Interview with the winner-Joseph Aldous

Joseph Aldous won the English Language Award of the Carlo Annoni Playwriting Prize in 2020 with his play Get Happy.

Joseph Aldous is a writer and actor. He completed the Soho Writers’ Lab for 2018-19, on which he wrote his first full-length play, Get Happy. He was also part of the Soho Writers’ Alumni Group for 2019-20, and recently developed a second full-length script commissioned by the Oxford School of Drama.

What do people not understand about diversity and so why is so important to dedicate a playwriting prize on this matter?

I think it’s important to reiterate that diversity isn’t a kind of ‘one-and-done’ vibe – one of the reasons why continued diversity and representation are so important is because so many voices have been – and continue to be – kept out of conversations for so long, that we’re only really scratching the surface; but I think people sometimes feel as though because a certain type of story has been in a theatre or on TV then that’s it, job done. We need more stories, more protagonists, more worlds. It needs to be in constant growth.

Can you tell me an anecdote about your victory?

I was in the restaurant I work in when I found out. I saw an email with a rejection for something else and thought ‘yep, another one, there we go’ – and then 15 minutes later got the email telling me I’d won. Quick turnaround! Then my lovely manager poured out some wine for us all at the end of the shift and I got appropriately plastered.

What has your victory of the Carlo Annoni Prize meant to you?

It’s been such a wonderful thing. More than anything, it’s given me confidence and hope that my work might be enjoyed by people, and might resonate. It’s the first play I wrote, and everyone at the Carlo Annoni Prize has been so supportive about it, so it’s been really special for a writer like me, at the beginning of everything.

Can you give any advice on how to write a play to the dramatists?

I feel like I’m absolutely not the right person to be giving advice on that at this point! But advice which I give to myself (pretty much hourly) is to follow my gut, and write what you know you want to see. All the other aspects will fall into place – but that’s where your essence is.

(I think.)

(I hope.)

What do you expect from the future after this global situation that we are living?

I think that it’s not going to be easy for a while – I’m bracing for that. But I’m hoping that this cauldron will spur on some absolutely necessary change. This situation has exposed so much ugliness ingrained in our society, that I hope that when we move through this current moment, we all remember it, and work towards a kinder, more loving future. And that no-one ever votes for the Tories again. Thanks!