Jemma Kennedy’s play Second Person Narrative is a play about selfhood and the decisions we make – or have imposed upon us – in constructing a life. It was commissioned by Tonic Theatre in partnership with Nick Hern Books as part of Platform, an initiative comprising a series of big-cast plays with predominantly or all-female casts, written specifically for performance by school, college and youth-theatre groups, with the aim of addressing gender imbalance and inequality in theatre.
Second Person Narrative was published on 11 June 2015, along with two other plays inaugurating the Platform series: The Light Burns Blue by Silva Semerciyan and This Changes Everything by Joel Horwood.
The protagonist of Second Person Narrative is YOU. The play begins as YOU is thrust into the world as a baby and proceeds to show episodes through her life until, finally, YOU goes through a quick official check on what her life has involved and is then set off to do it all again being reassured that ‘It’s bound to be different this time round though some of it might seem familiar…’ Although the play tracks through an entire life, every scene is set in the present day, and YOU can be played by one actor or several. The play addresses issues including media hype, consumerism and child/parent relationships.
In an introduction to the published text, Kennedy writes: 'The playwright, who spends her days trying to craft well-behaved dramatic narratives with orderly triggers, twists, crises and moral resolutions, hears the hope and anxiety in your conflicted visions of Your Own Unique Narrative™. ... She would like to write a reassuring play in which your potential is fully realised and you live happily ever after. But her play won’t behave. The writer throws her toys out of her pram and writes a series of scenes that do not make up either an a) depressingly tragic, or b) relentlessly positive narrative. YOU are in all of them. She hopes you accept the gesture as one of solidarity.'