Jezebel – Interview with Margaret McAuliffe by Emily Elphinstone
According to Jezebel, Rough Magic’s new production; 15% of the population have had a threesome. Who knew the Irish were such a kinky bunch! After premiering in the Project Arts Centre in December 2012, Jezebel now returns for an international tour. Written by Mark Cantan, the show focuses on high-flying power couple Alan and Robin, who are in search of new ways to spice up their sex life: Enter Jezebel, the new addition to their bedroom.
I met up with new cast member Margaret (McAuliffe, who plays Robin) to discuss the show, the tour, and that 15%:
So the show is presented as an ‘alternative Valentine’s lesson’: Are you performing on Valentine’s Day?
We ARE performing it on Valentine’s Day. It will be in the Draoicht in Blanchardstown on Valentines Night
I’m just imagining all the couples in the audience turning to each other like ‘Should we’?
It’s not crude though in any way. The threesome stuff is just good fun. It’s actually quite a moral play: Like what you should do in this situation. It’s the circumstances that are ludicrous, not necessarily how people deal with them.
And what character are you playing?
The role I’m playing is Robin, so I’m going out with Alan (Peter Daly). We meet in a kind of strange manner, over a business meeting, but we get on very well: like two wierdos who find each other. And everything seems to be going great, but they’re getting a little bit bored of their sex life, they don’t think they have as spicy a sex life as they should…
Clearly just bring a whole extra person in; that’s the way to solve it!
This is it! They do a few things before they bring another person in; it’s kind of a last resort, and it’s like they’re doing a tit for tat series of: ‘What’s your idea? Ok, we’ll do that’. Then next time they’ll do the next person’s idea. This one is Robin’s idea, but it just gets blurted out; and I don’t think either of them really want to. But once it’s out there, you can’t retract it. The plays humour continues along that vein – people getting themselves in trouble because they shoot off before they have time to think!
And how is it being the new girl in the cast?
Good, actually: they’re so lovely. The other two (Peter Daly, and Valerie O’Connor who plays Jezebel) are using it as a good chance to revisit the script. We have a new director (Lynne Parker), and we’re getting new blocking; so in a way I don’t feel like the new person, apart from the fact that I have the script in my hand a lot of the time, and they’re off book! They’ve made me feel very welcome, and I don’t feel at all like I’m on the back foot.
Did you see the show last time?
I did yeah. It was a really good production, so I’m really looking forward to doing it. I could remember it, but this is going to be a different show again, like a different energy.
And where are you touring to?
We’re touring until the 22nd of March; with a week off there in the middle. We’re starting in the Civic Theatre in Tallaght on the 4th – 6th of February, then we’re going to Longford, Cork, Blanchardstown, Galway, Letterkenny, Waterford, Portlaoise, Dun Laoghaire, Belfast, PARIS, and Scotland.
I love how you’re going to Paris between Belfast and Scotland…
Yeah, just nestles in there nicely! Actually, I’m more excited about going down to Cork, than I am going to any other venue … both my parents are from Cork, so I have family down there and stuff, and it’ll be great to go down there with a show, I’ve never gone down there touring with a show before.
Is it all ‘Ooh she’s in a real play!?’
‘Ah, Yeah, ‘The Acting’ isn’t it! You’re going to be up there on the stage!’ I’m looking forward to that.
Have you toured anything before or is this the first one?
Nope, this is my first tour! Well, I used to do the one-act festival circuit, 2006 I think: one in Skerries, then one in Sligo, and one in Galway; but they’re just small festivals, you do it on a Saturday, then you have the awards on the Sunday for the amount of plays that went to that Festival … oh the craic was mighty! But I don’t think it’ll be like that this time, somehow.
And what else have you been up to?
Well the last show I did was The King’s Feet in Dublin Fringe, then I did a short film with Peter Dunne in November, and in December I did a week’s workshop with Corn Exchange; so then just had January to get comfortable with the script. I didn’t want to be completely off book, but I did want to get as comfortable as I could possibly be.
How long rehearsal do you have for Jezebel?
