Interview with Lucy-Jo Finnighan, writer and director

Lucy-Jo is a recent MA graduate from the North-East whose show "Over on Grim Street" is preforming in season 2 of [email protected]

Interview with Lucy-Jo Finnighan, writer and director

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

Hi! I’m Lucy-Jo Finnighan, I’m a recent MA graduate from the North-East, and I’m the writer and director of “Over on Grim Street” which is performing at [email protected]

What does a typical day look like for you?

Currently my days are varied, I generally just spend my time doing whatever needs to get done, be that writing, planning, emails, or doing Zoom calls. Lockdown’s been a bit of a problem with my productivity, as it probably has with everyone, so a lot of my days involve binge-watching Netflix (Emily in Paris is my guilty-pleasure show.)

What’s great about your job?

Getting to meet so many other talented people! Theatre is such a collaborative industry, and I’ve been so lucky in the people I’ve gotten to work with. Over on Grim Street has been a great experience since my cast and crew are so friendly and hardworking, and working together to try and do warm-ups over zoom has definitely been interesting! “To begin to toboggan” is burned into my brain.

What are the bits you don’t like or find challenging?

I wouldn’t really say that this is a part that I dislike, but I remember listening to a freelance artist workshop once, where I was told that writing for theatre would involve 20% writing, and 80% trying to find places/people to write for. It’s difficult, because unless you have an agent, you need to be your own agent and client. You have to do a lot to sell yourself, make connections, pick up skills and knowledge that would make you more employable for a job that you may only have for a few weeks. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely believe it’s all been useful in developing myself as an artist, but it is challenging sometimes.

You are participating in season 2 of [email protected] Tell us about your show?

Over on Grim Street is a cute little comedy about an old lady, Tabitha, whose life is at a bit of a standstill. Her son doesn’t call, her best friend isn’t very nice to her, and she doesn’t know how to admit her feelings to her next-door neighbour, mainly because she is still upset over her husband’s death. But all that changes when the Grim Reaper appears in her kitchen. Not to kill her, but because they’re on the run from the law!

What should an audience expect when watching the show?

They should expect to feel a range of emotions all at once. We’ve got quite a few scenes that may make you cry, but whether that’s from sadness or laughter may vary. My cast is great in depicting that nuance.

How have you found the transition from live performance to online? Have you found it constrictive or has it allowed you to experiment more?

We did our best to make the transition as seamless as possible, as we changed the script to fit the online format more. Originally, we would have everyone visit the main character’s house, but now they facetime with each other, so it makes sense that they’re all in separate locations. Considering that our actors were in three different countries during lockdown, we figured this was our best course of action. I think the whole transition has been a unique experience, it does take away the environment of an audience which makes theatre so special, but it also allows experimentation with editing and camera shots, so I consider it a learning experience!

Do you think online performance will remain popular/necessary in the future?

I hope so! Putting theatre online makes it so much more accessible, and for someone who doesn’t live in a major city with a big theatre scene, I am glad that the internet can give so many opportunities that in-person theatre can’t.

How has it been working with theSpaceUK for this season? 

It’s been wonderful! They’ve been super supportive of every show, and the launch event that they threw was so fun! I really admire how much they seem to value new theatre, so they’re a great one to watch if you’re just getting into your career.

What are the highlights of your career to date?

This festival! Seeing my name and reviews of my show across different theatre websites is so surreal, and I’m so proud of everyone involved. The other festival that I have taken part in, the TakeOver Festival by York Theatre Royal, was also a great experience!

Another highlight is seeing and wearing the merch that had been made for a pantomime I had written, Rapunzel. Seeing other people work so hard on something you’ve written is such an amazing feeling, and I still wear that merch today!

How did you get into the industry?  Have you also worked outside the arts?

I owe my career to my drama and pantomime societies in university, they were both great at providing me with experience and opportunities, and led to my work being presented at the York Theatre Royal in 2019, which I count as my break into the industry.

I’ve had lots of jobs outside the arts, including hospitality jobs, events coordinating, and working as a receptionist at a summer camp. I think everybody who works in the arts has had to have a side hustle, especially when you’re new to the industry like I am.

Can you describe your biggest challenge so far in your career? How did you overcome it?

This current festival was very challenging, as we only had a month for auditions, rehearsals, filming, and editing. There were a lot of all-nighters, a lot of technical challenges, and a lot of stress. I just made sure to plan ahead as much as I could, and I appreciate my cast and crew for all their hard work, and for letting me drag them along on this hectic ride.

Have you noticed any changes in the industry? If so, what? Is there more change you would want to see?

It’s an obvious answer, but I’d say COVID-19 and many political events that have happened this year have affected the industry, both in what is being shown and what goes on behind the scenes. The industry has had to make itself more adaptable over lockdown, and there seems to be a growing focus on more positive representation, which I hope continues!

You’ve been granted the ability to send a message to 16-year-old you. What do you say?

I’d say to not give up on what you’ve always had planned for your career, but to keep your mind open, as things won’t happen in the way you expect. Also stop plucking your eyebrows.

Do you have any advice for young people interested in following your footsteps?

Take any opportunity you can! If you’re at university, no doubt there are societies which can help you gain knowledge and experience in your chosen field, so I recommend taking full advantage of that. Also, be prepared to face a lot of rejection, and make sure not to take it, or any other criticism, too personally. People are just doing their job, and art is subjective. Just because someone doesn’t like what you’ve written, it doesn’t mean what you’ve written is bad.

When and where can people watch your show?

All of the productions for [email protected] Season 2 can be found on The Space UK’s website, https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/over-on-grim-street

Each show will be available to watch anytime up until the 31st of January!

And finally where can people find you?

Over on Grim Street can be found on Instagram @overongrimstreet or on Twitter @OOGSTheSpace 

If people are interested in any more of my writing, they can find me on my personal website, www.lucy-joandherportfolio.com


You can watch Over on Grim Street over at theSpaceUK's website: https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/over-on-grim-street

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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