Noah McCreadie scored a triumph earlier this year with his debut play Getaway/Runaway at the King’s Head Theatre, Islington, for Shot In The Dark Theatre Company. Here's his story.
I kind of feel like I’m a three-way pendulum that swings from one persona to another.
Noah, before we get onto the play, tell me something about your background, education and training.
Well, first of all, I just want to say thanks for having me, Richard! I know you’re a busy guy, so I appreciate the time taken to get this thing set up. Now, re: me. I was born in London, I spent time growing up in Cambridge and Brighton before I eventually got a place at Oxford School of Drama, from where I graduated in 2022. I studied acting there, but as anyone who went there will testify, it’s a unique training in that there’s a lot of emphasis on being creators and generating your own work. It was there that I really began to develop an interest in writing, I would say.
Was theatre part of your growing up?
I would say so, yes...both my parents are theatre teachers/practitioners. They trained as actors themselves. As a result, I was often surrounded by their friendship group which consisted of, you guessed it, actors! I would go and see friends of theirs in plays when I was growing up and so that was what most of my exposure to theatre was when I was younger. I have to say, I could probably assemble a pretty stellar cast from individuals who have babysat me at some point or another!
So you were immersed in it from the outset, but how did your desire to work in theatre come about?
I would say two main things pushed me to work in theatre. I’ll number them just because I find it oddly satisfying:
- Movies. I grew up watching movies. As the only child of separated parents who both started second families, the opportunity to go to the theatre wasn’t really there unless, like I said, we were supporting a friend. As a result, I went to the super-accessible, much more personable medium of storytelling for a ten-year-old boy: films! I can pinpoint so many memories that are synonymous with the film I was watching at the time and, for me, the urge to become somebody who can create these stories and give people moments in time that will stay with them forever was something too big to ignore.
- When I was about eleven, maybe twelve, my Dad and a couple of his pals were in a production of Hamlet at The Crucible so I was allowed to go backstage and hang out in his dressing room during the evening performance (I watched the matinee). I remember then just feeling the magic of watching the cogs turning from behind the curtain of a show that I’d watched as an audience member hours earlier. It blew my mind. It was the birth of my fascination with theatre and Shakespeare, funnily enough. And I remember filling the time in Dad’s dressing room watching The Godfather Part II.
It seems you were raised on big roles and lengthy scripts. Do you see yourself combining acting with playwriting or is the latter your main passion?
It’s kind of like a pendulum, really; it swings from one to the other. For example, I’m currently in rehearsals for a musical titled Living With Skeletons by Daniel Fischer with Fishhook Theatre Company. It’s on at The Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose at this year's Edinburgh Fringe if anyone fancies it!
Nice plug. You seized the opportunity there.
Absolutely, but yeah, so right now, a part of me is definitely in 'actor mode', as it were. However, when I was working on the first run of Getaway/Runaway, I was completely entrenched in the director part of my artistry. This was because I knew I was going straight from that into working with Louis Cavalier on a play he’d written called Don’t Rock The Boat which you guys came and reviewed at The Brighton Fringe I believe? Or maybe you saw it at The Golden Goose Theatre, I’m unsure.
Hang on. I'll check. It was Brighton and Sascha Cooper referred to the 'strong talents' of you and Louis.
Oh yeh. That was really good of her. But anyway, my point is that I kind of feel like I’m a three-way pendulum that swings from one persona to another. I’m never firmly one thing, however, I’m never just a mediocre version of three things.
Let’s move on to Getaway/Runaway now, with an outline of the story.
Bosh! Ok: It’s a psychological thriller about two siblings, who, during a time of crisis, go to stay with their father and his new partner for the first time since their dad got out of prison. Basically, it soon becomes apparent that a little family R&R is the last thing any of these people need, which has incredibly tense but entertaining consequences for those watching it.
Well, it completely blew me away. Where did the idea come from?
I think it came from the questions being asked, “What happens when somebody who’s ill-equipped to deal with something is forced to confront that thing head-on? What does that look like?” And then kind of building a world where everybody is thrust into this circumstance that, for one reason or another, they simply cannot contend with. I feel like that fallout can be a hell of a thing to watch. So I guess I tried to create that, whilst being mindful and sensitive with topics that were included in these characters’ lives.
It was certainly an intense and captivating experience. You did it with Shot In The Dark Theatre Company. How do you fit in with them?
My connection with SID (Shot In The Dark) is that the co-founder, Charis Murray, is the sister of my partner, Kiera, (who plays Saoirse in Getaway/Runaway). I remember when Charis and Jamie (also co-founder) were doing SID’s debut show Cheer Up Slug by Tamsin Rees, Getaway/Runaway was in the latter stages of its development and so a conversation was had where we thought it would be cool to bring the two ventures together in order to continue to evolve Shot In The Dark and keep the momentum that the guys had from Slug going into this year. It’s also how the wonderful Hannah Mcleod got on board also, having directed Cheer Up Slug. It’s worked out quite nicely actually because just as we are finishing up our run of Getaway/Runaway at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre, Cheer Up Slug is doing a small tour of some Scottish Theatres including Macrobert Arts Centre in Stirling, (birthplace of the Murray sisters themselves!) so that momentum for Shot In The Dark is continuing all the way through Autumn as well.
And, of course, all this started with Slug, which I reviewed and through conversation there found out about Getaway/Runaway. You mentioned Living with Skeletons. What's that about?
Yes! Living With Skeletons is about a young guy named Oscar who’s basically seeing a therapist to cope with an obsession he has with death. Simultaneously, his sister Ella spends her time searching for Oscar through the peaks and troughs of a Carroll-esque landscape. On the Gilded Balloon website, it’s referred to as “a mind-bending folk-musical rabbit hole that takes a curious dive into living beings’ intrinsic fear of the end”. So, yeah, it should be a fun one!
But it's a musical, so are you also a singer?
We did some singing training at Oxford, but it was more 'acting through song' so I suppose that, in a technical sense anyway, I’ll kind of be learning on the job a little bit! I do really enjoy singing though, I’ve got a pretty solid shower setlist, I must say.
I look forward to hearing you. And finally, do you have any more plays you're working on?
I do! In fact, I've just finished three days of R&D with a lovely little group on my new play. The Land of Lost Lovers and The Forgotten Comanches of The New Country. Long title I know but I assure you, it’ll be worth it! We’re having fun developing this one, that’s for sure.
'Cos if it ain't fun, don't do it. Many thank for joining me Noah and we wish you every success in the future.