Connie Walsh has been working on our version of Night Of The Living Dead since In The Future When All’s Well last spring. She’s also playing the part of Babs. It’s a fair trade off. Here she writes about her relationship with zombie fiction and how she got to grips with the job.
Babs: What’s happening out there?
Ben: Whatever it is, it isn’t good…
Zombies have always held a special place in my heart. True, that place used to be a terror filled horror zone that made me sleep with a light on until late 2011 but that‘s not the point. They were always in my mind, an omnipresent fear of being killed by something so undignified and unsanitary. Eventually I decided the best way to beat my fear was to charge at it, head-on with a rusty machete, ready to sever the cerebral cortex. Or, you know, just start reading zombie books. And what a fortuitous decision this was. Several months after I had overcome my previously lifelong phobia (which in retrospect probably stemmed from helping my dad play Alone in the Dark on the ps1 at the tender, yet bloodthirsty age of six) I was reading my very first pieces of zombie literature, starting with the wonderful and terrifying World War Z and The Zombie Survival Guide. It was as I was reading the latter during a long ago Shifting rehearsal that I was apparently picked as a worthy connoisseur of the undead to have aboard.
John Morton quickly got in contact with me, asking if I’d be willing to assist in a brainstorming session for an upcoming production. He’d seen some of my previous writing and wanted to see what I could come up with. Before I knew it, I was asked to be co-writer on what was possibly the perfect production for me. Funnily enough, I think the very first thing I said when asked if I wanted to co-write it was “no”, uttered in a moment of sheer panic and terror. I didn’t think I had it in me, writing something that people would actually see. Of course this quickly turned to a yes within a matter of seconds, despite all my fears. And I had many. How will I think of ideas? What if I’m actually secretly a terrible writer? What if all my jokes do nothing more than bewilder and disgust the audience? And the biggest one of all, how the hell am I supposed to do rewrites? As a stubborn, one draft lady I thought I’d never make it past the first act. Luckily, I didn’t have to as I got the job of writing the second act. Aside from a few minor setbacks (me yelling at the script, me sticking my fingers in my ears and telling the script it wasn’t there, etc) I wrote it, and learned a lot about the craft on the way. It was hard, I won’t pretend it wasn’t, but it was worth it. Not only have John and I managed to create what I believe is a rather smashing story out of the admittedly bare bones of the original film, my own personal writing has improved greatly since I started writing Night of the Living Dead. And we’re not done yet, far from it. Ahead of us are many more hours and days of writing, trailer shooting, rehearsing and of course, actually performing it in all its blood spattered glory on the Watergate stage. So you all better be ready for us. Book your seats and practice your screams. We’re coming to get you.
Night Of The Living Dead plays from July 24th – 28th 2012 in The Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny.