Bosco Hogan Interview

January 31, 2010


I Am Of Ireland returns to The Bewley’s Café Theatre after a brief nationwide tour. With the possibility of a US and UK tour looming next year-and three independent shows on Yeats on the horizon- Bosco Hogan tells Totally Dublin the reason behind the current trend for WB-centric plays, the reaction of the Yeats estate to his performance as well as giving the reason why The Focus Theatre (who produced this show) remains relevant.

What exactly is this play about?

The play is the life of WB Yeats, entirely in his own words. It was written by an Irish American university professor called Edward Callen but it consists of the works of WB; a lot of his poetry a lot of his autobiographical work and a lot of his plays.

There are a string of shows either on at the moment or about to be staged about WB…

There’s a very simple explanation for that. Yeats is now out of copyright, so you don’t have to pay any money to the Yeats estate. So now people are jumping on the bandwagon because you don’t have to get permission to use any of Yeats’ work. So there will be all sorts of stuff coming out of the gutter that people have been sitting on for the past few years.

I saw The Waterboys one at the National Library. It was …interesting. Not my cup of tea. I think it could be a good introduction for younger people.

Have you had any reaction from the Yeats estate?

Michael Yeats, WB’s son came to see the show about 40 times. I think one of the reasons might have been because Michael was very young when his father died and he didn’t know him very well. In a funny kind of way I think he got to know his father by coming to see the show.

Both Michael and Anne were extraordinarily generous in their support of the show and of me in playing the role. But there was one thing Anne said to me. She said ‘your hair is far too neat. Father’s hair was always all over the house.’

An enormous plus to the production was that Grainne Yeats, who was married to Michael, came along and provided beautiful music on the harp. When we first started the play she provided the music live but she is a little elderly now and she has decided she doesn’t want to do it in the live performance, but I have the recorded music, which forms an integral part of the show.

What kind of research did you do before approaching a character as well-known as Yeats?

Well it’s the basic research of reading absolutely everything you can get your hands on. It’s the same as any character, any real human, you find out as much about them as you possibly can. You don’t have to bring it into the performance. But it is there in the background.

Another thing about Yeats is that he recorded quite a lot of his poems for the BBC at one stage, and if you listen to those recordings he was very strict about the rhythms of his poetry everything was very measured and done to the beat. But to do an entire evening performance in that way would be very dull and boring. So I took what I could from that, but I don’t in any respect try to imitate what Yeats sounded like because it wouldn’t sound right for people to listen to for a long period.

It’s a Focus  Theatre Production. Do you still think that the Focus Theatre has an important part to play in the Irish theatre landscape?

It’s incredibly difficult for all the small theatre groups in Ireland. Focus has played a huge role over the years soldiering on in the face of odds and we’re fortunate they are still going.

I Am Of Ireland runs til the 30th of January in Bewley’s Café Theatre – tickets are €15, and include lunch.


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