Home CultureTheatre Interview with Katie Bonna

Interview with Katie Bonna

by Emily Healey-Lynham

Fringe First and OFFIE winner Katie Bonna returns to Edinburgh with The Entertainment, a darkly comic, queer audio love story about the power and pain of imagination. Written and performed by Bonna and directed by Amelia Sears, with sound design by Annie May Fletcher, The Entertainment will appear as part of the Summerhall Digital Fringe this year and will be included in the wider Edinburgh Fringe Festival programme. More details and tickets can be found here.

We managed to grab a few minutes to have a chat with Katie about the show and other projects and inspirations.

How did you get into writing, was there a particular performance you saw that resonated with you? 

I was always playing with writing alongside acting, which is what I trained to do initially, but I hit a point where I was sick of the work I was doing. I played three maids called Lucy in a row and just thought, ‘If I want a better part, I’m going to have to write it’. I was writing and performing poetry at the time, which is where I met Richard Marsh, who I went on to write Dirty Great Love Story with. After that, I thought I’d get a big acting agent and never look back……but I just kept writing instead- none of this was planned!

Who are your influences and inspirations? 

I love the work of Annie Baker, Ella Hickson and Lucy Prebble. They are all pushing the boundaries of how female narratives are shared and I am constantly inspired by them. In terms of audio work, I have been very inspired by the work of Kaitlin Prest, who makes very exciting, very queer audio story. She is very playful with the form, which is something I try hard to be too.

What’s most difficult play you’ve written?

My 2016 Edinburgh show, All Things I Lied About, was an autobiographical solo show. When I was writing from my own experience, I found it harder to keep an objective hold on the piece and the writing and performing of it was actually re-traumatising me without me realising it. I’ve worked through it all now, and I still love and am proud of the piece, but I went on quite an unhealthy emotional ride with that show.

Can you tell us about your current show, The Entertainment. What inspired you to write this piece?

The Entertainment is a darkly comic love story about addiction and the power and pain of imagination.  It is an audio show, so it allows the listener to dive into the imagined worlds that the protagonist, Anna, is creating. I actually just set out to write something fictional (after the experience I had on All The Things I Lied About) and funny, those were my top priorities. I’ve always wanted to write a lesbian romcom, which this sort of is, and I worked in kids entertainment for a long time and thought it would be a fun setting for a story, so I brought those elements in as well. 

How do you think the Fringe will work this year?

It is a hybrid fringe this year, meaning that there are live shows happening in Edinburgh, but there are also a host of on demand shows available online, including The Entertainment. I think it’s a fantastic addition. It’s giving artists access to a vital platform at a treacherous time, no artist has walked out of the last 18 months more financially stable than they walked into it. It’s vital to have a way to get your work out into the world and the joy of this platform is it can be accessed all over the world, which is fantastic. 

What do you want people to take away from The Entertainment, is there a key message?

I want people to take away whatever they find in it, whatever helps or lifts them or makes them laugh.

What is the most rewarding thing about your work? 

I’d say it’s the one thing I’m worried that I won’t experience as much with this show, which is connecting to the audience. When you’re performing live, you’re able to build a relationship with the people in the room and talk to them afterwards. It is incredible when people talk to you about how they related to the work and what they took away from it. I hope people reach out online so that I can still have some of those conversations!

What advice would you give to young writers?

Don’t fall for the dated narrative that you have to put yourself through hell to write good stuff. Look after yourself, put yourself first.

What’s next for you?

I am writing an afternoon drama for Radio 4, which I am really excited about, that’ll be broadcast next year. I’m also going to be teaching in drama schools again, which fills me with such joy, and I’m writing a short film and working on my first YA novel. 

Where can people follow your work on socials?

I’m @katie_bonna_writer on Instagram, I just started that one up and I love Insta. I’m @KatieBonna on Twitter (but I am a bit hopeless at tweeting) and my website. Thank you so much BBB!

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