A Hundred Words of Snow, the acclaimed one-woman play about female empowerment and climate change, transfers to the West End next month. We caught up with playwright Tatty Hennessy about her own feminist role models and saving the world. Be sure to read Tatty’s fantastic Open Democracy piece on the power of stories too. Time to get booking!
After success at VAULT Festival and on tour, A Hundred Words of Snow, Tatty Hennessy‘s acclaimed coming-of-age story about grief, courage and polar bears, transfers to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 2 from 5 to 30 March 2018, with a press night on 7 March.
This is a journey of epic proportions in every sense – through grief, adolescence and across the Arctic – as we follow Rory on her mission to get the ashes of her Arctic enthusiast dad to the North Pole, whilst discovering the full extent of the planet’s destruction and a lot about herself along the way.
Gemma Barnett reprises her performance as Rory, directed by Lucy Atkinson. Renowned polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE has acted as a production consultant. A Hundred Words of Snow has lighting design by Lucy Adams, sound design by Mark Sutcliffe and is produced by Rebecca Gwyther for RJG Productions.
Talking to… Tatty Hennessy
Tatty Hennessy (writer) is a graduate of the Royal Court and Lyric Young Writer’s Programmes. Her last play, a new adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen, was commissioned by Theatre N16 for Christmas and revived due to demand for Easter. Her previous play All That Lives was developed in association with Ovalhouse for a sold-out run in their studio space.
She has written new work for Emerge, The Miniaturists and Little Pieces of Gold, and was commissioned by LAMDA to write an original play, Immaculate, for their students. Tatty was commissioned by the National Youth Theatre to write F Off, a play in response to social media, for a showcase at the Criterion in the West End. She is passionate about tackling big ideas through small lenses and telling stories with ambition and heart. Also in the new year, she directs
What was your inspiration for A Hundred Words for Snow?
I’ve always been a bit obsessed with stories of exploration. There was a time when I was almost exclusively reading extraordinary true stories of adventure and heroism – Mungo Park, Captain Scott, Shackleton – and it became a bit wearying that all the great explorers I looked up to were invariably men. I wanted to write a story of exploration with a different hero at the centre, a coming-of-age adventure that focused on a young girl, that took her desires and problems and thoughts seriously, that took her to extremes, both geographically and emotionally.
How has Felicity Aston MBE helped shape the play?
You’re often told as a writer to ‘write what you know’, and a lot of this story involved writing about things I really didn’t know. It’s hugely freeing to have someone with first-hand knowledge who’ll tell you if you’ve got it wrong! But more than that, it was just immensely inspiring to know that a woman who has broken barriers and records and done such extraordinary things was connected to the story. Rory would love her.
Do you have a ‘feminist role model’?
There’s a moment in the play where Rory imagines every woman who has ever lived, from now right back to the first woman ever, lined up one by one behind each other, stretching back to the beginning of time. When I try to imagine a ‘feminist role model’, that’s what comes into my head.
There are millions of women who came before me who did extraordinary, unthinkable, brave, desperate, brilliant things, big and small, celebrated and unknown, that alleviated suffering and unfairness and allowed me to live the life I live today. And there are millions of women who will come after me who need me to do what I can to keep on fighting suffering and unfairness, so that they can live the lives they deserve.
And I’m lucky to have in my life many, many brilliant women who inspire and support me (some of whom are working on this show!).
How can theatre & the arts play bring attention to climate change?
I’m not sure attention is the problem. We all know climate change is happening, that it’s getting worse, that we’re the cause. That’s not news. But knowing something and feeling something are two very different things. A story can get into someone’s heart in a way that a fact simply can’t. It can make you care about things you know in a whole new way.
What do you hope audiences will take away?
I want them to call their loved ones, start recycling and donate to a Climate Change charity. Just kidding. Sort of.
A Hundred Words for Snow runs from 5 to 30 March 2019 at London’s Trafalgar Studios, 14 Whitehall, London SW1A 2DY. Performances are Mondays to Saturdays at 7.45pm, with Thursday and Saturday matinees at 3pm. Tickets are priced £15-£30. CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE!