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The Wonderful Wizard of Tas…mania: an interview with Finegan Kruckemeyer

By Ben Kaye

During my wonderful trip to the 17th ASSITEJ World Congress, I received the pleasure of interviewing Finegan Kruckemeyer, Australian freelance playwright, and internationally renowned playwright of such TYA pieces as “The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy” (which I was lucky enough to catch at the New Victory Theatre in New York City) and “Helena and the Journey of the Hello.” I sat down with Finegan in Copenhagen, where we discussed the joys of writing for children’s theatre, his influences in the literary world, and how his fellow Next Generation delegates inspired his newest work, “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing.”

On writing for Children’s Theatre, and what he finds more rewarding about it:
“The sense of permission that you’re given, and the ideas you can bring to the table.”
“There’s still a heavy, and realistic quality control…”
“When you’re writing for adults because you are an adult, there is this element of writing for yourself…and that can really be a confining parameter, and make your work less interesting.”
“Because the audience is not you…you’re thinking about the process you’ll take them through, and that’s good, I think that’s helpful.”

On the writing styles employed in his plays:
“Three is always nice, it’s very poetic…I do play with threes a lot. I like alliteration, I like the sound of text.”
“Games with language is always a pleasure for me.”
“I don’t use a lot of stage directions. You have to get what you get from the language.”
“I love anagrams, and I play lots of cryptic crosswords, you know. The deconstruction of words, and then putting them back together in different ways…it’s magic.”

On reading plays:
“I’m always embarrassed by this. I don’t read plays, I read a lot of books, but I’ve never kind of understood how one reads a play. I feel there’s so much missing when you can’t see it.”
“In terms of the theatre I love, and the companies I love…Theater Artemis…Compania Riddichio…Le Carrousel…and Suzanne Lebeau…she writes so stunningly, that I can read her plays. She’s quite amazing. I met her at a conference last year, and it’s great… the people you imagine to be great on paper, are great in real life.”

On his own personal literary inspiration:
“Steinbeck, in terms of beautifully constructed stories. James Clavell in terms of adventure…Michael Chabon. Lots of these writers are American actually…Nicole Krauss [The History of Love].”

On his new play, “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing”:
“It’s a quintessential fairy tale beginning. The heartbroken widowed man who has children takes the new wife. She hates the children, and orders him to take them to the forest and leave them there… like many stories of that era, 1820’s, Brothers Grimm-ey stuff. And I thought, I’d start with that, but then have them separate. Because in most of those stories, whoever’s left always becomes this unit. I thought it’d be nicer to split them up. So one resolves to go one way round the world, one goes the other, and one stays where she is. And over twenty years, we watch them grow up as they travel the world, til they meet again.”
“I had that idea for years, and then, when I met this fantastic ‘Next Generation’ group, I got inspired by the notion of countries beyond mine. It sounds silly to say, you should always be inspired by that. But until I really started traveling quite a bit for work, meeting people from vastly different cultures, discovering the commonality of all those cultures, I got excited! I thought, ‘These girls have got to travel through a LOT of worlds!’”

Finegan’s new play, “This Girl Laughs, This Girl Cries, This Girl Does Nothing” had its world premiere in Argentina in April 2011, directed by Solange Perazzo, a fellow Next Generation delegate. It will have its North American Premiere as part of the University of Pittsburgh Repertory Theatre’s 2011-201 season this week.  For details, visit the production page.

Originally posted on the NEXTblog.
For more information on the ASSITEJ Festival, visit the website.