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Q&A with Kieran Hurley

It probably comes as no surprise that Kieran Hurley is an Arches favourite, and we mean that from both a producing and an audience point of view. There’s something attractive about the genuine heat and political anger beneath the surface of his work; informed and passionate points of view are presented with no hint of condescension, just a real desire to share and open up debate.

Kieran Hurley and Johnny Whoop performing Beats

The last piece of his which we hosted was Beats – as a work-in-progress in 2011, then again in 2012 (and now in 2013 it’s going on tour!). It’s a coming-of-age monologue telling the story of Johnno McCreadie, a teenager from a small Scottish town on the way to his first rave in 1994 – the same year in which the Criminal Justice Act effectively outlawed them.
The combination of the 90s rave music and the energy of Kieran’s one-man performance propelled you towards the bolshiness of the politics involved.

If you want to know more about Kieran you could follow him on Twitter here – he’s very good at it – or The List offers a rather comprehensive overview of his work to date.

We asked him a few questions regarding his brand new piece he has been working on as part of the Auteurs Project, Rantin.

Where did the idea for your Auteurs Project work come from?

I was thinking a lot about music, and how in previous shows music had been a really central part of the language. I wanted to push this further – what happens if I try to tell stories with lyrics as well as prose or dialogue? What would it mean to try to make the whole event feel a bit more like a gig? Thinking about the relationship between music and storytelling got me onto Scotland’s oral tradition and folk culture, and quite quickly I found I was making a show about Scotland, in some sense.

I’ve always felt inspired by 7:84’s The Cheviot, The Stag, And The Black, Black Oil, and this idea of the ceilidh-play, and also recently read And The Land Lay Still by James Robertson which has been big in my thoughts. I put together a great team of core collaborators in Gav Prentice (one half of Over The Wall), Julia Taudevin (who I work with regularly), and Drew Wright (AKA Wounded Knee) and, as ever, it has been a real joint effort.

What has been the highlight of your development process?

As part of my attachment I was able to go to San Francisco to take part in a summer school with Guillermo Gómez-Peña and La Pocha Nostra, an outrageous and inspiring live art collective. The work you’re seeing here is utterly different from anything they would make, but the whole experience really informed my own understanding of what it is I do, and influenced my approach to collaboration as well as my thinking on the politics of culture and identity.

What can audiences expect to see/experience?

It’s basically a collection of short stories and songs – performed by Drew, Gav, Julia, and myself –  which together try to paint a sort of fragmented picture of Scotland, I suppose. About who we are as a collection of people, and where we might be going.  That sounds ludicrously ambitious but it will actually feel like quite a wee, intimate, low-key affair. It may be quite melancholic and reflective at points but also hopefully fun – in the way that a good gig can be all these things at once.

Who would be your perfect theatrical collaborator dead or alive?

Well, I don’t know about that. But I am pleased to be collaborating on this show with my big brother, Liam, who’s working with us as a sort of narrative collaborator and dramaturg. I think it is the first time we’ve worked together since I acted in a Scratch version of his play Rocketville at the Arches, years ago. I’m dead excited that we’re working together again on this.

Describe your piece in three words:

Please see brochure.

Rantin is showing as part of the Auteurs Project from Wed 17th to Fri 19th April at Cottiers Theatre.

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by Kieran Hurley

There’s lots to write about since my last post, but very little time, so I’ll keep this one short.  I’m going to see The Oh Fuck Moment and If These Spasms Could Speak tonight, and when I get a chance I definitely want to write an excited post about how great an event Buzzcut was.

For now, a quick update from me and Johnny Whoop.  Our rehearsal today has mostly involved sitting in the B4 rehearsal room, reading through the (still largely unfinished) rehearsal script and shortlisting different tunes.  It’s been a lot of fun, listening to old mid-nineties rave numbers and trying to piece them together for a theatre show.  Whoop’s knowledge is, of course, invaluable.

He won’t let me give the game away though by telling you what tracks we’ve settled on (and anyway it all might change still), but here’s something we’ve been enjoying  today that may or may not make the final cut.

More soon, I hope


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