Emmet Kirwan recites an excerpt from Dublin Old School for This Ain’t No Disco, the online Irish music showcase directed by Myles O’Reilly hosted by DJ and visual artist Donal Dineen.
Interview from https://www.civictheatre.ie
You are a Tallaght native, can you tell us a little bit about where you grew up, went to school etc.?
I was born & bred in Tallaght. I grew up in Raheen, went to school in St. Marks. I did the leaving in 1998.
Could you tell us about your journey into acting and how it all happened for you?
I was into acting and heard about a drama group happening locally but missed the auditions for Tallaght Youth Theatre by a few weeks. A pal of mine Simon Boyle told me about Dublin Youth Theatre so I just rolled into Gardiner Street and that was it. They took a few of us from each area in DYT and I was one of a few from Tallaght. There was such a great vibe about the place. The young people were allowed take ownership. It was run by the kids really, we were encouraged all the time to write, to be involved. I was hooked and from there I just found myself going straight from school into Trinity to study drama. It was funny, me there, on the cobbles in my tracksuit, from Tallaght with graffiti all over my backpack!
Where did that spark come from, that interest in Drama?
I remember my Mam taking me into see Blood Brothers in the Gaiety. I was only about 8 but I could relate. It was a working class drama. I remember reading the programme and saying “wow, this is what these guys DO, I could do this”. My Mam took me to loads of stuff. Goodbye to the Hill is another one I remember seeing.
Has being from Tallaght influenced your acting or writing in any way?
Absolutely. The characters I write are often from Tallaght. It’s what I know. A lot of what I write and how I write is based on Dublin vernacular, the inflection is informed by where I grew up, for sure.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were starting out?
That the cavalry ISN’T coming. The idea that someone else will essentially pick you out of acting obscurity and put you on the road to success is a myth, eventually someone will spot you in a show. This rarely happens if ever. You have to build work over a number of years. You have to keep having success that lead up to greater things this will take time, but most of the best success will be self generated. Originate your own stuff, diversify if you have to. You also have to earn a living. I did voice overs, all types of jobs in order to earn a living. Then I could originate my own work, spoken word, playwriting.
If you hadn’t been an actor, what would you have done?
I have NO idea. It’s funny I found myself in my mid 20’s, between jobs, I was on the dole and I asked myself that exact question. I have no skills. I couldn’t just become a carpenter or electrician. I had to make this work. I had to persevere.
Can you tell us about Dublin Old School?
It’s really energetic, inspired by spoken word and heavily influenced by the dance music I grew up with in the 90’s. It’s about a Dublin DJ who meets his estranged heroin addicted brother one night. Over the course of a few days they keep bumping into each other and they reconnect. As only Irish males can, awkwardly. It’s a journey, it’s a comedy.
What do you hope audiences will take away from watching the play?
First and foremost that they are entertained, that they have a good night out. I hope people will gain more understanding, a different perception of those who they may believe to be at the bottom of society. Why do people become addicted?
Are you acting or writing more now, what’s next for you?
When the upcoming tour of Dublin Old School is finished, 2017 will be more about writing for me. I will be heading to London where I have been invited over by a company to work on a new play. I am also writing a play based in Irish Mythology on the origins of Tallaght. In pre-historic times, Tallaght it is reputed to have been the burial place of over 9,000 people who died of a plague. These people were Parthalonians, followers of the Greek Parthalon. I am exploring this. I am also working on a movie script for Dublin Old School, hoping to take it to the big screen.