With just two weeks to go before DruidMurphy kicks off at the Town Hall Theatre, Druid’s general manager, Tim Smith, takes us behind the scenes of the company’s biggest project to date.
You may have noticed that in the publicity for DruidMurphy, we’ve described the project as “the biggest touring theatre event in Ireland this year”. It’s only now that the reality is sinking in.
It’s the Monday before technical rehearsal and I have a brief check-in with Eamonn Fox (our Production Manager ). One of our sets is being loaded into the Town Hall Theatre, ready for our technical rehearsals to start on Saturday. It’s always an exciting time as you finally see the real thing on stage after several months of looking at drawings and models.
When I say, “One of our sets”, it’s because we’ve actually built two. To undertake a tour that goes from Ireland to the UK, and then on to the USA, we need two of everything; furniture, props and set. It allows us to close the show in London on the Saturday night and start "loading in" the next day in New York City. It also takes a number of weeks to sea freight the set to the States so our “American Set” (as she’s known ) is setting sail the night of our first preview in Galway.
Meanwhile, back in Druid Lane, Garry continues to rehearse all three plays. The working day starts to get much longer the nearer you get to moving up to the Town Hall. Five of the cast of seventeen are in all three plays and so these five, together with Garry and the ever calm Paula Tierney (our stage manager ), attend every rehearsal. I’m not sure my cheery comment to Garry that she’s heading into the longest technical rehearsal of her entire theatre career helps calm her nerves but I share it nonetheless. This Friday when we move onstage we add the lights, sound, music and costumes and “tech” every moment of the three plays. This will take about two weeks.
As I leave the theatre I see the bottles of SuperBock – a non-alcoholic Guinness substitute that we need for Conversations on a Homecoming. I think we’ve lost count of the number of people who tell us how Maelíosa Stafford used to drink “real pints” every night for the 1985 production. The difference this time is that “Conversations” is the first play performed on the Cycle day so it would be unfair to ask Rory Nolan to drink six pints and then appear in another two plays immediately after!
Having the theatre full of actors is always a great feeling - there’s a great buzz about the place.. This cast is actually with us for 31 weeks and, when the show is touring, the cast of 17 will be joined by 11 support staff. We are touring two wardrobe mistresses, a chaperone for the child actor, three stage managers, two carpenters, a wigs master, a technical manager and a tour manager.
Back in the office I catch up with Sarah Lynch (our Tour Manager ) who is looking ahead to plan the move of 28 people over to London, and New York, in just a few weeks. She’s responsible for all the travel and logistics of moving everyone through the eleven towns and cities over the next few months and her desk is awash with flight details, visa forms and hotel bookings.
We are now just two weeks away from our first performance in Galway. It’s going to be an exciting few weeks with some long days of rehearsals but we can’t wait to get in front of our Galway audience at the Town Hall. Come see us before we hit the road in June!
DruidMurphy – Plays by Tom Murphy, directed by Garry Hynes is at the Town Hall Theatre from May 25 – June 9. The DruidMurphy Cycle days are on June 3 & 9. Tickets from €18 from 091 569 777 or online tht.ie For more see druid.ie