Amateurs: Lessons From the Set of The Departed

This week, member Andy McLoughlin talks about the trials and tribulations of working with friends on the upcoming production of The Departed, on this weekend in the Little Duke Theatre. For more details go to the Panic Productions Facebook page or follow this link!

My friends and I are making a play. It’s called The Departed, and it’s going to be on this Saturday and Sunday in The Little Duke Theatre at 7:30. You should come, it’s got swearing and me in it. Now as fantastic as this play is definitely going to be, it’s been a bumpy road to get to that point, and the worst of it isn’t over. We’ve been rehearsing for over a month now and there’s about half a month left to go. So far we’ve had dropouts, date changes, more dropouts and a script the size of Martin Scorsese’s eyebrows.

It’s times like these that one can’t help but wonder why it is we’re doing it in the first place. I myself can think of a few good reasons off the top of my head. There’s the self respect that comes with knowing no matter how this goes, we’ll be able to say that we did it for ourselves. This ties in with the fact that we don’t want to let each other down.  We’ve all got a personal stake in this now, so every time somebody else is brought on to the show, they know they have to do their part, or at least bring their own naggin to the after party. The final reason, for me at least, is that I believe this play can actually be pretty good. We’ve got good people and a great cast working on it, and between the lot of us I sincerely believe we can pull it off (reminder: I’m in it. There’s cocaine too.) But we still have to deal with the reality of the situation: we’re unprepared, we’re inexperienced, and if it all goes wrong, we’ve no one to blame but ourselves.

In other words, we feel like amateurs. We’re really not prepared for something like this. It’s real and it’s scary and we’re as focused as a cat with a disco ball (Google it, it’s adorable). With the show dates getting closer and with the consequences becoming more and more immediate, it’s hard not to feel like a bunch of naïve kids, desperately trying to show the world we can play at being grownups. Because that’s what we are right? And none of us is really certain that it’s all going to work out for the best, either.

But still we keep going. Because none of these feelings are at all unfamiliar to us. We know what it means to feel unprepared and scared and to not know what you’re getting yourself into. The symptoms described above are achingly similar to the symptoms of another affliction: adolescence. None of us are merely amateur actors, or amateur directors; we’re amateur people too. We’re stumbling through life with no idea of what we’re doing or where it’s going to take us. But what we know, and what this play has been teaching me, is that the only way to learn from mistakes is to make them first.

And that’s why I’m proud to be involved in this play, and why I want you to come see it too (On this Saturday and Sunday at 7:30 in the Little Duke Theatre, tickets €9, available at the door). I’ve already learned so much from this show, just by making mistakes; for example, you can use a real gun onstage, but only once (RIP Ruaidhrí Kiersey). But it goes beyond that. In school they don’t teach you how to break bad news, or handle break ups or deal with death. You have to figure it out by doing it. This play hasn’t taught me how to do any of those things, but it has taught me the value of being an amateur; of making the mistakes now so you can learn your lesson now too.

Being an amateur is hard, and it does hurt sometimes, but once you decide that it’s all worth it, it’s only a matter of figuring out how to get past that. In the stale jam doughnut of life, how do you chew threw the painful outer layer of trial and error to get to the juicy centre of personal growth? What’s the trick? The trick, William Potter, is not minding that it hurts. And if you can figure out how to do that, be sure to let me know.


A Passion Rekindled- by Ella Coyle

Our Kilkenny blogs continue this week with Ella Coyle regaling the joys of theatre past and present!

The year was 2005 the Celtic tiger was stronger than ever and any regular joe had enough money to get hold on the finer things of life. A young Ella Coyle was about to see the performance that would change her life forever: the happy prince, arguably Oscar Wilde’s best children’s story. As well as this, there was the charming display of another children’s story by Oscar Wilde: The Remarkable Rocket.

 Yes, young Ella had multiple classic children stories read to her and probably heard the happy prince a thousand times over. But, having seen the one man performance done with such passion and zeal, a new love of literature and performance was sparked in Ella Coyle. A love that would fail to falter until at least ten years later, when at the cynical old age of 17, an older, perhaps wiser Ella was to see another show of The Happy Prince in Kilkenny.

Sitting on a cushion in the play room of a local secondary school, she revisits the emotions she had felt so long ago when she saw the first not good but great performance she had ever seen and the love was rekindled. She knew why one spends hours learning the lines and accepted criticisms of our art we may not agree with. We put up with this because of the wonder and awe we feel when seeing a performance, and the idea that one day we too could make someone feel the way we felt when we saw our first great performance.