Interview: Tzarini Meyler on KITES, “I was fascinated by their fragility versus strength”

Arriving at VAULT Festival next month, KITES explores the rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood in post-war Ireland, incorporating drama, surreal visuals and physical theatre in a fast-paced two-hander.
The play reflects on writer Tzarini Meyler’s own grandmother’s upbringing and the opportunities that women would sacrifice to do what was expected. As well as writing the KITES, Tzarini also stars in the production, alongside Ana Canals.
Born in south-east London to Irish parents, Meyler was raised in Skibbereen, West Cork and is a graduate of the Institute of the Arts Barcelona. Last year she was awarded a Creative Ireland bursary to begin a mentorship and training in commedia dell’arte with the Italian artist, Cristian Izzo, and in 2021 her play Dublin in a Rainstorm sold out at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin in 2021.
Ahead of KITES opening at VAULT, we caught up with Meyler to talk about the play and her work as part of her theatre company, LipZinc Theatre.
Photo: Juan Sánchez

Q&A with Tzarini Meyler

Hi Tzarini, thanks for talking with us about your new play KITES, which opens at this year’s VAULT Festival in March. What can you tell us about the original inspiration for the play?

The play was inspired by my great-grandmother, Kathleen’s aspirations of becoming an actress in the post-war period. Growing up in poverty, her brothers left Ireland and became musicians and travelling performers, whilst she stayed home and became a housewife. This made me think about the longing inside her for another life or ‘what could have been’- a feeling we can still relate to today in our social media world, where the pressure to ‘have it all’ rings louder than ever. As a writer, I draw on stimuli such as objects, photographs, costumes etc and one day I was watching people flying kites at the sea: I was fascinated by their fragility versus strength, their ability to escape versus their strings that tie them down. Their chaotic movements in the wind reminded me of the struggle inside us all to find balance in the pursuit of our dreams, and the childhood magic we can sometimes lose along the way. And so, KITES was born.

You’ve not only written KITES, but you’re starring in the show too; how has it been balancing that dual role?

Once I entered the rehearsal room, I had to let go a little, and really see the script with ‘fresh eyes’, becoming somewhat more distant and objective, which is not always easy. It can be a benefit to know your character so well internally, but also a hindrance if you don’t open yourself up as an actor and just ‘play’ in the room. It’s about balance and having faith in the whole process.

How do you think English audiences will react to the post-war Ireland theme of the play?

Despite being set in the past, I feel a lot of the big decisions facing Kitty and Angel are universal and relatable in a modern context. Post-war Ireland was very similar to England with job shortages, rationing, and an unstable future for its youth – all things we are dealing with today in our post pandemic world of war, housing and cost of living crises. My generation has been offered all these glittering options dangling above us like kites floating in the wind – and yet they just seem to be totally out of our reach.

Photo: Juan Sánchez

You founded LipZinc Theatre in 2016 and found success in 2021 with a sell-out run of Dublin in a Rainstorm at the Smock Alley Theatre, Dublin. How important has LipZinc Theatre been in shaping your work?

LipZinc was started with the need to create work that is truthful to the artist, and vital to the audience. Inspired by the surrealist movement of the 1920’s, I created my own LipZinc manifesto, which has helped me to develop my style and stay true to my intentions as an artist. It has shaped my work by giving me the freedom to experiment and play. LipZinc has afforded me a brilliant network of like minded creatives over the last few years, whom I have worked with time and again, to bring my stories to life. LipZinc has also grown as a community and team, which has brought the shows to incredible places. With the wonderful work of my producer, Ana, I have been able to share these stories at international platforms like Edinburgh and now, VAULT!

Finally, how would you describe KITES to someone considering buying a ticket for the show?

A show about friendship, love, and growing up in a world that wants to tie you down, KITES will cut the strings, and take you back to your own teenage dreams, making you laugh and cry along the way.

KITES is at VAULT Festival, Cage from 7 to 12 March