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Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe, actor, writer, theatre-maker and creative facilitator

Thursday, 11th October, 2018 9:42am

Name and position: Laura Wyatt O’Keeffe, actor, writer, theatre-maker and creative facilitator

Lives: London, Ireland and sometimes Malta

Family: I’ve got a big family spread out all over the world.

Pets: None, but I would love a dog.

Favourite thing about Cork: The people, or the places. There are places in Cork that you won’t find anywhere else in the world. It’s got so many gems

Least favourite thing about Cork: The weather.

One thing you’d change about Cork: I’d make it walking distance from London so I could nip home to see my family or grab a Lennox’s whenever I fancy it!

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

Lots of things - a hairdresser, a lawyer, a scientist. But mostly I just wanted to be an actor.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I started acting and writing in Cork. My aunt Marion Wyatt is a director, so she gave me lots of opportunities. I began writing with her through a women’s’ writing group that resulted in the the play ‘The Sunbeam Girls’. I was very lucky to have lots of artists and writers guide me and my work, such as Judie Chalmers, Ger Fitzgibbon. They really helped me find my voice. Then I headed to London to train as an actor eight years ago and just kept making work with people who are inspiring about ideas that are challenging.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

The people. Besides the people, the variety. Each day can be very different. This year I toured a show to Edinburgh after previewing it in London and workshopping it with Fishamble in the Everyman Palace, and before that I was teaching and directing a devised work for Malta’s national theatre and Esplora, a science museum. Some days I’m in a room full of people making theatre, other days I’m at a university teaching, and sometimes it’s just me and my laptop. There’s never time to get bored.

What motivates you?

Passion. Boredom. There’s so much to do, see, learn, hear in the world. I’m just trying to pack it all in.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

You won’t know them in 15 years’ time. Everyone is too busy with their lives to think about you. I spent so much of my teenage years worrying about what people thought of me and now I really try to focus on the work and not worry about what everyone thinks.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I really don’t know. I don’t have a plan B.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

It’s not a singular moment, it's people's reactions to the work. Sometimes people come and hug me after a show, or thank me, or just want to chat about the work, and that’s what it's about - starting conversations and affecting people.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

This changes all the time. Today it’s my cousin. She’s just gone back to university as a mature student to study her Masters. She really inspires me. She’s one of the most supportive and strongest people I know.

What is the life dream now?

Touring my Edinburgh Fringe show ‘Vessel’ throughout Ireland and the UK. I would love to bring it to the Irish Centre in New York. I would also love to collaborate with an Irish company or venue on a project because I really loved being back and developing ‘Vessel’ in Cork this year.

How do you switch off?

I don't. I do try though. My phone is always on silent in some vain attempt.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

Being called for dinner on a Sunday in my Grandma’s house.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Any of the beaches.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

I seem to say ‘it is what it is’ a lot, not particularly profound but a good response when you don’t have an answer.

When are you at your happiest?

On stage, in a rehearsal room or at Christmas with my family.

Any regrets?

Loads, but I try not to hold on to them. That’s what the above motto is useful for.

What is your hidden talent?

You can’t afford to be hiding talents in my industry.

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I’m quite shy really.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Thank you for your questions.

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