A playwright whose latest production is on show in London’s Covent Garden this month has thanked De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) for opening new doors in her career.
Tina Jay, who graduated with a Master’s degree in TV and Film Scriptwriting from DMU in 2018, has won a number of awards for her work – including the Kenneth Branagh Award for New Drama Writing and the International Student Playscript Competition, judged by Sir Alan Ayckbourn.
DMU alumna Tina Jay (photo credit: Alex Dobb)
“I am incredibly grateful to my lecturers and for the opportunities that have come as a result of the connections I made at DMU,” said Tina. “The course was brilliant and so well connected to the industry – you could see that people had contacts and there were good employability prospects.”
During her time at DMU, Tina was also named Best Student and picked up the award for Best Project across the entire faculty. Prior to studying, Tina ran her own drama school in her hometown of Derby, called the Tina Jay Drama and Dance School. She has since come back to DMU to host guest lectures and student workshops.
“I was always interested in writing,” she explained. “I decided I wanted to broaden my understanding of TV and film scriptwriting so I applied to do my Master’s at DMU.
“I benefited a lot from my connections that I made there. I was mentored by a BBC producer for a TV series that I had been developing and I was shortlisted for the BBC’s Writer’s Room Award – I got down to the last 40 out of thousands!”
Since attaining her MA, Tina has had numerous plays performed at theatres in London and Manchester. The first full-length play the she produced, titled ‘Held’, told the interlinked stories of five different prison inmates with broken lives, locked together through the chains that bind them.
Her latest work is a production called ‘Syndrome’, which is being performed at Triston Bates Theatre in Covent Garden. Directed by actor and producer Jack Brett Anderson – who Tina met when he starred in Held – the play comes to the stage in association with Jack's production company Mont-Dore Media Ltd.
Jack Brett Anderson (photo credit: Alex Dobb)
“Jack was very understanding of my vision when he performed in Held and I felt he was great at interpreting my work,” said Tina. “We built a really good working relationship so I knew I wanted to bring him on board for Syndrome.”
Syndrome tells the story of four young British soldiers on combat duty in Saudi Arabia in 1991 during Operation Desert Storm.
Waiting to move to the front and facing the feared release of chemical and biological weapons, the men spend their long-heated days in scheduled military preparation undergoing a 'protective' barrage of vaccines, sprays and pills. The mounting tension is relieved only by their friendly rivalry and humorous banter.
The action builds to a devastating and shocking discovery and then jumps to five years after the war when the guys are reunited but are no longer the 'lads' of the past. Far from battling the known enemy, they are struggling against the unseen war on their own bodies - debilitating consequences known as Gulf War Syndrome.
As the symptoms continue to manifest, each of the men's relationships come under fire, with desperate and destructive consequences.
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“Being a female writer, I never want people to think I am going to write about stereotypical female issues or only write about female characters,” said Tina. “Actually, I think the female perspective of men is important.”
Syndrome will run until Saturday 29 February at the Actors Centre at Triston Bates Theatre. For more information or to book tickets visit: www.actorscentre.co.uk/theatre/syndrome
Posted on Monday 24th February 2020