Well it’s been an interesting summer in that at times it hasn’t felt like a summer off at all! Aside from about the first three weeks after our showcase, Jamie Cillian and I have been working hard on our production of “Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me” by Frank McGuinness. Work that will finally come to an end on Tuesday next when we have our final performance. How did this come about I hear you ask? Well, it happened a little like this….
It all started in Maureen’s class in January when Stuart and I were working on a scene from that particular play together. There had been an idea in my head for a while that the best way to fundraise for an acting course was to act! I mean, play to you strengths right? So, anyway, at this moment I realised that I had found the perfect play. Small cast (3), small bare set, being chained to a wall took care of any major blocking issues, it was perfect! And so a summer project was born. Next came casting. Cutting all the girls in the class was step one, that may sound sexist but if I could have found two of them capable of growing beards they were in! Adam, the American character, was quite intense, so I looked around the room for the most intense person I could find. Sitting just a few seats away was Cillian “The Rage” O’Gairbhi, he was hired! In the same class Jamie was working with Danni on a scene set in Liverpool. He was clearly the man for the England job. I said it to both lads after the class and we all agreed it was worth going for.
Now we needed a director. We wanted to do something as close to professional as we possibly could, so that we could learn from the experience as well as hopefully make some money for fundraising. I had met Padraic McIntyre a number of times and knew he was a big fan of McGuinness and had recently directed successful professional productions of McGuinness’ “Observe The Sons of Ulster Marching Towards The Somme” & “There Came A Gypsy Riding”, as well as some work at the Abbey. He liked our idea and said he would love to help us out. We settled on a full week’s rehearsal at the end of June where we would break down the dialogue and block the whole play, with Padraic, and then we would spend the rest of the summer learning lines and rehearsing these scenes by ourselves.
The week came, Cillian and Jamie made the trip to Cavan, they set up base in my parent’s house and we spent the week in the local hall. We ate, drank and slept the play that week, no stone was left unturned. With scripts in hand we went from a reading on Monday morning to a full run on Friday evening. We noted every twitch, every move for fear we’d forget anything by September. By the time we reached Dublin on the Friday night we were exhausted, but delighted that we had, for the first time in our lives, got a taste of what a professional rehearsal room feels like. A wonderful experience which we will never forget.
On a side note, our name, “Square Béal”. On the Monday evening after our first rehearsal, exhausted, we arrived back at my home. We were greeted in the field by the house by my father who had spent the day making square bales of hay. Out we went in the evening sun and stacked those 400 bales to dry them before they could be taken into the shed. It was a strange yet fitting way to end our first day and we knew we had to mark it somehow. Of course it was Cillian who came up with the changed spelling for Béal, the Irish for mouth, a nice touch for a company of actors and so our theatre company was born.