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Tuesday 23 September 2014

My unfolding daily drama

MARIA HERLIHY

Published 20/06/2013 | 05:26

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AN award-winning Kanturk playwright who is the second youngest of 12 children says her entire life has been one "unfolding daily drama".

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AN award-winning Kanturk playwright who is the second youngest of 12 children says her entire life has been one "unfolding daily drama".

To say that Carmel Winters is excited about her eagerly anticipated play 'Best Man' - which opens on Friday night at the Everyman Palace - is a major understatement.

Winters has always been interested in what makes people tick, and how relationships flourish or fail, and she has a keen sense of those unseen bombs ticking away in the background. It is with this in mind that 'Best Man' has all the hallmarks of striking the emotional chords with audiences.

The play tells the story of a high powered wife who is the main bread-winner, while her house-husband looks after their two children and also tries to pursue his own dream of becoming a novelist. When the couple decide to bring a nanny into the home the tiny cracks which had been in the background begin to grow larger and split.

'Best Man' is the latest in a series of thought-provoking pieces from a writer who likes to explore taboos. However, growing up in a house with 12 siblings, finding a quiet corner to write was simply not on the cards. "I didn't even have a bed to myself, and [you] could say that I lived in a constant drama and saw plays unfolding before me all the time," she said, with a laugh, on Monday.

Winter's father was the late and very well known bookie Dennis, while her mother, Elaine is a former Housewife of the Year. Her brother, Michael, is the well known horse trainer of 'Rebel Fitz'.

Though her native Duhallow is well known for its humour, there were many more layers to life growing up in North Cork, and, Carmel says, it would have been impossible to escape the environment all around her.

"Duhallow does have a dark humour but I always think that the tougher things get the funnier they get.

"Growing up, I do think that my teachers did see the writer in me. I had the ability to describe things and make the invisible visible," she said.

While 'Best Man' is partially a 'post Celtic Tiger' piece, she reckons her native Kanturk has survived the vicissitudes of recession well, and visits often, from her home in Ballydehob.

"Kanturk town has always held its own. And I can clearly remember my own father who was an independent bookie and he continued on and made a living," she said.

She was writing her first feature film, 'Snap', when her father passed away. 'Snap' told the story of the abduction of a toddler by a teenager. However, when her father died she found it quite difficult to return to the writing process.

However, Winters is clearly disciplined when it comes to her writing and said that any writer who is waiting for the ideal condition or inspiration to put pen to paper is simply fooling themselves.

She likes to take on topics where, while everyone knows what is happening they yet don't want to talk about it.

"In the last number of years I know a lot of people who have separated and have seen the struggles with regards to custody. While the parents do care for their children, it's the wrangle over custody and their crumbling relationship which can impact on the child. And this damage stays with the child often into the next generation," she said.

Carmel studied Drama and English at Trinity College and 'Snap', which she wrote and directed, premiered at the 2010 Tribeca Film Festival in New York before going on to win the Variety Critics Choice award at the Karlovy-Vary International Film Festival in the Czech Republic.

'B for Baby', her first full-length play, was produced by the Abbey as part of the 2010 Dublin Theatre Festival. She also co-wrote 'Time's Up' with Patrick McCabe.

'Best Man' will open this Friday, June 21 as part of the Cork Midsummer Festival at the Everyman Theatre and run until Saturday, June 29.

Meanwhile, Carmel - writer in residence at The Everyman - is also hoping to rekindle the art of storytelling among Corkonians with her 'Dear Cork' initiative. Here she is inviting people to dig out and send her old letters that tell a story about Cork - see www.everyman.com/dearcork or Facebook 'dearcork'.

Corkman

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