A Marlowe story: James Baldwin
Our Literary Associate, James Baldwin chats to our press officer, Sarah Munday and reveals an unusual hobby alongside his passion for new writing.
James Baldwin is The Marlowe’s second Literary Associate (the first was Simon Mendes da Costa).
The 32 year old, who hails from Preston in Lancashire, trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland). Working as an actor for new writing companies, James “picked up a bug” for writing and the process of putting a play together. From that, he won a prize for a piece picked up by the National Theatre Studio, got a commission for the Roundhouse, and joined the Royal Court Young Writers’ Programme at the Royal Court (all in London, where James by then lived).
Adaptations, commissions and directing followed, and work with hard-to-reach young people in young offenders’ institutions and prisons across the UK (including Kent).
It is this community work that drew James to the job of Marlowe Literary Associate, a position he will hold for two years. The tenureship will end with a community production in Dover in November 2018, and James says: “There is something about theatre taking place somewhere which can draw people who maybe wouldn’t go into traditional theatre spaces.”
James, who is writing the piece to be performed in Dover, says his work is about story-telling, capturing the stories of the widest range of people possible, creating conversations and finding new voices. At The Marlowe, this will be possible through Roar!, the theatre’s new writing scheme.
“Being a writer is hard, but it’s a good time to be one – an exceptionally good time – because there’s so much injustice in the world,” he says. “People are becoming more conservative and I think it’s our job as new writers not to be boring. So that’s not saying it’s shocking for the sake of it, but it’s about saying what are the stories that haven’t been heard? We live in such a volatile time, more so than ever, certainly in my time.
“There’s so much in the world we need to comment on and cause conversation about, that’s the job of new writers.”
One of James’s aims as Literary Associate is to develop a countrywide consortium between theatres who, like The Marlowe, are ambitious to produce their own productions.
As well as being Literary Associate, he is a Playmaker at Oxford Playhouse, and is making a show for The Egg in Bath. He is also one of a pool of writers for the BBC One drama series, Doctors.
James is a keen furniture-maker, “a hobbyist who now sells a few pieces, like coffee tables and chairs. It’s quite random; my secret life”, and he has an ambition to build his own house. He is also a big rugby fan, and plays for Kings Cross Steelers.