Ingredients: John Kachoyan, Lou Sanz, a scruffy me with a tape recorder, ice-cream and berries, dessert wine.
John: So what are you wanting to talk to people about?
SFB: Well I want to ask how you survive and how you stay sane while making art.
Lou: John buys chicken nuggets.
John: John buys odd luxury items to make himself feel like he’s not dying.
It depends what you mean by ‘sane’. I go through ups and downs. I don’t know. I think I have a short memory. I make a show and make bold declarations about never doing X and Y again. I think my short-term memory loss saves me because I go back to it. We’re kind of suckers. We’re kind of addicts. You know what it is? I do it for the moments when I’m in the middle of the theatre and I go ‘it is impossible for me to do anything else.’ I cannot conceive of a world that I understand more and enjoy better and fit into better.
SFB: It’s a very depressing over-all picture! ‘I only do it because I forget how terrible it was and because I’m addicted to it.’ There’s some joy in there too!
John: Absolutely! I do it for the relationships! I love playwrights. I love the brains inside all the people I make work with because they’re fucking brilliant and terrifying and inspiring. It’s sort of wank but it’s true. The people that I love deeply I love deeply because of the stuff they make. And I mean everything from the nights out they make with me to the plays they make.
SFB: So what keeps you coming back to it, Lou?
Lou: Well I have no fallback. That’s a big one. I got my Masters in writing when I was twenty-one.
John: Yeah, you’re fucked, baby.
Lou: I’m fucked. What keeps me coming back to it is the fact that I think it is a long-term career. Writing takes that work. Being a writer, life is just one big master class. Every shitty job you have that gets you through, it feeds it; it is intrinsic. Writers get better with age, especially screenwriters. Most jobbing screenwriters don’t start until they’re about forty. You need time. It’s often a second career.
I thought I wrote drama. I really thought I wrote drama. It turned out I didn’t write drama. Everyone laughed. I go to something (of mine) and people laugh. I don’t think they’re laughing at the script, I think they’re laughing at me. But now, having done it for so long, I have a more critical approach to it. I know what is funny and what makes a line funny and how to play a gag. There’s actual technique involved now in making something humourous.
John: Because I’m doing dramaturgy for her we’ve had to develop some rules. Like ‘no dramaturgy after 11pm.’ ‘No dramaturgy in bed.’
Lou: ‘No dramaturgy without pants on.’
John: That’s a big one. It’s a good professional guideline.
At the end of the day, I love being in the theatre. Someone said to me once ‘do everything you can every day to be in a theatre.’ Sweep the floors, clean the toilets, rig the lights, whatever it is. People are there for all sorts of weird reasons.
(To SFB) Why do you go back and forwards (between writing and directing)?
SFB: I think what keeps me moving back and forwards is that I love words and I love images. I love creating images on stage and on the page. I really struggle to act because I get so distressed by it but I’ll drag myself back there every year or so because it tells me how to write. And writing tells me how to direct and directing tells me how to write.
Usually by the time I finish directing something I’m so ready to be a writer again. I’m so ready not to have to get up in a room and have everyone look at me like I’m about to say something of worth. I can’t wait to go back to being silent and shutting myself away. I love that when you’re in writer-mode people excuse you! ‘Oh she’s a writer! She can’t express herself in social situations!’ It’s great!
John: I think it’s fascinating that playwrights have chosen to write in an intensely social way. It isn’t going away and writing a novel.
Lou: From the outside, theatre people tend to intellectualise their work a lot more. When you get together you talk about theatre and other people and you read books on theatre and I’ll chat with my film friend and we’ll say ‘oh did you see the new Twisties ad?’
John: But is that because there are more people to talk about film for you? There’s a professional class of people who talk about film more than there is a professional class of people who talk about theatre.
Lou: I think that’s a big part of it.
John: It is drilled into us to speak about our own work. No one will do it for you. You have to become an advocate. I’d love to just make work and never have to explain it. The reality of our world is that the PR is the thing as much as the show.
SFB: I’m going to wrap this up because you’ve given me more than I can possibly cope with. This is going to be fucked, guys. Just to finish can you just say ‘my name is’ and give a one or two sentence thing of what you do? So for example: ‘My name is Fleur. I’m a playwright, director, scruffy, bespectacled redhead that prefers the company of my mung bean sprout colony to most humans.’ Aaaand go.
John: I’m John Kachoyan. I’m a director, dramaturge, producer and writer, recently appointed co-creative director of MKA and I have an ever-growing collection of whiskeys and sweet wines.
Lou: I’m Lou Sanz and I’m a writer, humourist (I suppose) and I watch a disturbing amount of wedding shows for someone who doesn’t want to get married. You can google me if you want to know more.
SFB: ‘You can google me if you want to know more’: the closing words of any artist. Thanks guys.