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Interview with Sinead O’Riordan – The Motherfucker with the Hat

Motherfucker with the Hat

Orion Productions presents the European Premiere of The Motherfucker With The Hat By Stephen Adly Guirgis

STARRING: Rex Ryan, Peter Gaynor, Andrew Lynch, Sinead O’Riordan and Laoise Sexton

Directed by Aoife Spillane-Hinks

Dec 1st- Dec 20 – The New Theatre Dublin.

We had the chance to interview Sinead O’Riordan, actor and producer of ‘The Motherfucker with the Hat’ ahead of its opening next week in the New Theatre. You can find the results below…

How did this project come about?

Andrew Lynch who is playing Jackie, read the play back in January 2012 and made enquiries about the rights, which were not available at the time. He was informed of the availability in January of this year and at the time he was working on Death Row Cowboy (co-wrote) which was being performed in Smock Alley Theatre. At the same time I was opening my co-production of Breathless the week after his in the same venue, so we had been in contact with one another. When the shows closed and all was back to normality Andrew asked if we could meet to discuss an interesting project and that’s when we first talked about bringing it to life. Our first step was to get the team together so we set about searching for our captain. Lucky for us, Aoife-Spillane Hinks stepped into the role of director. I had been wanting to work with Aoife for sometime, so when she agreed to come onboard, needless to say I was thrilled. I’m all about having the right energy on board my projects. Aoife’s boundless enthusiasm and of course her vast experience has helped make this production possibly be one of the best that Orion Productions has done.

Was it easy to cast?

No, not at all. It took the bones of 2 months to nail down the right people. The play is an intriguing, risky and controversial piece of theatre, that not only has five intensely complex characters at its core, but more importantly, all five characters are addicts or ‘in-recovery’ addicts some of which live in the ghettos of New York, so it was hugely important to create that ‘perfect’ ensemble. We had to see a lot of people before we finally made our decision. Andrew Lynch plays Jackie, a man newly released from prison and struggling to remain sober, and I myself am playing Veronica, the coke-using, expletive-slinging love of his life. Peter Gaynor, who is well known for his roles in The Gate and The Abbey was cast as Ralph D, Jackie’s mellow talking stay positive addiction sponsor. Rex Ryan, who recently played 27 characters in his highly appraised one man show called ‘Pilgrim’, was cast as Cousin Julio, a man who prides himself and dignity and decorum and cousin to Jackie. And finally we cast Laoisa Sexton, who recently wrote and starred in The Last Days of Cleopatra and FOR Love which played Off Broadway, and wait for it….who flew back to Dublin from New York to be in the show!

The writer of this play Stephen Adly Guirgis is an unusual character, having appeared in Meet Joe Black and Synecdoche, New York while having written for NYPD Blue, as well as a number of plays. How did you come across this work?

I had known and read some of his previous works before, Jesus Hopped The A Train being one of my favourites, so when this play fell into my lap, I was hooked. Obviously I was first mesmerised by the title alone and how ballsy it was, and once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.

Will you be keeping the original setting of New York? 

Absolutely, that is where the play is set and the city is a big feature of the play. Although a year is not specified in the play we have gone with the 90s as we feel it’s the most appropriate. Lisa Krugel is our set designer and has designed something very specific for our interpretation of the story. The story itself has three distinct locations, and we are opening in The New Theatre, which is a challenge in itself as it’s a small theatre space, so we are tailoring it to suit this space, but also ensuring that it can be adapted to the larger spaces when we tour in March. (The Town Hall Theatre, The Balor, The Playhouse).

Addiction is a difficult topic, is this a light hearted view on the topic or a serious one?

I would say its delivery is light hearted, as the play is very funny. But the issue of addiction is a serious one and although the play might be humorous you can see the effect that addiction has on each of the characters. The most important thing is that it comes from a place of truth. Addiction is a subject that has effected the personal lives on a number of people in our team.

In this production you are listed as Actor/ Producer, which is an unusual role, how do you do both jobs?

To be honest this is my third time playing both roles (in theatre, I produce films also!), and I’m sort of used to it. I’m very slow to hand the production of any of my babies to someone else, as nobody can look after that baby, better than yourself. Saying that, I am blessed to have so many talented people on board who are helping me pull this together, and I have to mention them here. Obviously Aoife and our stage manager Chris Nugent, who are helping me hold the fort, and then I would simply be lost without the amazing talents of Paula Fajardo and Elaine O’ Carroll (Costume & Set Dresser), Tee Elliott, Adriana Laguna and Wai-har Healy (makeup), Taine King (photographer) , Eoin Winning (Lighting Designer), Ivan Birthistle (Sound Designer) and Liam Hallihan and Terensa Rogers (ASM’s).

What reactions have you had to the name of the play? 

All positive actually. To be honest I haven’t heard of anything negative at all. Ticket sales are flying already so I guess that answers that question! I’ve been very luck in my last two productions, which were sold out for the 2 weeks entire run.  It looks like this might follow suit.

Is it a play that takes risks?

It is, but I’m not afraid to produce risky theatre, as seen by my last productions, the highly acclaimed The Woolgatherer and more recently Breathless. If there is no element of risk involved then there is no point in being in this game. It’s always a risk taking on American contemporary productions, because you have to a lot of things to contend with, accents, design, lighting etc. You need to try get the balance right in order for the audience members to suspend their disbelief for that hour and half. If anything is off, a wrong accent, makeup etc, then you the audience simply will not believe it. The thing about this play, is that it is very, very real, and I sincerely hope that it will resonate with the audience members on a number of different levels, both socially and personally. All you need do is look around the streets of Dublin or perhaps into your own life to see how addiction can ruin people’s lives.

Is Dublin ready for ‘A Motherfucker with a hat’?

It better be! The posters are up on the billboards all over the city, and there already is a huge buzz in amongst the theatre goers. We preview Dec 1st, bring your hat 🙂

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Orion Productions presents The Motherfucker With The Hat By Stephen Adly Guirgis

Dec 1st- Dec 20 – The New Theatre Dublin.

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