Sat 12 Mar 2022

Interview with Robert Alan Evans

Robert Alan Evans is the writer of the stage adaptation of Barry Hines' acclaimed book Kes. We caught up with him ahead of the production's run at TBTL (6 to 30 April).

Tell us a little about yourself and what inspired you to want to become a writer?

When I was about 7 years old I wrote a story for the Eisteddfod in my primary school in South Wales; It was about a trip to the bottom of the sea to find a giant pearl and it was the first time I lost myself in a story. I came up out of it and felt like I’d been away from my classroom, away from everywhere and in another world. And in that world, I could do anything. I could fly, breathe under water, talk to giant octopi.

About the same time, I was reading and that also felt like an escape. When you’re young you don’t have much control over the world, but you have so many ideas to try out. Why shouldn’t you live in a tree? Why shouldn’t you stay up all night? Why shouldn’t you have magic powers?

In stories I could try out all these things. It’s still the reason I read and write.


Kes was originally released in the ‘60s – why do you think it still resonates with modern audiences?

I think it resonates because not a whole lot has changed. It seems to me that we still have a world dominated by class and privilege. There are young people like Billy Caspar everywhere; who have every bit as much intelligence, wit and drive as the children of more privileged folks, but none of the chances.

When you see someone suffering from the huge injustices that are ‘baked in’ to our society then we can’t help but respond. We know it shouldn’t be like this. We know Billy should be able to fly free. And the story still asks us to rise up and cry out for that freedom.


What similarities/differences does this production have to the original story?

The original story is in the form of a novel. It is a beautifully written novel. But the theatre does things differently. In a novel the reader can go inside a character’s head if the writer chooses. How do you do that in the theatre? And would you want to? In a novel, if someone give you the finger you have to describe it, on stage you can do it live, right there, while you are sitting between your ageing parents, or near your teacher. It can shock in a way that a novel can’t. The theatre doesn’t exist without an audience. You can’t sit alone and read it. That’s why I love it.


What message do you want people to take away from this adaptation?

I’m not sure I can say, for fear of becoming a dictator. All I can say is that when I watch this story I am filled with the feeling that anyone, no matter what you think of them, might have unimaginable worlds inside.

Or maybe you’re someone that people have written off, but you know that inside you are feelings and thoughts that would break their hearts if they knew, pictures that would stun them, ideas that might change the world.


Find out more about Kes here.

Download press image of Robert Alan Evans here.