pearl apple penguin


Aisling Towl



On a hot evening at London Zoo, two women meet by the penguin enclosure. Pearl would really like to stay. Penguins are not mammals. Apple would like to clean up and go home. Most mammals have hair. They hurl questions at the universe. Most mammals don’t lay eggs. Where is Marcia?




Aisling is a poet, playwright and facilitator from South London. She has performed at venues across London and the U.K. including Richmix, Freeword Centre and Brainchild Festival, and for organisations including Sofar Sounds and Merky Books. Her play Godfrey was long-listed for the Royal Court’s Lynne Gagliano Award in 2019 and had a sold-out run at VAULT Festival 2020. Aisling is an alumnus of the Royal Court Playwrighting Group and the Apples and Snakes Writing Room.



1. When did you start writing plays? If you had a moment where you realized you wanted to write, what was it?


I started writing plays the summer after I dropped out of drama school. Actually, I wrote a couple of scenes of things during my time at drama school, but they were all pretty awful. But I read loads – I fell out of love with acting pretty soon after I started training, so I’d spend all my free time in the library working through playwright after playwright. That summer I was working this job at a restaurant which I loved, and eavesdropping on the customers all night gave me so much material. I always wondered about the lives of the families and couples and people that would come in alone. I started writing stuff down and elaborating on it and making up these characters to attach to the words and it sort of snowballed from there. I still work in restaurants and I still steal snippets from people’s conversations for my characters all the time.


2. How did you come to write your OOB play? Was there a particular inspiration behind its creation? How has it developed?


I was in a workshop and we were challenged to write a short scene set in a location we’d never think to set a play – we’d come up with some suggestions for these locations as a group. I picked the penguin enclosure at London Zoo, partly because my mum used to work there! I’d always wanted to write a play about two woman with a big age gap, that was neither romantic nor familial. And I pretty much always seem to write about loneliness. That’s how it came about.


3. What are 5 words that describe who you are as a playwright?


Curious, soft, ambitious, mortified, hopeful.


4. What/who are some of the major influences on your writing?


I’m very influenced by American new writing. I love the British theatre scene and feel very lucky to have grown up in London, with so much theatre and new writing in particular on my doorstep. There’s so much incredible new writing on at the Dorfman, the Young Vic, the Royal Court, the Bush – these are the places I would get my student tickets to and slip out to after school as often as I could. Writers like debbie tucker green, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Annie Baker, Lucy Prebble, Brandon Jacobs Jenkins, Penelope Skinner, Jackie Sibblies-Drury, Clare Barron – seeing this work live has been inspirational and formative. I’m also very influenced by poetry and music, the way these forms can distill a feeling with so much clarity, which I guess is what I’m always trying to do in my work.


5. What’s one fact someone would never guess about you?


I have an instagram dedicated solely to my love of pasta.


6. What are some of your favorite plays?


In The Next Room/ The Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl. seven methods of killing kylie jenner by Jaz Lee Jones. Bethany by Laura Monks. mud by Maria Irene Fornes. The Motherfucker with the Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis. The Nether by Jennifer Haley. Water by the Spoonful by Quiara Alegría Hudes. Gloria by Brandon-Jacobs Jenkins. Scenes from 68 Years by Hannah Khalil. Annie Baker’s entire works but especially Body Awareness and The Flick.


7. Any new projects you’re working on or shameless plugs?


No but you can read my poetry here! https://aislingwlo.wordpress.com/