Writing a play about spiders probably wasn’t the best idea for confirmed arachnophobic Alan Bissett.
The Falkirk author was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland to write a play – and for some crazy reason, he chose his biggest fear as the subject matter.
Alan said: “Usually you write something and then you get paid, or if you are being paid to write something, then it’s usually something specific.
“This is the first time I’ve been given money to do whatever I wanted with my writing.
“It was really quite liberating and I think that’s why I ended up coming up with something quite unusual.
“I really don’t like spiders but I had to research them and try to humanise them.”
In the play, the ‘Red Hourglass’, there are four spiders, including a tarantula and a black widow, a human scientist and another animal which remains a secret!
Alan will be playing all six parts, two of whom are female, and all of which has a different accent.
Alan said: “I’ve actually just been in a session with a dialect coach, to help me work on distinguishing the accents.
“The writing and performing really fit into each other – I don’t have to ask a writer to change a bit if it’s not working, and I also don’t have to rely on an actor getting it right.
“If it goes wrong, then it’s all my fault!”
The cash for Alan’s commission came from the Bank of Scotland’s Emerge fund which exists to support a select number of artists each year by offering up bespoke opportunities, creating access to creative resources, and giving time and money in order to allow these artists to fully concentrate and develop their work, in their chosen field.
Alan, along with the other Emerge writers, is showcasing his work this week in the NTS’s Reveal season at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.
Alan’s first performance was last night and he will be doing another rehearsed reading tonight (Thursday). He will then be looking forward to a full production of the piece at the Edinburgh Fringe in August.
Alan performed his last play, ‘The Moira Monologues’, at the National Library and he will be returning to the venue for 10 nights with ‘The Red Hourglass’.
He said: “I’m really excited about going back to the Fringe.
“It’s the biggest arts festival in the world. It’s hard work for ten nights, but every one of those nights feels gigantic.”
Aside from the playwriting, Alan has also been preparing for the paperback launch of his most recent novel ‘Packmen’.
The book has been shortlisted for Scottish Novel of the Year by the Scottish Arts Council.
The launch will take place in Behind the Wall on Thursday, May 24 and joining Alan will be band Artisan, made up of his brother Ronnie and fellow Falkirk author Dickson Telfer.