Aoife Lennon talks about bringing the ‘working class’ to the arts in KILLYMUCK

Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your performing background?
I’m originally from Co. Louth which nobody has ever heard of so I just say it’s between Belfast and Dublin! There weren’t a lot of opportunities to perform where I grew up and you can’t study Drama as a subject at schools in Ireland but I always knew I wanted to perform. When I left school I did a Drama degree then came to London to go to Drama school. This is my first solo show and I am all sorts of excited and nervous.

Tell me about your show, what it is all about?
Inspired by real events, Killymuck tells the story of a housing estate built on a pauper’s graveyard in 1970s’ Ireland. Niamh navigates life through the parameters, trials and tribulations of being a kid from the benefit class system. Lack of opportunity, educational barriers, impoverishment, addiction and depression are the norms as her struggle to escape the underclass stereotype becomes a priority.

How long have you been working on this show and what is it that makes it relevant to audiences in 2018?
I’ve been involved with this show from the very beginning. I first did a reading of it in February at the University in Derry that both myself and Kat (Woods) went to. It has changed so much since then and seeing it shape and evolve has been such a joy. The play is predominantly about class which I think has never been more relevant than right now. It is harder than ever for working class people in the arts to get their voices heard.

Do you have any top tips for surviving the Edinburgh Fringe Festival – both for performers and visitors to the event?
Performers – look after yourselves and each other. Edinburgh is such a rollercoaster of emotions and although it’s easier said than done try not to get too caught up in reviews. It’s a slippery slope.
Visitors – do your research before you come up and book ahead but definitely leave space for discovering new shows while you’re there

What has been the funniest or most embarrassing thing that has ever happened to you on stage?
When I was doing Mule at Edinburgh in 2016 (also written and directed by Kat) we had a blackout on stage. It happened to be when Lissy Newman was in (Paul Newman and Joanna Woodward’s daughter) she is a huge fan of Kat’s work and she shouted out ‘Well I think you two are doing a great job’ – it broke the awkward silence and everyone cheered. It was embarrassing but amazing.

Who are your biggest inspirations in the industry and why?
To be honest my friends are the ones who inspire me the most. Kat is hugely inspiring. I’ve watched her work double shifts in a restaurant to self-fund this play. Another friend Kayleigh Llewellyn who has just had a pilot commissioned by the BBC is another huge inspiration to me. Both her and Kat have written these incredibly personal narratives and I’m astounded by their bravery and hard work. What absolute queens. I’m so lucky to know them.

Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Oh I love a ritual. I do a warm up and always make a playlist specific to the show that I will listen to on my walk to the venue. Then myself and Kat do a prayer and have a hug.

What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at Edinburgh Fringe?
I’m excited about so much. I love seeing comedy and my favourite improv group The Committee are there this year. I’m excited to see State of Mind which is a verbatim piece about mental health and All We Ever Wanted Was Everything by Hull based group Middle Child.

Why do you think people should come and see your show over the thousands of others on at the Fringe?
I’m always seeing articles asking ‘where are all the working class people in the arts?’. We are here. Working twice as hard as everyone else to try and get our voices heard. I don’t think the Fringe will be flooded with working class voices for this very reason so please give us your support!

Underbelly McEwan Hall (Jersey), Teviot Place, Edinburgh, EH8 9AG
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 13th), 18:25


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