An interview with Patrick Marmion - writer of Keith? | Arcola Theatre

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An interview with Patrick Marmion – writer of Keith?


Keith? A Comedy opens at Arcola on 13 February – we spoke to the play’s writer Patrick Marmion about the piece.


Keith? marks your third production at Arcola. Did you write the piece with Arcola in mind? How does knowing a venue affect the writing process?

I’m not sure I did write Keith? with the Arcola in mind because you never know who’s going to be mad enough to take your play on. Having said that what’s exciting about the Arcola stage is that it loves really bold writing. Other theatres often favour a certain kind of chin-stroking naturalism or artful picture painting. At the Arcola you can strike free and enjoy the very close, highly charged relationship with the audience. I love to see actors taking flight with language, doing and saying things they could never normally get away with in public. It seems to me the Arcola audiences are very up for that too.

Molière seems to be having a bit of a revival at the moment; why do you think his work still resonates with today’s audience?

The great thing about Molière is that he writes about the whole of society but focuses on small family units. He wrote at a time in 17th century France when there were very clear social structures with a King who was basically a dictator and a moral order that was a totalitarian regime. People had to be very careful what they did and said. For better or for worse I think we may be drifting into our own version of that with a highly censorious puritanism where people are dizzy with self-righteousness and very unforgiving. What we all need in this deeply constipated and neurotic mindset is to be allowed to take ourselves less seriously and forgive each other instead of trying to nuke each other on Twitter. The truth is we like each other much better than we pretend.

As someone who writes both stage plays and screenplays, what are the strongest similarities and differences between the mediums?

Film and theatre has even less in common than is often imagined. They’re both mediums of storytelling, but that’s about it. The biggest difference is one’s dead and the other’s alive. I have worked as a film critic and I was shocked by how dehumanising it is being shut in a darkened room for an entire day to be bombarded by other people’s visions of the world. In theatre you can cheer or jeer and it impacts on the stage. It’s a living interaction. It’s also much more fun writing for the stage. You can tell stories that would never get made for film because the costs are too high and lowest common denominator thinking dominates everything. In theatre you can respond to real issues in real time, and sometimes it will last forever like it has for Shakespeare or Molière.

What do you want people to take away from the piece?

Love and forgiveness. The whole Brexit debacle has been a thoroughly miserable experience for all of us whatever side you’re on. Weirdly, no one apart from politicians and news reporters seems willing to speak of it lest it end in a fist fight, divorce or civil war. It has become the big fat hairy mammoth in the room that no one mentions. Whatever the outcome, I hope Keith? helps people to lighten up and gives them some respite from this evil curse – even if it’s just for 90 minutes.

Book your Keith? tickets today.

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Mon 18

Keith?

February 13, 2019 @ 12:00 am - March 9, 2019
Mon 18

Seeds: The Round Shape of All Things Red

February 18, 2019 @ 7:00 pm - February 22, 2019
Mon 18

Women of Troy

February 18, 2019 @ 8:30 pm - February 22, 2019
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Where We Are: The Mosque

February 25, 2019 @ 8:00 am - February 27, 2019
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