THE BEST YEARS OF YOUR LIFE Nicola Werenowska blogs about her experience writing for the project...

As a huge fan of both Nabakov and Hightide, when Joe asked me to pen a short monologue for Best Years, it was like Christmas and my birthday all at once. And talking of birthdays, this is what it’s all about  - creating a 10 minute piece that is centered around a birthday of a 20 year old - , and by curious coincidence or beautiful synchronicity when Joe first spoke to me about the project, I was bang in the middle of organising my daughter’s second birthday party, mildly stressing over should I put smarties in the party bag or will someone choke? And is pass-the-parcel likely to result in universal meltdown, (the human brain is not programmed to conceive of sharing/ ‘turn taking’ until age two and a half!)?

I mention all this because since I’ve had my girls (now 3 and a half and 2), on their birthdays I find myself consciously and unconsciously going back to their actual births – I don’t know if all parents do this, I don’t know if I’ll still be doing it when they’re 18, but for now each birthday seems to involve an emotionally charged remembering of the birth journey. SO, this idea of birthday as literally BIRTH DAY has inspired and informed my piece which I have conceived as 2 overlapping monologues between two twenty year old women from different decades. I guess I shouldn’t say too much here and spoil the fun, but what is really exciting for me is that this feels like the start of a much bigger project. For some time, I’ve wanted to write something which explores birth, pregnancy, and motherhood, focusing on teenage pregnancy, and my contribution to Best Years has unintentionally become an exciting starting point for that. Thank you, Joe.

What’s also really exciting for me is the way the different pieces in the show will work together and the interrelationships between them. I know this will be inspiring for the next stage of my own work and I can’t wait to see all five pieces up on their feet.

My writing process so far has been great creative fun and Joe’s input has been inspiring, although the circumstances in which I created the work have been challenging.  Joe had already agreed a generous extended deadline as I was immersed in other stuff and had been ill, so my writing time was quite tight but I work quickly and was really buzzing with this so I knew I could get it done. What I didn’t expect, was that my daughter would come down with a nasty virus just as I’d booked in 2 extra nursery days to totally focus on the piece. While I wrote a Paines Plough commission two years ago between breastfeeding a newborn baby at night, writing between poor Zosia’s episodes of vomit and hallucinations, (with a temperature of 41.5 degrees that pink monster on the wall would not go!), were something else…

 But hey:

1) I did it!! (Thanks to black coffee and my girls’ Easter eggs!)

2) My working experience was kind of relevant to the piece – there’s something about the dependency and vulnerability of sick kids that takes me me back to their infancy, i.e. closer to the BIRTH DAY.

3) I think I even like it.  And I hope you will too!!



Saturday 5 May and Sunday 6 May // Time: 8pm

The Rifle Hall // HighTide Festival

Tickets // from £6.50 //