Student Spotlight: Zoey Bond at Druid
Editor’s note: This post is part of a series of reflections from students who are part of UMS’s 21st Century Student Internship program. As part of the paid internship program, students spend several weeks with a company that’s on the UMS season. U-M student Zoey Bond was paired with Druid Theatre Company. The company will perform in Ann Arbor March 9-11, 2017.
When UMS asked if I would be interested in interning with Druid Theatre Company’s production of The Beauty Queen of Leenane in Dublin, I was beyond ecstatic. I was, at the time, in London spending the semester training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA). The opportunity to further my relationship with European theater-making was not one I was going to miss.
We rehearsed at the Leinster Sports Complex just off the Bowling Green. Funny place for a theater rehearsal, right? But the space was nice with lots of natural light. Left: Read-thru, day one. Right: A quick glimpse of some local Dubliners playing on the bowling green!
Before entering any new chapter, I try to note my expectations and emotions. Well, I was certainly anxious to get started, somewhere between jittery enthusiasm and complete bundle of nerves. My expectations, however, were clear: I expected to see a full rehearsal process and to learn from some of Ireland’s greatest theatrical talent. Both of these predictions proved to be accurate, but the most valuable skills I took away were those I could never have imagined at the outset.
These are some “Dublin Doors,” the first colorful part of Dublin that greeted me. All the homes in Dublin have quirky and fun colorful doors, which I loved because it added so much character. I even found some maize and blue ones.
The history of the production The Beauty Queen of Leenane is deep and unique, which added to the experience. The Beauty Queen of Leenane was originally produced in 1996, and this production marks the twentieth anniversary of the original. Additionally, Garry Hynes, the original director who, with the original production (Broadway transfer in 1998), was the first female to win a Tony Award for the best direction of a play, is directing the 2016-17 production. Furthermore, Marie Mullen, who won the Tony that same year for best actress in a leading role as the title role, is back. This time she’s to play the role of the mother, Mag. Much of the original design team is working on this year’s production as well. I was really looking forward to watching everyone reunite to re-examine this incredible play, twenty years later, with the fresh eyes of three new cast members as well.
Here, Greg Clarke (sound) and James F. Ingalls (lights) watch a run of the show. Marie Mullen (MAG) stands in her rehearsal dressing gown. All three were part of the original production. Ingalls is also American, so it was nice to chat with a fellow yank!
The four actors involved in the production are all brilliant artists. Their transformation from day one’s table read to the final run in the rehearsal space was inspiring. They created dynamic characters—deeply layered—and they filled each rehearsal with passion, investment, and care. Additionally, their wonderfully accomplished director Garry Hynes proved to be the artistic guide actors crave. The opportunity to simply observe a rehearsal process was invaluable.
Director Garry Hynes works with Marie and Aisling. These photos show Bryan Burroughs, who was brought in for movement work, as he helps Marie stage the big reveal. I won’t tell you what happens!
The company was very generous in allowing me to see every single part of the rehearsal process. I was able to watch the actors as they navigated the dark truths of humanity within the play, while balancing these dark truths with moments of complete humor. During certain scenes, the team was in full agreement. More interestingly though were the times when the team disagreed.
These moments taught me most because these disagreements revealed many finer character and play details. Often actors shared their perspective on a given beat, and what followed was a much broader discussion about the truths of the world of the play. Through observing and participating in these conversations, I learned to more intensely analyze scripts and characters, but I also learned how to behave in a professional rehearsal room.
Here I am with three out of the four members of the cast! Marty Rea had to leave before we took the photo. I had so much fun getting to know these marvelous actors.
Watching these artists explore a textual masterpiece for eight hours a day, five days a week, for four weeks, would have absolutely been enough. I, however, also had Dublin.
Maneuvering though Dublin proved to be an exciting adjustment. One mundane but noteworthy variation from my American life was having to navigate the hot water situation. In my apartment building, there was a box that regulated hot water, and I had to turn it on two hours before I wanted hot water (to allow it to be heated). I will say this: I will never take immediate/automatic hot water for granted again. Ever.
This is the magical box that controls the hot water. I learned to befriend it very quickly.
Another great challenge was understanding what people were saying. There is no one “Irish accent,” as the country is just as verbally diverse as America. Picture travelling from rural Texas, to Brooklyn, to Minnesota, to Southern California, to Louisiana; of course, none of these residents speak with the same “American accent.” My first week was spent nodding and smiling as I pretended to understand. (As an actor, I found the challenge exciting!)
My first rainy Saturday in Dublin was the first time I realized that I was really alone. I woke up without rehearsal to go to, no friends to walk around with, and not a plan for my day. At first, this was very hard for me. I stared out the window at the gray wet street, and realized: either I could sit in my apartment alone wishing I had friends to explore with, or I could take advantage of being in a foreign country and really immerse myself. That day I took myself to my first play in Dublin, Pygmalion, and started a pattern of choosing new adventures, and of becoming comfortable with being on my own.
This is the set for Pygmalion, the first play I saw in Dublin!
I explored Dublin as well as the surrounding Irish countryside, immersing in the rich Irish culture to my fullest ability. I visited and hiked around a monastery called Glendalough, pronounced [glen-duh-lock], strolled around the grounds of Kilkenny Castle, climbed the cliffs in a seaside village named Howth, saw some fantastic theater, wonderful museums, and of course, toured the Guinness Storehouse. Did you know the Guinness Storehouse is THE most visited tourist site in all of Europe? It sees more visitors than the Coliseum in Rome, Buckingham Palace in London, and even the Louvre in Paris.
