A life less ordinary
Steve Cramer talks to writer and cartoonist Daniel Jackson about love, ordinary life and his new play, The Wall
The smell of burnt toast and old carpet, the familiar Sunday re-runs of popular television shows glinting from the screen in the corner, the dreich weather outside . . . there’s something about the home people shared with parents in the earliest years of their lives that spells familiarity and security. The advance of our teenage years usually exposes, as well, a bit of boredom and discontent with these conditions, but at base root you might speculate that we still find a comfort in this everyday suburban world.
It’s in the quiet and seemingly banal moments of this kind of life where the poetry of 28-year-old dramatist and cartoonist Daniel Jackson resides. Whether it’s the familiar problems of flatsharing that we encounter later in life or childhood experiences of the family home, Jackson’s observations are full of warmth, humour and of the simple social rituals of day to day life, something that is a great strength of his work. His new piece, which, before its premiere has already won him a couple of awards and a one-year residency at the Royal Court, is very much about the quotidian lives of teenagers still residing with their parents, in sleepy Stewarton. But there’s no shortage of grandeur there for all that.
‘It’s a love story that’s about that stage of love that’s bigger than any other, when you first experience it as a teenager. It’s that big, grand melodramatic stage of love. It certainly was for me,’ Jackson says. In it, we meet a 17-year-old protagonist, his sister, and his one great love, a 16-year-old goth. Then there’s his mate Barry, who’s described as a bam. ‘I find the word ned offensive,’ Jackson explains. ‘When I was at school, I knew guys who would have been referred to that way, but they prefer the word bam, so if it’s okay for them, it’s okay with me. They’re no different than any kids – there’s light drugs, light drinking, fumbling attempts at sexual exploration – just the normal stuff that would cause their parents some consternation, but I know I got up to that kind of thing.’
Jackson is keen to stress the popular appeal of his subject matter – his conversation is about his own experience, yet many of the themes and situations he explores will be familiar to people in the audience.
Jackson is keen to stress that he’s intent on producing light, if thoughtful fare for his audiences. ‘There’s an element of teen movie about it – if you like that Breakfast Club kind of movie, then you’ll like this’, he says. ‘This is more of a fun night at the theatre. There have been plenty of plays about the various wars we’re in and political crises and so on, and they’re good work, but this definitely isn’t that kind of play. I hope it’ll reach an audience who are interested in just a fun night out.’
Tron, Glasgow, Thu 28 Feb–Sat 8 Mar