Al Smith is a formidably talented young dramatist, writer and director. Smith founded his own production company,Kandinsky, dedicated to investigating the links between theatre and sciencein 2005.Smith has already won a number of awards and seen his plays performed at theatres both in London and New York, but more recently the young writer has been backed by the BBC with his plays commissioned for BBC Radio 4. He recently was awarded the Wellcome Trust’s Screenwriting Prize, and his latest script, David Attenborough’s Africa, is currently viewable on iPlayer.Al Smith is apioneering british talent andinspired byConverse Boots’ Yescampaign, we asked Al what he sees as an important moment in his career so far.
Al Smith: I’ve had a lot of help and support – I’d not have got anywhere alone. If I had to pick one moment, I’d pick the “yes” from the judges on the Wellcome Trust Screenwriting Prize. It’s a film prize dedicated to supporting writers who tell stories with a scientific bent. Nearly all of my plays for theatre have revolved around scientific ideas and I’ve always loved the cinema, so to win a supported opportunity to mix the two is a big deal for me.It’s tough to know what specific choices have value – I guess I just try to make the best choice with whatever’s in front of me at the time. Maybe this is either too obvious or ambiguous, but I do remember consciously choosing to read more scripts rather than just going to the theatre. I’m seeing two or three plays a week, but you never get closer to learning about the choices writers make than when you get stuck into their scripts. Trying to get to grips with the craft of writing seems invaluable to me. An individual whose support started to open doors for me was,without hesitation, John Yorke at BBC Drama. He was at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2005 and came to see the first play I wrote, “Enola”. Off the back of that play he offered me a place on the BBC Writers Academy. I cut my teeth on those shows and got my break as a working writer. So him. He opened the first door.
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