Biography of Alice Birch
Alice Birch (born 1986) is an English playwright. She started writing as soon as she could write – her first work was a school pantomime with rap lyrics. She later joined the Royal Court's Young Writers Programme, which aims at encouraging 18-25 year old people to write for the theatre and benefit from a professional production of their plays.
As a young playwright herself, Alice experimented with writing for and with young people. One of her early plays, Astronauts (2014) – which is about the housing crisis in Great Britain – was co-created with 20 young people aged 16-19 for Company Three, a community theatre in Islington. She also wrote The Lone Pine Club (2015), an adaptation of the Lone Pine books by Malcom Saville, a book series about a group of children in the 50s and 60s who could spend most of their time outdoors living adventures without the supervision of adults.
When Alice's first full-length play, Many Moons (2011), hit the stage, she was barely 24, still a young person by the UN definition. The play is a series of 4 monologues and explores the different facets of loneliness, the loneliness that crashes us even in the midst of a crowd. Dysfunctional family relationships are also one of her themes, from Salt, a heart-wrenching monologue addressed by a father to his daughter, through Little Light (2015), a family drama and a whodunit that won't release information until the final moments of the show, to Anatomy of a Suicide (2017), which begs a difficult question: is the impulse to commit suicide transmitted through DNA?
One of Birch's alleged early influences is Sarah Kane and some aspects of in-yer-face theatre are still present in her plays. She also regularly works with Katie Mitchell. Three plays came out of their collaboration: Ophelia's Zimmer (2015) and Schatten (2016), both for the Schaubünhe, and Anatomy of A Suicide (2017) for the Royal Court Theatre.
An all-rounder, Birch has also written the script for Lady MacBeth (2017), a screen adaptation of a Russian novella relocated in Northumberland at the end of the 19th century. She actively participates in opening theatre to other art forms. We Want You to Watch (2015), written in collaboration with RashDash, uses performance and dance, the twisted contortions of the body, to put an end to pornography.
Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again., her ultra-feminist shout out, was endorsed, among others, by Simon Stephens and Mark Ravenhill who called it a landmark. Revolt in a Birch play consists in taking nothing for granted, in constantly questioning the world we live in, in destroying everything, with the teeny tiny hope that something, if not better, at least different, can still happen. The plays can be called post-dramatic in that they always question the dramatic form itself. Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. is loud and dialogues overlap, and yet we hear; the notions of narrative and characters are deconstructed, sometimes two scenes are played at exactly the same time, and yet something happens on stage; sex and body fluids and strong language exude from the actors' bodies, and yet they all crave for peace and quiet and connexion. But for all the noise the plays make, when language happens, it is hesitantly assertive, or assertively hesitant. Not so much in a state of infancy as in a state of urgency, when you want to say so much and yet the words won't come easily, when even silence is potent.
In the video you are going to watch, Alice Birch will first speak with Claire Hélie, the organiser of the Université de Lille conference, about her career with a focus on young people, and will then take questions from the floor.