Chicane Interview

September 7, 2010


Robert is a lawyer, rich and successful. He has a loving wife, an attractive girlfriend and a taste for fine scotch. He also has a secret. Julia is Robert’s lover – young, sexy and fiery. She has ambition and isn’t afraid to go after what she wants, no matter the consequences. Ray is a janitor. Outwardly quiet and humble, he knows more about Robert and Julia than they do. And Ray has a plan that will unite all three in one explosive evening that changes everything.

Chicane, the first play to be written by actor Antony Brophy tours the M50, with a fortnight down the bog, starting in Tallaght September 4th. Here the scribe talks to Caomhan Keane.

So, Chicane. As in the mid-nineties dance act best known for the dance floor smash Offshore?

No, the title comes from the word chicanery- somebody who is double-dealing or misleading somebody else. It’s just a fantastic word. I love words and Chicane is a word I play around with a lot in my head. It’s just a beautiful word. An evocative word. Words are a great way of getting people thinking. To entice them or spark their interest

Was it this love of words that lead you to pursue a career first as an actor and then as a writer?

I’ve always loved words, I’ve always loved language and I’ve always loved stories. And before I had any notions of acting I wanted to teach or write. I always enjoyed the form of storytelling and how a story is put together. It’s always given me huge amounts of pleasure.

How involved were you once you submitted your first draft?

My biggest problem as a virgin writer was to not trust the audience enough, that they were not getting what I was saying. I had over written and stated things that didn’t need to be stated. Good actors are good at saying “that feels wrong in my mouth”.

Peter Sheridan made a very valid point. You can spend hours tinkering with something and working on something but its nothing until you have actors breathing life into it on stage. Hearing and getting people’s feedback and people’s response is a really good indicator of wear your play is working and where things are unclear. Particularly with something like a thriller. You have to be quite careful. You want to lead people down blind alleys but you want to do it in a fruitful way and not in one that is dramatically unclear.

As an actor was it difficult to sit back and watch people interpret your words?

You have to be careful because you yourself know the script so intimately, you’ve imagined it and played it in your head like a piece of music. But then you really have to let others find their truth within it and not dictate to them what you feel it should be.

What was the impetus behind Chicane? Are you a big fan of thrillers?

I didn’t have a huge desire to write a thriller. I’m not a huge fan of the genre. I don’t eat Michael Gresham’s (sic) for Breakfast. I had a simple desire to imagine a story into being that would hold people’s attention for a fixed period of time. Something dark, tense and muscular.

The nature of actors is that we are creative and we are imaginative. The act of acting in a combination of these things. You are using your imagination and you are using your own commitment to create. The cruel nature of the lively hood is that you don’t get to do it as often as you like. So that creative energy, when stagnated, can become dark, depressing and angry, which is why so many of us have the desire to put the pen to paper.

Were you tempted to kill two birds with one stone and act in Chicane yourself?

I was absolutely tempted and it was something I did have to mull over. But ultimately I had to take a step back. I may never get another chance to write another play so I wanted to enjoy that process. Because I know if I was there on stage I would be carrying around the writers tension and the actors tension. It also wouldn’t be fair to the other actors. They would have been thinking, “Did I just blow his line”.

I saw you acting in Off Plan earlier this year, which pushed a lot of theatrical boundaries, while Chicane seems to take a more straightforward approach to theatre. Do you as a writer, as an actor, have a preference?

Off Plan was very interesting and very tricky. It’s very, very difficult for an actor when what you are trying to embody, what you are trying to play is an idea. You can’t really do that. What you can do is construct your performance in a certain way so that an audience can take away those things. The actor needs to keep things very, very simple, just play the emotion. Off Plan was challenging, enjoyable. I don’t have a preference for the type of work that I do but as an actor you always need something to hang onto which is playable, tangible and feelable.

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