Playwright Mahiri Quinn, 34, makes up one-third of the writing tandem group founded with creative partners Jennifer Adam and Amy Hawes when the trio met in Glasgow in 2016.
She said: “At the time we were three female writers who felt there was a real lack of opportunity for people who were trying to make a name for themselves in the industry but didn’t have any kind of platform.
“When you write scripts, you can often submit them to contests with thousands of other applicants.
“We wanted to find another way to see.”
The talented group shared a vision for a company that puts female stories and folk talents at the heart of their work, and thanks to a local legend, they were soon inspired to take matters into their own hands to make that dream a reality.
Al Muhairi said, “I went to watch a talk with actor David Hayman and I remember he said to us, ‘Just go out and do something.'”
He suggested we rent the back part of the pub, go in there and show our work, which is exactly what we did.
“We had no idea how to do it but had rented spaces at Dram in Glasgow and The Canons’ Gait in Edinburgh.
“It was all self-funded and we told people just by word of mouth.
“We assumed we’d only get a couple of people but we ended up turning some away because he was attacked.”
Over the following years, the company went from strength to strength thanks to support from the Troon Theater in Glasgow, which encouraged them to add an admission fee to their events after many sell-outs.
A signature format featuring short 10-minute stories woven together by live music, it has progressed from backrooms to stages at Edinburgh’s Vic Bar and Traverse Theater and finally Changing House in Tron itself.
Speaking about what drove them to push themselves away from their comfort zones, Muhairi said, “One of the driving forces of what we do is to create a space for actresses, directors and creators.
This does not exclude men, but the majority of performances in theaters across Scotland are written by male playwrights and there is a real problem across the industry that there is a lack of meaty roles for females over the age of 50.
“We want to make sure there is a range of voices and stories told on stage.”
Whilst Covid lockdowns halted a promising application for funding from Creative Scotland in early 2020, Tandem’s well-earned reputation has now seen it secure the cash to show its latest project, ROCK, PAPER, SCISSORS at the Tron Theater on Wednesday, 5th April and the Traverse Theater in Edinburgh on Saturday April 2.
Looking forward to the show, Mahiri, who grew up in Kroy and now lives in Finniston, says they are grateful to find themselves anchored in an industry that is rapidly becoming more inclusive of both talent and spectators alike.
She said: “Glasgow is a lovely city to start as a creative.
“As someone who grew up here and then moved away, I never thought I’d come back, but now more than ever I’m happy to live here because now there are so many more opportunities than ever before.
“I am a working-class writer and as an adult I remember going to workshops and being terrified to even open my mouth.
“Now I can see the room changing and people feeling more confident to go this route.
“The industry is not as ‘middle class’ as I used to feel when I was younger and there is a lot of effort to get more regional voices on screen and stage which is great because it will encourage diversity in audiences too.
“When we started in the back of those pubs, we never dreamed we’d be where we are today.”
For more information about Tandem click here.
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