Kat Woods is the award-winning, critically acclaimed writer behind ★★★★★ hits such as Mule, Belfast Boy and Wasted. This July she returns to Omnibus Theatre with Killymuck, which explores growing up with the trials and tribulations of being a kid from the benefit class system.
Here Kat chats to us about class perceptions, elitism in the arts and this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – check out what she has to say!
OMNIBUS THEATRE: What can audiences expect from Killymuck? And what do you want them to take away?
KAT WOODS: Killymuck is an exploration of the benefit class structure and the difficulty in navigating that space, from a child through adulthood. We need to reshape the way that we view poverty, the impoverished and the underclass/benefit class structure. In order to do this we need to begin to see that being born into privilege is just a random act and that poverty is not the fault of the individual born into it. The education structure is fundamentally set up in a format that kids from more privileged backgrounds will excel in. In order to tackle this aspect of inequality we need to look at what we can do to change it. Free education for all is a fantastic concept but in theory the “all’ they speak of are not equal. Children living in impoverished situations, fragmented home lives systematic abuse and surrounded by addiction are pitted against those who come from a more privileged existence. This is not a meritocracy. Working hard does not unfortunately reap the same awards as being born privileged. This is what we need to look at and begin to understand when speaking of those from the lower classes.
“Working hard does not unfortunately reap the same awards as being born privileged. This is what we need to look at and begin to understand when speaking of those from the lower classes.”
OT: Killymuck is loosely inspired by your own story, what was it like to translate that to stage?
KW: I think it is always tough to bring something so personal to the stage. But I think that the greatest art is often steeped in the most horrific trauma. I also think that it is important to find the light in the shade and by bringing my own narrative to the stage I have tried to keep it as humorous as possible. I do find it cathartic and in a weird way healing to hear my words aloud.
OT: Why is it so important to you to educate and challenge perceptions on class?
KW: If we do not educate those around us how do we enact change? How do we make things better for future generations, if people are not aware of what it is like to begin with? The stereotypical media generated, beer swilling, lazy, fag smoking, uneducated, version of the benefit or underclass segment of society is so far from the truth. If we are to be represented let’s do it right!
OT: Do you think theatre is becoming too elitist? How can that be combatted?
KW: Yes, it isn’t becoming it always has been. By employing more artists that may seem like a risk. More artists that don’t fit the typical writer/actor/director/theatre maker bill. It is also vitally important that TV companies or Artistic Directors of theatres stop looking for the next Fleabag. Yes, Fleabag was amazing. I loved it. But this annihilates so many of us that have other things to say that do not fit the white middle class storytelling mould.
The stereotypical media generated, beer swilling, lazy, fag smoking, uneducated, version of the benefit or underclass segment of society is so far from the truth.
OT: This will be your 4th Fringe, what are you most excited about? Any handy hints and tips from a veteran of the festival?
KW: I just can’t wait to get up there and immerse myself in something other then working a million waitress hours to pay for it! Live and breathe the arts for a solid month, see as many shows as possible across the arts spectrum.
OT: Finally we just wanted to ask you about Repeal the 8th. Great news for the Republic of Ireland, are you optimistic about Northern Ireland following suit?
KW: The DUP are an archaic bible bashing group who forget that religion and politics should never mix. N.Ireland is the closest thing you will see to a theocracy giving substance to the fictitious Gilead as seen in Margaret Attwoods’ A Handmaids Tale. I am hoping for equality and basic human rights that we manage to follow suit. I am positive that it is the will of the people but will hold my breath in terms of a change in government stance. A government so willing to take the money of the people but not sit and represent all the people.
Killymuck is at Omnibus Theatre 19-20 July for just £9 (£7 conc.) – grab your tickets HERE