We meet OUT OF LOVE writer, Elinor Cook...We meet the writer of Roundabout's OUT OF LOVE, Elinor Cook...
What made you want to tell this story?
I was interested in the idea that a friendship between two women can prove to be the most formative, challenging and ultimately rewarding relationship in your life, and how devastating it can feel when it's shaken. Although the play jumps back and forth over roughly thirty years, it's not accidental that the fissures start to emerge in the characters' adolescence. It's a time of such electric extremes - a restless thirst to know everything and the terror that comes with that knowledge. I wanted to throw my characters into that turbulence and see how they wrestled with it. It also felt important that both of them were questioning how to define themselves outside of male desire, and how hard it still feels to do that.
Why did you choose to make the narrative non-linear?
I'm not sure that I chose it consciously - it just felt right! The play works like a piece of music - you hear a note in one scene and then notice it cropping up again in a later one. Slowly it builds and builds and you can hear the whole tune. Each scene is a distillation of a moment. The audience doesn't need to worry about what happened when. It's more about the emotional truth of those moments and how they cumulatively add up to a whole life.
Is Lorna and Grace’s relationship inspired by a real friendship?
My oldest and closest friend is someone I've known since I was two years old. We see each other all the time and communicate in one form or another most days. I wouldn't say that the personalities in the play are necessarily reflective of me and her, but I certainly know what it's like to have that one person who knows you better than you even know yourself. She has an eerily perceptive insight into my brain, which is an extraordinarily powerful thing - and not without its tensions. Sometimes being seen that clearly is exactly what I need, and sometimes it's horribly exposing!
Your work often centres on the female experience, why is this important?
Jil Soloway (the creator of the TV show Transparent) is much more eloquent than me on the matter of 'the female gaze' and how necessary it is to challenge the dominant narrative, which is historically white, male and privileged. That voice of challenge feels really healthy at the moment. Having said that, I do think there's still a way to go in articulating female voices that are honest, real and raw, and that don't just capitulate to a fantasy. I think this notion of 'the strong woman' is really just another version of that fantasy. Women are always having to fight to be taken down off pedestals.
What is the creative process behind transferring OUT OF LOVE from page to stage?
I think it comes back to that non-linear structure, and finding the rhythm and musicality of the piece. And in having a strong sense of the chronology, even though the play itself disrupts it.
Which aspect of the play are you most excited about experimenting with in the rehearsal room?
I'm really lucky in that Katie and Sally, who are playing Grace and Lorna, have a really natural chemistry. The complexity of their relationship is already so believable. Hasan, who plays a different man in each scene, has an amazing ability to embody the essence of that character, before shedding it and adopting the next one. That's the spirit of the whole piece really - you have to jump into each scene with agility and courage and not worry about what just happened or what will happen next!
Buy your tickets for OUT OF LOVE here. Find out more about Elinor Cook here.