Actor Aaron Monaghan has just take over as artistic director of the Livin' Dred theatre company based out of the Ramor Theatre in Virginia, and will bring his first production in that role to Solstice Navan in the coming weeks, as part of a national tour.
The award winning play 'Trad' by Mark Doherty opened in the Pavillion Theatre in Dun Laoghaire, where we caught up with Monaghan in a phone call during set-up.
He describes the production as very funny, with a very audience-friendly cast (Emmet Kirwan, Seamus O'Rourke and Claire Barrett), "who are having great fun together".
Trad is an original Irish comedy, slightly absurd and wickedly funny. It is the story of a 100 year-old man and his father who live in a remote rural Irish parish. Da (played by Emmet Kirwan) and Son (played by Seamus O’Rourke) are the last of their lineage, until they discover that Son has a 70 year-old son. Together, Da and Son set out to discover the son they never knew he had. On their travels Da and Son encounter two other characters both played by Clare Barrett, Fr Rice and Sal.
Trad is heartbreakingly sad at times, but mostly hilarious. This heartwarming saga is accompanied by two live traditional Irish musicians who bring even more atmosphere to the play and stage.
"I'm quite excited about in," Monaghan, from outside Cavan town says. He is no stranger to Livin' Dred. A highly accomplished actor, he trained at the Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin, and at the British American Drama Academy, Oxford University, and has worked with the Abbey and Druid, as well as on TV and film productions.
He received an OBIE Award for Outstanding Performance, a Lucille Lortel Award for Best Actor and a Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actor for his performance as Cripple Billy in 'The Cripple Of Inishmaan' in 2009.
Ramor Theatre, under the stewardship of Mary Hanly, realised that there were few touring companies in the midlands east area, and with Monaghan and Padraig McIntyre set up Livin' Dred 15 years ago, to put on plays, Monaghan explains. It became such a success that a second company, the Nomad, grew out of it, to tour further afield with work.
Hanly retired from the Ramor, with McIntyre moving into her role at the theatre, which has huge redevelopment and expansion plans. Monaghan's natural progression was to slide into McIntyre's role.
"Of course, Im an actor first and foremost, but to get better at all things, you have to try other things as well," Monaghan says. He has directed and co-directed with McIntyre in the past, and has directed his wife Clare Monnelly in 'Charlie is a Cleptomaniac', also currently touring.
Mark Doherty, who wrote 'Trad', had huge success at the Galway Arts Festival in 2004 and this is the first time since then the play has been produced. With this exciting tour and stellar cast, Livin’ Dred taking Trad is to a whole new audience and generation.
The younger male actor, Emmet Kirwan, plays the older character, Da. Kirwan is an Irish actor, playwright and poet. His play 'Dublin Oldschool' won the Stewart Parker award and has been performed at The National Theatre, London, it has recently been made into a feature film. He is also known for writing and performing the IFTA award winning poetry short film 'Heartbreak' (2017) and being the writer and star of the television comedy series 'Sarah and Steve' (2010) He is a veteran actor of the Irish stage and his distinctive voice can be heard narrating many Irish documentaries and television shows.
Seamus O’Rourke is a writer, director and actor, and an independent producer with his own company, Big Guerilla Productions. He has directed with The Corn Mill Theatre, Backstage Theatre, Moth Productions and his own company. O'Rourke has millions of hits on YouTube and Social Media with his short stories, recitations and sketches.
Clare Barrett graduated from the Conservatory of Music and Drama DIT with distinction in 2003. Since then she has worked with a variety of theatre companies performing both in Ireland and internationally including Rough Magic, Druid Theatre, The AbbeyTheatre, Cahoots NI, Cork Opera House, Pat Moylan, HotForTheatre, Breda Cashe, Verdant Productions, Dowager Productions, Deeramber Productions, Barabbas, Lane Productions,The Performance Corporation, Tall Tales, Bewley’s Cafe Theatre, The Corn Exchange, Pan-Pan, TheatreClub, Monkeyshine,The Ark and TEAM.
Livin’ Dred has an all-female design team working on Trad. It staged at the Ramor Theatre at the weekend, and comes to Solstice Arts Centre, Navan, on Tuesday 23rd and Wednesday 24th April before starting a two-week run in The Abbey Theatre.