December Q&A with Enda Walsh

For our latest Journal Q&A we were fortunate enough to catch up with Irish playwright Enda Walsh who gave us an insight into what it was like working on David Bowie's final project. 

Can you tell us a little bit about the projects that you have been working on recently?

Last year I wrote and directed an opera - i didn’t write the music obviously. That was Donnacha Dennehy. He’s a contemporary of mine and a wonderful composer. It was called The Last Hotel - a sort suburban gothic thriller. A story about a woman hiring a couple to assist her in her suicide in a sad hotel. It was a wonderful thing to do. Sub-textually it was very complex I thought. Sky Arts then gave us some money to make it into a film which was unexpected and a great result I have to say. It’s coming back in 2017.

I also made a strange musical with David Bowie in New York called Lazarus - directed by the Belgium genius, Ivo Van Hove. It was an intense experience - and a huge honour to work with David on something so personal - at such a sad time. Unforgettable. He was a beautiful person. The resulted work comes at you like a wild dog. 



Right now I’m preparing a new play - yet to be announced  - and also writing a new opera for 2017 called The Second Violinist - the story of frustrated composer stuck in a mediocre music ensemble who is haunted and pushed towards murder.

Reflecting on your career, which piece of work gives you greatest satisfaction?

Hard to choose  - but probably Ballyturk in 2014. It opened in Ireland and played in the Royal National Theatre with Cillian Murphy, Stephen Rea and Mikel Murfi - and is about to play in New York. It came at the audience in a very unusual way. I made a conscious decision not to make a proper,  clean, understandable narrative. Within its cracks it began to speak in a much larger way had I written it more conventionally. It was like writing and then directing weather.

What do you find inspires creativity in you?

Artists who shape and tell story in a completely unconventional but wholly recognisable way. And Francis Bacon, who does this obviously - but goes somewhere else.



Do you feel style is important or is it an unnecessary superficiality?

Style is important  - and creating specific worlds with their own rules  are the mechanics to getting work done. But it’s all for nothing unless at its core there's something fundamental and universal there. I’ve only ever set out to tell something personal.

What is the funniest thing you have ever witnessed?

I saw a nun try to walk out of a religious shop in Cork City - and walk straight into the glass door - and then fall on her back. I realise that’s pretty horrible and very juvenile - and I sincerely hope that she wasn’t hurt. But it was fucking hilarious.

Lazarus is at King’s Cross Theatre, London N1 ( until January 22. To book tickets call 0844 871 2118