John Godber 'In Conversation' with Neil Sissons at the Performance Lab

As part of the Off the Shelf festival, leading UK playwright John Godber visited the Performance Lab to see a Sheffield Hallam graduate production of September in the Rain and to take part in an 'In Conversation' event with collaborator and Sheffield Hallam lecturer, Neil Sissons.


Photograph by Becky Payne

Godber's key focus was the life of a working writer and the process of writing for the theatre. He stressed the importance of making work on your own terms, putting it on yourself and advocated for the opportunities this often created.

He described the importance of learning through doing and warned against being held back by the desire for perfection. 'Write it; test it in front of an audience; learn from it and move on,' seemed to be his mantra.


Photograph by Becky Payne

He also encouraged emerging writers both to read and see a wide range of other work. He referenced his own diverse range of influences, from the work of the Polish theatre director Tadeusz Kantor, to Brecht's Lehrstücke plays and discussed how these had been critical in the development of his own distinctive form and style.

Godber also focussed on his social and cultural background and how this has shaped his writing and outlook. He linked this to the importance of honesty and truth in the writing process and applied this not only to the focus of a play's argument, but to the style and form of its presentation.


Photograph by Becky Payne

Interestingly, he also revealed how conflicted he had been when offered the OBE for his services to the theatre, and how his father had insisted he accept it. As ever, Godber was erudite, funny and fascinating.


Josh Schofield and Emily Kitteringham in September in the Rain: photograph by Becky Payne

September in the Rain was a special commission for Off the Shelf Festival or Words and took place at the Performance Lab at Sheffield Hallam Unviersity 8-10 October 2019. Learn more about the production here.

If you wish to know more about our BA(hons) degree in Acting & Performance at Sheffield Hallam University, then please go to

Top photograph by Becky Payne


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