Love London Love Culture spoke to writer Mike Kenny about writing for young people’s theatre and Random Selfies, playing as part of the Polka Theatre’s Techtopia Festival.
Hi Mike thanks so much for talking to Love London Love Culture. Could you tell me a bit more about what audiences can expect from Random Selfies? Well, it’s a one person show about Loretta. She’s in Year 6, just about to go to big school and starting to feel a bit wobbly about who she is and where she fits in the world. Everybody else seems to have got it sorted, and she’s struggling. It’s meant to be thought provoking, moving and funny. And there is an amazing set which comes to life with the animation work of Rachana Jadhav and Ed Sunman.
How did the concept for the play come about? It started as part of a national project on loneliness that the Coop were funding, and Ovalhouse Theatre approached me to work on. We went into local Kennington schools to run workshops and talk to the young people about their experiences of loneliness.
How would you say that technology has impacted on childhood in 2018? I’m not sure I’m really qualified to talk about this. As an older person it’s very easy to obsess about the negative aspects, just because you don’t really understand what you’re looking at. Growing up is hard enough anyway. It feels as though technology has given us a million new ways of connecting with the world, and one of the side effects is we have loads of new ways to compare ourselves with others, and that can be difficult.
What would you say makes writing theatre for young people so special?A young people’s audience don’t patronise you, if you don’t patronise them. If they’re bored they let you know. They’re the best.
Do you think there is anything that we as a society could or should be doing to lessen the impact of child loneliness? There’s no single easy answer to this. The world seems to be a scarier place and parents work longer and longer hours, so young people spend more and more time in their homes. I think we should take every opportunity of getting them out and doing things with other young people – arts, drama, music, sports, whatever.
For those coming along what would you like for audiences to take away from Random Selfies? I would like them to feel, I’m not alone. Being on your own is normal from time to time. Everyone feels lonely sometimes. It’s not you. It’s not because you have done something wrong. It’s just part of being human.
Random Selfies will play at the Polka Theatre as part of the Techtopia Festival from the 30th to the 31st May. For more information visit: https://polkatheatre.com/event/randomselfies/