What has the response to Philo been like so far?
We’ve had such a wonderful response to Philo. Full houses of laughter and tears in the Sean O’Casey Theatre. Many people return for a second time with gangs of friends and family.
We knew we were working on a very special story but we couldn’t have imagined in our wildest dreams how strongly audiences would connect with Philo, Sister Rosaleen, and the highs and lows of their world.
It’s been a very rewarding experience for everyone who’s worked hard on the play. Particularly when people who’ve been in the show stop you in the street and quote a line of the play to you. I just love that.
How do you feel about bringing the play to the Viking Theatre?
Bringing Philo to The Viking is extremely exciting. It’s one of Ireland’s finest theatres for new work. Actors love working there. The audiences are always brilliantly engaged. It’s an intimate venue so the sense of unity that comes with that live shared experience skyrockets. I’m excited about more audiences seeing Peter’s play. I’m so glad for myself and Neilí that we get to spend more time with our characters, telling their stories.
What can audiences expect from the play?
Audiences will need to hold on to their hats! Philo is a beautiful play about two women trying their best. There’s a million laughs in store but it’s also a play with a true heart and a golden soul. I don’t think you can ask audiences to connect with your work if you aren’t honest in what you’re saying to them, and I think Philo captures a universal honesty that makes it such a joy to be with.
What do you enjoy most about this piece of work?
There are many things I enjoy about this play but if I have to choose one I think it would be the attention Peter has given the characters in the writing. They are alive to the world in a multi-dimensional way. While there are certain themes running through the play and both characters have particular obstacles to navigate and figure out, the play doesn’t allow itself to wallow in any of the socio-political impacts of it’s setting. It’s not an ‘issue’ play. There’s no preaching. There’s no cry for help. By the end of the night the audience will have gotten to know two women very well and hopefully know that, against all odds, there’s goodness all around us.
Anything else you feel is important to add.
I’ve felt so welcome in East Wall and the surrounding area. I’ve had the great privilege of getting to know a lot of people from the area over the last few months while rehearsing in The Sean O’Casey Theatre. There’s a vibrancy here that is infectious. The people shine so bright and are all hilarious. I get ‘Hello Sligo!’ hollered across the street at me now. I have learned so much about the people here, stories of those no longer with us or who have moved away. The strength of the communities is like none other. Their pride in who they are and where they’re from. It’s been inspiring actually. As a Sligo woman I understand that feeling of pride, that sense of belonging. We’re all entitled to that I believe. It’s a pity the city planners and developers don’t spend more time getting to know the communities they build on top of. There’s something special, so powerful, in these communities that mustn’t be lost.