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Ray Scannell, actor

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019 4:46pm

Name and position: Ray Scannell, actor

Age: Like any good actor, my playing range belies my age!

Lives: I live in Sandymount. It's great to be so close to the sea. I grew up in Monkstown in Cork, so always feel more at home by the sea.

Family: For a few reasons there has been a lot of genealogy gathering in my family recently. We've gone right back but I won't get into that here! My dad's family are from in and around the Muskerry Gaeltacht. A long line of teachers. And my grandmother Úna grew up in the Cross family garage on Sullivan's Quay (where the tax offices were in recent years, the old Fás building). My mum grew up on the Western Road (in what's known as the 'American houses’, a set of red brick houses in a park which backs out on to Fitzgerald's Park.

Pets: None at the moment but I would be more of a dog person than a cat person.

Favourite thing about Cork: The #reimagine artwork around the city.

Least favourite thing about Cork: The walls scheme - check out the @savecorkcity campaign and ‘Love the Lee!’

 One thing you’d change about Cork: See above. 

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

 Art and music were always the subjects in school I felt most comfortable in (and therefore did better in) so I knew I’d end up in a creative field. Working in theatre only came about through a girlfriend signing me up for an audition in the Dramat Society in UCC during my college days.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

 I started performing in plays in college, studying an arts degree in UCC. Then I wrote my own play in my last year, ‘Breathing Water’. There was a gang of us who had a great time with that show, winning an award at the Irish Student Drama Awards and touring to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2000.

I caught the bug and there was no turning back. It's crazy to think now that I've now been working in Theatre for nearly 20 years. In those years I've toured to America and Australia with Druid Theatre Company, written music for a hit musical 'Alice in Funderland' at the Abbey (with thisispopbaby) and had my own work, winning awards and touring abroad and at home.

I made my debut on the Everyman stage in 2004 playing ‘The Gentleman Caller’ in ‘The Glass Menagerie’ but haven't been back on the stage since. So I’m very chuffed to be part of ‘The Odd Couple’ team. Not least, working with a cast of comic genius women!

My latest play ‘The Bluffer’s Guide to Suburbia’ premiered at the Cork Midsummer Festival and will be travelling to Dublin later in the year.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

 Creating something out of nothing. 

 What motivates you?

 There is a shared experience between an audience and a show on 'that particular given day' that you really can't put into words, and which is unique to the live experience of a show. It's a genuine natural high. And with Neil Simon being the king of the one-liners, ‘The Odd Couple’ is full of them!

 

What advice would you give your 15-year-old self?

Don't be so hard on yourself. 

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

I come from a long line of teachers on my dad's side of the family. So I would most likely be teaching.

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

Winning 'Best Sound Design and Composition' with Ben Delaney at the Irish Times Theatre Awards for our work on Philly MacMahon's 'Town is Dead'.

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

As mentioned above, I'm getting a sense in the last few years of the connection we all have to the generations that went before us. It's a great experience to connect with your ancestors and see yourself as part of an ongoing line.

What is the life dream now?

Same dream after every show, find the next gig to work on!

How do you switch off?

I've started crewing on a boat in the last couple of years. It's called an IDR14 and there is a fleet of them that race for a season every year in Dun Laoghaire. It's very hands on and it's exciting to be at the hands of the elements!

What is your favourite Cork memory?

The ‘City of Culture’ year in 2005 marked the end of an era for me. It had been a great decade or so going through from my late teens to my late twenties and Cork had been a really vibrant city.

What is your favourite place in Cork?

Gougane Barra. My brother recently got married there in the little chapel to his wife Kate, and my grandparents are buried there. It's a special place.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘Where Finbarr thought that Munster would learn.’

When are you at your happiest?

Being in the company of people who you can completely be yourself with. 

Any regrets?

Prince was playing a series of gigs in London when I lived there. He was supposed to be incredible live (and sometimes his legendary after-parties, where he would jam with his band for hours, would get more notoriety). I regret not seeing him before he died.  

What is your hidden talent?

I can do 'walk the dog' on a yo-yo!

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I've become vegan in the last couple of years. It might not be the answer for everyone, but it's one way an individual can make a contribution towards the climate issue. And becoming generally more aware about these things will help.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

Go see ‘The Odd Couple’ at the Everyman. It's been a dream gig to work on and I've been finding it hard to keep a straight face in rehearsal. It really is a hilarious show. It continues until 17 August.

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