South east London playwright and screenwriter, Phoebe Eclair-Powell is making huge waves in the industry. Her play Shed: Exploded View won the prestigious Bruntwood Award in 2019 and is being staged at the Royal Exchange Manchester this February. In 2016, her play Fury was staged at our neighbouring hotspot of theatre, The Soho Theatre. In between her time in a writers rooms for projects that soon will be announced, we sat down with her to hear about her favourite parts of Soho.
The inspiration was a piece of art work by the brilliant British artist, Cornelia Parker, called Cold Dark Matter: an Exploded View. I saw it at the Tate as a teenager and kept a postcard of it ever since. It’s an incredible sculpture made of the fragments from an exploded shed that has been reassembled in a sort of permanent explosion, both still and active.
I hope they take away a sense of wanting to hold their loved ones tight, and to call out the way in which violence has permeated our sense of love and the complexity of relationships. I want it to ignite further conversations about domestic abuse in this country.
I love the collaboration and camaraderie. I get to be part of these little mini families every so often who come together to make something transient and hopefully powerful and entertaining. It’s both incredibly stressful and really joyful.
I was resident at the Soho Theatre many years ago and it’s on their writers course that I wrote my play and met a lot of excellent friends, who I still deeply care for and admire. I think that place is a real home to me and I always love going there, seeing shows, sitting in the bar and feeling part of something. I feel so grateful to have been part of it. The team who work there are always lovely and welcoming. I’m really keen to see more work at Soho Place which is still quite new. And I have fond memories of working on A Christmas Carol quite a few years ago at The Noel Coward Theatre as assistant to the amazing Patrick Barlow. Getting to weave in and out of stage door around Christmas time was a real treat.
Ooh, tough one. I think I would love to have a collection of Caryl Churchill plays in there – she’s always someone I go to, to remind me that plays are complex, frightening things. debbie tucker green’s random because I love her work so, so much. Sarah Kane’s Blasted – perhaps that would make me feel okay about being stranded on a desert island? Then Nick Payne’s Constellations to give me some sense of love/hope and Kae Tempest’s Brand New Ancients!
I think a coffee is essential. I do like a Gail’s massive almond croissant for the sugar high. I would begin by walking around Foyles pretending to work, but just sniffing all the books and wanting to buy everything. If I was feeling naughty, I might even go and look at comics/research at Gosh! Soho because I’m a secret geek. Do some actual writing either at the Soho Theatre bar, or at the Curzon Soho. I would grab lunch from one of the food stalls in Berwick Street Market and then take myself for some thinking time in Soho Square (I love a good people watch), maybe a pick me up at Bar Italia before more writing or meandering around the National Portrait Gallery / National Gallery. I find art is really useful for getting the brain moving. I then would head for a beer or two at Soho Theatre bar. If I’m feeling fancy, I might meet a friend at Cote to get the cheap pre dinner menu, or stuff myself with sushi on Old Compton Street, before hopefully watching some shows at Soho Theatre. Post show, I might have a drink at a nice cocktail place I like, Swift. It’s all ‘research’ right?!
My play Shed: Exploded View which won the Bruntwood Prize is on at the Royal Exchange Manchester, 9 Feb – 2 March 2024, which I’m really excited for. I’m currently working on two new plays. I’ve been lucky enough to have written two episodes of a new rom-com called The Road Trip which will be on Paramount Plus next year.