We normally start these interviews by having you say your name, where youʼre from, and a little bit about yourself.
Iʼm Rita Kalnejais. Iʼm a playwright and screenwriter. I’m living in Berlin at the moment, but Iʼm moving back to London because of– life. But Iʼm originally from Australia. Iʼm from Kalgoorlie, the desert in the west, but when I moved to the UK four years ago I was living in Sydney. Iʼve always moved around a lot. It’s a bad habit which luckily/unluckily my husband has too. We move every few months.
Whatʼs the project youʼre currently working on at SPACE?
Well the project I came here to work on is an adaptation of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Have you read it?
I havenʼt, sorry.
Lots of people havenʼt. But lots of people have! People really do feel guilty when they havenʼt read it because it sounds like such an epic book The History of Love. It is incredibly beautiful. It hits you really deep, you don’t know where you’re going and youʼre not sure exactly what it is that youʼre reading. And then you find yourself so moved by the end of the book. A lot of the play is set in New York City and my producer, David Luff thought it would be a great opportunity to come over and get some rhythms and just get the smell of the streets. The rhythms that people speak in here are so different. Coming and going to the places that are mentioned in the book and other places that are just pulled from previous memories when I was in New York and actually embedding them in the work is amazing. And then to come out here and sit with it and put real voices to it, feels exciting. So, Iʼm doing that, and listening a lot to peopleʼs voices and how they talk. What they mean versus what they say which is different everywhere.
What Iʼm actually doing more of is a play that starts rehearsals in September in London called First Love is the Revolution. Thatʼs on at Soho Theatre. Iʼm working on a third draft. Itʼs about a fourteen year old boyʼs relationship with a fox. Itʼs a love story between the two of them and their relationships with their parents and the different kind of laws- fox law, human law. And how their destinies are intertwined. Itʼs actually a lot about destiny which really surprises me because I donʼt know how I feel about destiny. So Iʼm writing the third draft of that and moving back through it and I need to go quite deeply, sit quite deeply inside it to understand where itʼs asking to go. Because it feels like it has a life and it has a will, this particular play. Not all plays feel like this, some plays donʼt feel like much at all, but this one feels like it has a particular will to go somewhere. Iʼm just trying to really listen to it. So, this is amazing to come and be still and in nature, and listen to it. Itʼs so beautiful to be able to do that. And even– having deep sleep and waking up with it, rather than waking up with my husband or wherever I am.
Iʼve seen you spend a lot of time on the little nook on the back porch of the Sycamores. Where else do you like to spend your time at SPACE?
I have been spending a lot of time there! Iʼve also been spending a lot of time on the lawnbehind the nuptial garden by the stage. And at the lake as well.
Do you have a favorite place?
I love the lake. Yeah, and I love the fact that you can dare yourself to swim. and itʼs sort of–No one cares if you swim or not, but itʼs like a little personal adventure.
So whatʼs next for you and the projects youʼre working on here? You said First Love is the Revolution is starting rehearsals soon.
Yeah, it goes on in October.
And youʼll be there for the whole rehearsal process?
Thatʼs really special.
Yeah, Iʼm a little nervous about it. Because I donʼt know where it ends yet. And theyʼre casting right now. Iʼve been watching some auditions here through Skype. So thatʼs happening. and will happen. And The History of Love is kind of in Davidʼs hands to find a theatre that’s a good match for it. Jonny Humphries, who’s really excellent, is attached as director and we know that much but not much else of its future. But something good.
How great! If you were a farm animal, which farm animal would you be?
Farm animal. Hm. Probably a rabbit. Just hang out quite independently on the farm. But I have met the sheep, and I love them. So I might even choose one of the sheep.
Interviewed by Emma Munson