Interview with Katie McCann – Bookworm – Scene + Heard Festival
Sat 22 + Sun 23 Feb | 2pm | Main Space
We had a chance to talk to playwright and actor Katie McCann about her new play Bookworm, which opens at Smock Alley this weekend as part of the Scene + Heard Festival. You can see the results below.
“In the town of Little-Happens, Pandora Allweather lives out her days buried in a good book. Until the sudden arrival of a backward clock that will change her life forever.”
How long have you been working on this play?
This play has been a little seed in my mind for about a year. I tend to ruminate on ideas for a long time before I ever start writing so this one has been brewing for a while.
When did you first start writing?
The first time I ever wrote anything down was when I was about 11 years old. I started writing fairytales to my cousin, who was my pen pal. Each letter we would write a new chapter and this went on for a few years. I didn’t start writing plays until I went to drama school at the Gaiety School of Acting and we had manifesto class. Each week we would have to make a short piece and from there my love of writing plays grew.
What was the initial inspiration for this play?
I just had this vision of a library full of empty books. It was a picture that conjured up so many questions for me. I suppose BOOKWORM is the answer to those questions!
Tell me about this production? How did it come about?
BOOKWORM came about after I decided to take a bit of a break from writing and making plays. It takes a lot of energy to put on your own work and I just needed some time away to focus on other things. For a long while I didn’t have any ideas, or any intention to start writing again then the idea for BOOKWORM hit me like a bolt out of the blue. Once I had the name of the town where it is set, Little-Happens, the rest started to write itself!
What do you think is the main difference between writing for children and for adults? Is there an emphasis on humour or is it something more subtle?
I think every company or person who works with young audiences has a different approach and different focus. I think this can be hugely influenced by age brackets mostly but for me I love to focus on humour and suspense. I think bringing people into a new and exciting world is something I love about theatre for all ages but I find children far more willing to suspend their level of disbelief. For me when I write for children I don’t have to worry so much about sticking to the rules of our world, I can let my imagination go wild and hopefully the audience are willing to go along with it!
This is part of the Scene + Heard Festival. Can you tell me about your experience at the festival?
I’ve been very lucky to have been involved in the festival a few times. I have developed two of my own plays and produced another. All of them have gone on to have a life after the festival and that is largely down to the nature of Scene + Heard. There are very few places that allow you to experiment with a play and learn what works and what doesn’t and I have found that invaluable. Scene + Heard is the only festival built to encourage you and your ideas but is also a very safe place to make mistakes and fail. After all that is what Beckett was all about…
What is your eventual aim for the play? Are you hoping for it to return at some point?
I hope that it has a life after this. In what form or place I can’t say but I love the characters and I’ve started to see more and more of the world come to life as we get closer to the festival. It’s amazing when you have a little idea and then other artists buy into it and suddenly you have a real play! The team I have on board are incredible. Jeda deBrí is directing, Sophia Tamburrini is producing, Dara Hoban is on lights and myself, Karen McCartney and Louis Deslis are performing the play. I love writing but the best feeling is when it all starts to come together in the rehearsal room. I hope the audience will have as much fun watching it as we have performing!