Award-winning playwright Melville Lovatt talks Bolton Wanderers, growing up and work

PLAYWRIGHT, monologue writer and poet Melville Lovatt has dedicated his life to his craft.

Growing up in Walkden, Lovatt moved to London in 1970 to make use of the favorable arts funding, but still has fond memories of his early years in the north.

Lovatt recently released a collection of poems, dancing for englandwhich focus on his early years.

Having been a playwright and monologue writer for over 50 years and having had shows in theatres, Melville Lovatt has plenty of experience in his field.

Lovatt took poetry back up in 2020, for the first time since he left for London.

His new book of poetry, dancing for englandis a collection of 74 poems, with 66 of them written during the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said: “A lot of the poems are triggered by the north. I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger, so it reminds me of that time.”

But why did he stop writing poetry for over 50 years?

“I was only 21 when I stopped writing poetry,” he said.

“I’d written myself into a corner, it became too claustrophobic. There’s greater freedom writing plays.”

After so many years writing plays in London, would Melville come back up north?

“No, I wouldn’t go back. I love living here in north west London, I’m heavily involved in writing groups.”

He still has good ties to the area though.

Melville added: “I’m an avid Bolton Wanderers supporter. When we won the FA Cup in 1958, I was there at Maine Road for the semi-final against Blackburn with my dad, stood on a stool.

“Ralph Gubbins scored both goals to take us into the final and is still one of my heroes.”

Melville’s new poetry collection, Dancing for England. Photo credit: Melville Lovatt

It’s with this inspiration that Melville wrote one of his poems.

He said: “In the book is Ode to Ralph Gubbins which I wrote about him.”

He also has family still in Bolton, Walkden and Farnworth and sees them when he heads back home.

Melville has won numerous awards over the years for his work, including the Sussex Playwrights Club 1st prize for best full-length play, for his play The Powers That Beand the Jack Langford Memorial Award and the Derek Lomas Memorial Award for his full-length play Little Mercies.

The awards are something he enjoys.

He said: “It’s always nice to win awards. The Sussex Playwrights Club is the oldest playwrights club in the country, being founded in 1935.

“The play that won their award, The Powers That Benever actually went on – but that’s turned out to be a good thing, because I’ve worked on it since and bettered it.”

That play is now being turned into a podcast by an American company, Dean Productions, which will be out in July.

It will be a reading of the play including stage directions, rather than a radio play which wouldn’t read stage directions.

The Bolton News: Melville's collection of monologues, Standing Alone.  Photo credit: Melville LovattMelville’s collection of monologues, Standing Alone. Photo credit: Melville Lovatt

On his time growing up in Walkden, Melville said: “My parents owned a shop in Worsley Road, Walkden, before supermarkets. We lived in the back of the shop and had a mirror to see if anyone is pilfering.

“I used to be fascinated watching people, it was its own kind of theatre.

“It has inspired a lot of the poetry. my poem 1958 was inspired by kids playing football in the street.

“I remember Chatworth Street, used to be a big, long road like Coronation Street. It isn’t there anymore, it got knocked down.”

So what’s next for Melville? He recently won an award from the Harrow Times for their monthly Poetry Writing Competition in March for his poem The Empty Benchwhich is separate to the collection.

His play Little Mercies will be playing at the East Lane Theater Club in Wembley from June 10.

Tickets are available on the East Lane Theater Club website.

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