Featured image of The Kings Arms is taken by Peter Hughes, Flickr.

Award-winning playwright Joe O’Byrne has credited The Kings Arms in Salford for helping him kick-start his career.

Joe, 64, from Bolton, commented: “Everyone one of my productions that are touring the country now all started at The King Arms.”

Joe, who has been a playwright for over 20 years, is currently touring a number of successful productions around the country. His shows include the ongoing tour of The Haunting of Blaine Manor, which sold out Buxton Opera House.

The Kings Arms
Joe as Grady the butler in the play The Haunting of Blaine Manor. Image credit: Darren McGinn

Joe admitted: “Across all of my plays this year so far, I have (nearly) 80 performances close to being booked into mainstream theatres all over the country.”

Joe was a mature student at Salford University when he organised his first production at The Kings Arms in the year 2000.

Joe added: “It’s always been a really eclectic pub The Kings Arms and it’s always been a real culture vulture society that go in there, they love the place, they love the music, they love the poetry and all that and it’s a great working-class cultural pub of Salford.

“It certainly gave me my first audiences there’s no question about that.”

The Kings Arms
Joe as Frank Morgan from his play Tales from Paradise Heights. Image credit: Karen McBride

Recently, Salford Now posted an article which details how difficult it has become for upcoming artists to secure a venue in Manchester/ Salford.

In response, Joe said: “There’s been a bit of a shift I’ve seen over the last few years that it seems a little bit harder to get one, but in reality it’s always hard.

“It’s all about how determined you are, if you’ve got a good product and you’re determined enough, people will start to notice you.”

For each of his shows that tours around the country, Joe makes a point of arriving to each location ahead of the play to “get the word out.”

“Half the battle is not putting a show together, it’s plugging it, putting it out there and shouting about it. I think a lot of people don’t realise how hard that is.”

For playwrights starting out, Joe stressed that it’s absolutely crucial to have confidence in your work.

The Kings Arms
Joe as Deaf Freddie in his recent play Strawberry Jack. Image credit: Darren McGinn

“What I would I say to any playwright is get your reviewers in as much as you can,” Joe explained.

“Obviously you wouldn’t be putting it on if you didn’t think it was good, but what you need are strangers telling you it’s good.

“And then you start to think, ‘you know what, I’m not deluded I must know what I’m doing because these guys are telling me this is something amazing, fantastic’. So that gives you the confidence to really go for it then.”

Joe said it’s also easy to become “your own worst critic”.

 “You can be scared of producing you work in case people think you’re some kind of nut case because a lot of stuff that I write can be quite contemporary. But I’ve found that audiences are lapping it up and that gives you the confidence to think this is just the start, I can do more now.

“Never say die, keep on going, keep on pushing, have faith in yourself because it’s competitive out there and you’ve got to put the work in yourself.

“You can’t rely on the venue, you can’t rely on other people, it’s what you put in yourself.”

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