We had the chance to interview Maria Tivnan, director of Pleasure Ground ahead of the opening in Smock Alley on December 7th (today!). We quizzed her on working with her cousin Jarlath Tivnan in the dual role of writer and actor, and also about the Waking the Feminists movement. You can see the results below.
Pleasure Ground Smock Alley – Mon 7th – Thu 10th December in The Boys’ School at 8pm
How did you become interested in theatre? Was there a theatre scene in Boyle during your childhood?
I was in my first play (the nativity) at the age of 4 and from then I was hooked! Since then theatre has been what I enjoy doing the most, the theatre fits with who I think and hope I am, and I hope this will continue! I had a great drama teacher in primary school in Loughglynn and also in Boyle. Boyle has a great tradition in music and drama and I would have attended every musical since I was a small child, and been involved in 3 of them. I have been involved in the Boyle Arts Festival for most of my life which as a child gave me access to all kinds of music and art and drama and provided much food for imagination.
The play seems to be based on leaving your childhood home and starting again in a new location. Is it a story you have lived through?
Unfortunately most young people who live in rural towns leave for employment or college, so I don’t think it is my story in particular. I was taken up with the idea of the place of the rural town in today’s Ireland which can be best explored through the human story, this is where Jarlath comes in, creating wording and weaving these stories.
What is it like having the writer as one of the actors? Who gets final say or are they joint decisions?
It could be a potential nightmare but I have to say honestly here it was not a problem, and was very interesting and energetic at times! This is Jarlath’s first play and he was very open to guidance from both myself and other members of the company. He worked really hard on this and had a double role to play, but I suppose the final say rested with the director who was me!
As a female director working in theatre, have you ever felt that you were over looked for work because of your gender?
I am really glad to say that as a director I have not, but as an actor yes, there are simply more male roles than female or indeed the plays with more male roles are traditionally more popular and thus we are more exposed and more used to them. Sometimes male actors are considered funnier, more pleasing to an audience and female actors can be left with the stereotypical roles of the slut, the mother, the victim etc. However this is changing and at Fregoli we always try to keep the gender balanced and simply choose the best actor/character for the job!
What do you think of the Waking the Feminists movement? Is it about time?
I think it is wonderful, it is fantastic to see the women in theatre in particular come together and both represent and demand representation in Irish art. Of course its about time, I just hope it will result in real change and not just tokenism representation, for either gender!
Find out more about Fregoli Theatre Company here.