Kaiya Stone is bringing her debut one-woman show, Everything is Going to be KO, to this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. She tells Giverny Masso how the show explores her experiences coping with dyslexia, dyspraxia and ADHD, which she was diagnosed with as an adult…
What is the inspiration behind Everything is Going to be KO?
When I was 19, I was diagnosed with learning difficulties out of the blue. It really freaked me out. I couldn’t understand how I could be an adult, having been a teenager, and not know this thing about myself. I came out as gay at the same time and that was so much easier as there is a community. With my diagnosis, I was looking for stories and a community. So much of the information out there is for parents with young children. I knew I couldn’t be the only person in this situation, so I started writing everything down to help myself understand.
How did this develop into a theatre show?
I have been working on the show for so long. I had 100,000 words worth of notes at the beginning. I started doing stand-up about it, but I thought it had more story to it, so I started adding characters. This story is political, it’s so important to tell. I explore how education demands one way of thinking and penalises so many people. It’s hard to think about school. I thought when I left: ‘I never have to be here again,’ and I revisit that. But I’m in control of it and there’s something powerful about offering up the most vulnerable part of yourself.
What are your future plans?
I view Everything is Going to be KO as the start of this project. I’m planning to do a tour of venues in the north, because it’s about growing up in Yorkshire. I also want to do a London transfer, and work on different offshoots, including writing a book and thinking about how to tell the story to people who might not be able to go to the theatre. I’m also working on a different project with my mum.
You also have your own production company – tell me about it.
I set up Transgress with Jessie Parker. We tell stories about gender, sexuality and disability that might not have a platform unless we make it happen. Transgress is taking another show to the Edinburgh Fringe called (Even) Hotter for which Mary Higgins and Ell Potter interviewed 40 women and transgender people aged 11 to 96. You hear their voices, but its lip-synced so you don’t see the people. It’s about what gets you hot in different ways, from exercise and sweating to embarrassment.
How did you get into theatremaking?
I always wanted to perform. I used to audition a lot at university, where I studied Classics. I like storytelling – being able to construct something through all its stages. I love constructing a full experience, for example doing the posters. After uni, I did acting as part of the Forge Initiative course in Guildford. It was great – you have to construct a full piece of work every five weeks from scratch, for example they’ll say: ‘Write a musical’. I started working on KO then.
Training: Forge Initiative in Guildford (2015-16)
First professional role: Hitchhiker’s Guide to Guildford at the Guildford Fringe (2016)
Agent: Marianne Gunn O’ Connor (literary); Ikenna Obiekwe at Independent Talent (acting)
Everything is Going to be KO runs at the Pleasance Courtyard from August 2 to 27