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Liz Tait - A Different Song Interview

Kate and Mitch are regular performers at the Charles Dickens Open Mic Night. Kate, who yearns for something more from their friendship, is devastated when she hears that Mitch will be strumming his last. Chrissie’s taken over the clipboard and hosting for the first time. She needs it to go well. She needs her star turn to stay.
Kate has a new song. The crowd are ready. She’s up next.

Featuring live music, knitting ripping and love over the hot cross buns…..

A Different Song is a new play by award-winning writer Liz Tait. It’ll be performed at Chichester Fringe on Saturday 15th June and at Worthing Festival from Wednesday 19th until Sunday 23rd June. 

Liz Tait

Ahead of these performances we caught up with Liz to learn more.

Where did your arts career begin?
I was an actress for a while, mainly Brighton-based and following that a few years as a hostess on cruise ships.  My baby daughter followed an ill-advised marriage, which quickly led to the realisation that single parenthood wasn't conducive to rehearsing or in fact going out at all.  I signed up to a local writing course and was obviously drawn to writing for the stage

How did you go about pursuing your career?
My first play, "Kissing it Better" (about the impact of having a baby being like throwing a hand grenade into a relationship and sifting through what remains), was produced at Barons Court Theatre and then Merton Abbey Mills, Wimbledon.  From then I formed a successful collaboration with Brighton-based Beside the Seaside Theatre and wrote three plays, all of which were produced under the Brighton Fringe umbrella. 

Were there any people or performances that had a big impact on you?
I remember as a child being taken to see Michael Crawford in the West End play Billy Liar in the musical "Billy".  I was in love with the theatre from that moment on, even joining the Michael Crawford Fan Club, buying the album and learning every single word of every song.
I can still remember the lyrics of "The Lady from L.A." and will happily sing it, with very little encouragement, especially if I'm two wines in....

Willy Russell has had a big impact on me as a writer - 'Blood Brothers' is an absolute masterclass in how to write a musical, in my opinion. Other writers I really look up to are Simon Stephens and Mike Leigh, but there are numerous.

What can you tell me about A Different Song?
It's a three-hander, one act play set backstage at an open mic night and essentially the story is about two seasoned performers, Mitch and Kate, where on one particular night their well-worn routines are about to irrevocably shift.  It is a love story and about the fear of change.  Chrissie has taken on the clipboard and is hosting for the first time on this particular night.  She has something to prove and becomes hampered by the effects of the changing landscape of Kate and Mitch.  It obviously also features some great live music.

Where did the inspiration for the piece originally come from?
I went away to Winchester for a weekend with my husband.  I was looking around the pub we found ourselves in and was struck by quite an unusual-looking poster advertising an Open Mic Night.  I was intrigued by the image and started thinking about the people who might inhabit this unique melting pot of community, fear and exhilaration.  I had never been to an open mic night before, but began to sketch out an idea of how people may inform and inspire each other at such a night.  Music is always a huge inspiration for me in everything I write and I enjoy selecting songs which co-pilot the story.

The piece is a re-working of Limelight, why did you choose to rework the piece?
I always felt that Limelight, with a cast of five, diluted the premise of the two friends and didn't allow for the depth of story that I knew could be there for Mitch and Kate.  I wanted these two characters to centre their own story and I decided to write it for Chichester Fringe and Worthing Festival this year.  

How different is it re-working a piece as opposed to writing a completely new piece?
The joy of re-working this play is that I already knew and had an affinity with the characters - their essence and potential; although some of their backgrounds and current situations are different.  Limelight was a great springboard for writing this off-shoot and I enjoyed revisiting the open mic scene again.

What keeps you inspired?
The determination to write better.  My father, a short story writer and poet, always says to me as I'm leaving after a visit "keep going", and his words never fair to inspire me to do just that.  My writing career is regularly punctuated by some sort of knock-back, usually in the form of a rejection, followed by me informing my husband that I'm not going to write anymore.  This lasts about three days and then I hear a song which resonates and I'm off again!

What do you hope an audience takes away from seeing A Different Song?
It's a gentle piece which allows the audience to glimpse fragments of what these people have to muster, each night, putting their fragile hearts and egos on the line, both on and off the stage.  Success or failure, it's there for the taking, but so is the love, friendship and community.
Also, there's good songs well sung, some knitting ripping and a fair amount of hot cross bun action!

A Different Song at Chichester Fringe on Saturday 15th June. Tickets are available from It’ll also play at Worthing Festival from Wednesday 19th until Sunday 23rd June. Tickets are from

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