Interview Hannah O’Reilly – Fleabag – Smock Alley


We had the chance to interview Hannah O’Reilly, ahead of her performance in Fleabag in Smock Alley. We talked about performing solo and the Waking the Feminists movement among other things! You can see the results below.

Fleabag – Smock Alley – Fri 11th – Sun 13th December at 8pm in The Boys’ School – Saturday matinee 2pm

How did you become involved with this project? When did you first read the script?

I actually approached the director with it. I read it a few months ago and I was blown away by how true and recognisable this woman was. I was really struck by the fact that this was something refreshing in a female character, so it was something I really wanted to work on. Emily’s the perfect person to work on something with. We’re both doers, so once I mentioned it to her she was as excited to work on it as I was!

It sounds like you are playing quite a wild character, is there great freedom in a part such as this?

With such a large body of text to learn the freedom gets a bit restrained, when it comes to the brass tax of being an actor, but the character herself has been a great source of inspirational badass-ery. Emily said it best, she’s gross but fair play. It’s very liberating and strange to play someone who speaks so outright about certain things I wouldn’t necessarily. I’m a loud mouth, but she’s just a different breed altogether! It’s great. Finding the things she relishes has been a highlight. Though finding her comfort zone via my own makes me a little nervous for what the crowd might think, but I love that. The play really spoon feeds you a dose of the f(uc)k-its! The trailer and poster alone gave me a bit of a what-would-x-or-y-think, but I’ve long since realised (and force myself to remember that) if x-or-y disapprove, I simply care. I approve. I approve my ass off, and as long as it speaks to its audience on some level, the job is done.

Do you suffer from nerves on opening night?

Yes. I get really divided feelings before a show opens. You’ve no idea what the crowd is going to make of it, so it’s a killer! I’m often just eager to get out there, particularly with a role I love, but with such a subjective art, it’s always a brilliant gamble.

Is it difficult being the only actor on stage?

We’re only in the rehearsal process and yes! I’ve been in two-handers, and done monologues plenty of times but carrying a whole narrative solo is a great challenge. I’m joined by about nine voiced characters though, so I won’t be entirely alone! Maybe that’s cheating?

Have you been involved with the #wakingthefeminist movement, or just watching from the sidelines?

Aside from social-media efforts and attending events, my only involvement has been as a jealous and thrilled spectator. I feel really honoured to be watching genuine history unfold, and it’s so invigorating to be a part of, even just to support. I very much want to pitch in once the Dublin run of the show is done. It’s great to be so angry and happy about something.

The difficult question of a quota of female writers/ directors has been debated. Do you think it is necessary?

God, yes. Implementing a quota will habitualise a gender balance that does not exist at present. As one of the speakers said at the Abbey debate, being fair takes work. People don’t just wake up fair minded. Of course no one perpetuates inequality intentionally, but you have to see it to fix it; to let yourself see it, and make yourself fix it.

It must be an exciting time to be a young actress/ director in Dublin. It feels like it is a time of change?

So much so! Early days yet, but even in my own work and production of work, I find myself naturally gearing towards a better balance of the sexes, and questioning why I think this or that. I am really optimistic about the future of Irish theatre for women. The past hundred years of our country they’ve been so invisible, so there’s a hell of a fire to be unleashed!

Fleabag – Smock Alley – Fri 11th – Sun 13th December at 8pm in The Boys’ School – Saturday matinee 2pm

Categories: Header, interview, Theatre

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