Playwright Megan Breen discusses her inspiration for Lecherous Honey, working with Cock and Bull and her process. Lecherous Honey is a contemporary adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's classic play Ghosts about societal taboos that literally turned Norway upside down in the late 19th century. Breen has taken the classic play and shown us what is underneath it all, the personal desires of the characters, their dreams and nightmares.
MEGAN BREEN AND PERSONAL DUENDE FOR LECHEROUS HONEY
Why Ibsen's Ghosts?
Ghosts attacks complacency. It boldly exhibits the qualities of my ideal theatrical experience - dangerous, raw and provocative. It is fearless in its exploration of the taboo, and relentless in its tackling of the secrets inside of that taboo.
Is the story relevant today?
Many aspects of Ghosts are potently relevant today - the controversy of inherited sin, how to grapple with our past mistakes forever haunting us, battling the danger of unchecked religious narrowness, etc.; but the most provocative contemporary relevance of the play, for me, is Ibsen's clear, high stakes call for transcendent societal progress.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
My aesthetic approach focuses on - in an attempt at catharsis - exorcising one's inhibitions, no matter how emotionally dangerous and raw; full audience and artist immersion into a beautiful but dark world of emotional vulnerability and metaphysical as well as playful provocation; physicalizing and fully realizing - through a confrontation of a personal duende - one's wilderness of self.
Why produce this with Cock and Bull?
In an interview in The Guardian last fall, Irish/English playwright Martin McDonagh infamously asserted that theatre would "never be edgy enough in the way I (he) want(s) it to be." I understand his frustration, but cock and bull Is exactly as brave, revelatory and "edgy" as I need it to be for my attempt at and exploration of outlier theatrical endeavors. Cock and bull is not only unafraid to take risks in order to explore all the possibilities of what theatrical storytelling can give us, but it embraces the risk, embraces the experiment of fearless theatricality and prioritizes the restless imagination as well as inherent truth within us over any predictable comfort or familiarity.
What Is Your Process?
I start out very visceral - I immerse myself in the sensory world of the story I am telling: I create playlists of songs that remind me of the literal as well as emotional environments in the story, and I find visual artists whose work reflects certain colors for each character's vibe or tone, as well as just what the actual and emotional landscape of the story might look like. It takes me days or up to a few weeks to really feel immersed in the world of the play...I'll just start talking to myself as the characters - out loud in a room by myself haha - to experiment with different voices and dialogue patterns.
Then I'll start moving like the characters would, sometimes I even come up with a dance for each of them and start improvising conversations they might have with each other while dancing . Then I just let the conversations happen, unorganized and chaotic. In rewriting and organizing the chaos, I listen to classical music or jazz to sort of structure my brain and help the narrative have a certain flow.