Interview with Directors Liza Michael and Robbie Byrne – The Possible Strange Fruit The Morning After’

We had the chance to talk to Liza Michael and Robbie Byrne of Momentum Acting Studio about their new production in the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival which opens next week. You can see the results below!


The Possible and Strange Fruit By Neil Labute

The Morning After By Louis CK

Momentum Acting Studio and the 14th Annual International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival proudly present, The Possible/ Strange Fruit/ The Morning After, a trio of short plays by Neil LaBute and Louis CK. This production, located at the Players Theatre from 1 to 6 May 2017, features “The Possible” and “Strange Fruit” by playwright Neil LaBute, and for the first time, from screen to stage, “The Morning After,” from the web series, “Horace and Pete,” written, directed and produced by comedian Louis CK.

With so many advances in the fight for equality in recent years, do you think the gay theatre festival still has a relevance?

The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival over the past 14 years has had a cultural impact on our society which in turn impacts the likes of the outcome of the recent same-sex marriage referendum and other advances in the fight for equality in recent years. The outcome of the referendum was far from a landslide making the festival relevant in our on society going forward.

Do you think it is important for the festival to reach all sides of society, not just the gay community?

Yes and it does. Absolutely. Recently our laws have changed with the referendum. All sides of society had a vote. We believe the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has played a part in the outcome of the referendum. The festival impacts the wider community like all good theatre. Our production ’The Possible Strange Fruit The Morning After’ is not written for nor aimed solely at a specific section of the community. The writing is much too good to be directed with a narrow vision. We believe that theatre, if done well, has the power to affect personal change in the audience but also the power to gather people from different sides: a Theatre Festival is an open door to welcome different strata of society to reflect, question, challenge, tickle and enjoy each other by addressing specific themes. And it is important that an audience includes all sides of society. The contact between actors and audience is immediate. There is no screen to separate you from what’s happening. With such a direct connection and moments like that the festival can reach and unite around the same piece all sides of society even if it is only solely for the time of the play. If you can laugh, cry, feel side to side with someone with which we don’t necessary agree on everything, that means you can live together, that is the sign of a healthy society. These moments are too rare to be missed.

How did this production come about? How do you two know each other?

We met in Dublin 17 years ago as Liza came to Dublin for a show and we have been together since then, going from Paris to London before coming back to Dublin where we decided to run an acting studio in Dublin 2. Momentum Acting Studio where actors can refine and maintain their professional skills between jobs rather than let them rust. We work on many plays with actors at our studio. The production is a triple bill of three short plays. We all fell in love with the writing of the three plays and we thought they would work really well together for the festival.

“The Possible” & “Strange Fruit” are plays written by Neil LaBute. The Morning After is from an episode of “Horace & Pete” written, directed and starring the American stand-up comedian Louis CK. We are very excited to be the first to adapt this piece of writing by Louis CK. from screen to stage.

It’s unusual to have three short plays combined into one piece. Does it make the logistics of the piece quite difficult? Will the actors have multiple roles?

Yes, it is unusual. It does increase the logistics. We have six actors in the cast: Nowadays that’s quite a lot. We feel the production works on a creative level. The writing is excellent and Barry McBrien, Cherley Kane, Laura Thompson, Padraic Mc Ginley, Sophie Campbell and Wayne Davis bring the text to life in many unexpected ways. The satisfaction from the work and the results from the work make the extra logistics worthwhile. The actors are not playing multiple roles.

Both Neil LaBute & Louis C.K are well known international writers. How did you find these short plays? What relevance do you think they have for an Irish audience?

We read a lot of plays! We have been watching the work of Louis CK for about ten years. If both Neil LaBute & Louis CK are indeed known internationally it’s because they address society in its awkwardness in universal ways. Passion, stubborness, loyalty, and the ability to laugh no matter what, sharing a good whiskey like Horace & Pete in their Irish Pub in Brooklyn. There’s a wedding, an affair and a one-night stand. These are things we all have experienced or know someone who has. The plays are about challenging what’s possible in relationships, what we will do for love and questions our definition of equal rights. Because both LaBute & CK relish in uncomfortable but-close-to-home situations, we all understand the comedy and drama that arise from such circumstances. And it unites us all in the end. These are things we all identify with. The plays are comedies and we all like a good laugh and to enjoy ourselves.

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