THE pressures on young women in the 1940s and 1950s in Cork are under the spotlight in Kites, a play written by Mitchelstown-based Tzarini Meyler, who also stars in the show.
Tzarini, who is bringing the play to the Edinburgh Fringe, wanted to explore the period while looking at similarities now. While some foods were rationed in Ireland until the mid-1950s as a result of World War II, she agrees we’re not so far ahead of ourselves now, with talk of rationing gas arising out of the Russian war on Ukraine.
She also says young women are under a lot of pressure today because of the housing crisis.
“Hordes of young people are moving to London, Australia and the U.S. In the play, I wanted to go back in time and in that way, shine a light on today. The two characters in Kites, Kitty (played by Tzarini) and Angel (Ana Canals) are two sides of the same coin.
Kitty, a Cork native, has never been outside of the city.
“She’s quite naive and innocent-minded,” says Tzarini (right) She wants to explore the world. She has a lifelong dream of going to America and becoming a performer. The other girl, Angel is Spanish/Irish and a refugee from the Spanish Civil War. Her mother is from Cork. Angel’s family have come back to Ireland to get away from the trauma of what is going on in Franco’s Spain.
“For Kitty, war seems far away. It’s exotic where people get to travel and there’s explosions. It seems exciting, but Kitty doesn’t have any direct contact with war. It’s kind of like what we’re experiencing now with the Russians in Ukraine. We’re hearing about it but we don’t really feel it. Then there’s these migrants coming to Ireland who have come from a war-torn country. I explore that also.”
Angel is desperate to belong and have a home again.
Kitty and Angel met as a result of their shared love of kites. “Kitty is kind of a loner and hasn’t really got friends because she always has her head in the clouds. She comes from a dark abusive background. Her way of dealing with her pain is to imagine and to escape. She imagines she is a kite and can fly away and do whatever she wants.”
Tzarini is interested in the image of a kite, which she describes as being like a metaphor for a woman.
“Kites are strong but also quite flimsy and frail. That’s the stereotype of a woman, capable of escaping and also capable of getting stuck or trapped. I wanted to take that idea and ask, what would happen if a person was a kite? Kites are controlled by someone. If the wind isn’t going the right way, the kite won’t go anywhere.”
Having researched the post World War II era in Cork, Tzarini says some people “were under the impression the Nazis were going to invade. There was almost a makeshift army of men who were preparing themselves to train, thinking that bombs were going to be dropped in Cork.
Tzarini believes her play (narrated by Kate Firth, brother of famous actor Colin) is relevant to today.
“I think it helps people to watch plays or films that are set in a different time. It gives them an element of escapism and to see that (history) repeats itself. It gives people distance to think and question.”
In the play, the two girls take very different life journeys. “But no matter what you get in life, there’s always something you want and can’t have. The moral of the story is that what you were looking for is already there, so appreciate what you have. The friendship of the two girls at the end of the day is their biggest strength.”
This is the second time Tzarini will have brought a play to Edinburgh. Kites will be performed at the Gilded Balloon by herr company, LipZinc Theatre. It previews at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre in Camden, north London.
“I learned a lot from the first play we did in Edinburgh about four years ago. We only did one week. I was very young and had no idea what to expect. Having a longer run is good because word of mouth about productions brings people in.”
Bringing a play to the Edinburgh Fringe is expensive, says Tzarini. A few thousand pounds has to be paid up front for the venue then a split is done on the takings. “It’s the accommodation that has gone through the roof, just like here. I was quoted £10,000 and £12,000 for a one bed apartment for the month of August. Eventually, I found somebody that wasn’t a rip off merchant.”
Tzarini hopes to bring the play to Cork as part of an Irish tour in 2023.
- Kites is at the Gilded Balloon as part of the Edinburgh Fringe from August 5-28.