Interview with Jill McKeagney – Fortune – Yamamori Tengu
We had the chance to put some questions to Jill McKeagney ahead of the opening of Fortune at Yamamori Tengu this week. The play takes place in the restaurant and the ticket price includes a meal!
Wednesday 23rd January – Friday 25th January – Tickets: €29 (incl. booking fee).
Tell me about the origins of the play, what inspired it?
The play was inspired by a story I heard from one of my best friends. One midweek night he and his family went for dinner in the local Chinese restaurant. When they got there, the place was completely empty apart from one another table. For some unknown reason, they were sat next to this table and when they sat down, quickly realised these people were siblings, trying to decide who got what out of their parent’s belongings – the things they had left behind after passing away. He explained that he and his family barely spoke for their entire meal, they were so enthralled by what was happening at the table next to them and even elected to stay for desert just so they could hear more!
The subject of will disputes had been playing in my mind for awhile and when I heard this story I knew there was a play in it. I was particularly interested in recreating the feeling of overhearing this very private conversation taking place in a public setting and also capturing the hilarity of the trivial arguments people get into and how these conversations can be the catalyst for what might be years and years of dissonance.
The location of this production is obviously very unusual. Is it integral to the piece or could it be any public place?
Fortune is constantly evolving and I love the idea of experimenting in lots of different settings. The way the play functions allows for a lot of flexibility. For instance, this time round the setting is a Japanese restaurant and we have adapted the script to fit the new venue. The script was developed with the cast using improvisational techniques and that lives on in the spirit of the piece as it develops. I think it’s fun to try it in new places and see how the piece adapts and changes depending on its surroundings. I also think it would work equally well in a traditional theatre space, though it would be a different experience.
What do you think the location adds to it?
When you take a piece like this and remove it from the theatre setting, it means that all rules go out the window. I think that adds a layer of excitement for the audience. It’s that feeling that anything could happen, the audience really become a part of the piece. It’s a blurred line – where does the play end and reality begin? It adds to the fun of the whole experience and keeps everyone guessing. Another element is opening theatre up to a wider audience, Fortune is a combination of food, performance and audience participation, the hope is that it’s difference will be attractive.
How did you come up with the location for the production? Did you approach many venues?
I reached out to a couple of restaurants in Dublin, but very early on Louis Scully, Dublin club promoter of Discotekken, got on board and I was delighted. Louis already has a working relationship with the guys at Yamamori so he pitched the idea to them and they were really up for it. The cast and I were thrilled, as Yamamori is one of the best loved restaurants in Dublin and Tengu is a great venue. It’s also exciting to be associated with Discotekken and have a big wrap party on the Friday night.
What’s next for Tengu Theatre? Are you planning any other similar events in the future?
We’ve been lucky enough to partner with two great venues and look forward to pushing the boundaries in terms of collaborators. While we don’t have anything definite in the pipeline, we frequently exchange ideas and discuss growth. I feel really encouraged that ticket sales have gone well so far and hope that this is an indicator of bigger things for Fortune.
Written & directed by: Jill McKeagney
Produced by: Emer Kenny
Cast: Robert Downes, Alison Kinlan, Hannah Osborne, Larissa Santiago.