Phillip Kavanagh – The scene setter

A three-year lead time gave emerging playwright Phillip Kavanagh plenty of time to speculate about the response to his newest work, Deluge.

While his previous form as winner of the Patrick White Playwright’s Award and selection for the Colin Thiele Creative Writing Scholarship offered some cause for confidence, Mr Kavanagh thinks that adventurous writing always comes with critical risk.

“If people hate it, it’s hard to separate that commentary from them hating you,” the Flinders graduate said.

The good news is that on debut at the 2016 Adelaide Festival, the production of Deluge was not only critically acclaimed, but also achieved excellent sales at the box office.

Flinders directing graduate Nescha Jelk and Mr Kavanagh first started developing the play in 2013, working with 10 third-year Flinders drama students.

And while three of the actors moved on to other things, the remainder stuck with the complex project through its long development, identifying the best way to bring the five intertwined storylines to life.

Mr Kavanagh said the show was inspired by the huge quantity of information now foisted upon an unsuspecting public via the internet and other media.

“The idea is that there is so much information in the world that we are sort of crushed by it,” he said.

“I wrote the five plays and we worked out as a group how to piece them together.

“I’ve never really liked sole authorship; I have liked collaborating on something and then being able to share the response when it is performed.

“The collaborative process strips back the ego of the writer, so that all the focus is on the development of the work.”

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