Interview with Jessica Kennedy & Megan Kennedy – Junk Ensemble – A Different Wolf
A Different Wolf is a new dance opera created by multi-award winning Junk Ensemble and music-theatre company Dumbworld. This exploration of fear, blending movement, text and song will premiere with performances 16th & 17th June at Cork Opera House as part of Cork Midsummer Festival.
Times & Dates: 8pm Sunday 16th & Monday 17th June / Matinee 3pm Monday 17th June
Ticket prices: €15/€12 conc.
Booking via Cork Opera House: www.corkoperahouse.ie / Tel 021-427 0022
Booking via Cork Midsummer Festival: www.corkmidsummer.com / Tel 021-4215159
Words by Jessica Kennedy & Megan Kennedy (Co-Artistic Directors, Junk Ensemble)
How did this collaboration with Dumbworld come about?
We had worked together on other projects and installations (film, community opera, youth orchestra) but have wanted to do proper large-scale music/dance collaboration with Dumbworld for a few years. A Different Wolf seemed the perfect project and the perfect time for it to happen. We discussed potential themes and ideas and we all came to the idea of fear and what it means to people.
What does the Wolf represent in this piece? Is it drawing from the imagery of Fairy Tales, or is it more complex than that?
The wolf represents our fears: the wolf at the door (hunger or money), the deceiver, the trickster who pretends it’s a granny or a sheep, the bank man, loneliness, the ‘other’, the predator, death, the monster under the bed, or the world ending. Our fears probably haven’t changed much from a hundred years ago. But our fears are complex and perhaps easier to face once spoken about. The wolf could be sitting in our living room. But once we start talking to it we become less fearful of it.
How long has it taken to create this piece from start to finish? When did you first come up with the initial concept?
The initial concept was made over a year ago, chatting through ideas with John and Brian from Dumbworld. It started with the idea of The Wolf, which led us through fairy tales and out the other end to FEAR – what fear means to people. What are contemporary fears? The project received a grant last year and we’ve been preparing the piece steadily since. We worked with a Cork-based researcher to conduct fourteen interviews/conversations with a broad range of people from Cork, asking them the question ‘What is the wolf at your door’? We also identified local Cork choirs who agreed to perform in the production in the Cork Opera House. After listening to many hours of recordings of interviews, we collated a list of themes and the pattern of fears that had developed from the conversations. We used this pattern to devise and create movement tasks for the dancers in the studio. We worked with the dancers for two weeks in March. John then went away and wrote the libretto of songs over a period of time and Brian composed some of the music for the piece. We all came together with singers and musicians a couple of weeks ago and have been layering and integrating all the material in rehearsals. It has been a rich, challenging and fresh process to see everyone working so well and so hard together. The singers are dancing and the dancers are singing. It is a wonderful thing to witness.
Can you tell me about the creative process between yourself and your sister? How do you start to create a piece such as this?
We often work from a visual spectrum at the beginning of each process after initially hashing out ideas. Photography books and films are consistent, tireless references which aid our process before we enter the rehearsal room. We work through a number of conceptual ideas to find movement tasks that we then bring into the studio and devise with the dancers/singers. For A Different Wolf, the interviews from the different communities in Cork helped inform the movement tasks, images, and the libretto for the show, alongside physical and written tasks offered by the performers during our development time in the studio.
The Cork Opera House is quite a stunning location. Are there any stages you’ve always dreamed of performing at?
Cork Opera House is one of the stages we’ve wanted to perform on for many years now. Its vast, beautiful stage is perfect for dance with scope to share both an intricate design and movement. Other dream stages are Théatre de la Ville, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Sadlers Wells and Schaubühne Theatre.
How far ahead do Junk Ensemble plan? What are you working on next?
We plan as far ahead as we can, which at the moment is 2-3 years. Our next production is called The Misunderstanding of Myrrha and we are collaborating with visual artist Alice Maher who is designing the scenography and costume. The show explores hybridity within the female form and is a re-imagining of the Greek tale of Myrrha, who is transformed into a myrrh tree.