A writer, theatre-maker and spoken word artist, you could say that Dylan Coburn Gray’s star is in stratospheric ascent. A founding member of renowned theatre company Malaprop, he is no stranger to four and five-star reviews at the Edinburgh Festival or to award nominations and accolades – a Fishamble Best New Writing Award and an Irish Writers’ Guild Award nomination, each sit comfortably under his belt.
With his Verity Bargate Award-winning play Citysong – described by The Irish Times as "a magnificent piece" – having just premiered at the Abbey Theatre before moving on to London and Galway over the summer, we caught up with the 27-year-old theatre talent to find out how he approaches creativity in his life and work.
What’s your earliest memory of creativity or creative accomplishment?
Seeing my mother’s plays. For myself, writing a fantasy novel which was a total rip-off of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and Chris Wooding’s Broken Sky when I was 13. Haven’t managed to look at it since…
What advice would you give young people to encourage their creativity?
Play! All play is creativity. It’s not pointless. It’s discovering how to discover. The world is always changing, so we can’t know what we’ll need to know until we need to know it. Play is the tool for situations where we don’t know what tool to use. Play teaches you to be good at having a good life.
What’s the most important part of your creative process?
Finding things to be interested in. Finding out why they excite me or make me feel something. Finding the right ingredients that help me give that feeling to someone else.
Who is your creative hero and why?
I really admire playwright Lucy Kirkwood and novelist Ali Smith, for the same reason. Their work has this kind of unapologetically nerdy compassion to it. They write about big ideas, but they don’t just love big ideas. They love the light that big ideas shed on our lives.
Finish the sentence, ‘creativity is…’
Creativity is used to sell people things but it’s not FOR that, same way noses aren’t for picking or knives for stabbing; creativity begins when you start taking control of your view of the world, start understanding how you understand things, start deciding how you decide. That’s what it’s for.
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