If you are fortunate enough to establish yourself in a profession, with success to boot, you might feel content to continue in this auspicious manner for the rest of your life. BAFTA Award winning Glenn Chandler however, has worked happily as a writer for years, but open to new ventures, he has now decided to try his hand at directing. Chandler talks about becoming a writer, and what made him want to adapt and direct his forthcoming production, The Custard Boys.
“I was a teenager looking at Maths, looking at Geography, but the only thing I could do was write. The only subject I was any good at was English – and I was a terrible sportsman!” he explains. Chandler is perhaps best known for creating the Scottish detective series Taggart. After being approached by STV’s Controller for drama, Robert Love, he wrote what was supposed to be a one-off episode. The network asked for a second, third, fourth and so on “…but never stopped coming!” and so Taggart went on to become the longest running detective series in the world, and is now broadcast globally.
Success did not come at the drop of a hat however. “I sent out thirty television scripts at first. All of them were rejected.” Interestingly, what is possibly less well known about Chandler (right), is that his first love is theatre, and it was through this medium that he made his break into television. After scripting a show for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, his work was spotted by a scout looking for new Scottish writers who could create a series of half hour plays that would be televised.
Chandler has continued to write and produce theatre, and is now taking his first stab at directing. So why The Custard Boys? “I saw the film, Reach for Glory, for the first time about a year ago.” Loving the film, Chandler went in search of the novel by John Rae; it was difficult to find and oddly, only appeared available from America. Once acquired, Chandler was captivated. “This should be done on stage”, he recalls thinking as he read the book, unable to stop visualising how it would translate to theatre. With such a clear view of how it would work, he decided to try on the directing hat for the first time, and has thoroughly enjoyed the process so far. Does he feel the pressure though? Chandler declares that he was nervous on day one of rehearsals, though he had done a lot of planning and preparation, but his lovely, all male cast, made him feel calmer and helped make his directorial journey a fun and exciting one.
When asked if there is a particular message he’d like to convey to his audience, Chandler talks about the death of innocence, propaganda and jingoism. In The Custard Boys, we see young boys playing at being soldiers, against the comparison of what it is actually like to be a soldier. He comments on the fact that young people are still playing at soldiers all over the world today in the form of video games. Similarly to the boys in the play, many of the these people do not really know what it is like to have to fight for your country, and Chandler hopes this idea can be highlighted in his production.
Finally, does Chandler have any advice for budding young writers today? “Lots of theatres do writing courses.” he states. More emphatically though, he expounds on his theme, urging aspiring authors to “write and watch as much as you possibly can.Get to know as many actors as possible. Meet the people who can set you on the road. Don’t do it in a lonely way…”, which is apparently how he started. “As a young writer you must get out, meet people, and get as much reaction to your own work as possible.” Working with the cast of The Custard Boys, Chandler has been able to see many different angles on his own ideas, and create and develop work in ways in which he could not have done independently.
It sounds like Chandler in a good place to premiere his play on April 10th. Regardless of how the end product is received, Chandler seems to have had a ball working on it; perhaps he has caught the directing bug.
Watch Custard Boys Trailer
The Custard Boys runs from April 10th – May 12th at The Tabard Theatre