Two Weeks! It’s a short rehearsal time, but they put my mind at ease by saying that certain things weren’t touched on until week three and a half of their four week rehearsal they had before, so I feel like we’re in a good position. We’ll be getting a run in tomorrow, because we’re nearly finished blocking the play: We spent the first two days reading the play, and working things out; then we got up on our feet on Wednesday morning. I really just need to study lines lines lines: It’s quite colloquial language, and has to be just so, because that’s how it’s written. There’s no room for paraphrasing!
Since you wrote and performed a piece in last year’s Collaborations festival, do you have any plans to write more?
I do actually! I had planned on writing something for the Show in a Bag last year, but it wasn’t selected. But it’s not something I’ve put to bed. It’s centred around Irish Dancing: that wierd, cultish, world of Irish Dancing that so many people have memories of, but very few ideas are realised on stage … there’s just so much material to work with between the competitions, the parents, the teachers, the steps … How possessive you can be over the steps you make up for a dance, how it can be quite life or death.
So, when I say I’m not going to drink too heavily on this tour; I plan to take my laptop, and hopefully get some time to work on that. Just whip it out, you know. Just after a play, write another play! Although … God I was so nervous before the Collaborations festival! It was the first time I’d performed my own work, and I remember standing backstage before going on, just shaking: it was the most nervous I’ve ever been about anything ever; because if they don’t like this, it’s not just the performance they don’t like, they don’t like the piece, and you have complete ownership over the piece, so it’s like they don’t like you really! I was writing the script before rehearsals, and then we’d go in, and we’d change it, so I’d go home and write more and bring in more changes, like: ‘I’m really sorry!’Eva (Bartley) was great to keep up with me: she was very patient!
Do you think writing your own piece has changed the way you go into rehearsal for other shows now?
Absolutely! Well Mark is present in rehearsals for Jezebel, and there’s a respect there, you know? I see theatre as a collaborative art; always have. But really realising the importance of every single word? I learned that by writing myself. There’s a consideration for each and every comma; so in that way I’ve been as good as gold since Collaborations, and have not been paraphrasing. Well, not intentionally anyway!
Do you think Jezebel is aimed at anyone in particular?
Well, young and old, really. I think the older generation will appreciate how we have very current themes in terms of being sexually liberated, in terms of having a threesome at all; but how maturely and quite morally they deal with the consequences of that. Younger audiences will get a kick out of the fast pace. It’s very skilfully written, so it is a laugh a minute. They would appreciate the energy of it, I’d imagine … so yeah! Something for everyone!
Full details on Jezebel can be found at Rough Magic’s website.
Writer: Mark Cantan
Revival Director: Lynne Parker
Cast: Peter Daly, Margaret McAuliffe and Valerie O’Connor
Set & Lighting Designer: Ciarán O’Melia
Costume Designer: Deirdre Dwyer
Sound Designer: José Miguel Jiménez
BOOKING & LISTINGS INFORMATION – TOUR DATES:
4th – 6th Feb: Civic Theatre, Tallaght http://www.civictheatre.ie
7th – 8th Feb: Backstage Theatre, Longford http://www.backstage.ie
10th – 12th Feb Half Moon Theatre, Cork http://www.corkoperahouse.ie
14th – 15th Feb: Draiocht, Blanchardstown http://www.draiocht.ie
17th Feb: Town Hall Theatre, Galway http://www.tht.ie
19th Feb: Regional Cultural Centre, Letterkenny http://www.angrianan.com
21st – 22nd Feb: Theatre Royal, Waterford http://www.theatreroyal.ie
25th – 26th Feb: Dunamaise Arts Centre, Portlaoise http://www.dunamaise.ie
27th Feb – 1st Mar: Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire http://www.paviliontheatre.ie
3rd – 5th Mar: the MAC, Belfast http://www.themaclive.com
7th – 8th Mar: Centre Culturel Irlandais http://www.centreculturelirlandais.com
18th – 22nd Mar: Tron Theatre, Glasgow http://www.tron.co.uk