In the Spotlight: Martin Keady

Updated: Mar 29


Martin Keady is a renaissance man. From screenwriter to poet and even an operatic librettist, Martin is able to capture the attention of his readers by exploring aspects of humanity. He has achieved this through years of intense study and dedication to his craft. This is why I am excited to introduce you to him.

This is Martin Keady...


Mini-Bio:

I am a multi-award-winning dramatist, journalist, librettist, and poet. As a dramatist, my major credits include THE SHAKESPEARE PLAYS, a biopic of The Bard (or 'Bardopic'), that for the first time tells the true comedy, history, and tragedy of Shakespeare's remarkable life and Hemings and Condell, an audio/radio play being produced in 2021 by Bamalam Productions, an independent British audio/radio production company.


I have Masters Degrees in English Literature from Cambridge University, in Shakespeare Studies from The Shakespeare Institute in Stratford on Avon, and in Playwriting from The Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Having lived in Los Angeles and in Ireland, I now live in London with my wife and three children.


As a journalist, I write extensively for a number of print and online publications, including on screenwriting and television writing for The Script Lab, on tennis for The Last Word on Tennis, on football for Last Word On Football, on Shakespeare for The Shakespeare Standard, on the Olympics and politics for C4News.com.


As a librettist, I have participated in The Librettist Network at The Royal Academy of Music, writing the words for an operatic duet based on the ending of the greatest short story ever written, James Joyce's 'The Dead', and as a lyricist I have co-written a WWI lament, Dreaming of England, with the composer Barnaby Robson - Dreaming of England on Spotify.


As a poet, I have written Shards, a collection of short poems extracts from which have been broadcast on BBC Radio Four and published in the inaugural "Poets Issue" of KollideZine magazine.


Finally, Man of Colour, a biopic of Walter Tull, one of Britain’s first black professional footballers who subsequently became a hero of WWI, which won the inaugural BIFFA (Bristol Independent Film Festival Award) for Screenwriting 2018; LAST FIRST, a short film about two women and one man on a very special boat, which is being produced in 2021 by Felix Mater Society, a Swiss independent film production company. THREE TRAGEDIES, about some of Shakespeare’s minor characters, which is published online


Q: How did you stumble upon screenwriting?

Principally by watching the great US cinema of the 1970s – including The Godfather I and II, Chinatown, One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Hall and JAWS – when I was a child and wondering, “Who writes the words that the actors speak?”


Q: Who/what inspired you into taking this path?

What: A complete and unwavering love of cinema (and latterly television). And who: Woody Allen, David Simon, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and Oscar Wilde, my five favourite writers.


Q: Who was the first person who believed in you?

Maggie Kinloch at The Central School of Speech and Drama in London, who accepted me onto the MA in Playwriting. That was the first time that I really thought it was possible for me to write for a living.

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Q: When was the moment you knew you wanted to be a screenwriter?

The precise moment was when I first saw ‘Same Time, Next Year’, the Alan Alda/Ellen Burstyn romantic comedy about two married people who have an affair with each other over many decades, but only ever for one or two nights at a time each year. THAT was the precise moment because I was so stunned by the dialogue and story-telling.


Q: How do you define success for yourself?

Making a living as a writer.


Q: Give us a typical day in your life:

Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl?

Early bird. Writing in the morning buys you the rest of the day to live.

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Write down anything of note that has come to me in a dream.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I always check the news first, just to make sure that I’m not writing about something (e.g. Shakespeare’s life) that new research or new archaeological finds has just disproved or discredited, which is always a danger with historical subjects in particular.

Do you have a pre-bed ritual?

I always read, if only for five minutes, before I go to bed, usually a classic. I am currently reading James Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’ and reminding myself that ‘The Dead’ may be the greatest story in it but it is far from the only great story in it. In particular, ‘A Painful Case’ – the story of a man who ends an affair with a woman who then kills herself, leaving him feeling utterly alone – is also magnificent.

How do you define a successful day?

By writing during it, even if it is only for a short amount of time.


Q: What’s been the most important skill you've developed on your path to screenwriting?

That the clue is in the title: “screenwriting”, i.e. writing in pictures/writing visually. That is very different from many other forms of dramatic writing, notably playwriting and writing for audio/radio, where the emphasis is on the words and the audio/sonic effects respectively.


Q: What’s been the greatest challenge in your writing so far?

I hope that I have overcome it! For many years, I was a part-time carer for my father, who suffered first from depression and then from dementia. I don’t begrudge a moment of the time that I spent with my mother and sister (who were more like full-time carers) helping to look after him, but when he died three years ago it literally felt as if a weight had been lifted from me. I suddenly had more time, energy, and – crucially – headspace to write and think about writing.


Q: What’s been the greatest reward in the choices you've made?

The greatest reward in the choices that I have made is that I can now live freely and without regret. Having helped to look after my father for so long (nearly two decades in total!), I now feel completely free to concentrate on my writing. I’m making up for lost time – LOTS of lost time.


Q: What do you want to learn from a community of yo