We had the chance to ask Katie McCann about the Rough Magic’s Seeds Project and in particular their production of Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play which starts previews today (Thursday 30th November 2017) at the Project Arts Centre. You can find the results below.
Rough Magic Presents – Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play (Rough Magic SEEDS Showcase 2017)
Dates: 30 Nov – 09 Dec – Show Time: 7.30pm – Tickets: €14 -18
How does the Seeds project work? How many people are taken on each year?
SEEDS is a two-year mentorship scheme set up by Rough Magic to nurture and support emerging artists. Applications and interviews are held every two years where five people are selected from a variety of different disciplines. In this current round of SEEDS there is a Sound Designer and Composer (Sinéad Diskin), Lighting Designer (Dara Hoban), Costume and Set Designer (Molly O’Cathain), playwright (Lee Coffey) and a Producer (Katie McCann).
Who decides what plays are performed as part of Seeds?
The task of picking the play is entirely up to the current SEEDS, with some help and advice from the entire team at Rough Magic. We decided to pick Mr Burns: A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn because it ticked all the boxes we wanted regarding design and we knew it would allow each department to really shine in their own field. Plus, it’s an amazing script and features one of the best episodes of The Simpsons, Cape Feare.
This sounds a fascinating topic for a play. Can you tell us a little about the writer?
Anne Washburn is an American playwright and Mr Burns actually grew out of a workshop she held in New York. They were playing with the idea of what would happen to pop culture after an apocalyptic event and the play grew from this idea. Washburn originally centered the play around episodes of Friends and Cheers before settling on The Simpsons. The play went on to critical success on both Broadway and in the West End. Her latest play is based on the Twilight Zone and opens next week at the Almeida Theatre, London.
This play was written in 2012, when the fear of Nuclear war seemed remote. Has it become even more relevant in the last couple of years?
I think growing up most of us would associate the idea nuclear war with movies based around the Cold War, when kids were taught to hide under their desks if an atom bomb was dropped. Now in the last year with the increased fear of terrorist attacks, the horrendous things we have seen happening in Syria and the Middle East, plus the increasingly strained relationship between the USA and North Korea, the chances of a nuclear war don’t seem as far-fetched as they once did. I don’t think it’s too hard to imagine a worst case scenario with the state the world as it is at the moment. I suppose this play offers the small comfort that even if the unthinkable happens the human race can survive and still find humour and a reason to go on.
It sounds like a play that will demand much from the costume designers and make-up artists. Can we expect something special?
I think this play will be a real feast for all the senses. The costumes are incredible. Molly O’Cathain has done the most amazing job creating something totally original yet utterly true to the script, with a set that will surprise and thrill. Dara Hoban has pulled out all the stops with the lighting to create an incredible design for a play that is supposed to exist in a world with no electricity (no easy task I can tell you). Then to top it all off the final act is a musical made up of entirely original music by Sinead Diskin. All of this has been brought together by the amazing director Ronan Phelan and a steller cast and creative team. We have been really blessed with the people working on this show.
If you could save one piece of modern TV for future generations, what would it be?
For me it would have to be the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. Anyone who knows me is very aware of how obsessed I am with it. In a post-apocalyptic world, I would definitely be retelling episodes around a campfire to cheer everyone up. It’s a very funny show but just like Mr Burns it is ultimately about survival and finding the best in life when you’ve been dealt a crummy hand. Hashbrown no filter.