please!

Has your acting career influenced how you approach writing?

100%. I want to write stories and dialogue that actors want to say, parts that they’re itching to play. When I toured with Northern Broadsides on When We Are Married, Barrie Rutter always said that JB. Priestley gave ‘every character their aria’, their moment. I’ll never forget that. Working on the stage with some of the most incredible actors helped me to develop my ear for playful dialogue and the rhythms of comedy.

What was it like to receive the inaugural Kay Mellor Fellowship?

In a word – incredible. I remember the moment they told me like it was yesterday. I remember working with Kay – her warmth, her humour, and her brilliant nuggets of wisdom. The Kay Mellor Fellowship changed my life – it was jet fuel for my writing career. I honestly can’t say enough how grateful I am to have had that year with Rollem and Leeds Playhouse. Kay was a powerhouse writer, director, actor, producer and more, who made such a monumental impact on this industry, putting complex northern voices on the screen and in the homes of so many. I am honoured to be a tiny part of her legacy.

£1 Thursdays is at Finborough Theatre from 28 November to 22 December 2023