Thursday, December 4, 2008
The first play I ever performed in was Monty Python's The Life Of Brian by Dreamstuff Youth Theatre when I was a mere pup of 17. This was back in 2000 as part of a very exciting initiative launched by Mike Kelly of Young Irish Film Makers and it was called Dreamstuff Youth Theatre. At the time, there were no outlets for young actors in Kilkenny to get experience or even just have the social interaction of hanging out with a bunch of like minded youngsters. And I can't describe how exciting for me, that the very first thing I'd get to act in was a production of a Monty Python film. And not just that but my favourite Monty Python film to boot! At the time, it was just the coolest thing in the world and so it proved when we performed it in the Watergate Theatre, Kilkenny from January 23rd to 26th 2001. And people came!
From there Dreamstuff Youth Theatre prospered and I got to act in a further 12 plays for them over the next 7 years and I also got invaluable experience in acting, writing, costumes and all manner of theatre work. It was the best possible education for someone who wanted to get into acting and without it, I wouldn't have been in any position to pursue theatre as a career. I still remember the looks on my fellow classmates faces on the first day of college when I got to recount all the theatre stuff I'd worked on in 2 years. I just hadn't realised how rare something like Dreamstuff is. They'd just been stuck doing the dog in some school version of Annie or in the Billy Barry kids, that sort of terrifying thing.
In my opinion, a really solid youth theatre is a better learning curve than any amount of colleges or training. The purest way to learn is by just doing. And from that first young, spotty crew on The Life Of Brian came the foundations of Devious Theatre as we have them today. Devious Theatre members Ken McGuire (as the titular character), David Thompson (The Virgin Mandy/Ben), Kevin Mooney (Biggus Dickus), Amy Dunne (Judith), Hazel Fahy (Mrs. Gregory), Sean Hackett (The Young Roman) and Dave Minogue (Ex-Leper/Harry The Haggler) all got our starts with The Life of Brian. I played the parts of First Wise Man, Francis the Revolutionary and Otto The Nazirene. We were all in the throes of puberty then, like so:
The Life Of Brian next week from Tuesday 9th to Saturday 13th of December in the Watergate Theatre. Further cementing my worrying reputation as the Peter Pan/Michael Jackson of Kilkenny youth theatre, I'm making a brief appearance in the play as Jesus The Christ, giving the Sermon on the Mount from the Watergate balcony. Finally, I get to play Christ! Flagellation here I come!
I've been up at rehearsals over the past 2 weeks and the production is looking great. There's a fantastic crew of young actors working on it (special mention for Peter O'Connor's Brian. This guy is the most exciting young actor in Kilkenny right now.) and I don't mind admitting that I've got one eye on the future new blood that can be pumped into the veins of Devious Theatre in a few years. It's going to be a great show and old man Mike Kelly is directing again with the same amount of aplomb and flair and cursing as he had in 2000. Their sets, costumes and programme also beat the hell out of ours. That's progression, right? Bastards.
And long may Dreamstuff Youth Theatre give Kilkenny youngsters the opportunities to work, rest and play in a fantastic theatrical wonderland after the drudgery of the school day. And of course, look at other young lads and young ones. Sex, sex, sex, it's all they think about.