The next interview in our stagey chat series, is with the incredible Kenny Emson. Kenny's thought-provoking show, The Sh*t is set to open next week at Bush Theatre. Kenny is a multi award winning writer for stage and screen. His most theatre writing credits include: Rust (Bush Theatre), Plastic (Old Red Lion/Mercury Theatre) and Terrorism (Bush Theatre).

Get yourself comfy and join Kenny and I for a chat about all things stagey!

The Sh*t is a new unflinching play written by yourself. Can you tell us about the story?
It’s the story of a youth worker and one of the young people he is looking after. We meet them at their first session and follow their relationship through it’s ups and downs till their final meeting. For me, it’s an unconventional love story. It’s about two men who see each other in a world that doesn’t care about them. A world that’s chosen to ignore them. And the production and actors are just wonderful. They break my heart every time I see it. So come! 

What inspired you to take on such an important story, and bring it to the stage?
We are all so quick to be outraged by the rise in knife crime and violence in young people. But we have a government that keeps shredding the funding for youth services. I think it’s incredibly important to shine a light on this area of society. To not just turn away from young people who might have made a mistake and say ‘well that’s it, your life’s fucked now’. 

The show has been workshopped at The Leeds Playhouse and The Old Vic Workrooms. Is there anything you've changed for the run at the Bush Theatre?
Yeah the play is always changing and growing. Every time we put it in front of an audience we learn more about it. Without an audience theatre is nothing. 

How does The Sh*t compare to other writing projects you've worked on previously?
It’s been a really cool process. The Working Party were brilliant in making contact with lots of youth workers and young people, interviewing them and bringing them in to give feedback on early drafts of the play. To test it’s authenticity and it’s truth. This helped to make sure that I was representing the people who go through this in real life rather than completely fictionalising something just for stories sake. 

What do you hope audiences take away after watching The Sh*t?
I hope they laugh with the characters, they cry with them, they see them. Really see them. 

After the run at the Bush, they'll be a non-public community tour at Youth Clubs and community centres. Is this something you knew you wanted to do when writing the play?
We always wanted to take the play to audiences that perhaps wouldn’t come to a theatre. People who think theatre isn’t for them. I grew up in a town in Essex where going to the theatre wasn’t something that’s done. So creating those pathways for people is incredibly important to me. 

What does your writing process look like? Is there a certain way you plan your writing?
For every job it’s different. This one involved lots of research at the start before writing. Getting a handle on Youth Work. Listening to lots of interviews and testimonies. But then it was about forgetting (or allowing it to unconsciously percolate) that and just building two really truthful characters. Two characters who have wit and charm and humour. Two complicated individuals. Men who have made mistakes but deep down understand goodness. And even though society seems not to give a fuck about them, strive to try and bring that goodness into the world.  

My blog is called Stage to Page. But if you could turn any book, from page to stage, what would it be and why?
Fight Club. I love it. And in a way it’s kind of talking on similar themes to The Sh*t – lost men struggling to deal with what masculinity means now.   

And finally, why should people book tickets to The Sh*t?
It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. It’ll make you think. And it’s only 70 minutes and the Bush bar is lovely. So come. And find me afterwards and let’s have a chat. 

Thank you so much for chatting to us Kenny. You can catch The Sh*t at Bush Theatre from April 19, here.

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