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BWW Interview: Seán McGinley Talks Irish Rep's World Premiere Digital Play THE GIFTS YOU GAVE TO THE DARK

BWW Interview: Seán McGinley Talks Irish Rep's World Premiere Digital Play THE GIFTS YOU GAVE TO THE DARK

Irish Repertory Theatre is currently presenting the world premiere of Darren Murphy's short play The Gifts You Gave to the Dark, written specifically for digital media in reaction to the COVID-19 health crisis. Directed by Caitríona McLaughlin, The Gifts You Gave to the Dark follows Tom, who is bedridden with COVID-19, and is unable to visit his mother, Rose, who is dying in Dublin. Tom's uncle Larry FaceTimes Tom from Rose's bedside in order for Tom to tell his mother the story of a perfect day they shared together - the last thing Tom can do for Rose during the last ten minutes of her life.

Starring Seán McGinley (Braveheart) as "Uncle Larry," Tony Award winner Marie Mullen (The Beauty Queen of Leenane) as "Rose" and Marty Rea (Whistle in the Dark) as "Tom", The Gifts You Gave to the Dark will remain online through October 2020.

We spoke with the incredibly talented Seán McGinley, who shared what it was like performing this incredibly timely material, how rehearsing for a digital play compared to rehearsing for a live production and more.

First and foremost, I would love if you could share a bit about your background as an actor.

I was in university in Galway, and in my final year got involved in a one-act play with the college drama group. We did just three performances, and Garry Hynes and Marie Mullen, who'd just founded Druid Theatre Company, happened to be in the audience. A few days later they asked me to be in a production of Playboy of The Western World. Over the years I've worked with Druid, the Abbey, the Gate, the National In London, and the Royal Court. I've also been fortunate to have worked with great writers such as Tom Murphy, Brian Friel, Frank McGuinness, Sam Shepard, Marina Carr among others. And now Darren.

Who do you play in The Gifts You Gave to the Dark? Talk to me about your character.

In Darren's play, I play the character of Larry. He's the brother of Rose and the uncle of Tom. All the characters are in Lockdown. Rose is very ill, near death, at her brother Larry's house in Dublin. And Tom, Rose's son, who's got the Coronavirus, is in isolation in Belfast. Larry phones Tom in the hope that Tom will talk to Rose and give her some comfort before she leaves us. And in telling Rose about a journey they made together long ago, he 'brings her home'.

What were your first thoughts about the material when you learned you were going to be a part of this?

My first thoughts on reading this were that this is really great writing.

What was the rehearsal process like for The Gifts You Gave to the Dark? What did you find most challenging and interesting about the process, and how did it compare to rehearsing for a live show?

The brief rehearsal period was conducted over a couple of Zoom sessions. Technically, strange certainly. But in the end, the acting stuff, the interaction between the actors was the same as ever it was. And Marty and Marie are great actors. And then Caitriona McLaughlin brought everything together beautifully as director.

What does it mean to you to be a part of The Gifts You Gave to the Dark and to be able to tell this incredibly timely story?

'The Gifts you Gave to the Dark' was a great opportunity to stay in touch with theatre at this strange moment in world history. And the play, and it's arrival into the world could not be more apt.

What do you hope people take away from The Gifts You Gave to the Dark?

Who knows what people will take from the play? Maybe, that in the end, the best thing we have in the world, is each other.

Do you have anything else you would like to share?

Can't wait to get back into a physical rehearsal room!

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