An interview with Tim Foley

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The recent Dunhill championship had St Andrews buzzing with gossip as a hive of celebs were hidden away at the Old Course Hotel. However while the celeb spotters lined the golf course, we sent Emily Hill to investigate the quieter hum of our own student ‘celebrities’. If there even is such a thing, then first in line to receive the accolade would be student playwright, Tim Foley. Emily caught up with Tim to chat about his new play Baby Bottle Cosmo.

The Saint: First let’s hear about ordinary Tim. What year are you in and what do you study?

Tim Foley: I’m a fourth year now, studying English – the typical cliché I suppose.

TS: When did you start writing? Were you something of a child prodigy?

TF: Not at all! I didn’t start writing until university actually. I began acting with Mermaids, got to understand how things works. Joining the society helped me learn what I enjoyed and how much I was drawn to theatre.

TS: What takes priority for you; your writing or your studies?

TF: The writing every time. Then again it was studies that inspired that in the first place. My musical, Scene of the Titans, was my first production and I thought that was the way I’d take my work but then I took the drama module and so my first play, Meat was born. The amount of work needed to pull together a musical is monumental and detracts from what really matters to me; the writing.

TS: Which is clearly going incredibly well, with, is it, your fourth show going up?

TF: My fifth actually. I did another in the summer for graduation, The Imaginary Cutlery of Dr. Mika. It was put together in just two weeks and the first time I’d written with specific actors in mind – Jasper Lauderdale and Lorenzo De Boni – a fascinating challenge. There’s also been Titans, Meat, Short Captions and now coming up Baby Bottle Cosmo at the Byre on the 30th and 31st of October.

TS: Tell us about the new show then.

TF: Baby Bottle Cosmo is a dark comedy about gay parenting. The parents, Sandra and Frank Carter are worried when their child Dickie comes home from school crying. His friend Tommy is implicated in the incident, so Sandra and Frank decide to speak to Tommy’s parents, Frankie and Molly. Or are they Frankie and Polly? Or Frankie and Alex? Or Frankie and Potty Piggy?

TS: Well that sounds baffling. Persuade me, why should I see BBC?

TF: This is not your typical living room drama. I like playing with audience expectations, so like my other plays, there are twists and turns every step of the way and no-one will know what is going on. It is at times intimate, at times operatic, but it’s a very genuine exploration of the expectations when raising a child. It’s also big and fabulous, has an exciting cast with new and old faces and a fair bit of nudity… There are some very dark comic elements in it though. I know I’ve developed a bit of a reputation for things in pies and boxes (the meat in Meat, and the…”meat” in Short Captions), so you’ll just have to find out if I carry along this trend!

TS: You’ve also gained a reputation for plays that focus on gender conflicts, some have suggested your material could be stagnating. How would you respond to that?

TF: Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but really, saying that you can’t write more than one play related to gender is like saying you can’t write more than one play with a romantic sub-plot. I am fascinated by the gender divide, it’s true, I don’t apologise for that. I won’t always write about it as the main focus, but in no way do I think my three ‘gender’ pieces have suffered because of it. I’m happy for the issues they’ve raised.

TS: Do you feel like your work has bought you fame? Or is ‘St Andrews Celeb’ a title that I’ve thrust upon you?

TF: Well no-one would recognise me would they! I much prefer being the writer, they might know my name but not my face. That is how it should be as it’s the actors who get seen and so should get remembered.

(Tim didn’t want us to take his picture. You’ll have to try and identify on the streets him for yourself.)
Baby Bottle Cosmo is on at The Byre theatre on Oct 30th and Oct 31st.  More info here.

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