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News > Alumni spotlight > David Eldridge: Playwright, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing

David Eldridge: Playwright, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing

"Many have several different careers in their lifetime. Many of us, like me, don't discover where their talents lie or what they'd like to do until they stumble upon it or give it a try."

Current Job Title & Employer:

Playwright, screenwriter and Lecturer in Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London.

OB years:

1985 - 1992

Brief description of your path after Brentwood:

I went to the University of Exeter to study English Literature and Drama and hoped to be a theatre director. But I went off that idea quite quickly and started writing plays as an undergraduate. Quite short pieces of novice work to begin with but then a full length play, "Serving it Up". I sent it off to theatres in London and luckily it was picked up for production by The Bush Theatre. It was a hit early in 1996 and won an award and I've been writing since then.

How has your career path led you to where you are now?

Well my first play got me my agent and its success opened up all sorts of opportunities writing more plays, adapting old plays and novels into new plays, and writing for radio and for television, which I've been doing continuously for the last 28 years. I often struggled with some of the solitary nature of writing so in 2012 I took on a part time lectureship at Birkbeck College, which has made a great difference to my life. I've always enjoyed teaching writing and drama and encouraging other writers as well as authoring my own work.

Did you develop any particular skills or attributes at Brentwood that have helped your career?

At school many teachers nurtured an interest in literature, drama, language, history, current affairs and politics all of which feed in to my work. Over my time at Brentwood drama became more important in the curriculum and in the sixth form Mrs Prior introduced us to "improvisation" in her drama class, where we made up scenes on the spot. This was crucial because it ignited my enthusiasm and made me realise playwriting is writing for performance rather than a form of literature that can be acted out.

Favourite Brentwood memory?

I have many favourite memories but most fall within my time as a sixth former which I adored. I'd recently started studying for my politics A-level in the lower sixth when the leadership crisis engulfed the Tory party leading to Mrs Thatcher's downfall. Our British Politics teacher, Mike Willis, affectionately known as "Skippy" was a pro-European conservative green who couldn't stand the Iron Lady. When news broke of her resignation he rushed to the High Street to buy champagne which he brought in to our class. He didn't open the bottle in the end realising it would be inappropriate to do so, and instead the bubbly sat on his desk. Myself and my classmates thought it was hilarious nevertheless.

Any words of advice for those graduating this year?

Exams and academic achievements are of course important, and I'd have never got to University without my good A-level results. But in reality not everyone has a career path they set out on at school and follow through higher education and into work. Many have several different careers in their lifetime. Many of us, like me, don't discover where their talents lie or what they'd like to do until they stumble upon it or give it a try. Don't beat yourself up if you're unsure of your career as you leave school. Work hard, and have the courage to take the odd risk when an opportunity presents itself and you'll be just fine.

 

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