Dublin Fringe Preview: Acclaimed actress Kate Stanley Brennan has written her first play, Walk For Me, for this year's Fringe - she writes for RTÉ Culture about the inspiration for the one-woman show.

I often wake up these days with an overwhelming sense of fear and question myself "why did I decide to do this?!" But then I try to quash that voice and imagine what I'll feel like when I'm standing on the stage in Bewley's Café Theatre having finished the first show I've ever written at Dublin Fringe Fringe Festival. Hopefully the feeling will be one of satisfaction! 

I started this journey with the thought that I wanted to do something that combined both my songs and theatre. Since I had stopped gigging with my band, theatre and touring kind of took over, and although I am always making music, I really miss performing live - so I thought why not combine both? Then the opportunity of doing a Show in a Bag at Dublin Fringe presented itself to me, and I decided to go for it.

Young girls and their relationship with sex are getting more and more extreme these days, but the way we as women have to manage and negotiate our way through the gauntlet of male hormones on a day-to-day basis is a tale as old as time.

The story follows Dubliner Mary Jane who, whilst on a J1 visa in New York after dropping out of college, is enticed from Manhattan’s streets by a mysterious stranger, and gets sucked into the underground world of New York’s club scene. She gets into some sticky situations as she looks for love in all the wrong places, running through life along the edge of a knife. She’s on a mission to prove to the world that she can walk it alone.

Kate Stanley Brennan as Mary Jane in Walk For Me

I had an idea of using the colourful backdrop of New York's underground club scene as a setting as it was one of the most influential times in my life when I lived there. It had an effect on my music, fashion and life for years to follow. I was 20 when I ventured over, wanting to experience all that this mystical place had to offer. I thought I knew it all then but, although I had experienced a lot, looking back I realise how green I still was.

I have drawn on some personal experiences for this play- but it is a fictional story. The character and story became more removed from me as i wrote it, and I found myself wanting to explore certain themes.

Young girls and their relationship with sex are getting more and more extreme these days, but the way we as women have to manage and negotiate our way through the gauntlet of male hormones on a day-to-day basis is a tale as old as time.

I started this journey with the thought that I wanted to do something that combined both my songs and theatre.

The first half of this play charts Mary Jane's teenage years through different types of sexual encounters she has as she flits from nightclub to nightclub, which might seem like a lot, but actually these incidents make up the everyday lives of teenagers then and, I can only imagine, more so today - and not only teenagers, but women in general. The stuff you wouldn't even think to talk about because 'that just happens'. 

I started writing Walk For Me when I was doing a show in London earlier this year called The White Devil, a Jacobean play by John Webster that deals with themes that are still relevant today in terms of slut shaming, etc. My character is accused of being a whore for the way she acts. One day, I was talking about my own play to my cast mates and asked 'How many of you have fallen asleep at a house party and woken up with a bloke's hand down your pants?" It was a unanimous yes from all the females - the two men at the table were shocked and appalled. But the boys and men the girls spoke of weren't sex-crazed perverts down an alley waiting to pounce. They were a friend’s brother, the guy from down the road, a mate. 'Normal' guys. So what happened must just be normal right?

In Walk For Me, Mary Jane starts out as the 'everygirl' but ends up going to more extremes than most, as she tries to free herself from home life and pursue her dream of becoming a singer... but don't worry - it's not all darkness! This is a story of self discovery; of finding self worth, finding your voice in the world and realising what's really important in life. There are highs of many kinds, with lots of music that will make you want to dance, played by our DJ, one of Ireland's best - Handsome Paddy. (whom I'm over the moon to have on board) There are also original tracks by the insanely talented Adam Fogarty (aka MathMan) and my brother Johnny (aka Bobofunk)! I am blessed to have my sister Sarah directing, as she will guide me in the right direction and tell me what's crap and what's not! And my other sister Holly is designing the poster for me, so I've definitely called in the familia to sort me out!

Walk for Me by Kate Stanley Brennan runs at Bewley's Cafe Theatre @ Powerscourt, from September 12-18 - further info here. Photos: Cait Fahy