We speak to Kate about her inspiration for Peat, our new play for ages 8+. Find out why she likes bogs and what audiences can expect from the show, which opens 2 March.
Writer of Peat, Kate Heffernan (centre), pictured with actors Curtis-Lee Ashqar and Kwaku Fortune, who will perform in the show.
Q. What was your inspiration for Peat?
I was in a museum and saw a piece of earth that had been dug from the ground. On it there were different layers and each layer represented a period of history. We often think of history on a horizontal timeline, but looking at this patch of earth made me think that time might actually be vertical, and everything that has ever happened might be under our feet. In the play, two friends dig a hole in a bog, and I was excited by the idea that this might mean they are digging into the past. And it took off from there.
Q. Why did you want to write a play for young audiences?
Peat began as an impulse to have an open conversation about the enormity of the world in which we live – in which adults and children live together. The two characters in the play are 11-years old and I also feel very connected to the person I was when I was 11. That person is still inside me, and not that deep down. I am still interested in the same things she was interested in; I still have the same worries she had. With Peat I wanted to explore all of this.
Q. What would you like children to take away with them after seeing the play?
At its heart, Peat is about friendship, and about how friendship doesn’t always look like what we think friendship looks like. Sometimes we have to tell our friends the truth, or listen to our friends tell us the truth, and both of these things can be hard to do. I hope Peat can also be a conversation about the big stuff – life, death, history.
Q. What do you think is special about bogs? Why did you choose that location for the characters in the play to dig a hole?
Image by Bob Jones, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/...
I grew up in the midlands, in County Laois, and bogs were a big part of my life. My granddad owned a patch of bog, where every summer we used to cut and save turf for the fire. I loved the bog, the feel of the bouncy earth under my feet, the colour of the ground, the smell and texture of the peat. We don’t cut turf on it anymore, but I still go to visit it, because it’s a really peaceful place.
This is partly why I chose a bog as the location. But I also chose it because of the peculiar nature of peat. The play is the story of things buried and things found, and when you bury things on bogs they are preserved because of a weird chemical mix. They have found butter buried that is thousands of years old but good enough to eat (though no one actually risked tasting it!). So in that sense, bogs are a bit like time capsules.
About Kate Heffernan
Kate Heffernan is a theatre maker and playwright. Her first play, In Dog Years I’m Dead, won the Stewart Parker Trust Emerging Playwright Award in 2013. Kate is also a current participant in the Irish Theatre Institute’s Six in the Attic, Artists Support Programme. Peat is her first play for children.
Peat by Kate Heffernan is a brand new play, commissioned by The Ark. Peat will run at The Ark from 28 February – 31 March. It has been created especially for children aged 8+. Find out more