Meetings of Clare’s most famous names is the premise for a one-man show to be staged in the north and east of the county later this year.
Lisdoonvarna man Gerry Howard will star in the performance Hats Off To Clare, written and directed by Mountshannon resident, Paul Brennan.
The production will explore the imagined interactions of Clare’s most famous factual and fictional characters.
Gerry was involved in amateur drama for years before taking the leap into professional acting and it was around the time he decided to leave his career as a hotelier that the seed was sown for this particular production.
“I was always involved in amateur acting. I think I started around the age of 12. I was involved in plays with the Lisdoonvarna Dramatic Society and was involved right up to when I sold the hotel, The Carrigann in Lisdoonvarna. When I sold it, it seemed to be a great opportunity to have a cut at something I love doing. So that is when I decided to attend the Gaiety School of Acting. It was a great experience.
“The idea for a one-man show came from a meeting with the late Nuala O’Faolain. When I decided to go to the Gaiety, Nuala lived in Barr Trá just outside Lahinch. She was friendly with the director of the Burren Players at the time, Helen Browne, and she used to come and see our shows. I met her one time after selling the hotel and she asked me what I was going to do and I told her about the Gaiety and she suggested I do a one-man show based on writers and playwrights from Clare. She was interested in exploring the notion of doing something like that. At the time she was going to the United States and that was the ill-fated journey where she got the bad news about her health,” he recalled.
The idea was firmly planted and although Gerry was cast in productions by Vagabond Theatre Company, Truman Town Theatre, Duked Productions, Shooting Star, Decadent Theatre Company and the Young Vic, London, he hoped to still get the opportunity to progress the idea.
“I was working on other productions and I had worked with Paul Brennan before, so we met and decided to try to work out this idea one. I had worked on several occasions with things that had a Percy French element to them and I threw a few characters at Paul, like French and Tolkien and some of the other characters. Then it was his idea to place them on a carriage on the West Clare railway. He came up with some other characters and wrote the show and developed the staging for it,” Gerry outlined.
Many people will know Gerry and Paul from their production of Kissing Syd James. Paul is renowned as a professional actor, director, playwright, adjudicator and acting teacher. He has directed with the Abbey, the Gate and other Dublin theatres, with Druid, with Island in Limerick and with Red Kettle in Waterford, for whom he has directed two Bernard Farrell premieres and five other productions. He was also involved in the Brian Boru Millennium weekend in Killaloe/Ballina in April.
Hats Off To Clare will be performed on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, October 24, 25 and 26 at the Royal Spa Hotel, Lisdoonvarna and on Saturday, November 1 at the Community Hall in Mountshannon.
While these are the only performances planned at the moment, Gerry is hoping the production could develop into a tourist attraction.
“We are just putting it on in Lisdoonvarna and Mountshannon initially but we would like it to become a tourism product, or something that venues might be interested in putting on as a way of showcasing Clare,” he outlined.
“We will put it on and see how it goes. We think it is good and hopefully people will come along and see it for themselves and enjoy it,” Gerry concluded.