Into the Dark Woods: The Evolution of a Play

Into the Dark Woods: The Evolution of a Play

Read a conversation with Petal Pilley, Artistic Director of Blue Teapot Theatre Company and Director of 'Into The Dark Woods' about how the play came to be and why you should go see it this September!

It all started because … Our actors having met and been inspired by a number of writers through their own screen and theatre work and what the written word can become, approached me to say they wanted to write - they were really excited by the idea of writing. So, I asked playwright and dramaturg Eileen Gibbons if she would facilitate a pilot project which became known as The Blank Page in 2016/17. Out of that process it emerged that there were four writers, one of those being Charlene Kelly.

Charlene had such a strong theatrical sensibility in her writing, it was really, really clear that she should be given the opportunity to write a full play. Her relationship with Eileen was strong, Eileen has a very keen sense of how to support dramaturgically without imposing or leading. She asked questions and followed Charlene’s process giving her agency of her own work without minimising the importance of her role as dramaturg. That is a real balance and skill.

We took the first draft of Into the Dark Woods to the floor for 5 weeks last year and worked it rigorously, making sure the conceit held up, and it did. It was amazing to watch Charlene’s joy as she saw her writing come alive, there were several times when she shrieked with delight ‘that’s exactly how I saw it!’ Unbelievably rewarding moments.

Into The Dark Woods Blue Teapot Charlene

It’s been fascinating to watch the Blue Teapot acting ensemble’s response to Charlene’s work, they automatically get it in a way that I've never witnessed before. They respond to her writing in ways that I find it hard to articulate, it's kinaesthetic the way they're picking up her intentions.

I think this piece of work is extraordinary, Charlene’s use of fairy tale archetypes to give voice to being in the world with an intellectual disability and express her experience of it is profoundly intelligent. She prods at labelling and picks over well-meaning but esteem shattering assumptions. There's quite a strong rage within the play, which I see is a really good thing dramatically, there’s power in it. Then conversely she delivers moments so gentle they are like receiving a child’s hand-made gift. Into the Dark Woods is radical.

In 2017 the Abbey reached out with the idea of working with Blue Teapot. We initially proposed that they support Charlene’s play development which they did. As Into the Dark Woods materialised the Abbey came on board to co-produce it. It’s been really easy, I feel like I've had to do less convincing and explaining than ever. It's just been “Yep that's great. Can see that works. Yeah let's go”.

Into The Dark Woods Blue Teapot

Into The Dark Woods
September 14-17
Venue: Black Box Theatre
Duration: 60 minutes, no interval.
Suitable for adults and children aged 10+
A Galway 2020 European Capital of Culture Commission

Preview Wed 14 September 8pm
Relaxed Performances 11am Friday 16 September & 3pm Saturday 17 September (Touch Tour beforehand)

Published on Updated on