Síofra O’Meara of Kill the Cat Productions, writer and performer of This Looks Bad (Axis Theatre, Ballymun, Thurs 26th to Fri 27th 8pm) talks to Nomoreworkhorse.
Full Details on the Axis Website here.
First of all, tell us a little bit about the play in your own words:
It’s wild. It starts off as a story that’s been done before – a story we all know well, then takes this turn. It’s a roller-coaster! It’s funny, but gets darker and darker as the night progresses. It’s scarily relatable.
The play is told by Clare, is there a little bit of you in Clare, or a little bit of Clare in you?
Clare is totally an extension of my friends and myself – her personality, her humour, is all things I’ve picked up along my teenage night-life experience. But at the same time she is her own entity – and an absolute hell-raiser.
One of Kill the Cat’s major aims is to bring “unapologetic, female driven characters into the limelight of Irish theatre”. In the light of developments over the past few years, such as the #Waking the Feminists movement, what’s your view of the current position of women in the Irish theatre industry?
I think a huge amount of progress has been made. The Waking the Feminists Movement was a moment of unity for all artists, it was so needed and long overdue. Change takes time though, so even if no major results are evident (even though personally I think they are) now, in a few years we’ll really see the effects of the movement. Things are getting better.
You are both the writer of This Looks Bad and its sole performer. What, for you, are the respective challenges and joys of both these skills?
Being the sole performer in This Looks Bad and having written it means that it’s like a child to me! I’m very close to it, and I’m very lucky I get to work with a team of people who enjoy working on it and are equally as passionate. It’s actually like a right-of-passage I feel for actors to write and perform one person shows, but it is super intense and a lot of hard work. You end up hating it then falling back in love with it over and over again.
The play is written in verse. What led to you choosing that specific medium?
At the moment in Dublin there’s a lot of theatre around using verse as a medium. I have a background in Spoken Word, so at first it started out as a two-minute-long poem that I used for certain auditions and events. Smock Alley’s Scene + Heard Festival was accepting submissions for new work, so I just built on what I already had and it became the play it is now – and after that showing, it came back to Smock Alley in March of this year. It was kind of a no brainer to have a character that rhymed for the type of play it is. Fast and full of action. But after having worked on the piece with Davey Kelleher (our director) we found that the character Clare also uses it as a front she puts on. She speaks in verse to try and portray herself in a certain way. The way she wishes to be seen. It’s a persona.
What writers inspire you, and who are you currently reading?
I’ve always had huge admiration for Beckett, Sarah Kane and Stephen Adly Guirgis. I can re-read their plays over and over again. I spend a great amount of time listening to Spoken Word artists such as Holly McNish and Harry Baker too. If I ever get stuck on a part of a script I find going back and reading these people’s work can usually get me out of it. Right now I’m also reading Zaddie Smith’s Swing Time – which is fantastic.
You’ve performed the play in Smock Alley and now The Axis. Has it changed much between runs? And do you have plans to take it anywhere else after this?
It has! Every space is totally different, so changes in set and lighting will always have to be made. As in terms of the actual play myself, Angie Butler(dramaturg) and Davey will constantly discover new things that will change the performance and keep it fresh and exciting for me and the audiences. It’s a really fun short piece, coming in at forty-five minutes, so we have a few plans for it! But you’ll have to wait and see…