We had the chance to put some questions to Deirdre Kinahan about life over the last couple of years and her latest work, The Visit at the Draíocht Blanchardstown as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival. You can see the results below.
“Rose has washed and ironed her cowgirl shirt and skirt. She carries it on a hanger. She likes the way the fringe swings when she wears it. Makes her feel glamourous. Adventurous. Brave. She stands on the empty stage and looks out into the auditorium. Imagining what it will be like when it is full. Which it will be. Tonight. When the choir perform. In the quiet of the theatre, she finds herself thinking back on the events of that morning, the events of last year, the last twenty years. When did she stop being her? Rose thinks about her dead husband Stephen, and her sons, and the man who knocked on her door.”
As a playwright, I suspect you see a lot of new Theatre productions. Have you missed them over the past 18 months or have you survived on the various online productions?
Yes, I would normally be at the theatre very regularly in Dublin, Belfast and indeed London and NYC when travelling, so not having live theatre or music in my life over the last 18 months has been bizarre. I did tune in to occasional online productions like the Old Vic ‘In Camera’ series or some really well made Irish productions like Druid’s “Once upon a Bridge” and indeed Bewley’s series of Lunchtime works as these productions were made to be streamed. I just don’t enjoy a film of a play in the same way but do believe that a beautiful new hybrid has been created during lockdown with theatre consciously created for streaming. Landmark did a terrific job on my play The Saviour and I have to say the Abbey gigs were a life-saver…The Bloodied Field and Dear Ireland in all its forms, I loved them both as a contributor and spectator.
It has been a tough few years for people involved with the Theatre industry. Did you manage to keep writing through it all?
Yes, it has been very difficult for all in theatre, but I am really impressed by the response to this challenge both from funding bodies, most theatres, production companies and above all Artists. People really ran to try to re-create or produce in a different way, Festivals put their money into bursaries and grants, the Arts Council jumped in with new funding practices and I think a lot of us independent artists felt valued in a new way, though I am very aware that theatres tend to run to the old soldiers like myself in a crisis because they know you can deliver and deliver fast…it is a really hard time for those just embarking on their careers. I was actually incredibly busy….yes, some projects fell away but there were also new projects I never expected to write and as the world opened in 2021 a lot of plays in the making have come on stream….plays like The Visit and The Saviour this year and I have two up for programming next year.
The international world also came too with a new German production of Rathmines Road on the cards and a lovely interpretation of my piece ‘In The Middle of The Fields’ produced in DC earlier this summer. I wrote 3 brand new full length plays during the lockdown, two shorts for the Abbey, a new opera and did various redrafts on other projects so I never stopped writing…indeed it saved my sanity…I am not one to stay at home….I found lockdown really, really tough and had to run west on occasion to get a change of scenery so as to keep the writing going.
Can you tell us about the HOME THEATRE (Ireland) Project and your experience of it?
Home Theatre was a beautiful experience. 30 playwrights going into homes and creating 30 new short plays inspired by the people they met and all produced over two days for neighbours and friends…it was a really inspirational and unique experience for me as an artist. I so enjoyed watching my little play in Maureen’s living room with a small group of her pals…they were hopping from house to house seeing plays and were high as a kite from it. I love audiences and sitting in with this crowd was a joy.
Tell us about The Visit and how you came to write it for Draíocht’s first-ever full theatre production?
The Visit is a play about coercive control and the impact it can have on those living through it. This is an all too familiar phenomenon yet something that has only been legally recognized as a form of abuse recently and something we are only beginning to understand. I was listening to a radio item on ‘coercive control in marriage’ as I drove up to my host’s house in Blanchardstown, then my conversations with her began to give birth to a character, a character who had survived this abuse because my host, Maureen was/is a magnificent woman and a survivor in many ways. I thought I would like to celebrate people like her and the extraordinary capacity in all of us to rise above trauma …and to sail on.
Can you tell us who plays Rose in the play and more about her character?
Mary O’Driscoll plays Rose McGuire in this play, a 52-year-old Dublin woman, recently widowed. We meet her at a moment of catharsis where she has just discovered a truth about her life that both explains a great deal and mystifies her. She is in chasis but she is a most beautiful, quirky, comic and resilient woman…she just doesn’t know it.
What can we expect from this Production?
This play was conceived to be produced during Covid, it is therefore a one-woman odyssey complete with ukulele. You can expect singing, laughter, hurt, cowboy hats and cactus. This is a play that audiences will really enjoy but there is a tragic truth at the heart of it which will linger… giving us all something to think about. Directed by Veronica Coburn with music by Sinead Diskin, Mary, Rose and myself just couldn’t be in better hands.
Deirdre Kinahan’s THE VISIT makes its world premiere at Draíocht Blanchardstown’s running as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2021, from 13 – 16 October.