Courtney Rose Brown
Actress, Emma Kinane is back onstage for the first time in eighteen months, performing in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, written by Christopher Durang.I sit down with Kinane on her lunch break from rehearsals, to discuss the show and life as a creative. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike opens at Circa Theatre at the beginning of August, directed by Susan Wilson.
Having been overseas for a year, Kinane is eager to get back into performing. Her passion for performance developed at seven years old while performing Joan of Arc. Kinane loved pretending to die in the flames and she says, “that’s what started it for me.” Throughout school she was the kid who put plays on at lunch time for people to see and seized every acting opportunity she could.
“We used to devise comedy all the time but didn’t know that that’s what we were doing.”
Originally from the UK, Kinane moved to New Zealand when she was 10-years-old. She went back to England at 17, so that she could go to RADA (Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts). But because she hadn’t finished school in the UK, Kinane couldn’t receive any grants. After spending a few years being a “teenager in London,” Kinane decided to check out New Zealand’s drama school, and graduated Toi in 1988.
Kinane homeschooled her children for four years and decided that she wanted to do something for herself. After taking a few creative writing courses at Massey University, Kinane says “I absolutely love this, more than anything else that I’m doing.”
Then, Kinane became part of Tim Spite’s Seed Collective; where they would devise works for four weeks, write a script from that and then rehearse for four weeks. She went on to write three plays with Seed. “I absolutely found my feet. Thanks to Tim Spite. My writing feet.”
In 2013, Kinane graduated from the IIML, completing a masters degree in scriptwriting with Ken Duncan. According to Kinane it was, “intense, but it’s brilliant.”
“I love writing about big ideas – big thoughts and when two opposing ideologies bash into each other. That and the fallout from that and how individual people deal with a big idea that needs to be talked through.
Kinane is interested in not resolving things in the plays that she writes. “I want people to come out and have an intense conversation in the bar. I want it to start a conversation” she says.
Currently, rehearsing in Durang’s script, she says the rehearsal period for Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, has been lovely. “I find when you’re rehearsing a drama sometimes there’s a lot of laughter in the rehearsal room because you’re working so hard and you need the release. And sometimes when you’re rehearsing a comedy it gets very serious. But this one we are having a lovely time.”
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is about three siblings, Vanya, Sonya and Masha. With Chekhovian themes of ‘I don’t know what to do with my life,’ ‘my life is over,’ and ‘I’m in mourning for my life,’ all that sort of stuff. So these characters are kind of stuck in these lives.
“It’s fun because the characters are a classic family. So there’s lots of sniping at each other but it’s hilarious. It’s one of those character comedies where the comedy comes from characters bashing into each other with their different wants and needs and expectations not being met, rather than gags. The audience will recognise people and the other really nice thing about them is that nobody is good and nobody is bad. They’re not stereotypes.”
“There are layers to the comedy, so if people are familiar with Chekov, they will see things that other people don’t but there’s plenty of other stuff in there.”
“I think audiences at the moment really want humour” Kinane says and Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, delivers that.