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York
A Chat With Award-Winning Playwright Mike Kenny
Lauren Masterman, York Correspondent
Thomas Edward-Bennett, Sally Ann Staunton and Matthew Hamper - The Boy Who Cried Wolf. Photo by Brian Slater Photography
In October last year, I had the pleasure of seeing Tutti Frutti's enchanting production of The Boy Who Cried Wolf at York Theatre Royal. When I discovered that the Play was making a return in time for Christmas, I jumped at the chance to speak with it's creator, the Award-Winning Playwright, Mike Kenny, who was also the writing genius behind Blood and Chocolate, The Railway Children, York Mystery Plays 2012 and many more Yorkshire favourites. Yey!

How did you become a Playwright?

I sort of got into it by accident- I feel a bit embarrassed about saying that because it's one of those jobs that so many people would like to do- but it did just sort of happen.

When I started out I always thought I would be an actor. I trained at Leeds Playhouse and taught with the Education Department; we went into schools teaching drama and I was acting at the same time.

I was still planning on being an actor, my partner is an actress, but between acting work I was writing and I found that I had a facility for it; then before I knew it, I was a playwright.

Mike Kenny
What was it that made you want to focus on children's theatre?

I think I do just particularly enjoy doing it; I find kids fascinating.

I've got three of my own- they are grown up now but when the youngest was a toddler and the oldest was a teenager we would all be sat around the table having a meal; the conversations that you have always have to be inclusive and the conversations you have with a teenager would be uncensored in front of the toddler so it was a matter of finding a way to keep all ages engaged, just like an audience.

They are the most honest audience- they won't do you any favours and if they aren't interested they will let you know.

This is what appeals to me; it keeps you on your toes.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I always carry around notebooks and am forever jotting things down. It's a strange thing inspiration; it's sort of just about paying attention really and being observant- you can find inspiration everywhere.

With three children you just notice things. My oldest has just left for university though, and I did wonder if I would struggle but that hasn't happened yet. They do say that it's part inspiration, part perspiration; you just have to start writing and see what comes of it, you just get on with it.

Do you have any quirky writing habits?

To be honest, I'm a bit scared of the perfect writing conditions. I always worked on the move when the kids were little, I was always surrounded by chaos and that made me have to go into myself to write; I don't think I really like the quiet.

For my 60th birthday I got an iPad. I take it everywhere, which means I can write wherever I am; on the move, on the bus, at the library- I think this is my main quirk, I like to write on the move.

If I get stuck I go for a walk, they say that don't they? That if you go away from it, it will magically work itself out! Cooking is another great way to get the creativity juices flowing; I do enjoy cooking.

Also, until it got eaten by moths, I used to have a writing cardigan!

I reviewed The Boy Who Cried Wolf the last time it was showing at York Theatre Royal; have you changed much from that performance?

Well, it's got more music, more songs, it is a bit longer with an interval which makes it a bit more relaxed, and we have a lot more sheep!

What do you think is your biggest achievement?

I think I'm best known for the production of The Railway Children but I did a Play some years ago called Walking the Tightrope, which is about grandparents and grandchildren and how to deal with and talk about death. I feel like they're the ones that will really last; the small, intimate Plays.

What are you working on next?

Well, York Theatre Royal is moving out of its current residence and into the National Railway Museum. We are currently working on a Play called Steam, which will take place all over the museum; this will be on in the summer, around June.

The Boy Who Cried Wolf will be showing at Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield from December 12th- 28th.

A Chat With Award-Winning Playwright Mike Kenny, 3rd December 2014, 10:47 AM