ABSOLUT Fringe | Interview with Rosemary McKenna
It doesn’t sound like the easiest task to create a piece of theatre that strives to adequately communicate the “quiet sadness” that exists for some people in their everyday lives. To do so with wit and passion seems nigh on impossible and yet this is what Pillowtalk Theatre hope to have achieved in their Fringe debut Anna in Between running from the 10th to the 15th of September at The Players Theatre. Writer Rosemary McKenna sat down with entertainment.ie to discuss what is sure to be an intriguing journey into the elusive world of the subconscious.
So what exactly is Anna In Between about?
It’s the story of a girl who finds herself in a coma, though she’s not sure how exactly she ended up there. We see moments and memories from her life played out, as she struggles to come to terms with the causes and the consequences of her actions. It is a musical, but not in the traditional sense – we’ve been describing it as a ‘play with songs’, which suits the tone of the play better.
What was the genesis of the play?
The original idea was to create a play that gave life to a circumstance that is often sidestepped: a subdued depression that affects many minds, bodies and lives. The challenge was to find a way to articulate this theatrically, and to make it entertaining, affecting, accurate and relatable. The play has been a collaborative process with writer James Hickson (Spilt Gin), composer Jane Deasy, and dramaturg Dan Colley. We spent two weeks devising with an exceptional ensemble cast, talking and improvising around a central idea. As characters emerged, we wrote a script and score in order to put down the story that has become ‘Anna In Between’.
The imagery used in your promotional material suggests a step into surrealism – is this a correct assumption, and if so what would be your influences in this style of theatre?
The play certainly has surrealist elements. Anna’s world exists in her coma, and in muddled versions of memories. That’s given us a lot of room to play. It has added a lot of joy and humour to the production – with absurd characters and a peculiar, distinctive soundtrack – but at the same time, an unnerving and troublesome atmosphere. I suppose influences would include Enda Walsh, Mark O’Rowe and Marina Carr. Writers who use words to create uncanny and problematic worlds: but worlds of black-humour and dark-comedy.
Who do you expect the show will appeal to?
The idea for the play came from a tendency that I often noticed around me: a lot of young, promising, people who are living with a sort of quiet sadness. With a depression that isn’t rooted in tragedy or trauma, that is difficult to communicate and to comprehend, and that affects people with regular run-of-the-mill lives. I expect it would appeal to those who can identify with, or want an insight into, a kind of everyday unhappiness. But who want that story told with an interesting shape and style, with tricks and turns in the tale and in the design, and with something as exciting and energetic as a live musical score.
How significant a role does music have in this production?
Very significant. The music has been central in allowing us to express what words cannot. For example, Anna is not always able or willing to talk about the way she feels. The words in the songs are able to draw some of the problems out. The musical numbers also influence Anna and the path that the play takes. Also, in trying to create a play that dealt with depression, we didn’t want the play itself to be depressing. Jane’s music is witty, vibrant, and impassioned.
If you had to pre-empt one thought that this show may inspire in an audience member what would it be?
That the head is an easily damaged tool.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 31st August 2012 | Theatre
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