5 minutes with Tom Wentworth, writer of Burke and Hare

14 Feb 2020 News

With our latest New Wolsey production, Burke and Hare, only a few months away we took 5 minutes to speak with the play’s writer Tom Wentworth. Find out about his inspiration for the play and what advice he’s got for any budding writers out there…


Where did the inspiration come from to adapt this story into a stage play?

I was lucky enough to be asked to work with The Watermill, director Abigail Pickard Price and Jenny Wren Productions. Abigail and I had the great pleasure of being commissioned to create our own version of Jenny Wren’s show and so we went about creating something which had the atmosphere of the original but with our own stamp! As for inspiration, the true Burke and Hare story is so amazingly gruesome, intriguing and darkly comic we knew it was ripe for adaptation!


The show is described as ‘hysterical rather than historical’, what can people expect when they see the show?

Well, because the Burke and Hare story is so amazing we wanted to keep as much of the historical context as possible whilst also making it a great night out at the theatre! So we’ve morphed characters, played with timelines and in some cases had arguably too much fun with certain elements!

I hope audiences will come along for the ride with us as Burke and Hare become our heroes (kind of!), three actors play too many characters to count! Mostly I hope they then go away and read all the fascinating real history of Burke and Hare.


What was the most fun aspect of writing the Burke and Hare script?

Working with Abigail the director and the actors! I was lucky that we spent a week devising scenes for the show and then I wrote new scenes from that. It was wonderful to be able to immediately try out a joke or a line and see if it worked. The whole show has, and continues to be, a hugely collaborative process.


What inspired you to become a writer?

I can’t pinpoint one inspiration – I always wrote from possibly before I could write. I loved making up stories and somehow it’s just continued and I seem to have ended up doing it for a living. Lucky me!


What advice would you give to any aspiring writers reading this?

Finish the draft or project. Unless you’ve got to the end you’ll have no real idea of what you’ve written.

Also, try to remember when it’s hard or it’s not working to go and do something else. Don’t just sit staring at the screen. (Note to self: remember to do this yourself too!)


If you had to choose 3 words to describe the play what would they be?

Fast, furious and (a little bit) sick!


Burke and Hare by Tom Wentworth is at the New Wolsey Theatre between Wed 13  – Sat 30 May. Tickets can be booked HERE