Simon Stephens on Wastwater

The play is named after a lake in the Lake District. It is the deepest lake in England. Its depth has made it a favourite place for people keen to dump bodies. It is a lake that nestles in the shadow of a series of almost mountainous screes. In that sense it is never entirely in complete sunlight. It appears still and seems rather beautiful but there is always darkness somewhere on its surface and corpses nestled on its bed.

My grandmother has a photograph of Wastwater in her living room. She’s had the photograph all her life. The photograph is brooding and strange. It captures the darkness of the place. I liked the idea of naming the play after the lake partly as a secret tribute to my Granma (she never uses the d, avoiding grandeur almost deliberately I think). I liked it more because there is something in the place that, in its insistence that even when things appear to be still and rather beautiful there is always darkness falling somewhere, captures the third paradox at the heart of the play.

Simon Stephens
March 2011