Seamus Moran on stage
He is best known to Irish Fair City fans as the late, lamented bistro owner Mike, but actor Seamus Moran can be seen in quite a different guise at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge this Wednesday.
Have A Heart, a one-man show written and performed by the former soap star, is the strange tale of a heart transplant recipient.
A staid and steady character, he receives an organ donation from a younger man who was killed in a car crash — but starts to think he is losing his mind as two characters start to do battle in the one body. His new heart persuades him to embark on a major quest, and his life and world are turned upside down.
The play is directed by Liam Halligan.
The idea for Have A Heart was sparked, Moran told the Leader, during a discussion with his wife about organ donation. She asked him not to donate his eyes in the event of an accident, as she said she would recognise them in someone else if she met them.
“I said that was impossible because it’s what’s inside that gives your eyes their particularity and uniqueness. Her comment intrigued me and motivated me to do some research and I discovered that many organ recipients developed a taste for food or an interest in music that they didn’t used to have,” he said.
“I even discovered cases, particularly in the US, in which the donor’s family met the recipient and identified character traits and little idiosyncrasies that reminded them of their deceased relative. It was extraordinary, and great material for a play.”
While he didn’t get to meet any organ donation recipients while writing the play, he says he found plenty of evidence to back up such theories online.
The play started life as several unsuccessful versions of a radio play, before he came to the realisation that it would only spark to life as a one-man theatre piece about two characters fighting for control over the one body.
“And that’s the biggest clue for the audience in a play that is really a detective story,” he said.
For an actor, the freedom coupled with the responsibility, of carrying a one-man show entirely on their own shoulders is the best and worst of both worlds.
“When the play is in your body and it’s working, flowing, it’s like driving a fabulous sports car or surfing an amazing wave,” said Moran.
“On the other hand, if something goes wrong, you forget where you are in the play or your energy is low, there’s no-one there to come to your rescue, bail you out or carry you with their energy.
“You’re also onstage and talking for the entire 70 minutes and that can be very demanding. It can also be a bit lonely on tour; no dressing room banter or late night drinking sessions with the cast!”
Prior to its debut last year, Moran ran an online crowdfunding campaign to raise money to get the show on the road, both literally and figuratively.
These days, crowdfunding is seen as the quick and easy answer to raising money for anything from medical costs to new product development, but it didn’t live up to Moran’s expectations.
Some €4,500 was raised, a figure he says was disappointing relative to the effort he put in.
He criticized the model which only allows crowdfunded projects to draw down donated money if tey reach set targets.
“There are much better models out there that don’t require a target and allow you to draw down anything that’s donated. I also have a problem with ‘begging’ for support so, for me, it worked best as a vehicle for pre-sale of tickets.
“The Arts Council chose not to fund us. But the theatres have been extraordinarily supportive and this tour would not have happened without them.”
Have A Heart is at the Riverbank Arts Centre in Newbridge this Wednesday, December 7, at 8pm. Tickets are €15/€12 from www.riverbank.ie or 045 448327.