Rehearsals are well under way for the new Firedoor Theatre showcase called ‘Uncut’.
On a twice yearly basis this group invites writers and directors to submit new, or previously performed, pieces. If selected, a number of them get staged over a series of nights in a theatre in Dublin. In addition to the showcases the group also stages a full length theatrical extravaganza (also known as a play) a couple of times a year.
Firedoor Theatre is the name of the city based theatre group in which I am a member. I got involved, upon arrival in Dublin in late 2015. I had been a member of both the InPlayers English language theatre group, and the Badhuis group in Amsterdam, prior to my departure from that city. Always as an actor though. I joined this Irish group, partly to maintain my interest in drama. More realistically however, I wanted to meet new people. I was quite the Billy NoMates when I first landed in Dublin, after decades away. I thought that mingling among people with active ‘jazz hands’, would ease my re-entry into the Dublin social whirl.
In addition to staging shows, Firedoor held weekly workshops on Wednesdays, to practice different elements of theatre. I went to them all.
As the fog had begun to lift from my addled brain, after leaving Holland, I started to write more. Initially they were personal stories – some were actual accounts of experiences I had, two of which were published in a printed anthology from the Limerick Writers’ Centre. Others were more fictionalised versions of my adventures – one which was published in an online magazine called ‘Silver Apples’ . This story provided my very first payment for writing. Believe you me the cappuccino I bought with the proceeds was the tastiest I’d ever purchased. Many others were roundly rejected by everyone to whom they’d been submitted. This was no ordeal though – I quickly learned that when submitting writing, it’s wise develop a hide like a rhinoceros. Rejection is a common response to efforts. But you cannot be disheartened by this.
Somewhere on my computer hard-drive there also resides the first, futile attempts at two different novels – both of which were abandoned after about 15,000 words. I hit the wall with them. Having only had daydreams of writing previously, the practical reality of sitting down and completing a first draft of a novel – never mind a finished book – hit me like a tonne of bricks. I had ideas, but no plan. And then I got a job in the industrial wastelands. They were left to fester. I must revisit those dusty old drafts, lurking in the Cloud. There might be something in them that can be salvaged.
In November 2015 – the month I moved to Dublin, I received an email from an old thespian buddy in Amsterdam, telling me about a short play theatre festival in Dublin, and that I should consider making an attempt at writing a play.
There I was – a recently, returned immigrant, in a hellish job in Dublin, living with an insane flatmate. What on earth would I write about?
And so the short play ‘Back to life’ was begotten – the completely fictional account of a recently, returned immigrant, working a hellish job in Dublin, living with an insane flatmate. He chats to an elderly woman in the park on a lonely lunchbreak.
The festival didn’t want the piece. Firedoor did however. Which was exciting. I cast myself as the male lead. It wasn’t a case of nepotism, as I was actually the living embodiment of the character – although I had moved into my own place in the intervening period between writing and staging the piece. It was more nerve-wracking than any other acting experience I’d ever had. I couldn’t blame the writing for a bad performance. Not could I blame the actor for ruining my script.
Since that first playlet back in February 2016, I’ve written several plays. From tales of vegan, diabetic vampires with toothache in Temple Bar (‘Blood Sugar’); to the sordid story of a blowsy middle-aged woman, whose notions about her own grandeur are confronted with the reality that her darling child is a fraudster. (‘Mother’s Little Treasure’).
I wrote a darker, full length play called ‘An unexpected party’ for the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, this summer. That was electrifying – as well as terrifying (and exhausting).
The new play to be staged is my first sequel – ‘Mother’s Little Holiday’. My leopard-print clad heroine Maureen, decides to take her best friend Carol ‘Vinegar Lips’ Delaney to Tenerife, to persuade her darling criminal son to return to the bosom of his family in Raheny. The son is nowhere to be seen. Which is not the case for his ‘TROLLOP’ of a girlfriend Rosario. Sparks fly.
Everybody should come to see ‘Firedoor’s Uncut’ – in the Pearse Centre at 8pm on 17th, 18th or 19th August. It will be a varied evening – my play is but one of seven pieces. Tickets are only ten euros on the door. It promises to be the most electrifying night in the history of show-business.
And I am not prone to exaggeration.