Coconut Badger Sniffing Out Success

Mark MacNicol, the premier playwright, producer and director of the play The Coconut Badger shows that if you want to make something happen, be honest, be gutsy and be proactive

Article by Victoria McGillop | 21 May 2010
  • Pat and Tam

After great interest from The Scottish Playwright Studio’s FUSE service, The Citizens and Ramshorn Theatre but no commissions made, plucky playwright Mark MacNicol refused to give up on his dream.

His first act was to raise his profile and find a cast by sticking posts on Facebook, Glasgow Theatre Underground website and the notice boards of University drama departments. Describing casting as “the least difficult part of the process" he added:

“The cast are amazing, talented, hungry and have buckets of enthusiasm. They have been a big factor in my own determination, they are putting so much into something they accept is a risk and that they may get little/nothing out of it.“

His second task was directing and producing the play. He remarks: “I was totally up front with the actors from the start and told them I had never done anything like this before. They have been a big help on the direction side. In effect they have helped me to direct them."

He adds:

"The production side is hard work when you have no money. But I have been amazed by how accommodating people have been when I explain the project to them. Again it’s just about being honest and up front with people. Also helps if you have a brass neck and don’t mind when people say no.”

For those wishing to follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps he says:

“If you truly believe in the project, then don’t leave it to others to decide whether it lives or dies. Put your balls on the table. The small number of theatres in Glasgow can’t sustain the number of writers. There are thousands of fantastic plays currently suffocating on hard drives because they have been rejected by the theatre establishment. There are loads of bars with function rooms and basement spaces who will listen to your proposals. These venues want to use these spaces.”

And what of the play itself? Set on a Glasgow housing scheme, Mark drew heavily from experience growing up in Pollok and though the story itself is fiction, its themes are very personal. Commenting on the title he says:

“The origin of the name gives away its meaning so I can’t say too much. In summary Pat the ageing scheme psychopath introduces Tam the young coward to a strategy he can use to overcome his fear of confrontation. That’s where Coconut Badger comes in, any more on that would be a spoiler.”

As for the future, his novel of the same name is his next challenge. He says:

“The novel manuscript is currently being proof read. I have also been working with a literary consultant. I started it two years ago and although I am keen to see it in print, I want to get it just right. I’ve already spoken to a couple of publishers and plan to make a decision on what happens next after Coconut Badger the play has been performed.”


The Coconut Badger is showing at Admiral Bar, 72a Waterloo Street Glasgow at 7.30pm on Thu 3 Jun and Fri 04 Jun. For more information about the play and where to buy tickets visit