Get to know: Copywriter and scriptwriter Julia Howe
Julia Howe’s first play ‘Up your Prana’, a dark comedy about secrets and yoga, debuts at Brighton Fringe in May. We caught up with Julia to find out about her inspiration, the crowdfunding campaign she launched to fund the play, and what she gets up to when she’s not writing darkly comic scripts.
1. This is your first play. Tell us what it’s about.
A new receptionist arrives at Bliss Yoga centre after the manager’s disappearance, to find the place in chaos. She unearths the reasons behind the manager’s fall from grace - but is herself defeated by her own demons.
2. What inspired you to write it?
Up Your Prana started life as a series of character monologues with a group of fairly outlandish people who were all involved with the same yoga centre. It began as an idea for a TV sitcom but then morphed, with notes from a theatre director, into a three-act play. I wanted to hold up a mirror to the difference between how people believe they appear, and how they actually behave.
3. Did anything surprise you about the writing process?
I collaborated with a comedy performer when generating the initial ideas for the characters, and then the theatre director for structural notes, but after that, the actual writing of the play happened in two short bursts in 2013 and early 2014. That process was fairly painless. Sending the play out to competitions and theatres to get noticed is another ball game entirely.
4. You have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the play. With so many initiatives and projects out there waiting to be funded, why did you decide to take this approach and why should people support ‘Up your Prana?’
We’re crowdfunding to raise £2,500 to help the production break even, as so far, I have been self-funding the costs. One week in, we are 20% funded, but we do need to keep going to raise the remainder by just before 5 pm on 18 March. Making a crowdfunding pledge is significant for our project, because not only are you supporting the emergence of new, local talent (the cast, crew and I), but you’re also empowering the arts generally.
We are also interested in talking to local companies who would like to sponsor us. As the play is a comedy with yoga sequences, we’re interested in hearing from yoga suppliers – but also any companies who feel they have a cultural fit with us. In return, there are a number of ways we can promote a company’s involvement. Any interested companies can email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Do you have any advice for budding scriptwriters out there?
Perseverance is key. I’ve been writing comedy and drama scripts since 2002 and in writing, taking the long view is imperative, otherwise you will get discouraged from the knock-backs. The other advice I follow is to watch as many TV and film comedy and dramas as I can, and study the form. You can download scripts from broadcast shows by going to: www.bbc.co.uk/writersroom
In addition, networking is important, and entering competitions when you have a script that has been independently verified to be the best reflection of your writing as it can possibly be.
6. Tell us a bit about your business, Ideas & Words Ltd, and what you get up to when you’re not writing plays for Brighton Fringe.
In my other life, I have over 20 years’ professional advertising copywriting experience, and Ideas & Words Ltd is my copywriting and scriptwriting business. Each day is different, but at the moment, I’ve been writing a corporate script featuring a new people management software solution. I can turn my hand to pretty much anything that a client needs: from websites, digital marketing and social media posts, to brochures, leaflets, branding and tone of voice documents.
7. And finally, where and when can we see ‘Up Your Prana’?
It’s on from 9 to 11 May at the Blockhouse Theatre in the Warren Complex. Tickets are on sale now from www.upyourprana.co.uk
Thank you to Julia for writing this blog.