Multi-award winning writer and director Kat Woods wants to make theatre accessible to all, not just the middle-class.

“I do honestly believe the creative world is built for the middle class at the minute and that is something that I am trying to penetrate and trying to change,” commented Kat, who experienced this first hand growing up in a housing estate in Enniskillen.

“I grew up with different access to certain things which was really restrictive and I think it’s important to make theatre more accessible for people like me or people that don’t have it as easy monetary wise,” she shared.

Making it her mission to fight for people from the benefits classes and the working classes, to get their voices heard, Kat said: “We so often have these characters written from a middle class perspective and it’s always derogatory, it’s always the stereotype.”

She continued: “We never exist in the beauty of what it was like to grow up in those areas, there was fun and there was laughter and it wasn’t always what you see on TV, it wasn’t always doom and gloom.”

“Yes there was struggle, yes there was poverty, yes there was addiction but we overcame it, that’s what made us who we are and that’s why I write more personal stories,” Kat added.

Kat got her first big break in theatre when her play ‘Skintown’ made the long list of the Bruntwood Prize, the UK’s biggest national competition for playwriting.

“That then opened up various opportunities because I was able to put it on in London,” explained Kat.

“I didn’t dream that I’d be a writer, I didn’t think that was available to me, certainly not growing up in Enniskillen, coming from a housing estate with no access to that, having no nurturing from a school perspective in that element of creativity and then all of a sudden this is what I do. It still feels quite alien and imposter syndrome plays a massive role because I’m still going, ‘I can’t do this, this is so much pressure, what if no-one likes it’,” she shared.

Now an established and successful playwright who has shown plays at various locations across the UK including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, as well as further afield in Finland and New York, Kat shared that debuting a new play is one of the “most terrifying experiences in the world”.

She added: “Putting on your own work is also a very humbling experience. It’s a weird experience when people come up to you to talk about your work or what they’ve seen, it’s strange but it’s something you have to get used to because it’s not something that you’re taught how to deal with but it’s a lovely experience as well. Without it, you wouldn’t exist as a playwright because you need that kind of affirmation.”

“Theatre has to be a statement. I believe that theatre is something you go to see and it changes you as a person and if it doesn’t, you haven’t really done your job as a playwright,” Kat commented.

Having recently returned to her home county where she has undertaken the role as Artist in Residence for the Cuilcagh to Cleenish - A Great Place Project, Kat is currently in the process of writing a play inspired by the area.

“I have until December 31 to produce a play and it is to do with the landscape of that area,” said Kat.

“I really like what I’m doing here. I really like a community theatre project. I haven’t done something like this before and as a writer it’s challenging but it’s something that I can create for the whole community,” she added.

Noting that she has received great support from the local community in Fermanagh over the years, Kat highlighted three people in particular who she has found very influential and are great advocates for the arts scene here.

“You’ve got Noelle McAlinden who is absolutely incredible at her job, I don’t think she gets enough praise, she is relentless in her pursuit of putting Fermanagh on the map,” shared Kat.

She continued: “You have Terry McCartney, without him I wouldn’t have put my first play on in Enniskillen. He brought me over with ‘Dirty, Flirty, Thirty’ because he was on the FLive committee. I don’t think he gets enough praise because he is Fermanagh’s number one supporter and without him I don’t think I would have fallen in love with Fermanagh again. I think that he’s great for the community.”

“And Sally Rees, I think she’s incredible. She’s an incredible teacher and she’s incredible for the arts. She’s a person that without her, the art community that exists probably wouldn’t. She is, within the education sector, the one person who pushes for that. If we all would have had a teacher like Sally, we would have gone on to greater things sooner,” Kat concluded.