‘Theatre should be for everybody’, says acclaimed playwright, ahead of Newbridge show

Inspiration can often be found in the smallest things and Seamus O’Rourke is proof of that.

Inspiration can often be found in the smallest things and Seamus O’Rourke is proof of that.

The former Leitrim GAA player turned theatre writer, actor and director says it is often the little details he sees that inspire his writing.

“It’s not that I’d sit around eavesdropping or anything but it’s amazing sometimes you see some little thing or something somebody might say and it sparks something off,” he tells the Leinster Leader.

When O’Rourke’s GAA career was cut short by injury, he turned to theatre, initially acting in and directing plays and later writing his own productions. He wrote his first play, Dig, in 2006. Since then, he says, he has never looked back, turning professional last year.

“One of my plays, called Ride On! was taken up by Livin’ Dred Theatre Company. I had done an amateur production of this and played one of the parts in it and when the professional company took it on, they asked me if I’d be interested in playing the part again. I’d been toying with the idea for years and years and I thought this was the time to do it.”

He performed Ride On! at the Riverbank last November and now he is back with his new play, The Sand Park, which he will perform at the Riverbank this Saturday, 2 February. It is a one-man play, something he says he’d never have set out to write, and he will perform the part of his character James Anthony Lowry himself.

“I was staying in a hotel up in Offaly and I heard these two guys chatting over breakfast and there was something about them – not so much their stories but how open they were with different topics and I thought that would be great to have in a play. And whatever happened between pen and page it turned into a one-man version of events rather than several 
people on stage.

“It’s a play about a man who visits the graves of his son and wife. But there’s no sense of wallowing in the sadness of it. It’s about how would it be if a person was completely keen to get on with their lives and 
have no regrets.”

O’Rourke is also touring a second play, For Club and County, taking it to GAA clubs around the country. He believes theatre should be for everyone.

“I don’t really like this snobbery there is about theatre sometimes. I’d like to think that it’s for everybody. As well as bringing theatre back to the local village hall, I would also like to entice the ordinary people to come to the theatre in places like the Riverbank.

“There’s such beautiful facilities all around the country. There’s loads of really good theatres and I think there’s not enough theatre for the ordinary people in those theatres.”

The Sand Park, written and performed by Seamus O’Rourke will be performed in the Riverbank Theatre, Newbridge on Saturday 2 February. 
Tickets: €16/ €14 concession

- Liam Godinho