Support Soho Theatre
If you feel able, please make a donation
An interview with writer Rita Kalnejais
Tell us a little about First Love is the Revolution
It’s a love story. About how you’re irresistibly drawn to the one who will undo you. And about violence and mothers and daughters and fathers and sons and being true to your nature. And about intimacy. How first love makes you crazy in an already crazy world.
What inspired to go down this road?
I was distressed by this particular international conflict and was trying to make sense of why and how humans kill- how we can dehumanise each other and justify it with politics, religion, borders. I was trying to see under what we’re scared of and I think it always comes down to intimacy. Also I’ d moved to London a few years before and was still having trouble communicating in British English and the play’s a bit about that- that exhilaration when you discover you speak the same language. And I was spending lots of time alone going for long walks and that can make you a bit lateral.
Where do the characters come from?
Me, friends, family, friends’ families, me at 14, my excellent husband, people I’ve met or seen on the street, nature documentaries, a fox who tried to get in through our cat door, dogs who’ve barked at me on muddy tracks, dogs I’ve loved, our cat- how she sleeps all the time and then becomes a lethal thing at night.
You’re well-known as an actor from productions in Sydney and Melbourne. What made you start writing?
I started to feel shy on stage. I didn’t want to lose control in that way anymore. I wanted to do it on paper. I d always known that I’d go into writing when I was ready – my pinups had always been writers rather than actors – and I just reached a point in my life where I was and I loved it.
How did you come to be part of the SOHO SIXprogramme and what has this involved?
My agent gave Nina- the literary manager at Soho- a few scripts and then I met up with her for coffee and she offered me a place. The residency involved lots of tickets to see work at Soho and meetings every month or so to talk about where we were at with our work or have a talk from another artist or do writing exercises and a half week away in the country were we ate very well and wrote and all slept deeply and did fireside readings of the plays we’d written- where they were at then. And we were given mentors. Mine is Kim Noble so I’m pretty lucky. I found the residency excellent because Nina is just incredibly intuitive with her guidance. And the support is amazing. It’s fantastic to write a play and hear it read by other writers (many of whom are also actors) and then casts of actors between each draft. And to have workshops of the script with smart, savvy excellent actors and with Nina and Steve midway. And for things to move so fast. It’s really a very exciting thing to be involved with.
First Love is the Revolution plays from 22 Oct – 21 Nov. Find out more here