Interview with Raymond Scanell of Deep, The Play

tweety stuff @ronanfromcork

first published in @The Evening Echo 2014-7-17

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The recent opening of the Sir Henrys @UCC library exhibition has happened to be in sync with the start of the national tour of Deep, a play written and performed by Ray Scannell, speaking with Ronan Leonard he remarked upon it being another in a series of “happy coincidence, when the play debuted in 2012 it happened to be the 25th anniversary of Sweat (the legendary Saturday night residency of Greg Dowling and Shane Johnson in Sir Henrys), there was something in the air about looking back at that time.”

Ray who has written for a variety of plays such as Theatre-In-Education pieces such as ‘The Life Of A Pencil’, as well as ‘Alice In The Funderland’ which appeared in The Abbey, considers going to Sir Henrys in the mid to late 90s as a formative influence on his future career, “Sir Henrys was so inspirational to a lot of people – a lot of us were coming out from college at the time and it had an effect on the way we were writing – for instance ‘Disco Pigs’ which was written by Enda Walsh and the general way Corcadorca Theatre company were working, like they put on ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in there.”

Due to the play being set in and around Sir Henrys it has attracted an audience that would not be regular theatregoers; something that Ray is quite pleased about, “rather than it being the grand plan, it’s an offshoot. It isn’t that much of a surprise when you consider Sir Henrys was such a seminal place. I didn’t just sit down to write a play to get ‘that audience’ but we’ve found it’s been a kind of 50/50 mix of regular theatre goers and then musos or people who were really into that scene and that time.”

Whilst ‘Deep’ is set in Sir Henrys, it is not the subject more so the backdrop as Ray explained, “at it’s core it’s a story, the rites of passage about a man, or boy at the start, who looks up to his older brother and gets passed down these mix tapes and stories about ‘this place’. We are introduced to the intrigue and myths he picks up on, which in many ways can be anyone’s story, be it the Jazz age or going through the Punk era… in many ways it was about making it as universal as possible. Sometimes the more local and colloquial you go it becomes more accessible. But also in a Cork way it’s about sending itself up a little, it’s looking at how much of it is the rose tinted nostalgia or the tabloid demonising of it and finding where the middle ground between the two is. It encompasses a lot about the place, like 2 of the characters in the play were part of the 16 who actually saw Nirvana, but all that serves the story… it’s the backdrop… it works best when people are following the characters and they learn the history of Sir Henrys almost subconsciously.”

Ray, who also wrote a play set around the closing of the Dunlop factory in the 1980s, knew the challenge about writing about another iconic Cork location but was still reminded by everyone he told about ‘Deep’, “whenever I told someone I was working on a play about Sir Henrys, it was always the response of “I don’t know about that”, like everyone in Cork either went there or knew about the place, but that is the mechanics that bring the audience into the story.”

‘Deep’ will run in the Half Moon Theatre, on 17th and 18th October, tickets on sale now via www.corkoperahouse.ie

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