Creativity Spotlight: Naomi Sumner Chan
Interview with Naomi Sumner Chan
“Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.”
We are thrilled to have Naomi Sumner Chan as our first interviewee for our Creativity Spotlight Series.
Naomi is a Manchester based playwright, poet and dramaturg. She leads Brush Stroke Order, a new writing company who produces new plays and supports playwrights in a number of ways e.g. via our script reading service, writing workshops and mentoring.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I began writing for the stage in 2013 and my work has been performed at venues across the North of England and in London including York Theatre Royal, Oldham Coliseum Theatre, CAST, Theatre 503 and Arcola Theatre. Common themes in my work are complex identity, adoption, faith and race which reflect who I am as a transracial adoptee, adopted into a White British Christian family.
I also work as a freelance script reader for The National Theatre reading unsolicited script submissions and identifying interesting voices for further development. Previously I have read for Papatango Playwriting Prize, Theatre 503 Playwriting Award, The Royal Exchange Theatre and Sheffield Theatres.
What inspires your work?
A lot of my work is inspired by my own life and experiences – that’s not to say that I find myself particularly inspiring! But I have lived through a lot of experiences that aren’t the “norm” e.g. being adopted, growing up in a military family that moved house every two or three years, living abroad then in my teens and early 20s being involved in quite an extreme form of Christianity and attending a church that was almost cult like!
I’m also inspired by true stories from every day life that I read about in the news or online. Things that test the limits of what it means to be human – for example currently I’m writing a play inspired by a news story I read about 32 Cambodian surrogates being forced to keep the children they were having for rich Chinese couples and not being paid any of the money promised to them because the law in Cambodia changed and they were charged with child trafficking.
What does your creative practice look like? My husband is very disciplined and writes for a few hours every morning. I am much more sporadic, writing in fits and starts.
What advice would you give to other creatives?
“Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t go to for advice.” It’s easy to get overwhelmed with different people’s opinions and feedback on your work, especially when they’re coming from multiple sources including audience members, reviews, notes from Directors, dramaturgs or script editors. Find a few people whose taste and opinion you respect and trust to give you honest feedback.
PLUG TIME! What are you working on?
I am in the early stages of writing a new verbatim play, DANDELIONS, telling the stories of three generations of British Forces children. The play aims to get audiences to look at military life from a different perspective – through the eyes of a child. I’ve interviewed military children past and present and the people you’ll see portrayed on stage are aged 7-70+!
The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the development period for this play which means I have time to interview a few more families who are CURRENTLY serving with the British Armed Forces. If this is you and you have children aged 8-13 who would like to be involved in this project please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
To find out more about Naomi and her work with Brush Stroke Order, here are some links: