With the influence of the online world growing stronger every day, the media we consume is an essential part of our culture. Sam Hoare is the writer of Press, and also stars in his piece at Park Theatre over the next couple of weeks. Playing a journalist exploring the consequences of his actions, this thought provoking reflection sounds fascinatingly relevant.
Speaking with Sam, he has answered a few questions to share more about his show.
Can you tell us a bit about the show and what inspired the concept?
I was inspired to write the show after reading an article about a journalist who had been poorly treated in Asia. I was struck by the lack of freedom afforded to him compared to the huge amount of freedom afforded to the press in many western countries. The play is the story of an ex tabloid journalist, some of the bad things he has done and his potential journey to redemption.
How did you find the writing process, and what is it like creating a character for yourself?
Having an idea and writing a first draft is nearly always fun. And relatively quick. It's the bit after that seems to take a long time and a lot more blood and sweat. It helps to work with people whose opinions you really trust and respect and knowing that I would be playing the character myself means you have an actor permanently on-tap to try out any new lines or ideas, even if he does sometimes forget his lines.
How have you incorporated real life stories into this fictional narrative?
I’ve done a fair bit of research and nearly all the incidents in the play are based (sometimes very loosely) around things that really happened, both the funny ones and the sad ones. Truth and what we believe is an important theme in the play so I wanted to make sure that I had some basis in reality for the fiction.
What relevance does the topic have, and what questions does it pose about society
You don’t have to look far around to see the way in which news and media plays an increasingly dominant part in our lives. We seem to live in a more and more fractured society in which people are often all too keen to suspend their deep faculties of judgement in favour of towing tribal lines. The media has a great deal to do with that and I think this play asks questions about reliability and responsibility, freedom and family. I hope that one thing people might take out of this play is the desire to question what they read and hear a bit more thoroughly.
How important is the role of the press in shaping the views of the public who consume
It’s crucial. People are usually brought up to believe what institutions tell them to a large part and when people read something in the papers or see it on the news often it is taken as the ‘truth’, or at least a truth. A lot of people tend to put a lot of faith in the press. But sometimes that faith is misplaced. There are so many different reasons that various stories might be exaggerated or even fabricated. The media has long been used as tool for control but that seems to have become even more widespread in the last 20 years or so.
How do you anticipate audiences feeling after they have seen the show?
I hope they will feel surprised and stimulated! I hope the show is not quite what people expect and that the narrative and protagonist change and develop in interesting ways throughout. Of course I’d love if people laughed and then cried and then laughed again; but I’ll happily settle for them finding it a play that still sits with them a few days later as they are reading whatever news sources they like to consume.
Many thanks to Sam for further discussing his show with us, and wish you all the best for its run!
Get your tickets to see it at the Park Theatre here:
Additional thanks to Emma Berge and Annabelle Mastin-Lee for coordinating this interview.