Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Áine Ryan: Kitty In The Lane

By | Published on Friday 28 April 2023

I have heard lots of great things about the work of award winning playwright and performer Áine Ryan in recent times, and so was happy to see that she’s performing one of her much lauded plays at Jack Studio this month. 

‘Kitty In The Lane’ tells the story of an isolated young woman living in rural Ireland and was staged to lots of acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe a while back. Sometimes, we see great plays up at the Festival that we never hear of again, which is really sad, so we love it when something we heard of there continues to be performed. 

I wanted to find out more about the play and the creative force behind it, so I spoke to Áine ahead of her upcoming run. 

CM: Can you start by telling us about the narrative of ‘Kitty In The Lane’? Who is it about and what story does it tell? 
AR: It’s the story of an isolated young woman in rural Ireland – Kitty. Her brother has recently died and she is currently running the farm alone, as her father is bedridden due to sickness and unable to move.

The action takes place on the night of a beauty pageant in the local village which she is supposed to be attending with her boyfriend. However, he is failing to show up to collect her. 

CM: What themes does the play explore?
AR: It explores grief, isolation, loneliness and family relationships.  

CM: What inspired you to write a play about this subject, these themes?  
AR: I wrote my BA dissertation on the relationship of young Irish female characters and their fathers, and how that relationship is portrayed on the stage in previous Irish drama.

I started out just wanting to explore young female protagonists, but realised how strong an influence family is on Irish drama and headed in that direction for the dissertation. 

My head was swirling with ideas after soaking up so much knowledge on this, and I wanted to write my own first play also, so Kitty was born from that. 

CM: When you created the play, were you always intending to perform it yourself? 
AR: Yes! I love performing also and I definitely knew I could really give a strong performance as Kitty. She’s a mixture of things – tough, vulnerable, shattered, determined.

Maybe in the future I will grow out of the character but for now she’s mine to perform. I don’t perform in all my plays, but Kitty is special, so it would be a battle to give her up to another actor. 

CM: How does your creative process work? Do you sit down and write, or devise in other ways?
AR: Yes – I normally sit down and drink tea!! Also, I read my work aloud.

I allow the characters to speak to each other and record myself – sometimes ideas are born from just letting them play, but I love working with a pen – though obviously the hard and exciting work begins with the edits.

All my work is heavily edited from the first draft. 

CM: You performed this a while ago at the Edinburgh Fringe? Has the play changed or developed since then? 
AR: Yes – certain parts of the dialogue and writing have changed. I was able to fix things I wasn’t fully sure of in the script, so hopefully this is the best version. Also, now there is a new production team and a new director. 

CM: Can you tell us a bit about yourself now? How did you come to be pursuing a career in the arts? Was it what you always wanted to do? How did your career begin? 
AR: I’ve loved writing and performing since I was a child. My family are all creative people so I guess it was a very natural thing for me to explore my imagination.

I studied a BA in Theatre at Goldsmiths, and after that I’ve been trying to create good work and write plays that are of a really excellent quality. I’m just getting started really! 

CM: What have been the highlights of your career thus far?
AR: I love getting five star reviews! Anytime I see a five star review for a show I’ve done, it really thrills me as it’s a reward and recognition for all the hard work that goes on behind the scenes. 

I previously got to perform ‘Kitty In The Lane’ in San Francisco for three weeks  – which was pretty special – and also in Philadelphia. I guess it’s fun getting to travel and perform simultaneously – two of my passions!

Having a sell out run of my previous play ‘Paddy Goes To Petra’ in London was pretty brilliant also! 

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? 
AR: I want to write plays that go on to play bigger theatres and have bigger cast sizes, but that can still pack the same punch as ‘Kitty’! 

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this? 
AR: ‘Paddy Goes To Petra’ is running in Ireland at the end of May for a festival there. After that, I have several new scripts to finish so I’ll be focusing on completing those and hopefully trying to get one of them into production soon enough.

‘Kitty In The Lane’ is on at Jack Studio from 2-13 May. For more information and to book tickets head to the venue website here.

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