In December 2011, Tom Holloway sat down and started to write a comedy sketch. A week later, it had turned into a full length play and ‘Knock Yourself Out’ was born.
Tom said that he wrote the play as an expression of how he was feeling at the time. He’d graduated from drama school just five months earlier and was watching friends with first class degrees from Cambridge struggle to get jobs, while friends who hadn’t gone to university were earning six figure salaries at the age of 21.
“I was questioning, why are we all going to university? It’s as if the government are trying to solve a problem by pushing us all in there and keeping us busy,” he said, “but if there’s no meaningful jobs to go to is that the right answer?”
Just a few months before Tom wrote the play, protests became riots all over the country and young people took to the streets. He said that it was his own form of protest.
“Some of it is what I’ve seen and some is experiences I’ve had myself. It’s a mixture of the two but it’s the world I’ve lived it.”
Once the play was written, Tom had to be the producer. “I needed to get something off the ground. I realised it wasn’t feasible to put on a small show. It had to be three weeks. So I started to pitch to investors – I started with friends first and it kind of grew from there. I went to people who were doing well and were open to a bit of a gamble.
“It’s been terrifying and stressful but I’ve had fun. All these amazing people have come on board. I ran events at uni pretty much singlehandedly and they were great but it’s about trusting to delegate, which I used to do very badly. You have got to let people run with things.”
It’s not all been easy for Tom – he’s had to work really hard. And although his parents are supportive he admitted that they’re worried about him. “Most people are in stable jobs and my parents aren’t in a position to bail me out if it all goes wrong. They’ve been really helpful and I think they’re proud but I’m sure they’re worried about me.”
Tom also offered some advice to aspiring playwrights and producers:
• “Brand everything big. There’s no point saying it’s going to be a little thing.”
• “Listen. I didn’t listen enough and I could have learnt more.”
• “Take it one step at a time. If you have a good script more people will get on board.”
• “Back yourself. I think that’s the key if you go to everyone this is going to be huge then they’ll believe it. That’s the key with promo and marketing. Back yourself and take risks.”
‘Knock Yourself Out’ opens on 7 March. All the details and tickets are available on The Courtyard website.