Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Kath Haling: The Least We Could Do

By | Published on Friday 6 October 2023

I was very much interested as soon as I heard about ‘The Least We Could Do’ – which opens this week at The Hope Theatre – for a number of reasons. 

Firstly, the play is about what happens when the media or the public turn on people who are in the public eye, and the effects of the witch-hunts that often ensue. Secondly, it’s a debut play and we love to hear about those.

And thirdly, it’s a debut play from someone whose career has hitherto been more focused in the music space, and I was really interested to find out about the motivation for this new direction. 

The talented creative behind ‘The Least We Could Do’ is Kath Haling. I spoke to her, to find out more about her career and the play. 

CM: Can you start by telling us what ‘The Least We Could Do’ is all about? What story does it tell?
KH: ‘The Least We Could Do’ shines a spotlight on the unravelling of individuals caught in the unforgiving gaze of the public eye. It looks at the dark side of fame and the consequences of our collective actions. And in a more general way it looks at how kindness can so easily slip by the wayside.

CM: What themes are explored through the play?
KH: We look at the effects of the media witch-hunt and how it can truly harm someone’s mental state.

We look at the pressures and motivations that can make us behave in a manner that can negatively affect another. We ask what drives us to gossip and why do we, as a collective public, seem to revel in a celebrity’s demise.

CM: Does the play have a message? Would you regard it as political?
KH: I wouldn’t say it’s political but we definitely aim to raise a conversation around how the public and the media treat people in the public eye.

There does seem to still be a lack of care, which seems to be ongoing. Even after a well known celebrity took her own life in 2020 we continue to engage with trolling and tearing people down.

CM: Can you tell us a bit about the cast and creative team working on this production?
KH: Our director, Katharine Farmer, is a long term collaborator of mine whom I love and trust implicitly. We have an incredible cast consisting of Melissa Saint, Olivia Lindsay and Dan Wolff, who have thrown themselves into this text in such an incredible way.

CM: What inspired you to write this? What made you want to write about this subject, these themes?
KH: I read an article written by Polly Vernon in Grazia just after the tragic death of Caroline Flack and was really moved by what she said.

She raised the fact that even idle gossip about celebrities plays into the bigger picture of trolling and how we really just need to learn to be more kind.

And also maybe ask ourselves why we feel the need to talk trash about these people we don’t even know. The article really stuck with me and I knew I had to address this topic in a play.

CM: This is your debut play and it sounds like your previous work – though in the creative space – was quite different. How did you find the transition to this kind of writing? What made you decide to take that leap?
KH: I’ve always been a songwriter/composer within the pop and theatre world and it wasn’t until I wrote both the book and music for a show called ‘Sunshine’ that I started to flex my skills for writing straight dialogue.

I found I really enjoyed it, so when I found myself with a phenomenal amount of spare time on my hands in 2020 I decided to take the plunge and write a play.

CM: Can you tell us a bit more about the work you’ve done before this, your career thus far? Was it what you always wanted to do? How did your career begin?
KH: I’ve written songs my entire life. I performed my first song in primary school, so composing has always been a part of who I am.

I worked in the pop industry for a few years with some very minor success but I always had a desire to write musicals. When I realised the pop industry wasn’t for me I really started to focus on musical theatre and instantly felt it was the place I needed to be.

I love music but I also love telling stories, so now I love the opportunity to tell stories in many different formats whether it’s a pop song, musical, play and hopefully one day film and TV.

CM: What have been the highlights of your working life so far?
KH: I love the development/workshop process.

So for many of my projects the highlight is when you’re in a room with musical directors, directors, actors, co-writers and friends and just playing with new material, whether it’s song or script.

There’s something magical about seeing things come off the page and to life. I find the theatre community extremely supportive and so densely talented. It’s an honour to do what I do and work with the people I work with.

CM: What aims and ambitions do you have for the future? Do you have plans to do more writing for theatre?
KH: I would like to write for musical theatre, theatre, film and TV. I  would love to spread my projects across all formats.

And of course, I want to write for Disney. When I get to write my own ‘Frozen’, that will be the pinnacle for me.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
KH: I have two musicals at different stages of development. The first is ‘Sunshine’ and is with Perfect Pitch, which is looking at a very new and exciting theatre format. The other is called ‘Woodhouse’ and is a musical adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’. I’m extremely excited about both.

‘The Least We Could Do’ is on at The Hope Theatre from 10-28 Oct. For more information and to book tickets see the venue website here.