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Blister

by Laura Lomas

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Cast: 3f 4m

A tense relationship drama which examines how the effects of one moment can ripple through a galaxy of lives.

 

An ordinary summer's day. Liam is about to make a decision he will spend a lifetime regretting. One day. One mistake. Seven futures sent spiralling.

 

From service stations to sea fronts, Blister explores the limits of forgiveness and the tragic permanence of trauma.

 

Blister was first performed at Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, in collaboration with Paines Plough, before performances at the Gate Theatre, London.

Content guidance: This play contains strong language.

About the author

Laura Lomas is from Derby. Plays include Chaos (National Theatre Connections), The Blue Road (a co-commission for the youth companies at Dundee Rep, Derby Theatre/Royal & Derngate and Theatre Royal Plymouth), Joanne (Clean Break/Soho Theatre), Bird (Derby Live/Nottingham Playhouse/UK tour), Blister (Paines Plough/RWCMD/Gate Theatre, London), Open Heart Surgery (Theatre Uncut/Southwark Playhouse/Traverse Theatre/Soho Theatre), The Island (Nottingham Playhouse/Det Norske Oslo), and Wasteland (New Perspectives Theatre/Derby Live).

 

Radio includes Fragments (Afternoon Drama, BBC Radio 4), My Boy (Somethin’ Else Productions/BBC Radio 4, winner of Best Drama Bronze, Sony Radio Academy Awards 2013), Lucy Island (BBC Radio 3, The Wire). In 2011 Laura wrote Rough Skin for Coming UP (Channel 4/Touchpaper), which was nominated for Best British Short at the BIFAs, and Best UK Short at Raindance Film Festival. She also wrote two episodes of Jack Thorne’s series Glue which was broadcast on E4 in 2014.

 

Laura is currently under commission to the Royal Court Theatre and the Nottingham Playhouse. She is writing on series 2 of Amazon’s Hanna and developing an original drama TV series, Mercy, with Clerkenwell/BBC Worldwide, as well as writing an original feature for Film4. Laura was a MacDowell Colony Fellow, and a Yaddo fellow.

Interview with Laura Lomas

Blister explores the intensity and damage in personal relationships. What drew you to this subject?

I think the play came out of a couple of things really. I was interested in writing about the legacy of trauma, and how a single moment or event could ricochet through several lives, and connect them in ways that were unimaginable. The commission for Royal Welsh College was quite specific in that it was for seven actors of a certain age and gender balance and the parts needed to be as evenly distributed as possible, so it seemed like a good opportunity to explore this idea through the prism of private relationships and interconnected lives.

 

At the same time, I had seen a documentary called Nostalgia for The Light, by the Chilean documentary film maker Patricio Guzmán, which told the story of these scientists using these enormous telescopes out in the Atacama Desert to look up into space, and study the stars and our origins. The documentary also details the stories of several women, whose fathers and brothers were disappeared during the Pinochet dictatorship, who search the desert for the bones of their loved ones. There's a line in the film, where a scientist says that because the light with which we view each other is always past, the present moment is always receding, so it doesn't really exist, and if the future hasn't happened, then it means all we really have is the past, it's how we understand ourselves, which was why those women searched the desert for the bones of their loved ones.

 

So in a small way, the play came out of a desire to try and explore how the past forms us, but through this constellation of people and very personal relationships.

 

The play opens in Rykneld Park in Derby. Why did you want to specify the location here?

I grew up in Derby, it's where I was a teenager. I wanted to write something that I connected to my teenage years, and the sort of psycho-geography of that space felt important. It's up on a hill so it's a place where you can look out and see the whole city. Something about that location felt important to Liam in that moment, where he's contemplating himself and his life and his future, and what it's going to look like. If he'll get the things he wants and needs. It felt important that he was looking out over a city that had formed him, but also to a multitude of lives that he might not be able to live.

 

The play features multiple storylines. How did you give importance to each story?

It felt important to try and make the parts as equal as I could, for the actors performing their showcase. But a lot was in drafting and planning, I wanted each of the parts to feel whole and weighty so that each of the actors could really get stuck in to them.

Do you have any advice for actors performing the play, or for directors staging it?

To enjoy the lightness in the play as well as the dark. To embrace the vulnerability of the characters, that often their actions, even their violence is born out of love, or a frustrated need for it, and this feels crucial to understanding the play.