Hanif Kureishi, Arinze Kene and Evan Placey, for once, go on stage and tell us how they have become three among the most famous British playwrights worldwide.
At the Franco Parenti theatre, a couple of days ago, the British Hanif Kureishi, Arinze Kene and Evan Placey, and the Italian Luca Scarlini and Renato Gabrielli went on stage – for once – and explained to the audience how they started writing plays. Host of the show, Mrs. Margaret Rose.
First of all, let’s introduce the British playwrights. Hanif Kureishi – according to The Times – is among the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. He is not only a novelist but also a dramatist, a screenwriter, a filmmaker, and – as most British authors – he has written short stories. His work is characterized by recurring themes, such as: nationalism, immigration and sexuality. On the contrary, Arinze Kene – when a boy – wanted to become a doctor. For this reason he started studying physiotherapy but, after a gap year, he decided to opt for acting – Brits will remember him as Connor in EastEnders – and playwrighting. In 2012, his play Little Baby Jesus received two nominations by the panel of the Off West End Theatre Awards (one in the category of Best New Play). Last but not least – and the youngest of the three – Evan Placey won, with his debut full-lenght play, Mother of Him, the King’s Cross Award for New Writing and many other awards, and more recently – in 2012 – he won the Brian Way Award for another play, Holloway Jones.
The two Italian playwrights present were Luca Scarlini and Renato Gabrielli. The first one is an essayist, a translator, enjoys performing as a storyteller and has written for site-specific theatre, i.e. theatrical productions designed to be performed at a unique location – in his case, for exemple, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Paris. Renato Gabrielli is a dramaturg and, of course, a playwright who won, in 2004, with Vendutissimi. Mobile Thriller – a drama performed in a car – the prestigious Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The most important question of the evening was: “What is the theatre today?”. The replies were various.
Hanif Kureishi pointed out that, nowadays, a playwright has to «follow the money», meaning that it seems as if our authors felt utterly compelled to write for all types of media – theatre, television, cinema – and for every kind of audience.
In this sense, Luca Scarlini assumed that in times so hard – as these we are living – change is essential. Indeed, a playwright should take advantage of the crisis in order to create something new – e.g. site-specific dramas but also less expensive performances. Indeed, a cheap performance is a good choice for both: the writer, who can have it performed quite easily, and the audience, who can manage to pay the ticket because it is cheap (in this way, we can promote inclusive audience).
On the other hand, according to Evan Placey – who is now under co-commission with three theatres – writing for different audiences, tackling a variety of forms and topics, can and do work.
Lastly, Renato Gabrielli explained that he prefers: «to work on a global level», referring to practices such as ecotheatre or sustainable theatre. In addition, he claimed that it can be useful to produce long-running plays – which are undoubtedly cheaper for the theatre and the audience.
Excellent event with two theatrical readings – very well performed – of Borderlines by Hanif Kureishi and Little baby Jesus by Arinze Kene.
Creative conversations (in theatre) took place:
The Franco Parenti theatre
Wednesday, March 20
14, Pier Lombardo Street – Milano