Writer’s Note: Shelagh Stephenson, THE MEMORY OF WATER

9 Oct 2023

THE MEMORY OF WATER was the first stage play I ever wrote. It was written on spec and subsequently opened at Hampstead Theatre in London. It was successful in a way that absolutely no-one, least of all me, expected. Until then, I’d been writing for BBC Radio Drama, where I thought I could hone my craft below the radar. THE MEMORY OF WATER isn’t autobiographical except in the sense that my mother did die, and I have sisters – but we are five (imagine…). I wanted to write about the slipperiness of memory and the heightened, contradictory emotions which are released when you lose a parent. Somehow, it ended up as a comedy – although that’s not all it is. It’s still performed all over the world – young women seem to be drawn to it. I don’t pretend to understand this, but it’s hugely gratifying. What I’ve learn is that the human desire – in fact need – to laugh together, in a darkened theatre, is universal and very strong. Even when, or possibly because, the play is about organising your mother’s funeral. I wish you tremendous success with it.

– Shelagh Stephenson

THE MEMORY OF WATER plays 20 Oct – 25 Nov, don’t miss this Olivier Award-winning comedy.