Emma Clarendon chatted to Charlie Josephine about new audiobook play Massive which is available now to listen to on Audible.  

Hi Charlie, thanks so much for talking to me. Could you explain what ‘Massive’ is about? Thanks for having me. Yeah, so  ’Massive’ is messy queer love story about the chase to be perfect and the ugly things we do in the attempt to be beautiful for someone. It’s un-apologetically poetic, working class, queer and quick. It’s theatre for
your ears whilst our bodies are stuck at home.

How did the idea for the story come about? It’s been growing for a while to be honest, a mixture of fantasy and personal lived experience. I wanted to write something poetic and queer and joyful, but also messy and dark and complicated. My imagined audience was people squished up on the tube listening to it. Wanted to get in their ear’oles and make ‘em smile. I’m always hungry for queer working class chracters so ‘Jax’ was a delight to write. I’m in recovery from an eating disorder so parts of ‘Emily’ felt close to home. And ‘Tom’ is the cool lad I always wanted to be growing up. They’re funny and poetic and desperately tryna find the words for huge feelings.

How does it compare writing for an audio book instead for the stage? Cor yeah it’s loads different! Like writing with your eyes shut! I’m usually really focused on the body when I write for theatre – it’s vital to me that it feels live, and sweaty and honest. That my body (in the audience) is feeling something by watching an actors body telling a story, live. So trying
to express something honest, viscerally, but through your ears took a while to get used to yeah.

How did it feel to be awarded a commission through the Audible Emerging Playwrights Fund? It felt great, thanks, and also scary because I’ve never written in this medium before and because Audible has a big audience.  But the creative team has been so supportive and
very good at their jobs, and a pleasure to work with, honestly the whole thing has been a delight mate.

What are you looking forward to when people listen to ‘Massive’? The responses I’ve had so far have been beautiful. I think people have been impressed by the creative ambition of the piece, it’s really not your average audiobook, it’s much more of an experience. I’m really proud of what we made and excited for people to hear it.

How hard was it to put together under the current circumstances? Well, it should have been harder than it was I suppose – recording during lockdown – that could have been a disaster! But everyone grafted so hard, recording remotely and communicating via phones and screens. The results are amazing.

What is next in store for you? I’m currently under commission at the RSC to write a play, so I’m knee deep in the first draft of that right now. I’m also beginning to have chats with theatres about the possibility of a live version of ‘Massive’ – whenever it is that we’re safe and able to make it.

By Emma Clarendon

Massive is available to listen to now through Audible.