This week, actor Aaron Monaghan - a familiar face on the Druid stage - talks to Druid General Manager Tim Smith about the first week of rehearsals.
Tim: So Aaron, what are first days like?
Aaron: Usually terrifying and very exciting at the same time but the good thing about Druid is that it always feels very familiar - very much like home and it’s really good to be in Galway.
Tim: Actors frequently say that they really enjoy rehearsing in Galway – why is that?
Aaron: For me personally, although I had the last three weeks off, I was very busy with life but now I’m here in Galway I’ve nothing to worry about other than focusing on the play. I suppose there’s less room for distractions.
Tim: What’s it like hearing the play read out loud with all the actors in the room – does it change your perception of it?
Aaron: It’s always very enlightening and it opens the play up in a way you can’t possibly have noticed before. Each time it comes on in leaps and bounds. How did you find it?
Tim: Really fantastic - to go from having five actors in Penelope to having so many people in the theatre is phenomenal – you suddenly realise the scale of what we are about to do.
Aaron: We did a movement workshop today and to be honest I hadn’t fully realised the scale of it either - this isn’t an ordinary play in terms of Druid simply putting on another production. It feels like it has the quality of a new DruidSynge. The play is more epic than I thought it was – it’s going to be much harder work and yet we’re approaching it in a different way – we’re doing vocal and movement warm-ups every morning which is very interesting.
Tim: Garry says the entire play is almost like four different plays – what are your thoughts at this stage?
Aaron: I’d agree. Already this week we got up on our feet and tried to put as much music and singing into Act Two as possible. It’s an unusual act and you need to just play around it with it and kick it about to see what it’s like. Overall though the play is a lot of fun but there’s darkness too and Elliot, our music director, has put in some really quirky stuff – it’s really quite fun.
Tim: Are you looking forward to working with actor/musicians – is that a first for you?
Aaron: I’ve done a few things before where there might have been a few musicians in it but this feels like a full-on musical actually. It’s great there’s a piano permanently in the room. Elliot will break into song when we get to a musical bit and we’re encouraged to do that as well.
Tim: Does that make the singing aspect of the play easier to relax into then?
Aaron: O’Casey has written so many songs into it so that virtually every character sings - it’s almost as if it’s meant to be a musical. I don’t think we’re necessarily approaching it that way but I don’t feel daunted about singing so that makes it easier.
Tim: I’ve been at Druid for eight years and, as you say, it feels we’re approaching this like it’s not a regular Druid play.
Aaron: I’d agree. We’ve got four musicians and five young people joining us later in the week to bring us up to a cast of 19 and I’ve never seen that before in a Druid rehearsal room.
Tim: Are you coming in contact with things you wouldn’t normally have in the rehearsal room?
Aaron: Absolutely - today we watched Way Out West with Laurel and Hardy which was really good fun. The more references you get to see the more it helps to create an image of that era.
Tim: Our designer Francis O’Connor has worked on many Druid productions - what do you make of Francis’ designs?
Aaron: I think it has unified everyone’s vision of the play. Garry and the creative team have spent a lot of time with the play already and we’re all looking forward to delving further into the play over the coming weeks.
The Silver Tassie by Seán O’Casey and directed by Garry Hynes runs from Saturday August 21 to Tuesday September 7 in the Town Hall Theatre.
For tickets contact
091 - 569 777 or www.tht.ie
Tickets are €25/€20/€18.