Call Redialed: Peter Darney: "Memorare"
It's been almost a year and half since Peter Darney's 5 Guys Chillin' seduced the NY stage. Now, Peter is back on the boards, but this time around he's directing a new play by Steven Carl McCasland, Memorare.
In Memorare, a young Nigerian postulant arrives at a New York City convent for refuge, prayer and a new beginning on a hot summer day in July, 1964. Meanwhile, a 15-year-old black boy has been shot and killed by a white police officer in Harlem. The streets are raging with riots. The questions that arise in the aftermath of in the postulant's arrival will change the Sisters of Mercy, and the postulant, forever.
Memorare is playing at St. John's Lutheran Church in NYC's West Village (81 Christopher Street) through January 27! Click here for tickets!
1. After a sold-out run of your play 5 Guys Chillin' in 2016's Fringe Festival, you are back in the states directing Steven Carl McCasland's new play Memorare. What attracted you to this play? When I first read Memorare, I loved the way that the play blended a historic event with a fictitious narrative. I was gripped by the way the turmoil from Harlem entered a tranquil convent, and how it mirrored the world outside, in such an unlikely setting. I was touched by it’s poetry, and I respected the way it tackled such a big issue.
2. How did you first come to know Steven's work? I first came to know of Steven’s work when we met at the Drama Bookshop, and he gave me one of his plays to read. We kept in touch, and a year later he sent me Memorare to read and asked me to direct.
3. What is it about your directing skills that you feel line with Steven's writing? Steven’s text is dense, complex, rhythmic and poetic. My directing style is about clarity, detail and connecting to each other. If you know what you're doing, the other actor in any given moment, and why you’ve chosen the words you have chosen in that second, then the poetry looks after itself. So I think the two styles combine to keep it lyrical yet focused and with purpose.
4. In this play, a young Nigerian postulant arrives at a New York City convent for refuge, prayer and a new beginning on a hot summer day in July, 1964. When you are looking for refuge, prayer, and a new beginning, where do you turn to? I think working in the arts, we frequently have a new beginning, as we constantly work with new people, in new places, and on new things, so I’d say I get it from my work. If I’m looking for refuge - a coffee at the national. Or a trip back home to South Wales for a long run along the side of the river.
5. Also in this show a 15-year-old, unarmed black boy has been shot and killed by a white police officer in Harlem. The streets are raging with riots. The questions that arise in the aftermath of the Postulant's arrival will change the Sisters of Mercy forever. How do you feel the answers discovered in Memorare will help us as a society? I think this play is so timely. We are witnessing a time of turmoil. Some of us are moving backward, and living with less tolerance and acceptance than ever before. It’s vital right now to hold on to the lessons of the past. Not to judge. To accept. To welcome. To show, and to receive, kindness. This play explores those issues, and reminds us that judgment and bitterness are toxic things, and kindness is a gift we can all give.
6. What is an event in your life that has changed you forever? I think writing my last play was a really life changing thing. Three years on, and with a tour coming up in Canada this year, a translation into Hebrew for a run in Tel Aviv and interest from a film company in a screenplay I wrote based on it called Clapham Trashbag it’s been successful beyond anything I could have expected. The messages I have received from people to tell me how it helped them in their recovery has been such an honor, and getting published by Oberon Books was a massive life goal achieved.
More on Peter:
Peter wrote and directed the award winning 5 Guys Chillin' which won the Best LGBT Production award at this years Edinburgh Festival. 5 Guys Chillin' was winner of the Brighton Fringe LGBTQ Award, and double award winner at last year's Dublin international Gay Theatre Festival. It had a sell-out run at last year's Edinburgh Fringe Festival, from when it transferred to SoHo Playhouse Off Broadway. Recently produced by The New Theatre in Sydney it will have its Canadian debut at Kensington Hall in Toronto in 15-25th November '17. It is published by Oberon Books. 5 Guys Chillin' is currently in development as a major motion picture.
Peter's new play A Tidy Boy is now available to read by theatre companies with a view to producing it. He has recently adapted Helen Cresswell's Iconic Children's classic Moondial for stage, which is in development as a major motion picture. His production of Signal Failure, played Soho Playhouse, New York for a 6 week off-Broadway run. This follows on from a successful Edinburgh Festival at the Underbelly. Frank Sent Me also played the Underbelly after previewing at Theatre 503 and will be touring in the Spring 2015. Other recent highlights include a new afternoon drama for BBC Radio 4 Kindness, which was pick of the week in the Telegraph, Radio Times and The Stage. His production of Githa played York Theatre Royal and the St James Theatre in London's West End.