We caught up with Ian Toner, writer of Animalia to ask him #FiveQuickQuestions about his show which envisions the school playground as a terrifying political minefield.
1. Describe your show in 5 words.
Theatrical equivalent of retro confectionery.
2. What inspired you to write this story?
Well quite a lot of it is auto-biographical. Not so much specifically the stuff about being an eleven year old girl, but it certainly represents a general sense of how I felt or how that period – the time of being a child on the cliff-edge of adolescence – appeared to me. And I think that's universal. Who we were then influences who we are now. A lot of this play takes place in the schoolyard, which I see as a sort of funny microcosm of the wider world, and it’s an interesting prism through which to view human behaviour.
3. What would you like audience members to take away from Animalia?
I'd like them to laugh, preferably loudly and a lot, but only at appropriate moments. I hope the play sparks a few memories that had been lost. That would be nice. I hope, during more grandiose fantasies about the importance of my own writing, that they see some of themselves in it, and maybe if somebody happens to need it on that particular day, they come away feeling a bit more ok or at least a bit less not ok. Failing that however, I will settle for laughs. Just to be clear.
4. What has been the best part about making this show?
Two instances come to mind; hearing audience reaction to the work-in-progress version we did in collaborations last year, and especially big laughs and the shared recognition at moments that (I think) everyone remembered from their own childhood. And while workshopping the show with our excellent cast (Ashleigh Dorrell & Louise O'Meara) and director (Sarah Finlay), and feeling that they got it, and that audiences would too, and that we were dealing with things we had all been through, that we had all felt. That's why I love the play really.
5. Are there any other shows you're excited to be going to see at this year's Fringe?
Aw yeah. Wrestling is Art, which will be a bit like our show, except the exact opposite. Also (nepotism alert) some of my talented friends will be in TRYST, HOSTEL 16, The Wickedness of Oz. So, yep, all them too please! The Aeneid, The Humours of Bandon, This Beach, they all look good, and I'll be generally listening out for what's going down well. And then after all that I'll probably be pretty tired.