Shortlisted for the Verity Bargate Award 2017, Drip Feed is a fast-paced infectiously dark comedy about the messiness of being youngish, female and queer in 1990s Ireland. Written and performed by Karen Cogan, this blistering new play receives its world premiere as part of Soho Theatre’s Fringe season.
Writer and performer, Karen Cogan, spoke with The Fountain about the premise of the play, her influences and plans whilst in Edinburgh, which includes avoiding the pies.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
I am scared and delighted in exactly equal measure. My most recent memory of Edinburgh is of carrying a minor heartbreak around the hills whilst being slapped in the face by wind and not being able to afford a large chips. I think this time will be better.
I feel like something is shifting in theatre (slowly). People whose voices have been marginalised are climbing to the top in spite of incredible odds and I think it’s a great time to be at a festival that encourages risk taking. I’m looking forward to the deluge of other peoples excellent work.
TF: Drip Feed certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
It’s a solo play set in Cork city 1998, about a woman in her thirties who is stagnating. She cannot let go her messy past and is behaving appallingly in the pursuit of a joy she cannot find. I hope it is honest and funny and unafraid to go the grim places. Thankfully it’s not autobiographical but there is the spirit of truths and what ifs in there.
Also the best nightclub in the world Sir Henry’s (according to Cork people) was in Cork and Drip Feed’s protagonist spends some time there and we have some exciting sound design.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
I trained as an actor at RADA and I came out excited to be creative and collaborative but that was not always my experience. I’m inspired by people who make things happen themselves, not out of desperation but out of autonomy. Annie Baker is my favourite playwright, she is a stunning writer. I love Issa Rae’s work, her HBO show Insecure is magnificent. And This Country is one of the best comedies of the last decade. I lived a few doors down from Daisy May Cooper in halls at drama school and her comedy brain has always been unparalleled.
Obviously Michaela Coel and Phoebe Waller Bridge have changed the playing field and made us all up our game considerably and thank god for them
Ultimately Drip Feed vomited out of me in a period of frustration. I felt bored with the conversations around female writers and characters. The phrase ‘strong women’ is used often. There’s no onus on men to be ‘strong characters’ at all times. They get to be flawed creatures. Women engage in a similar spectrum of messy behaviour. I wanted to write a complex queer woman who reflects the mortifying lengths we can all go to, to be loved, to be seen. She is ridiculous but honest.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, have you been before?
I haven’t been for tenish years. I couldn’t take my last play The Half Of It there though I wanted to so to have Soho and Fishamble producing Drip Feed is bloody excellent.
I plan to take it easy on the pies and wine I will instantly be drawn to upon disembarking and to try and be a sensible being. I want to watch as many shows as I can squeeze in. I want not lose my mind doing a solo show. I want to not behave like a puppy on speed in the first week and burn out by the second.
I’m really just looking forward to being immersed in so much art craic.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Drip Feed?
Drip Feed, the pilot, is in development and writing, well in process, which I am joyful about. I have another six part TV series in development and a few others in the wings. I’m working on a play with Fishamble in Ireland and also a new solo play called Hole loosely inspired by the work of Sophie Calle and there are a few other lovely theatre and screen projects on the hob.
I also hope to rescue a dog as soon as possible. And to have a third coffee after this.
Drip Feed, Assembly George Square, The Bubble, Wed 1 Aug to Sun 26 Aug, 14:30