A conversation with Robert Alan Evans playwright and adaptor of Kes

Directed by Lu Kemp, Robert Alan Evan’s adaptation of Barry Hine’s iconic novel Kes run in Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio from Thursday 31 October until Saturday 16 November. 

Here, he talks about the inspiration behind his writing.

What makes you write the kind of plays you write?

I really like audiences (laughs) which sounds stupid, but I like writing for certain audiences - I particularly like audiences which are a mix of ages. I like watching different generations in a family experience and enjoy the same thing. I like it when young people see that their 60 year-old grandparents, or their parents, can enjoy the same thing as them. We don’t have to be split up or isolated in our entertainments, or in the things that we find moving, and that can go really right down to a three year old seeing their Mum laughing at something, genuinely laughing, at something they find funny as well. I’ve seen people watch Kes where the parents have been quite moved, and the kids have found something more funny than moving, and I find that really exciting, because I suppose its about a communal experience.

I suppose the other part of making the work I make is I really want it to be theatrical, and for something to only be possible in the theatre. When I make a piece of work that I don’t think could be anywhere else in the same way, or that theatre gives the perfect platform to, then I think I’ve made a good piece of work. What that often leads me to is collaboration: collaborating with designers, directors, movement people, performers especially. Theatre is collaboration: what sound does; what movement does; what silence does, what no words do; can tell so much of the story for you. A moment might be much better conveyed through describing movement or images than it would be through words. I often call it 3D theatre, what I mean by that is all of the other dimensions that tell the story beyond the words. When I was writing Kes, we went to fly kestrels with a falconer, and that experience together with the feeling of flight from the book, led me to the idea of the using the lure on stage as an image (the equipment you use to fly the kestrel), and how much that image can tell you without words. The image of flight is a really powerful way to talk about freedom.

Not having a bird in the play feels important to me as well – you could have an animatronic bird or puppet, but it’s more powerful not to. You’re asking an audience to commit their imaginations together to an idea. And that is so rewarding for me as a writer, where people will go with that, and for an audience to imagine together. 

Perth Theatre at Horsecross Arts’ production of Kes runs in Perth Theatre’s Joan Knight Studio from Thursday 31 October until Saturday 16 November. For tickets and information for Kes click here. 

Tuesday 1 October 2019