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Waterloo Road’s producer shares her passion for theatre in exclusive interview

In an exclusive interview, Lindsay Williams, producer of Waterloo Road and prolific playwright, discusses her passion for theatre, the revival of hit shows, and her powerful contribution to Vignettes

Lindsay Williams is a producer on the hit TV show Waterloo Road.

She has also worked on many award-winning storylines on Coronation Street.

She is passionate about theatre and currently has two projects on the go at the moment. Lindsay has written mini-plays for both Vignettes at the Contact Theatre and JB Shorts at 53 two.

We caught up with her to find out more about how Waterloo Road returned to our screens, as a result of lockdown and why she loves writing short plays.

Vignettes has become a theatrical highlight, as it celebrates local female and non binary writers. What attracted you as a writer?

I have watched all the Vignette shows from their early days and always admired the quality of the writing and the fact they championed so many strong female voices.

When Hannah Ellis Ryan, the producer mentioned that they were doing a show with ‘Greater Manchester Rape Crisis’ I was really keen to get involved as it is a subject I feel strongly about and a production that highlights the work of an incredible organisation.

How close have they been to been to this project?

The wonderful staff and volunteers from Manchester Rape Crisis have been an integral part of this show from the start.

The project was originally inspired by their 45th anniversary of working in Manchester and they approached Her Productions about doing an event to mark that. In the early stages, all the writers met the MRC team to hear about their services and listen to the experiences of volunteers and staff. It was an incredibly moving and inspiring session.

The team were very open about the importance of the service, but we also got to see their wonderful team spirit. Following this session, I was able to meet the brilliant ISVA’s (independent sexual violence advisors) who work at Manchester Rape Crisis to support women through the criminal justice system and they were able to advise me in more detail about my play.

You have also written short plays for JB Shorts and Classic! What do you like about the process of writing something punchy and immediate?

I am a huge fan of the short play format and have been writing for JB Shorts for over ten years.

I think the art of writing a short play is often underestimated and the best short plays shouldn’t feel like the start of a bigger play but a complete journey in their own right.

I have also written a short musical for the next JB Shorts which is also on this Autumn and it is brilliant to be involved in two very different projects at the same time.

What can you tell us about your Vignette?

My Vignette is about the work of Independent Sexual Violence Advocates who help women through the criminal justice system. It looks at the way the criminal justice system is failing victims of sexual violence and the shockingly low rates of convictions.

I thought I knew quite a lot about this when I started researching the play, but I have been astounded by some of the things I have learnt and I am in awe of the work that ISVA’s do.

You are a producer on the hit show Waterloo Road which has returned to our screens. Why do you think there was an appetite amongst the audience to see this school set drama come back?

During lockdown Waterloo Road was one of the most watched shows on IPlayer despite the fact it hadn’t been on for ten years.

The BBC realised there was still a real passion for the show and there was also a lot to say about young people and education, so it felt like the right time to bring it back.

We’re delighted to see whole new generation loving the show.

The new series manages to please fans of the original and newcomers, by including characters fans remember, working alongside new characters. How difficult is it to balance past and present?

It’s actually been a really great mix.

It was important to bring back characters like Donte Charles and Kim Cambell to see where they were up to in their lives, but it was also really important to bring in a whole new generation of pupils for fans to get to know.

It has been amazing to see the younger cast learning from the likes of Angela Griffin and Adam Thomas. They are all doing an amazing job.

Manchester’s theatre scene remains vibrant, despite financial pressures. What are your favourite venues and why?

I’m a big fan of the fringe venues and I absolutely love 53Two and Hope Mill Theatre.

I think the work the incredible teams put on, despite getting very little support from the arts council, is amazing.

The theatre scene in Manchester is very lucky to have them.

If someone is new to Vignettes, how would you convince them that it is worth a punt?

I think this Vignettes is going to make people cry, rage with anger but it will also make them laugh. Despite the serious subject it is about a group of women, who share so much heart and humour and the show really reflects that.

Vignettes is at Contact for two days only from 4th – 5th October and it can be booked here.

JB Shorts is at 53two from 3rd – 14th October and can be booked here.

And you can catch Waterloo Road on BBCiplayer

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