Made in Mansfield – In Conversation with Playwright Kevin Fegan


Wed 19 Jul 2017

Find out more about Kevin Fegan, the playwright behind Bess...

Kevin Fegan has been writing plays for three decades, and has written more than 50 plays to commission. His work has won, and been nominated for, numerous awards, including 9 nominations in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards, with Slave, winning Best New Play in 2011. He has written plays for BBC Radio 4 and has also published 10 books of poetry.

In 2017, First Art commissioned Kevin’s newest work Bess: The Commoner Queen, a new theatre piece about local legend Bess of Hardwick. The play is a fusion of theatre, film and music – a one woman performance with additional characters appearing on screen.

Why Bess?

This is such an important historical figure, who’s not really been written about as the central character in a drama. She might appear in novels here and there, but there hasn’t been a drama around her life and this was an opportunity to do that, and I thought First Art might be interested in working with us on developing the piece, and that’s what’s happened, which has been fantastic. It wouldn’t have happened without First Art I don’t think, so that’s great.

Did you find it challenging to write in that period?

Yeah, course. You’ve got to do a lot of research to get a feel for what Elizabethan England was like. What interests me is what it was like for ordinary people, not just the rich. What was it like for her servants and your labourers of the day? And that requires a shift in the way you look at the world.

As a playwright who is based locally, do you find it more interesting to find stories in the region? Is it important to you to tell local stories?

It is important. When the opportunity arises to tell a story from the area where I grew up, I’m very happy and grateful to do that.

Read the interview by Gary Huddles and First Art in full on the First Art website.