The Skinny Q&A: Kieran Hurley

Beats and Mouthpiece playwright Kieran Hurley was meant to debut his new play, The Enemy, this month, but the COVID-19 crisis has postponed the premiere. Here he reflects on other important topics, like what to cook on lockdown and when he last spewed

Feature by The Skinny | 09 Apr 2020
  • Kieran Hurley

What’s your favourite place to visit and why?
Anywhere in the Western Isles. My wife's family are from Lewis, and further south, I've been going on holidays to the Isle of Bute since I was a wee boy and have an enormous affection for the place.

Favourite food to cook on lockdown and why?
Specifically on lockdown? We've got two wee kids and so there's a lot of meals and no time for anything fancy I'm afraid. We do a lot of big batch cooking. Soups, veggie stews, pasta sauces. Luckily I quite like the challenge of seeing what meals you can pull together from whatever is in the cupboard, though I can't promise my kids are always consistently delighted with the results.

Favourite colour and why?
Green. Dunno why. Cos I'm a Hibs fan? Cos of my Irish roots? It's also the colour with the widest range of symbolic meanings: envy, sickness, money, environmentalism, go. It's got range.

Who was your hero growing up?
When I was about 13 or 14 I was kind of in love with Kurt Cobain. Or the idea of him, given he was already dead. The fact of his death was maybe part of the fascination for me, as my life had been profoundly affected by suicide at that point. I think I felt his music and words could help me understand something about myself that other people couldn't. So aye, Kurt Cobain, a boring and predictable answer for a white teenage boy but it's true.

Whose work inspires you now?
Loads of folk! My wife and frequent collaborator Julia Taudevin. She's a braver, funnier, more ruthlessly adventurous artist than I am and she's amazing. I've also been watching a bunch of Lukas Moodysson films recently and finding them really inspiring. I think he captures something about young people in particular with really compassionate insight. Together is one of my favourite ever films.

What three people would you invite to your virtual dinner party and what are you cooking?
Does 'virtual' mean we're doing this like a Zoom call or something? I enjoy cooking for lots of people, but when it's just me I frequently can't be arsed. So probably I'm doing a weird video conference call with Bernadette Devlin, Spike Lee and Björk while I eat four slices of toast. What a weird night.

What’s your all-time favourite album?
I honestly hate trying to answer this question. Let's go with In Utero today, for the reasons listed above. Even though tomorrow I'll regret that choice.

What’s the worst film you’ve ever seen?
There's lots to choose from isn't there but let's be honest it's Love Actually, isn't it? It is.

What book would you take to a protracted period of government-enforced isolation?
You mean I have to get rid of all my books bar one now as well? Since Alasdair Gray died I thought I might re-read Lanark, so I'll hang on to that one, thanks.

Who’s the worst?
It is obviously Boris Johnson.

When did you last cry?
Last week, when All This was feeling a bit much.

What are you most scared of?
In the biggest widest sense, climate change and fascism. In a personal sense, something terrible happening to someone I love. Those fears frequently overlap.

When did you last vomit and why?
The start of this year, we'd moved the whole family up to Lewis to open a show called Move, which Julia had made and we'd produced under our company Disaster Plan. Premiering a piece of experimental theatre in village halls in the Outer Hebrides in winter with the kids in tow was already a bit much, but then we got a vomiting bug so that was a great laugh for everyone.

Tell us a secret?
Everyone else is as scared as you are.

Which celebrity could you take in a fight?
Quite aside from me being utterly hopeless in a fight, there are just so many famous people I don't know where to start, so I've narrowed it down to celebrity namesakes. A battle of Kierans. Tierney? I don't stand a chance. Culkin? Let's be honest, he'd probably have me too.

If you could be reincarnated as an animal, which animal would it be?
Dunno. My daughter watched a YouTube video of some beluga whales lately and they looked like they were having a nice time.

How do you stay inspired by the world when you are isolated from it?
Honestly, right now, I don't. The idea that isolation or lockdown is a good time to be a writer is probably bollocks for everyone but it's certainly bollocks if you've got kids. I'm not inspired right now, I'm exhausted and anxious. Sorry!

The Enemy was due to premiere on 24 Apr, but has been postponed due to the COVID-19 crisis. Keep an eye on National Theatre of Scotland's website for the new dates

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Bubble has been put out by Theatre Uncut in digital form and can be viewed on YouTube below