BWW Interview: Irish Rep's Clare O'Malley on Starring in Abbie Spallen's Play, PUMPGIRL and Finding a Second Home
Irish Rep's Clare O' Malley steps into a new role this November. PUMPGIRL, written by Abbie Spallen and directed by Nicola Murphy, tells the story of an isolated gas station attendant in Northern Ireland. Life in this environment is challenging and bleak for its residents who all yearn for a better reality. Thought-provoking and emotional, PUMPGIRL challenges audiences to ponder the life lessons brought to life in this play, set against Northern Ireland's landscape.
BroadwayWorld had the unique opportunity to connect with O'Malley who plays Sinead in the play about her career at Irish Rep; the home and community she has found; and how PUMPGIRL inspires her to remain hopeful during the bleakest of times.
What has been your experience performing with Irish Rep and can you speak about what this community has meant to you?
I moved to New York City three years ago and have been so grateful to do five plays at Irish Rep. I feel so lucky to have an outlet and a creative home. It's a massive community of artists that prides itself on collaboration. The environment is so playful, and it truly has felt like coming home.
Tell us a little more about your character in PUMPGIRL and some of the struggles she faces.
PUMPGIRL is a beautifully written play. Part of the experience is that the monologues are not in sequence and the audience has to piece together the plot. The language in Abbie's writing is lovely and has been a welcome challenge.
I'm very happy to do a contemporary play and take on the role of Sinead. Her reality certainly has an Irish undercurrent of everyday life in a perplexing society and coping with these given circumstances, that mostly concern the state of her marriage. The text is beautiful yet weaves in dark comedy since these circumstances are bleak.
What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned about yourself with your time at Irish Rep?
I've learned something from every character I've portrayed. With Sinead, I value her sense of humor despite the bleakest of circumstances. I admire how Abbie balances moments of humor with these human characters who are strong and vulnerable at the same time.
The range of productions with the Irish Rep have all been very varied and brave. It's exciting to interact with audiences and feel a sense of community here. It's truly the loveliest place to work!
How does PUMPGIRL stand out in the modern day?
All members of this cast are searching for something - an awakening. It's really a joy to play Sinead, as she is still hopeful despite all that she is going through in her marriage. One theme that is explored is thinking about toxic masculinity and how to affects men as much as women. It really makes you think. It's topical without being on the nose and taking place in Northern Ireland sets an interesting environment for these characters, in a type of abandoned country.
PUMPGIRL opens at Irish Rep on November 14th and runs through December 29, 2019. For more information, visit: IrishRep.org