My Edinburgh: Simon Stephens, playwright

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The Independent Culture

I lived in Edinburgh for two years after I graduated from university. It was a very happy time: I was disgustingly, almost unbearably young. It was where I met my wife and where I decided I wanted to be a writer. They were two of the most formative and important years of my life.

Now there's a new Edinburgh for me. Apart from the Traverse Theatre, there's a pub called the Blue Blazer which I go to religiously. It has the finest selection of single malt Islay whiskies I've ever come across.

The past two years have been comparatively easy, but when I started at the festival I was playing to audiences of four or five a night. I'd pound the Mile giving out flyers which were immediately discarded. It was heartbreaking. The level of commitment I put into writing a play now is not necessarily greater. But now I have the whole machine of the Traverse press and publicity office behind me.

If you're doing a show in the bar of the College of Art and you have an audience of four and one of them leaves because they're bored and there are better things to do, it's easy to fantasise about having a show on at the Traverse. Looking back now, I'm glad I had those experiences. I think I learnt more about playwriting from putting on those plays than any workshop could teach me.

In the past couple of years I've tried to find one brand new play by a brand new writer and to go along and give it a bit of support. I think that matters.

'T5' by Simon Stephens will show as part of the Impossible Things Before Breakfast series at the Traverse Theatre on 18 and 28 August, 9am (breakfast included) (0131 228 1404)