“When I’m finished with this role, I’ll definitely see changes in the way that I play the role between the first night and the last. That’s one of the great things about acting on the stage, in a great production like this,” said Aisling O’Sullivan, who is currently playing the lead role in The Druid’s production of John B Keane’s Big Maggie. The play is classic tale of money, land, secret sex and family life and she took some time out of her schedule this week to speak to the Mayo Advertiser ahead of the show’s stop off in The Royal Theatre next Tuesday and Wednesday, December 6 and 7.
This production of Big Maggie has met with a great response by the public and critics alike, but that’s not something that concerns O’Sullivan too much. “I try not to read too much into it, because in reality you’re never as good as people say or as bad as they might say. No production is ever 100 per cent perfect.” Taking on the title role, O’Sullivan has relished putting herself in the shoes of Maggie as she breaks free from the shackles of what was the norm for Irish women back in the 1960s. “It was a very different time, I was born around the time it was written so I have no recollection of what life was like back then. But through my research for the role, I learned quite a lot about what it was like for women back then. Once you were married you were essentially your husband’s property and this part shows how a woman takes control of her life following the death of her husband and moves on with her life in a number of different ways. How she deals with her new found freedom and what she does is what people will be talking about after they see the play. She has learned from the school of hard knocks and she’s preparing her own children for life being a similar way.”
One of the great Irish lead female roles
O’Sullivan, who most people will know from her role in The Clinic on RTE and Martin McDonagh’s Oscar winning short-film Six Shooter, has worked before with the Druid on their acclaimed 2004 production of The Playboy of the Western World and is enjoying being back with the company. “It’s a great cast and production team, everyone puts in their all to make each night the best production they can and it’s a pleasure to play this role.”
Getting stuck into such a powerful character each night has been something that O’Sullivan has relished in this production, “It’s a great role, one of the great ones for Irish female actors, it’s very powerful tale and she’s a powerful person in the telling of it, there aren’t many other roles like this out there on the stage for Irish female actors.
Other actors joining Aisling on stage in the 11-strong cast include John Olohan and Keith Duffy. Druid’s production of John B Keane’s Big Maggie will be on stage in the Royal Theatre, Castlebar on Tuesday December 6 and Wednesday December 7, tickets cost €25. Doors open at 7pm with the show starting at 8pm. Tickets available on www.ticketmaster.ie as well as from the Royal Theatre Box Office on 0818 300 000.