Name: Hannah Kennedy
Currently reading/binging/playing: A lot of books on the history of Science Fiction for an upcoming project.
Favourite play or playwright: So difficult to choose but I recently reread ‘The Children’ by Lucy Kirkwood which I adore so I’ll say that.
Favorite kind of Duck: The red-breasted merganser!
Learn a bit more about our Ducks playwright in this Q&A with Sharon
How did you get into theatre?
It’s really difficult to pinpoint when I decided ‘theatre is for me’ because it feels as though it’s always been there. As a child, I did a lot of amateur dramatics and went to a Saturday drama group which I adored. I spent some time pursuing acting but, eventually, realised the thing that I loved most about being in theatre was the storytelling and the thing I didn’t really like as much was the performing. So, I spent some time writing short plays and submitting them to scratch nights and, before I knew it, I was calling myself a writer.
What about writing do you enjoy the most?
The most exciting part of the writing process for me is the creation of a new world and getting to spend some time in it. So, I suppose, the daydreaming part of writing is the best part. That being said, the reason I write and continue to write is for the moment you’re in a room with the script, actors and a director and all the pieces suddenly fall into place. The actual writing of the script is really only the beginning. The piece doesn’t feel finished until it has a wonderful team around it and that is what I enjoy the most.
Do you have a favourite place to write?
I’m not particularly precious about where I write. I can write most places provided I have a set of headphones, a cracking playlist and a Coke Zero. It’s more about the ‘vibe’.
Tell us about how Ducks came about.
‘Ducks’ started life as a short play that I was writing to work through some feelings and thoughts I had about myself and my relationship to mental health. At the time, I was struggling with my own mental health (although, I didn't really realise it at the time) and ‘Ducks’ really began as a tool for me to reframe these ideas I had about love and mental health and relationships.
The 15-minute version of the piece was first performed at an event produced by SparkHaus and was directed by the wonderful Julia Stubbs. Without her, this play would not have existed in the way it does. After spending some time developing the short play, I began to be able to see what the play was really about and that it needed more space and time to breathe if I was going to explore everything I wanted to. I gave myself some time to sit down and expand the piece and, so, ‘Ducks’ as we know it today was created.
In the stage direction of Ducks you write ‘This play should feel disorientated.’ How does disorientation speak to the world of Ducks?
‘Ducks’ is a story about many things but the way we perceive the world when dealing with trauma or poor mental health is at the heart of it. Disorientation speaks to that, in my opinion. Being able to emulate the disorientation of how we experience time and space is very important to me for creating a world in which these ideas are explored.
At the heart of Ducks is a couple grappling with the realities of loving someone with mental health challenges. Why is it important for you to tell this story?
In life, I think it’s very likely that you will encounter challenges relating to mental health. It might not be your own, it may be someone you love but it seems unlikely that you could live an entire life without having to navigate the challenges that poor mental health presents. In my own life, I know I’ve struggled with my mental health quite severely and also been trying to support someone who is also struggling; sometimes both at the same time.
I wanted to be able to tell a story about three people who are incredibly humanly flawed and look at the way in which they all attempt to handle that. Challenges with mental health, I feel, are often glamorised in the media and I think being able to tell the story of real people trying to just live their lives in a world where mental health difficulties are a real problem is so important, especially after the last two years we’ve all had. I hope this opens conversations regarding how to support each other when we are processing trauma or facing challenges with our mental health.
What’s next up for you?
I’m currently coming towards the end of my MFA in Writing for Stage and Broadcast Media at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in which I’ve been working on a TV pilot and a stage play. I am excited to be able to share them soon. After the cancellation of VAULT Fest, my play about the funeral industry, ‘Dead Positive’, is currently looking for a home, and I am also currently under commission from the University of Chichester to write a new play about grief and camping, ‘Twigs’.
Check out these links for more info on Hannah and their upcoming work: