Interview: Kieran Hurley on the making of Beats

  • The List
  • 21 March 2012
Interview: Kieran Hurley on the making of Beats

Theate show set in rave era circa Criminal Justice Act of 1994

What was the inspiration for Beats? Is it autobiographical?
No, unlike my previous monologue piece Hitch, which was autobiographical, Beats is all made up. It’s a story set against the backdrop of the tail end of the free party movement in the early 90s, shortly after the Criminal Justice Act of 1994 was passed, which clamped down on the whole rave subculture. All that was a little before my time, but I returned to it because I wanted to make a piece about mass gatherings, about the feelings of potential and possibility that can occur in crowds, essentially about the power of gathered youth. There are issues here that feel really relevant now in terms of restrictions on civil liberties, our culture of villainising young people and so on but the rave scene is such rich territory, and sometimes looking back can be useful in trying to make sense of the present. I think for that reason it’ll make a very fitting double-bill with Gary Gardiner’s Thatcher’s Children.

How did you come to collaborate with DJ Johnny Whoop?
I always knew I wanted to work with a DJ onstage. When I was making Hitch I worked with the wonderful two-piece pop band Over The Wall, who performed their music live, and this dynamic was something I wanted to continue to pursue. When I thought of Johnny I knew straight away he was the right guy. He’s a resident DJ at the Arches but he also knows his way round a studio theatre setting. He’s sound designer, lighting designer, and co-performer and he’s got knowledge of the whole scene that’s beyond mine really, so he has been crucial in ensuring the piece is authentic. And his skills and energy really help bring the piece to life.

How crucial was the Arches to your development of the piece?
The show is also transferring to the Traverse, and is absolutely made with that in mind, so it doesn’t respond directly to the architecture of the Arches building, however, the Arches’ dual identity as theatre and nightclub make it a great place to make this show. My hope is that this will be a piece of theatre which might draw in an audience from some of the crowd who consistently show up for Pressure, not just from the regular theatre audience. That’s quite an exciting prospect for me.

Beats, Arches, Glasgow, Wed 18–Sun 22 Apr. Beats appears in a double bill with Gary Gardiner’s Thatcher’s Children at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 25–Sat 28 Apr.

Kieran Hurley: Beats

Kieran Hurley presents his Platform 18 award-winning work, in which he explores the links between the early 1990s outlawing of illegal raves and the current government's criminalisation of protest movements through a mixture of traditional storytelling, experiments with audio equipment and techno ('lots of techno').