A Hundred Words for Snow, Q&A with Tatty Hennessy29 January 2019
1. Can you summarise what the show is about and the ideas behind it?
A Hundred Words for Snow is an adventure story about a teenage girl called Rory who runs away to the Arctic Circle with her father’s ashes to help him achieve his life-long dream of going to the North Pole. It’s about grief, growing up, and our relationship with the planet. And there’s some jokes.
2. What was the inspiration for the show?
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 story that focused on a young girl, that took her desires and problems and thoughts seriously, that took her to extremes, both geographically and emotionally.
3. What do you hope audiences will take away from the show?
I want them to call their loved ones, start recycling and donate to a Climate Change charity. Just kidding. Sort of.
4. The renowned polar explorer Felicity Aston MBE has acted as a consultant on the show; what advice was she able to give you and how has she helped shape the show?
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.
5. Who would you say is your ‘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 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 immensely lucky to have in my life many, many brilliant women who inspire and support me (some of whom are working on this show…!)
6. Human impact on the climate is a major theme of the show. What role do you feel theatre and the arts play in bringing attention to these issues?
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.