It’s 11 p.m., the hosts of the last radio show of the day are leaving the STAR studio in the Union. It should be a quiet night, yet there’s a small crowd quietly standing at the door, waiting for their turn. They are the cast and crew of Citizens of Nowhere, a play written by, about, and for students, the stage of which is none other than the radio itself.
Head writers and co-directors Jamie Rodney and Claire Fenerty started working on the plot after spring break of last year. “It’s basically about St Andrews students, and specifically about them trying to make their way through life, with all the problems and challenges that entails. We explore overlooked everyday issues, we also address class and gender”, they explain. The story follows two students, Abigail and Joshua, who meet on a night out in the Union, and make their way through the trials of first year. “They are two very different people who go down very different paths. We focus on what they stumble upon over the year, and how that builds their experiences. We emphasize both the sad and the funny aspects.”
Citizens of Nowhere is the first ever serialized radio play at the university. The radio as an alternative stage was a creative choice to emphasize students’ voices: “Staging it has a lot to do with what the show is about. Initially, [the characters] don’t know each other well; we thought that the elimination of the visual aspect could be turned into a device, a way to reach outside of the box. We try to emphasize the anonymity of students, and move on to reveal more and more intimate details. It’s a special way to let their voices be heard.”
When asked about the sources of inspiration to write the play, Jamie and Claire gave a number of examples. Both study English and share a passion for plot analysis. With writing a play, they believed they could apply this specific skill to something of their own and maintain linearity and coherence. Besides the academic aspects, the directors mentioned the generic elements of soap operas to fuel the narrative with humour, while Jamie highlighted Jesse Eisenberg’s take on Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network as an influence. With the many impulses that led to the birth of Citizens of Nowhere, Claire and Jamie agreed: everything was an inspiration.
Claire went into detail on the collaborative process of writing. Once they had the basic outline of the plot, they assembled a writers’ team (see the list below), who formed groups and worked on separate episodes during the summer. “The creative process actually has a lot to do with what we’re trying to discuss in the play. Some of the team members had never actually met each other, so when we asked them to work together over the summer, many of them got to know each other through Messenger and the comments they made on Google Docs. We were all in different places but managed to create this through constant communication.”
The enthusiastic crew and cast hope to get many listeners, who will find it enjoyable and relatable. Citizens of Nowhere will go on air on Saturday of Reading week.
Jamie Rodney (Head Writer/Director)
Claire Fenerty (Head Writer/Director)
Anna South (Deputy Head Writer)
Hermione Bird (Producer)
Lucy Beall Lott
Holly McLennan Scrivener