‘When something brilliant happens? I call everybody. Alphabetically’

In Conversation: Gavin Quinn and Aedín Cosgrove, co-artistic directors of Pan Pan Theatre

When did you last cry?

Aedín: You're always crying. You were crying in the rehearsal room the other day.

Gavin: No I wasn't!

Aedín: It was close. Tearful. I'd like to think the last time I cried it was for joy.

What is your favourite place to visit?

Gavin: We started doing these shows in China about 15 years ago. We made The Playboy of the Western World with a Chinese cast. We've done four or five productions and we work with the same people. One of the actors was 18 when she first worked with us and now she's 32. Visiting Beijing, it's strange because it's such a huge city, but you've known people that long, it's like an alternate universe. It's such a different culture. I find it a very interesting place to visit, still.


Aedín: I like more remote places. Where I like to go most in Ireland is Cape Clear. I've been going there all my life. It's such a tiny place, but somehow it's endlessly interesting.

What is your favourite TV show of all time?

Aedín: The Wire. Even though it was after The Sopranos, I totally preferred it. It was a new form of television.

Gavin: I watched the new Fargo recently, three seasons, I thought it was incredible. I remember watching Scenes From A Marriage years ago, a six-part series that Ingmar Bergman made. It's amazing and chilling.

Aedín: The Love Boat was good too.

Gavin: Also a classic.

What book do you keep returning to?

Gavin: I read this book a long time ago, I guess three times, by a Norwegian writer called Per Petterson, called Out Stealing Horses. What I like about it is the character goes and lives by himself and buys a small house because he wants to be alone. It's so atmospheric. It's all these very short sentences. The style is so pure. It's an easy book to read.

Aedín: Effi Briest. I've read it three times. I did not know that when I first read it that Samuel Beckett read it four times. It's a very good book. Fassbinder made a film of it. A good book.

Do you play a musical instrument?

Aedín: I played the tin whistle, proudly, last year, in the Cape Clear St Patrick's Day parade. That was my first public instrument performance. Myself and my sister spent two days learning the tune. Kids were teaching us. We got it in the end.

Gavin: I started learning classical guitar at eight years of age, and I gave up when I was 8½. The classes were on Saturday mornings at 9 o'clock. I still remember the chords I learned. We were playing Don McClean and 'Scarborough Fair' a lot. I still imagine all these eight-year-olds on classical guitar singing Don McClean songs.

What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?

Gavin: I remember when we did one of our earliest shows, mid-90s. Afterwards somebody said to us "the show was great, but I wouldn't keep working on visual theatre because Irish audiences don't like visual things." This person who worked in theatre making these huge pronouncements. "Irish audiences don't care about design." Audiences will watch what you put in front of them. Sometimes the practitioners are more conservative than the audience.

Aedín: I was advised that I would be probably quite happy and very good in the bank if I applied. I wasn't too bad at sums.

Is there any particular artist you feel very connected to right now?

Gavin: I've got really into a Swedish film-maker called Roy Andersson.

Aedín: One of the exhibitions I enjoyed last year was Nan Goldin and Vivienne Dick [at IMMA]. Vivienne's films, particularly, how well they have travelled through time, the real loose form she has, and her new films also, which are something completely different. I really admire Vivienne Dick.

What is your death row meal?

Aedín: If I was going to die, I probably wouldn't want to eat anything. I'd probably go with a cheeseburger, like the rest of my death row colleagues.

Gavin: I'd probably want a ham sandwich.

Can you guess the other person’s go-to drink?

Aedín: You like kale juice, and all those disgusting things.

Gavin: That's a lie!

Aedín: What's mine?

Gavin: Guinness, of course.

Aedín: Could you not say Champagne?

Gavin: Okay. Murphy's. Or how about Beamish?

Which word do you overuse?

Gavin: I use "void" too much these days. I've been overusing it with actors, "just look into the void!" I used to overuse "edgy". It started off as a joke. Actors take the piss out of me, "am I looking at the void again? Or the audience?"

Aedín: My niece gave out to me for saying "cas" [for casual]. I said it once. It's all wrong.

Gavin: As one physicist said to the other physicist, you're not even wrong.

What was the last present that you bought?

Aedín: My sister's birthday, I bought her a purse. It's sort of a joke about all the money that we think we're going to get in our lives.

Gavin: The last present I gave was my 16-year-old nephew – money in a really bad secondhand card. That's what you want when you're 16.

Who is the first person you call when something brilliant happens?

Gavin: I call my mother.

Aedín: I call everybody. Alphabetically.

Gavin Quinn and Aedín Cosgrove are the co-artistic directors of Pan Pan Theatre. Pan Pan's The Importance of Nothing is on a national tour until April 28th. panpantheatre.com