Katherine Parkinson talks about writing a play and the creative process

Virgin Radio

28 Mar 2021, 12:27

Katherine Parkinson has been gracing our screen in hits like The IT Crowd, Sherlock and many more incredible shows. Now she's turned playwright, and an adaptation of her play, Sitting, will be on BBC 4 on April 7th.

She joined the Graham Norton Radio Show with Waitrose to talk about the adaptation and what she's been up to. Right now, Katherine has been busy getting creative with her children. "I've been tie-dying!" she announces. "I have been doing it with my children, just to maybe make it sound less mad," she laughs. "I've also recently ordered a shellsuit on the internet, so I don't know what's going on. I seem to be hankering after fashions from my youth."

Graham praised Sitting, and Katherine was thrilled with his kind words: "Oh, Graham, I cannot tell you how much that means, because you are a proper writer so that means a lot coming from you."

"People say well, if you're a proper writer, you just have to do it, and so I always thought I wasn't because I've been quite busy with my children and working so I haven't really done it," she explains. "I did always write rubbish poems as a child, and then I wrote a lot of essays as a student. When you're a younger actor, you kind of make up stuff, and you don't really call it anything as grand as improvisation. You just do sketches and stuff."

"I did always do a bit of that. I thought, if I'm going to write something, I'm going to change my name but then I thought no, this is a proper opportunity. I had a little idea and then I just kind of vomited it up," she jokes. "I really enjoyed it. I feel really grateful for the opportunity."

The play and the show revolve around three people sitting for their portraits. "As an actress, I've done lots of monologues in the past and I thought it's a good place to start because a stream of consciousness is quite nice to define the voices," explains Katherine.

"Then I thought as time went on that it would be quite satisfying if they were connected. I wanted there to be an actual reason why they were talking".

Some of Katherine's real-life experiences provided some inspiration: "As a student, I used to sit for an artist so and I remember talking a lot out of nervousness and then these long silences. I thought that might be a good way to have a real-time hour kind of play. The brief was to kind of celebrate the arts and I thought it would be nice to celebrate paintings in it."

The play is also very personal and it was a cathartic experience to write for Katherine: "It's quite strange when you write, it's like writing a diary but then you give it in! I had the privilege of writing it in a vacuum thinking I'll never see this,  it will be on in Edinburgh and then I've ended up completely exposing myself," she laughs.

It all worked out in the end.

Sitting will be on BBC 4 on April 7th.