By Conor O’Neill
I caught up with Patrick Quinn this morning: he’s bright, full of bounce and gagging to get his one-man show to the Lyric’s boards. If you’re interested in the creative process, collaboration and surreal theatre, then this is the show to book.
CH: Do you come from a theatrical, creative family?
PQ: “Yes, on my mum’s side there’s a big history with music and the arts. The MacNamaras were very involved in the arts. I was brought up to enjoy the theatre as a child, I was in drama classes from I was five-years-old and I was always brought to shows and different gigs, it was always a very normal essential part of my life.”
CH: Did you study theatre at a high level?
PQ: “Yes, I went to study drama and theatre at Queen’s, that’s where I met Emily [Foran, director of Revved]. I then went to the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where I did my masters.”
CH: So, what came first, the acting or the writing?
PQ: “I’ve been thinking about this question and I think I’ve always been a storyteller. As a kid I was always writing short stories and as a teenager I was making films with my friends, so the acting and writing have always went hand-in-hand. Acting is a vehicle for telling stories.”
CH: Is this your first stage-play?
PQ: “I’ve written short ones and plenty of drafts but this one is the first to see the light of day.”
CH: And what’s your writing method? Do you sit down from 9 to 12 then have lunch before writing for another couple of hours or are you an impulsive writer and write when the notion takes you?
PQ: “I’m a mixture of both. Sometimes I’ll be lying in bed and I have to get up to write a note because something has appeared to me. My writing is sporadic but when I do write I’m lost in the fog, I catch the scent of something and I follow that and a story appears. But when a deadline is approaching it becomes a project that has to be done”
CH: What’s it like working with Emily Foran?
PQ: “It’s been phenomenal. Emily has become a very dear friend of mine. We didn’t really know each other before. She’s just so insightful and she cares about the work and the people she works with. She’s able to have this perspective; if we’re stuck with a line and in a moment she’s able to see the bigger picture. I love working with her. We’ve done this show before in Donegal in January and we’ve developed a really good working language.”
CH: How imortant is it for a performer to collaborate with the right director?
PQ: “I think it’s more important to have the right director for the right play rather than the right performer for the right director. With a director and a performer you’ll always find a way to make it work, everyone is professional, but the play itself needs to have the right director who can look at in such a way. Emily was my first choice, she was the first person I wanted to reach out to. I’m a big believer in gut instinct. Instinct leads me through a lot of life and I just thought ‘Emily is the right person for this’. Revved is actually about masculinity, it looks at the difficulties and the tricky ideal of what you think a man should be and your perceptions of that. I was very adamant that I had to have a female creative team. I have Emily and Jude, the stage manager, having a female instinct for male issues is actually a lot more balanced.”
CH: I’ve read the themes Revved explores, so I assume you’re a motorhead?
PQ: “I’m a wee bit bit I wasn’t so much growing up which is why I wrote this play because I wanted to understand it. It’s everywhere in Donegal, it’s part of the culture. I conducted interviews, I had pints with people who are into cars, it just gets them and what they’re into and it was really rewarding.”
CH: There are also themes of longing and home, is there quite a bit of nostalgia to the play?
PQ: “The set-up is Eamon in the stockroom of the petrol station and looking back to three years ago when it was his leaving cert year [our A Levels] and it’s the rally weekend. It’s written retrospectively but played in the present tense so you’ve got two timelines going on at the same time.
CH: Is it single monologue or are there other characters?
PQ: “There are other characters but they’re performed by puppets. He uses a loaf of bread as his sister, a bottle of Football Special as Katie and a sharing pack of Monstermunch for his best friend Cathal. There’s a garda who’s a big can of Pringles so it’s quite fun. I’d say the first 45 minutes are bordering on stand-up. There’s cracking one-liners, funny situations and all the ups-and-downs of being 18-years-old. As the play progresses I slowly try to trick the audience a little into trusting the character but then them realising they maybe shouldn’t have trusted him in the first place. I want the audience to leave feeling conflicted. Basically, the play is about the ride, regret and cars.”
CH: And what’s next for you creatively?
PQ: “Perserverance. I’m going back to my regular job and then keep on auditioning. I’ll always have something in the pipeline. I just try to trust in the process.”
CH: Finally, how much of a big deal is it for you to play the Lyric?
PQ: “Honestly, it’s a big deal for me and a massive honour. I’ve performed in the Lyric before but to be performing my own work and to be able to share that with a wider audience is a little bit humbling but massively exciting. I can’t wait to feel that buzz again. Some people that might not know me and others who’ve known me for years, for all to see this piece is going to be great. Even though we’ve played the show in Donegal twice, it’s wild hard to get people to a show whereas in the Lyric, well, it’s like home.”
Revved plays at the Lyric theatre, Belfast from November 17th to the 20th.
To book your ticket visit http://www.lyrictheatre.co.uk or simply phone the box office on 02890 381081
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