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'Trad' is keeping it local

Wednesday, 15th May, 2019 4:31pm

Theatre director and actor Aaron Monaghan is doing it for the parish, literally.

As he prepares to bring his Livin’ Dred theatre company production of ‘Trad’ to Cork, he is very much sticking to his rural roots, proving home really is where the heart is.

Cavan native Aaron has been involved in Livin’ Dred since its inception 15 years ago, taking over the role of Artistic Director last year. Written by Mark Doherty, ‘Trad’ is Aaron’s first production in the hotseat, but he says the company’s focus on rural-themed productions for rural audiences won’t change.

“I’m nervous obviously, but we still want to do plays that are about and for rural audiences,” he explains to the Cork Independent.

“A lot of the arts can be quite Dublin-centric, and we often forget that Ireland is much bigger than that. I love country people and country life, it’s where I grew up and I’m very much a country boy. There is a very large appetite for drama in the midlands and west, and I think the arts community can forget that sometimes.

“‘Trad’ is the one play I’ve wanted to do for years. It’s never been done professionally in Ireland as far as I’m aware, which surprised me. So I’m delighted to have the chance to do it, especially with my own company.”

‘Trad’ tells of a 100 year old man Son, played by Seamus O’Rourke, and his father Da, played by Emmet Kirwan, who live in a rural Irish parish. Son discovers he has a 70 year old son, and together the pair set out to find their long-lost relation.

Aaron says the play’s humour and relevance to rural communities is what drew him to the production.

“It’s almost poking fun, while also revering the great playwrights in Ireland. There’s references to Beckett, but it’s almost like a John B Keane play in many respects. It’s bizarre and absurd, almost like ‘Waiting for Godot’ meets ‘Father Ted’!”

“It relates to Irish society so much. Ideas of growing old, father and son relationships, these universal themes. But it’s heartbreaking too, and I think audiences respond to that. It plays homage to every Irish theatre trope, but has its tongue firmly lodged in its cheek.”

Aaron says rural Ireland has been somewhat left behind by Ireland’s progressive changes in the last 30 years or so.

“It can still be quite an isolated, lonely place to be. You still know all your neighbours, everybody’s business, their history. It was the same when my dad was growing up, and myself too. It’s a uniquely Irish thing I think.”

“I remember a few years ago I was doing ‘Waiting for Godot’ and driving through all these tiny towns in the west, and it shocked me that the youngest people there were in their thirties. It’s dying out, but it’s still there, and what we’re about is bringing art to rural communities, so they don’t have to go to the likes of Dublin to see them.”

Also a film actor who has featured in Irish releases like ‘Maze’, ‘’71’ and ‘Float Like a Butterfly’, Aaron says film took a while to become natural to him in comparison to his work onstage.

“I wasn’t comfortable for me, theatre was what I understood. But the more I learned the more I loved it, to the point where one informs the other, whether it be directing, film/TV or theatre. I think if I do one for too long I get scared of getting bored or complacent. They’re very different skillsets which start to talk to each other after a while. They keep me on my toes.”

‘Trad’ shows at The Everyman Palace from 21-24 May. For tickets go to everymancork.com.

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