When you think of a writer, what springs to mind? 

Although talented, Shakespeare, Beckett and Pinter are among an endless list of white “middle men” that have dominated the playwright world.

But that narrative is fast coming to an end.

Libby Hall is an award winning, Salfordian actress and writer who is literally rewriting what it means to be a playwright.

© Shay Rowan Photography

Born on 27th September 2001, at only 18-years-old Libby has already achieved what many established writers have spent years doing.

At 16-years-old Libby won two, top-tier awards for two plays she’d written and acted in at the Greater Manchester Fringe Festival 2018. In just two years she has written 5 plays (currently writing the 6th), starred in many shows and even become a writer in residence all while battling with the demands that growing up can bring.

Awards

Greater Manchester Fringe festival 2018- Best Newcomer and Best Ensemble- Things We Tell The Hours After Midnight and Your Playground Voice is Gone

Salford Star Best Drama Award 2018- Things We Tell the Hours After Midnight

Plays

Things We Tell the Hours After Midnight (GM Fringe Festival 2018, wrote and performed in)

The Melting of a Single Snowflake (Salford Arts Theatre)

Your Playground Voice is Gone (GM Fringe 2018, and developed again for GM 2020)

A Penny for Dreams Gone By (Shelagh Delaney Day, Salford Arts Theatre)

Forget Me Not (Manchester Minutes- The Kings Arms)

Inspiration

Speaking to Libby she is a calm, composed and has an intriguing personality. Her inspiration to write stems from her experience acting at Salford Arts Theatre, where she learnt about the late salfordian, female writer Shelagh Delaney.  She began acting at just 10-years-old and spoke about how she made the transition from acting to writing.

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The playwright said: “I’ve always written for myself.

“I remember we started talking about Shelagh Delaney…I hadn’t heard of her up until that point…but we did a class about her.

“She was young when she wrote A Taste of Honey…it was performed when she was quite young.

“If she could do it I could do it.

To create her characters Libby often looks to her surroundings. In particular, her Nan has inspired much of the lines in her plays

“I’m always writing down lines people have said that are quite interesting.

“People…everyday people that I take my inspiration from.”

Libby isn’t here to to not be taken seriously. Her work speaks for itself.

For such a young mind Libby has used humor in her writing to speak about wider, more mature and dark societal themes. Her first play-Things We Tell the Hours After Midnight explored Islamophobia:

“If you tell it in a more simple way they’re not expecting it to be as dark as it gets.”

© Shay Rowan photography

Despite all her achievements so far, Libby Hall is only touching the surface of what she wants to achieve. She wishes to continue with her acting and writing but does admit its tough to switch between the two roles:

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“I enjoy writing for myself…and playing my own characters.

“It’s hard to make sure I’m not just putting all my effort into writing and neglecting acting or vice versa.”

Theatre is crying out for young prodigies like Libby. In 2019, Researchers One Poll reported that one in four young people never go to the theatre. Social Media, Netflix series and Television programmes are all consuming forms of entertainment for young minds today. Hall explains her thoughts on re-engaging this demographic:

“I think the attention span is a lot shorter for watching things”

“You’ve just gotta put on theatre that they’re gonna want to see. Theatre that is about them that they can relate to, connect to and enjoy”

© 2020 Joni Sommerville

Lastly Libby wants to encourage others to write and not be afraid of getting their work seen:

“Show someone your work, talk about it. Get it out there. I know it can be scary but once you do it…its such a good feeling.”

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