BASED in Dublin, playwright and producer Deirdre Kinahan has earned widespread critical acclaim over the past two months for her play, These Halcyon Days, which opened in New York in June and has since toured Ireland.
Premiered at last year’s Dublin Theatre Festival, These Halcyon Days sees actor Stephen Brennan play Seán, a man in advanced years who sits alone in a conservatory, abandoned to his memories.
His world is suddenly transformed by Patricia (Anita Reeves), a feisty woman with a love of life and men in wheelchairs.
The play this month received its British premiere as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and during its run we spent ten minutes with Deirdre Kinahan…
What are you up to right now?
I am co-writing my first feature film for the Irish Film Board. I have a new play on BBC Radio 4 in October and a new play for Fishamble Theatre Company to premiere next year. I have a few other projects bubbling too.
Who are your heroes?
Noel Browne, radical Irish politician in the fifties. Emily Pankhurst and all those suffragettes, Irish and national. Joyce Carol Oates, a brilliant American novelist.
Ordinary people who do extraordinary things like Ibtihal, a Muslim woman I worked with recently who fled Iraq and then Syria with her family before settling in Ireland.
What song would you like played at your funeral?
Days by The Kinks, because life is sweet.
What record sends a shiver down your spine?
Sexual Healing by Marvyn Gaye.
What is your favourite place in Ireland?
That’s a tough one. I love the view of Dublin from Mount Venus in the Dublin Mountains. I love Howth. I love the Boyne Valley. A beautiful place called Glentassig wood in Co. Kerry. Fanore Co. Clare. The Aran Islands. Roscarberry in West Cork. Birr County Offaly. Galway City, Sligo Town… Oh, too hard a question!
What is your most treasured possession?
My mother’s wedding rings.
What makes you angry?
Bad politics, misogyny, greed and fanatical religious absolutes.
What book influenced you most?
The Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
If you could change one thing in your life, what would it be?
I would love more children.
What gives your life meaning?
My children. My family. Art and nature.
Can you tell me a joke?
No. A good story or a funny story certainly but I’m uselss at telling jokes!
Can you recommend an interesting website?
Hairy Baby T Shirts, great gifts and really really funny T shirts — www.hairybaby.ie
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother used to say ‘Don’t go to bed on a row’. I don’t think I ever have!
When did you last cry?
Oh, possibly 10 minutes ago. I’m a wuss. I cry regularly at the theatre or watching films or if I hear anything sad, funny or particularly joyous. My eight-year-old daughter had to practically sedate me watching Up.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
A very happy lady.
What is your favourite film and why?
Another difficult question. I can’t say I have an absolute favourite but I did love Breakfast on Pluto by Neil Jordan with Cillian Murphy. I loved the madness and vulnerability of it. Also love Garage by Mark O’Halloran.
What is your passion?
Theatre. I started writing and producing plays in my garage when I was about seven.
What do you have hanging on your walls at home that you like looking at most?
My kids’ drawings of the family and some paintings by good contemporary Irish artists I have met over the years. I have a horse by Debbie O Hair that I love.
What was your most formative experience?
Travelling through Asia and South America with my boyfriend (now husband) in my twenties.
What do you believe in?
Living every minute. Loving those around you and trying not to hurt anyone as you make your way through life.
What trait do others criticise you for?
My enthusiasm can be exhausting.
What is the funniest thing you’ve ever seen or heard?
Unfortunately nothing makes me laugh as quickly as someone falling over.
What is your favourite word one-liner or retort?
Mine’s a pint.
What would your motto be?
Seize the day.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Where do you live and what are the best and worst things about that place?
I live in the countryside in Co. Meath. The best thing about it is the birdsong and the worst is that you have to drive to the local pub and shop.
Which Irish work of art would you recommend most highly?
I love public art. The famine statues at the IFSC in Dublin. The little girl swinging on a pole in Mount Street. The Bull in Market Square Navan and the horseman who looms over the motorway on the road from Dublin to Sligo.
I love these enormous statues that are incongruous and yet uniquely linked to the landscape. They tell a story.
The best thing about the past 12 months was…
A safari with my husband and two children in South Africa last November. Once in a lifetime experience.
My biggest goal over the next 12 months is…
To get this feature film made!
These Halcyon Days runs at Edinburgh’s Assembly Hall until August 25.