In Conversation with Dennis Kelly, Writer of DNA
We caught up with DNA's writer, Dennis Kelly, to find out what he has to say about staging DNA.
Dennis Kelly is a British writer, whose work for theatre includes the Olivier and Tony-award winning Matilda The Musical, Debris, Osama The Hero, After The End, Love And Money, Taking Care Of Baby, Orphans, The Gods Weep, DNA, The Ritual Slaughter Of Gorge Mastromas, Girls & Boys and Pinnochio. Dennis' work for television includes writing and creating Utopia and co-writing and co-creating Pulling. For film, he wrote the screenplay for Black Sea, directed by Kevin MacDonald and starring Jude Law.
When our production opens the play itself will be just over ten years old. When you wrote the play were you thinking about it as a response to a specific event at the time?
Not really. It was just about the idea of whether it's ever justified to do something that hurts the individual for the sake of the group. It follows our country going to war and the fear of increasingly draconian laws being put into place because people were scared.
In a number of scenes Leah consistently talks to Phil who almost never answers. Were these difficult scenes to write? For you, why doesn't Phil speak? And, why does Leah keep talking?
They weren't difficult as Leah was doing the talking and that seemed fine. I think she talks because Phil doesn't, and I think Phil doesn't talk because it makes the most sense. He knows that this is a dangerous time in his life, the kids around him are behaving in increasingly dangerous ways - he figures if he just keeps quiet and eats for the next coupe of years he may just get through this. Unfortunately he doesn't, he stops eating, starts talking and gets involved. And that's when things go wrong.
That advice would you give to young theatre makers and performers who are putting on DNA?
Try and say the lines as accurately as you can. I don't say that as the writer trying to make you say what I've written, but I've noticed that with plays like this because sometimes the lines feel a bit stumbley and natural people are sometimes less accurate - but whenever that happens they get into trouble. The best actors I know work on every comma and full stop - they try and find out the reason they're there and use them. The lines are a structure for your performance, and if you build strength into that structure you build strength into your performance.
DNA plays at The REP 27 Mar – 7 Apr.
For tickets and more information on the DNA Resource Pack click here.
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