Award winning playwright’s mountineering masterpiece to open at the Yard Theatre

Elinor Cook, Pilgrims playwright. Picture: Richard Davenport

Elinor Cook, Pilgrims playwright. Picture: Richard Davenport - Credit: Archant

Pilgrims uses folk stories to explore the relationship between two mountaineers, Dan and Will.

It is four years since Elinor Cook wrote Pilgrims. Yet while her script won the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, it is only just coming to life.

Taking place at The Yard Theatre, Pilgrims uses folk tales to explore the relationship between two mountaineers, Dan and Will, who are being studied by a PhD student.

“Rachel is interested in the boys and why they do what they do. Her frustration then mounts when she realises that she is something that serves their narrative.

“Essentially the play is about her reclaiming that narrative, taking it into her hands and regaining control.”

In between winning the award and the play’s first performance, Cook has had an interesting few years embarking on a career as a writer with her play Image of an Unknown Young Woman.Performed at the Gate Theatre, it received strong praise from audiences and critics alike.

“All of my plays explore the way men and women interact, integrate and whether these fail us – particularly as women.

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“This version of the play is draft seven, but there was a huge gap between five and six – actually a three year gap.”

The play opens at High Tide Festival on September 8, moving to The Yard Theatre on September 20, and Cook has only just finished making changes to the script in order to make sure that the dialogue sounds as natural as possible.

“Throughout the process I’ve been in on all of the auditions and all of the rehearsals.

“We are only a week in – and I’ve mainly been re-writing as we went along. Its only when the words are in the actor’s mouths that you can see what works and what doesn’t, what sticks and what flows.

“You reach a point where you have to hand everything over and I did that at the end of last week. You start to get sick of your own words, and I was getting to that point.

“So I handed it over and am looking forward to seeing it with fresh eyes.”

What inspired Cook to write a play about mountain climbing?

“I found this article once that was in the Guardian which inspired me; it was about two men who climbed mountains together. Unfortunately one of them died.”

“There were just such evocative images that they really stayed with me.

“I’m fascinated by tales of adventure – which historically belong to men and still do to a certain extent.”

“The Yard is one of my favourite spaces so I was thrilled when they were keen to programme the play. What Jay Miller is doing there is exciting and really pushes form.”