Bringing to the stage Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles?

Director Diyan Zora already knew Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? when former Chichester Festival Theatre artistic director Daniel Evans suggested it to her.
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She is delighted now to be bringing Adrienne Kennedy’s autobiographical play, co-written with her son Adam P Kennedy, to Chichester’s Minerva Theatre from June 16-July 8. In the piece, Adrienne remembers how she impusively left New York for London with her young son, intent on adapting John Lennon’s book In His Own Write for the stage.

In the heady atmosphere of the swinging 60s, she found herself rubbing shoulders with a dizzying array of celebrities, including all four Beatles. And when her idols, Laurence Olivier – director of the National Theatre – and his influential literary manager Kenneth Tynan, along with actor Victor Spinetti, promised to produce her play, it seemed like a dream come true. But slowly the stars seemed to align in a different way…

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“I knew the playwright and I was very excited by her,” Diyan says. “As soon as Daniel said her name, my ears perked up and it is just so exciting to bring her work across here because she is not so well known in the UK. She's very avant-garde. She's someone that writes in a way which is always challenging form, and the great thing is that she writes in a way that is not always very linear, and she writes plays that are not always very easy to digest. She writes plays that leave the audience with more questions than answers. She writes about race and about womanhood in a way that is really surprising and there are themes in her work that I'm really drawn to. She often writes about memory and about her parents. In this play she writes very accurately about her parents because she is writing about herself but in other plays they also appear. It is not a monologue but there are only two characters on stage. She is speaking to her son for the vast majority of the lines but her son is a musician and we get to hear the music. It's a play about the 1960s when music was such an important part of culture and counterculture.

Diyan ZoraDiyan Zora
Diyan Zora

“John Lennon had written this book and Adrienne was very inspired by the book. She just loved it and it spoke to her because it was written in a fairly fragmented, obscure way and she just decides that she wants to adapt it into a play. Someone puts her in touch with John Lennon’s publishing agent in the UK and that's the first little step towards her making this journey. She leaves partly because she's not doing so well. She's just gone through a divorce and she feels a bit lost and she's not got much money but it's a big decision for her.

“This is a play that deals with time and space in a very surprising way but this one is rather more linear in its narrative than some of the others. It's actually probably the least abstract play she wrote, but it will really whet people's appetite for the other plays she has written.

“She is 91 and I am in regular contact with her by email.

"She's just so wonderful and so clear and so precise and sure of what she is wanting to say and she's been a massive influence on a huge number of young writers in America.”