Mr Joyce Is Leaving Paris at The Back Loft
THIS WEEK ANNA IS ALL ABOUT MR JOYCE…
The Bloomsday Festival is upon with a series of amazing events celebrating the work and life of James Joyce. One particular gem drew my attention this year. Tom Gallacher’s Mr Joyce Is Leaving Paris will embrace Summer Stage at The Back Loft to bring us closer to this iconic character. I have had a chance to chat to play director Ronan Wilmot about Mr Joyce, Dublin and theatre.
AP: You are a theatre veteran, whose passion to this art form has led you to number of places, including The UK, Canada, Germany and the USA. How did your adventure start?
RW: It was a long time ago. When posing a question like this, you ask me to come back to a time when I was a teenager. I used to go to theatre a lot, probably partly because my father was a writer. In the 1960s I started working in London; coincidentally the new Abbey Theatre was to open, with the Peacock theatre underneath it. As a result, they were looking for a house manager, so I applied for the position and I got it. I remember that after arriving on my first day, I knew I was home. And it was an absolutely incredible feeling, which I cherished for the next seven and a half years. Then I moved to a jazz concert, responsible for tour scheduling.
AP: Work behind the scenes must be very intense and rewarding but for some people it is just one of a few chapters in their careers. What was your next step?
RW: When I turned 34, I decided to act, which was my dream but I didn’t have enough confidence to try it out. So I gave myself 30 seconds on the stage during ‘The Homecoming’ by Harold Pinter in the Project Arts Centre. And I have been an actor ever since. Three years later I joined The Royal Shakespeare Company in the UK. My adventure enabled me discovering all different aspects of Theatre and learning how they work with each other.
AP: Tell me about the Dublin Theatre Company, your own theatre company.
RW: It is another project. I have been working with theatre all my life and setting up a company wasn’t something unattainable. In 1996 I was doing a play in Dublin and I met a set designer who was living in Berlin. So I went over there to visit but also to meet with one of small theatres. Consequently, I started my own theatre company and brought ‘Mr Joyce is leaving Paris’ to Berlin. We stayed there for 3 three years and then went on a tour to New York.
AP: ‘Mr. Joyce is leaving Paris’, a play that will be hosted by The Back Loft this Bloomsday weekend will run till the end of August, it seems that Mr Joyce plays a very special role in your life. What is so unique about him, in your eyes?
He is a great character. Although we have a lot of about him, there are not many plays that would deal with him. I am from Dublin, one of the streets close to the Back Loft, is the street that Leopold Bloom took on his walk around the city. I find him fascinating. His persona is bigger than we think. The Guardian did a pole about 100 greatest writers of our millennium and James Joyce was no.1. And he stands for Dublin. I believe this play might be my swan song.
AP: They play is clearly divided into two parts: his break between projects when in Italy and his confrontation with the past before leaving Paris. Various stages of his life, both highlight his writing exploit from completely different perspectives.
RW: I think about James Joyce’s struggle. It is exactly the same for me, to do your best and to keep you head above water. Artistically, emotionally, spiritually – it is about realising what I believe in, yourself and your talents, and to keep going on. He was Irish, from Dublin, and he was coping with the same issues I have. This play is simply extraordinary. So I am honouring the play writer and James Joyce, also – in a way – myself and what I stand for.
As part of the Summer Stage @ The Back Loft Theatre, Mr Joyce Is Leaving Paris will run till August 2013. Tickets are priced at €18 for individual tickets and €15 for group bookings.