Superheroes, geniuses and drug users: welcome to the surreal world of up-and-coming playwright Alistair McDowall. BARBARA HODGSON meets the 25-year-old from Middlesbrough who is staging two plays in Newcastle and whose next step is the Edinburgh Fringe
WHEN Alistair McDowall was a child growing up in Great Broughton near Middlesbrough he was obsessed with movies.
When it dawned on the youngster that he didn’t really have the means to make films, he turned to play-writing and so began a love for theatre which now is paying huge dividends.
The now-25-year-old has won the prestigious Bruntwood Prize for his play Brilliant Adventures, which made its debut in London, and then was awarded a bursary from Live Theatre in Newcastle which results in his one-man-show Captain Amazing having its premiere there in April.
So far, so good, and the next plan will be for Captain Amazing to wow crowds at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Alistair, who cheerfully admits to writing “odd” plays, is delighted at how things have turned out since he switched his attention from films to theatre all those years ago.
And nobody can accuse him of not putting in the groundwork before this flurry of success, as he’s been writing continuously since his schooldays and has worked to get plays shown in community centres and pubs.
“There was not a lot of theatre when I was growing up,” he says. “I never really went as a child other than to the panto at Christmas in Darlington.
“But my parents read a lot and introduced me to films.”
He also loved reading: “I consumed pretty much everything,” he recalls.
“When I was at primary school I started writing stories.
“I had wanted to be a filmmaker or novelist, either Steven Spielberg or Stephen King!”
“Then in secondary school I started doing drama and when I was 16 I wrote my first play.
“And I’ve written continuously, though I didn’t stage all of them.
“I’m not sure how many I’ve written – quite a lot, 20-odd; including a lot of terrible ideas!”
With play-writing he realised there are “no limits”.
“Nobody tells you not to do something.”