FOR Linda Plover, the brief was to write and perform a short play about a life-changing event. The fact that she became pregnant at the age of 22 provided one obvious source of material.
Linda, originally from Lincoln, moved from the UK to Cork 17 years ago. She co-runs Blue Monkey PR, promoting major concerts and music festivals.
Married to performance poet and writer, Carl Plover, also from Lincoln, the couple, along with two friends from that city, are each staging a play at the Firkin Crane on November 22.
Through Burning Paper Productions, the four plays reveal the writers’ innermost thoughts and experiences, delving into a journey of self discovery that changed and defined their lives.
As Carrigaline-based Linda, author of her one-woman piece Two Lines, says: “Having a baby is a life-changing event in itself and finding out I was expecting a baby at 22 was a huge thing.”
Single and working in production for BBC local radio in Nottingham and Birmingham, Linda says that she was “seemingly ambitious and looking like I was going places, yet I had no plans or direction”.
She adds: “I was essentially following a career path and trying to fulfil expectations. It was like I was presenting a version of what success should look like, but not really feeling it. So finding out I was expecting a baby was a big wake-up.
“Of course, at the time, it was extremely frightening and overwhelming. The realisation that a little person would be coming into this world, who was going to be solely dependent on me, was a huge responsibility. Once I had digested it, however, I embraced it. For the first time, I felt a real sense of purpose. It focused me profoundly and changed me as a person.
“And so, some 20 years later, I have a beautiful 21-year-old called Hannah. In that time, I have followed my dreams as a musician. I have moved country and married and I have two more children. And now, at 44, I’ve decided to try out acting. Certainly, there’s nothing like getting out of your comfort zone. For me, life is a big adventure.”
Linda’s first love is music. As a mature student, she gained a music degree at UCC. The music department there appealed to her with its ethno musicology.
“I was 27 when I started at UCC. It took a while to get there.”
When her short term contract at the BBC was not renewed, Linda moved back to Lincoln and set up a home for herself and Hannah.
“I did a lot of music gigs in the UK and saved up my money to come to Cork. My music was folksy, bluesy and trad.”
Carl moved to Cork with Linda and the couple have two children together; 13-year-old Thomas and 10-year-old Jack.
Hannah’s father had been in a relationship with Linda that didn’t work out.
Carl, whose performance name is Wasps vs Humans, “is very creative”, said Linda. “He performs quite a lot and has written books. He has always pushed me to try and get out there.”
But it isn’t easy for Linda.
“I am not the sort of person to talk about personal things. I am actually quite a private person. So writing this play has completely blown that out of the water and talking about the play is, in itself, revealing.
“That said, writing about something so personal has been an interesting process. We all have our stories and I think it’s fascinating how our lives are shaped and how they can move in a completely different direction, whether through a conscious decision or an unexpected event.”
As Linda points out, she is taking herself out of her comfort zone with her play.
Hannah is currently studying chemical engineering at CIT. How does she feel about her mother’s play?
“When I first wrote it, I didn’t know if I should be bringing my story to light. It’s quite personal. I’d like to think I’ve written it sensitively. Hannah knows all about it. She is going to come and see it. What’s interesting is that Hannah is almost the same age as I was when I became pregnant.”
Describing herself as “a bit of party girl” when she was younger, Linda says she was a drifter.
“But I had expectations. I was going to leave my mark on the world. Then, suddenly, I had to grow up.”
While her parents were “shocked” when Linda told them about her surprise pregnancy, they rallied and helped out with babysitting.
Linda’s parents have since moved to Cavan. They were drawn to Ireland, having had family holidays boating on the Shannon. They have bought a six-berth boat. They still help out with the Plovers.
“With our family life and both of us working, it’s very difficult for both of us to go out and perform. My mum is great. She helps out when she can.”
Delighted to be able to flex her creative muscles, Linda hopes she has come up with something meaningful.
“It’s not me wearing my heart on my sleeve. It’s my story, We all have stories. I’m having a bit of fun with it.”
As well as Linda and Carl, the other writers/performers are Liz Lucas and Simon Clark.
A Rory Gallagher fanatic, Liz performed her one woman show, The G-Man and Me, about the musician, in Lincoln and later Cork in recent years.
In 2016, Simon and his brother, Oliver, who have a film and TV production company, won the Best Original Writing Award at the Dublin Web Fest.
Four Plays runs at the Firkin Crane on November 22 at 7.30pm. Tickets are €12 / Early Bird tickets €10 (available until Monday, November 19) includes complementary glass of wine or soft drink. The plays are not suitable for under 16s.
Tickets are available through www.firkincrane.ie.