These are pictures I took while hiking around Glendalough and Kilkenny Castle. The countryside really is that green. Absolutely beautiful, and peaceful, filled with lots of families picnicking, and others camping for the weekend.
As my time progressed, I found being alone more and more difficult, but this loneliness did make me value my time in the rehearsal room. It certainly increased my appreciation for the opportunity and contributed to my development as an artist and human being.
Left: This is the Long Hall in the Old Library at Trinity College. It reminded me of our Law Library at Michigan. It was beyond impressive. This picture barely captures the height of the ceilings and the millions of old, old books housed here.
Right: This is the seaside village called Howth, though technically it is still considered part of Dublin. Here I got to walk along the seaside cliffs for a few hours, smell the ocean, and have some delicious fish! A much needed city escape.
I do think that learning to be alone is as important as the artistic knowledge I gained from my time in Dublin. At school, particularly in the theater department, people with large personalities abound. We have class together, we rehearse together, and we live with one another. As with my artistic experience, I have already transferred this knowledge into my daily life.
Here I am interviewing Aisling O’Sullivan, one of Dublin’s greatest talents! Her acting is absolutely brilliant and I feel so fortunate to have watched her work for a month. Additionally, I so appreciate the conversations I had with her, which were filled with practical advice for my future career.
See Druid Theatre Company in Ann Arbor on March 9-11, 2017.
Dispatch from Dublin on Easter
Editor’s Note: Mary Roeder works in Education & Community Engagement at UMS and is also our resident jet-setter and theater expert. We’ll occasionally feature some of her adventures here on the Lobby.
[Note from Mary: I started writing the blog post in April, after making a promise in March that I would do it. I ignored it for much of May and here it is now June. It’s a good thing I don’t rely on getting paid for my thoughts—a penny or otherwise, else I’d be homeless by July.]
The month of April flew by (pardon the pun, even though I’m the only one who gets that this is a pun at this point). Maybe it had something to do with crossing time zones a few too many times, spending a bit too much time above 30,000 feet, and definitely waaay too much time in JFK’s Terminal 2. I’m not complaining though. I had a whirlwind month of travel that took me to, among other places, Dublin, New York, Montreal and Austin, Texas. Would you like to hear a little bit about what I did and what I saw? Rhetorical questions are so much fun!
Easter in Dublin!
I have been trying to get to Ireland for awhile. To say I have romanticized the heck out of this place is an understatement. Well, I finally made it, and I really couldn’t have picked a better time. Thanks to the alcohol ban during the Easter weekend, I got to see what the city looks like underneath all of the clichéd debauchery I’ve been programmed to assume is ever-present. It’s definitely risen to the top of my list of favorite places…you know, the ones where you just breathe a little easier and sort of resonate at the same frequency (the Oregonian Portland reigns supreme on this one). Add in the fact that I had my own personal tour guide, a local who also has a penchant for the theater/re, and it was a pretty fantastic weekend all around.
I landed early Good Friday, hopped aboard the Airlink express bus and made my way into the city where, thanks to a mercifully early check-in, I promptly fell into a deep jetlag coma until 1pm local time. That night I saw Pan Pan’s production of A Doll House (note the lack of the ‘s after Doll is intentional). Pan Pan is a Dublin-based company that, according to co-founder Gavin Quinn “is interested in…[making] theatre like the French model of theatre art, as opposed to the craft of making theatre.”
I first saw Pan Pan this past November when our pals down in Columbus at the Wexner Center presented their show, The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane (note that I’ve checked the OSU/U-M rivalry at the door. The arts build bridges, people). The cool thing I remember about seeing that show at Wex (other than the fact that there was an actual Great Dane onstage) was that it was littered with references to Beckett’s Endgame which UMS had just presented a couple weeks prior—and thank goodness, because I certainly wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise (note that there was another pun there. The stage in the second half of the Pan Pan show was covered with trash cans. Littered. Anyone?).
Ok, back to A Doll House. I saw this show in the Smock Alley Theatre, which, from what I understand, is the oldest officially sanctioned theater in Dublin. There’s a fascinating history to the building spanning centuries. The theater as it currently exists is brand new—A Doll House was actually the first show housed in the new space, so needless to say, I feel really lucky to have been there.
I would return to Smock Alley the following evening to see a performance by a young theatre collective called Collapsing Horse. Their puppet/comedy/musical production of Monster/Clock had a charming handmade feel, and featured Jack Gleeson of HBO’s Game of Thrones fame where he plays the role of a seriously annoying young prince.
The third production I saw was Alice in Funderland, produced by THISISPOPBABY at the Abbey Theatre. Oh, my…where to start on this one. Alice in Funderland was the first musical to be produced at the Abbey in 20 years. Those of you who know me are likely well aware of my complete and total aversion to most musical theater. Most. There are a few select asterisked members of the genre for which I have great affinity, and I loved this one more than I care to admit. I can actually still hum the main thematic tune, and could even sing a few words if pressed (please don’t ask though). As the title suggests, it’s a take on Alice in Wonderland, this version’s heroine a girl from Cork who visits an unhinged version of Dublin inspired by contemporary Irish life. I have to say, a fair bit of the most laugh-inducing moments escaped me, references to parts of the Irish experience I as an American couldn’t truly understand, but it didn’t matter. It had me at its disco ball/club beat-infused entr’acte, and if I could be a bit further convinced that its message could stand more universally outside of Ireland , I’d be first in line to bring it stateside if ever the opportunity arose. Check out this video interview here with its creators and some choice excerpts featuring my favorite character (I think he was everyone’s favorite character, actually).
Montreal and New York and Austin are going to have to wait. My hands are cramping.