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In Conversation with Zadie Kennedy McCracken

"This is a story about undefinable, infinite best-friend love, about growing up, about being gay, and about the messiness and intensity of intimacy. " In today's Backstage Blog we chat to writer, producer and director Zadie about their brilliant new work 'You're Being Dramatic'. Zadie lets us in on the sentimental inspirations and the hilarious moments that has made this play what it is. Playing at Explosives Factory 24 April - 4 May.

Q: As though you were speaking with a best friend, how would you describe what You’re Being Dramatic is about?

A:You're Being Dramatic is about best friendship between teenage girls; the sticky, awkward and intense love that makes up girlhood. We follow two loveable and imperfect teenage girls – Thea and Arvy – as they dance around their affection for each other, and deal with patriarchal influence. Later, we get to see them grown up and reunited, retracing their complicated history. This is a story about undefinable, infinite best-friend love, about growing up, about being gay, and about the messiness and intensity of intimacy. 

Q: What inspired the creation of You’re Being Dramatic?

A: One night, when I was about fourteen, three of my best friends and I gathered in my bohemian living room (lovingly designed by my artist mother), turned off all the lights, put on black clothing, and giggled our way through a blood oath. We vowed to stay friends forever, to always love each other. We felt like witches. Writing about this night, and all the nights I spent with other girls as a teenager – swapping blood and stories, stealing cups of vodka, crying in each other's arms – was the beginning of You're Being Dramatic. I was inspired by my experiences of isolation, intimacy and violence as a young queer person, by my experience as a teenage alcoholic, and by the intense best friendships that were the centre of my universe when I was a kid. I wanted to write a love letter to my former self, and to the friends I had then. 

Q: If you could capture the essence of the show with a song or a piece of music, what would it be?

A: Both characters sing Que Sera Sera in the show, and I think it captures the show's essence beautifully. Its lyrics, Whatever will be, will be / the future's not ours to see, are great advice for the future-obsessed Thea and Arvy. There's something melancholic about the song, its admission that we are not in control of our future, that we can't always predict what will happen to us as we grow. That feeling of being out-of-control, and of dreaming uselessly of the future, is really central to the show. Another great piece of music that inspired the show is Some People Stay in Our Hearts Forever by Middle Kids. A line from that song, I wanted to love you but I didn't know how, sums up the predicament of Thea and Arvy's best friendship, and captures the show's theme of impossible, complicated intimacy. 

Q: What has been the most memorable moment during rehearsal and production?

A: Watching Jess Sofarnos and Meg Mitchell bring this show to life has been the greatest gift. The first time they met – during a chemistry read – their instant chemistry and ability to inhabit this world was clear. I remember being so excited to start making with them. They are electric, silly, vibrant. Last rehearsal, as we worked a scene about masturabation in a town hall at 9PM, we just could not stop laughing. We laugh a lot in the room! It's been so fun and beautiful watching Jess and Meg build a relationship that makes the text so funny, heartbreaking, and alive. 

Q: What do you hope people talk about on their way home from seeing You’re Being Dramatic?

A: I hope You're Being Dramatic sparks all kinds of conversations about queerness within intimate friendships, how messy the boundaries between friendship and romance can become. Falling in love with your best friend is such a lesbian cliche – one that I hope to capture, celebrate, and bring into the public imagination! I also hope people are intrigued by the function of patriarchy in the show, how that looming threat of violence can change the course of young women's lives. This is a story with heaps in it – alcoholism, patriarchal violence, best friendship, true love, gay shit – so I hope everyone is able to relate to these two characters. I think Thea and Arvy are so loveable, and this story so important, I dream audiences become as obsessed with it as I am. 


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