Theatre in Liverpool

In Conversation – Sean McLoughlin

Over the years, Merseyside has produced some notable national and international writers and playwrights, which include Alan Bleasdale (Boys From The Black Stuff), Colin Welland (Chariots of Fire), Willy Russell (Education Rita) and Peter Shaffer (Equus). The latest addition to this long list is Sean McLoughlin, whose I Am Steven Gerrard is about to start a sold out limited run at Liverpool’s Hope Street Theatre from 25 – 28 January. We caught up with him to discuss the play, his influences, and his thoughts about the importance of the theatre experience in todays saturated world of social media.

Liverpool Noise: What inspired you to write I Am Steven Gerrard?

Sean McLoughlin: I wanted to write ‘I Am Steven Gerrard’ to start a conversation about masculinity in modern society, and attempt to expand the definition to allow for more inclusivity. I think some outlooks of traditional masculinity are very outdated, and with so many variations of identity becoming more and more prominent in communities, I think it’s important that ‘traditional’ values grow alongside these to continue the strive towards equality.

From a personal perspective, I really wanted to write the play as a means of self-reflection and to get my thoughts out on paper to make sense of them. Growing up not being interested in football came with a cost in terms of people’s perceptions and judgements; this script allowed me to arrive at some level of comfort and I hope that it exists for many others as a source of empathy and refuge too.

LN: When did you first discover your interest in writing?

SM: I have always been very interested in writing. I remember writing poems from about the age of six simply because I enjoyed it. Then I spent all of my education trying to find the type of writing I enjoyed the most. I originally trained to be a journalist in university but then my ambition changed once I moved back home, and that’s when I found different writing groups in and around Liverpool to get my start in playwriting.

LN: What interests you in being a playwright?

SM: My interest in being a playwright stems from the limitless amount of creativity and lack of boundaries that comes with writing for the stage. Theatre is a space for so many different stories and approaches to how you want those stories to come across; I think there is a real sense of freedom with playwriting. I also really enjoy being able to hear how a live audience receives my work based on their reactions; what they find funny, what moves them, what makes them feel angry or sad. Obviously it can go the other way too where things aren’t received how you initially envisioned, but that’s the risk that comes with this art form.

LN: Who are the playwrights you most admire?

SM: There is an endless list of playwrights who I most admire. Arinze Kene, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Brian Lobel, Michaela Coel, Ryan Calais Cameron, Naomi Sheldon and Suzie Miller are just a few. I am drawn to stories that incorporate everyday issues and experiences into them; I think stories told within theatre are always so subjective as to how different individuals relate to them and I love that.

My work also heavily includes poetry which is a writing form I have always been passionate about. Poems written by John Cooper Clarke, Walter D. White, and Mimi Khalvati are just some that I really connect to, and their work has definitely inspired some of mine. Then there are also musicians and lyricists whose songs have been of huge benefit during the process with things like rhyming sequences; Little Simz, Big Thief, and Stormzy to name but some.

LN: Do you think, in an era of social media, downloads etc, that the theatre experience can be used as a positive force to both engage young people but also to promote their values and aspirations?

SM: In this day and age, theatre is both an escape and a reintroduction into the real world. There is nothing better than getting into a dark theatre where the lights are off, your phone is off, and you watch an actor deliver something that you relate to and emote with. Even if you don’t aspire to work in the arts, I think there is something so effective in seeing a play that speaks to you on a really personal level.

I recently saw ‘Dear England’ on the West End which was all about England Football Club’s journey under the management of Gareth Southgate. It’s a perfect example of someone who loves football but not theatre going to see it and leaving feeling inspired, and vice versa.

LN: What does the next 12 months hold in store for you artistically?

SM: We’ve got our run of ‘I Am Steven Gerrard’ at the Hope Street Theatre from Wednesday 24th January – Sunday 28th January 2024. After that, we are hoping to take the show further afield but nothing is set in stone as of yet. I am also starting a new writing course at the Everyman Theatre in February. This will be the second course I will have completed there but I am always keen to develop as a writer and work with as many people as I can.

I’ve also been to Edinburgh Fringe a few times – I will definitely be going again this August as it is a hub for seeing such a variety of work. It would be great if we were there with ‘I Am Steven Gerrard’ but time will tell!

I Am Steven Gerrard is on at the Hope Street Theatre from 25 – 28 January. Tickets are available here.

Sebastian Saint Morne


Founder and Editor, Clare Deane, shares her passion for all the amazing things happening in Liverpool. With a love of the local Liverpool music scene, dining out a couple of times a week and immersing herself in to all things arts and culture she's in a pretty good place to create some Liverpool Noise.

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