Interview with James McNulty – Director of A Life In The Theatre – Smock Alley

We had the chance to interview James McNulty, director of the new production of A Life In The Theatre which opens in Smock Alley next week. It is a play for two cast members and the actors will alternate parts each night. You can find the results below!

Cast: Sean Doyle + Ben Waddell who will alternate the roles of Robert; “An Older Actor”, and John; “A Younger Actor” each night.

A Life in the Theatre – Smock Alley – 3 – 15 Apr | 8pm | Boys’ School

Have you seen a production of this play on stage before?

No I haven’t. I’ve directed Speed-the-Plow and acted in both American Buffalo and Glengarry Glenross, and having read most of Mamet’s other works, I felt this piece was really strong and in need of a revival for a Dublin audience.

The idea of using two actors and alternating roles each night has been used in recent times in the National Theatre in London. What do you think it brings to a production?

Clarity of intent. You have two brilliant actors giving strong, nuanced interpretations, and very quickly you see two distinct versions emerge that are fully realised. This makes for a very interesting 2 nights at the theatre, as well as insight into the text and characters that you just wouldn’t have from a single version or viewing.

This play was originally written for two actors at different ends of their career. You are intending to use two young actors. Why is this?

We’re staging a very high-energy version so that the scene changes, pace, and intensity never let up. We also liked the idea that through the alternating cycle of the production, the younger actor literally becomes the older, jaded one and vice versa.


This play is about theatre itself. Do you think people will understand all the in jokes, or does that matter?

It’s more about the relationship of the 2 characters with some biting but very clear satire about certain elements. No-one will get lost, don’t worry.

Why do you think so many people strive to work in theatre when the financial rewards are so small?

This is part of the reason I chose this script. Staging it is difficult, much like attempting to live a life in the theatre. There’s very little chance it will make a huge profit, but it’s about showing ingenuity and thriving under the pressure of a small budget, and what creative wonders spring forth. Anyone doing anything just for the money is miserable at work.



Categories: Header, interview, Theatre

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