A play is like juggling jelly (Mike Kenny)

Wednesday 15 May 2013
by  (^°^)
popularity : 3%

We’ve met Mike Kenny early a Thursday morning (the 11th of April 2013) in the town library of the cité scolaire internationale Europole.

We talked about Upstage, Pantomime, piles of shoes and Imelda; overlooking four gardens.

You can read bits of the conversation we had with him and Séverine Magois, his french translator.

"Being a playwright is like being a sculptor, as opposed to be a writer: you have to see a play, to hear it acted".

"In England, nobody thinks a child would want to read a play."

About The Forgetting: "I am 11, 17, 29 years old forever (which was a good age). Sometimes you wake up and all the years in between seem to have disappeared. Your body changes but inside not at all...

I loved working on it. That was a play that came very quickly."

"As a kid, I did like writing. I liked reading mostly, I was a big reader. Writing started at school. We were given a subject: giant, witch and donkey. My story won a competition. [...]

Working in the theatre is a bit different because there’s a company, actors, working on it and you have a feedback.

When the homework is due, you have to finish it and then somebody marks your homework: the director, the actors, the audience.

Until it’s there on the paper, a play is like juggling jelly.

I’m always writing more than one thing at the same time.

I’ve a slight butterfly mind and think about a lot of things at the same time."

- How long does it take you to write a play ?
- "How high is up? How long is a piece of string? Plays are dialogue: people talking to each other."

"People who are certain about things disturb me."

Mike Kenny lives in York, "a medieval city which has a set of plays which began in the 13th century. The York Mystery Plays. They were done by the people of York, there were about 14 hours of play, I had to write a 3 hours play".

- http://www.yorkmysteryplays.co.uk/
- http://www.yorkmysteryplays-2012.com/
- http://www.yorkmysteryplays.org/

This changed his everyday life, as people started to recognize him in the street. Once, in a bakery, a man was looking at him, as if he knew him :
- "Hello...
- You’re Mike, aren’t you? I’m Judas...
- I hope you’re not going to kiss me."

Mike Kenny is "working on a new thing called Blood +Chocolate.




"York used to be a big chocolate town before the first world war (which was called the war to end wars), with Rowntree and Jerry’s". This performance will take place in the streets of York and 300 people in the audience will be wearing headphones... listening to people speaking on their balcony, like a movie conversation, or to music, nobody will know what’s in the play and what is not"

Are your characters real or made up ?
- Mike Kenny: "I don’t quite know the answer to that. They are probably a strange combination of the two. You have to use what you’ve got. Auntie Lynda is in a lot of my plays. She is in Imelda Baglady. She is a great storyteller who starts at the beginning, the middle and the end at the same time. She cannot keep anything in her mind.

My dad came from Manchester; he was Irish, my mom was Welsh, they were characters.

Don’t let the world censor you if you want to write. That’s the stuff that writing is all about. If you want to do it, don’t let anybody tell you... look it face on and like it like it is."

Which is your favourite play?
- "I hate it when people ask me that one. It’s like asking which of your children is your favourite. I’ve written over a hundred plays. I like Walking the tightrope, Stepping Stones... I wrote Stepping Stones for people so disabled you can’t always tell if you’re communicating with them. ...The company works with touch, feel and smell... I wrote Stepping Stones so it could be all sense and smell; and it worked. After that, every play I wrote had to have lots of smells, food, senses."

"A few plays have disappeared forever, though one’s judgment is not always accurate because they have to be acted.

My first play wasn’t so great but you have to start somewhere. You have to be kind with yourself."

"I start my plays on two places:
- on a touchpad
- and on a notebook I carry around. This one is an address book but it works to make lots of notes and then I put them on a computer. I write with a fountain pen : it feels nice, it is a bit like dancing.

’Edmond the Learned Pig’ is on the tablet. I copy a play several times to keep the first copies. I don’t know where it’s going. I don’t make a plan. So I start at the beginning and go back to it when I get stuck, and I slowly get to the end.

My plays are quite dark. Dark plays about life. The world is not all the time a great place that keeps singing. The first play that I wrote was called the "House that Jack Built".

I thought I was a genius when I finished my first play, I was really proud of it."

"Avoid people who give you the creeps."

- Mike Kenny

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