THEATRE DIRECTOR Andrew Flynn is in for a busy few weeks in the lead up to Cúirt as he is directing two plays in the festival.
The plays are Stacey Gregg’s Perve, performed by students from NUIG’s BA Connect Programme, and Breathing Corpses, written by Laura Wade and staged by Galway Youth Theatre.
Both Belfast-born Gregg and Sheffield woman Wade, are among the rising stars of today’s playwriting generation which was part of their attraction for Flynn.
“The thing about Cúirt is it gives you an opportunity to look at writers who might not be so well known,” he declares. “While both Laura Wade and Stacy Gregg might be known to theatre people, it’s not as if they’re John B Keane or Brian Friel so this is a good opportunity for GYT and the BA Connect group to look at something modern by up-and-coming young writers.
“And they’re both female; it’s often been said in the past that there weren’t enough female writers but these are two very strong female writers. Also, I needed to find two plays that could work hand in hand in terms of staging because there’s a very short turn around between them and these two gave me that. And last, but not least, they’re also very good scripts.”
Moving on to discuss the plays individually, Flynn commences with Perve.
“Perve is a very new play - its first production was just last year in the Abbey,” he begins. “It’s a very topical piece which explores subjects that may be somewhat taboo. It’s about a young man called Gethin who is fascinated by the fact that people can get hysterical over certain things or certain words – when I was younger the word AIDS would cause alarm among people and in this generation a word that can trigger hysteria is paedophile.
“The play explores what happens to the notion of being innocent until proven guilty and can there be smoke without fire? Gethin decides to demonstrate how people get hysterical and jump to conclusions so he gets his sister to plant a rumour about him being a pedophile but then it all spirals out of control and he ends up in deep trouble. That said it’s a very funny play, Stacey Gregg is very talented, she writes wonderful characters. It’s a play that makes you think about rumours and about rushing to label people.”
And what of Laura Wade’s Breathing Corpses?
“Breathing Corpses is a completely different kettle of fish,” Flynn replies. “It’s a kind of whodunit. Wade is fascinated with the subject of death, it features in several of her other plays. The starting point of Breathing Corpses is what happens when someone finds a dead body and the consequences of it. Wade takes that idea and runs riot with it; a body is found in a hotel room, another body is found in a park, and elsewhere there’s a smell coming from a cold storage unit.
“The story isn’t told chronologically, it’s a bit of a jigsaw puzzle – it’s not unlike Pulp Fiction in that respect. It’s a play where the audience have to try and figure out who did what. It’s very clever and is also a very good examination of relationships and the different ways in which people react to death. And again it is very funny, it has a very black humour, almost like Martin McDonagh at times but it has its serious message as well.”
GYT’s staging of Breathing Corpses sees it augment the original cast numbers.
“There is a cast of eight in the original play but we’ve added a chorus which is something we tried in our 2010 Cúirt show, Yellow Moon,” Flynn explains. “As we did in that show, we’re using live music to link the scenes. Overall we have 25 performers involved in the production. The music and the chorus combine to help move the play along and make the story easier to follow.”
Both plays run from Monday April 23 to Sunday 29 at Nuns Island Theatre. Perve commences at 5pm and Breathing Corpses at 8pm. Tickets are available from the Town Hall on 091 - 569777 and www.tht.ie